• What To Focus On When Recording A Demo

    The following article will give you tips, ideas & advice from recording artists and people in the music industry on what to focus on when recording a demo.

    Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) - Recording Artist
    "I'm looking for someone I think that can stick around for ten years and really grow from where they are at. I always try to project, like with every girl I meet I think "Could I marry this girl? It could be it", with every fucking girl I meet, so that's a bad thing.

    But it's also a good thing cause one of them I'm gonna keep thinking it and I'm gonna end up marrying it.

    I think that with demos, could this be something?"

    Cold - Recording Artist
    "You have to put everything into your demo, just like you'd put everything into your record because your demo is what the labels are going to get, your demo is what they are gonna hear and they want to hear that you have the soul, the intensity that you're willing to put into a record, otherwise they're going to go "these guys aren't serious"."

    Doug Morris - Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group
    "It's a combination of the quality of the song and the quality of the artistry of the artist and the approach the artist took in making it."

    Darren Dean - CEO of Ruff Ryders
    "I'll be listening for basically everything; the track, the quality, the music, the artist, the producer, how it was mixed."

    Tone (Samuel Barnes) - Producer for Trackmasters
    "The things I listen for inside of a demo is basically the tone of the artists voice, or the creativity. Sometimes people like to get really tricky with their music and tricky with their vocals and adding a lot of reverb to try to make it sound like it came out of a professional studio. That's almost impossible.

    So, what I listen for is just the little things like the tone of a person's voice because I can always hire someone to produce a new track, or if it's a demo of tracks then I don't listen to the quality of it, I just listen to basically the patterns that they're using and I know that I can enhance it later."

    Dean Geistlinger - A&R at Interscope
    "With demos usually I get to the chorus of every song which is usually a minute and a half, unless it's just complete gibberish recorded onto an audio cassette which you come in contact with a lot of that stuff with people that don't even know how to record a song.

    I listen for lyrics, and their style, and their delivery or I listen to their music, whatever the production that's done on the demo, and if that's good sometimes I'll come across a great producer that nobody's heard of before with somebody rapping over it or somebody that's a great producer but not a great artist."

    Bob Clearmountain - Mix Engineer and Producer
    "My favorite demos are just really simple ones; piano and vocal, or acoustic guitar and vocal or just a very basic rhythm section because what you want to hear is the song, you want to hear how the artist can perform.

    If you're producing a record all that stuff is like window dressing and you don't want the song to be covered up.

    I don't know other people may disagree with me with that but I always get put off by an incredibly slick produced demo.

    As a producer I just want to hear the basic thing."

    Tony Brown - President of MCA Nashville
    "I have found that the thing that makes me like a demo is like a song on the radio as you're flipping across the dial and you hear something that catches your ear, and you stop, that goes for demos.

    It doesn't mean that it has to be record quality."

    Jimmy Iovine - Chairman of Interscope, Geffan, and A&M Records
    "I'm looking for everything; I'm looking for anything that has heat, passion, and great songs with just pure excitement."

    Jason Flom - President of Lava Records
    "I think you wanna put the best song you've ever writer first and get the best performance that you can on a tape, and have the tape sound as good as it can.

    It sounds obvious but that's the way it is, and good luck."

    Nelly - Recording Artist
    "Rap is now 20+ years old and there's nothing that can be said that ain't been said; everybody's rapped about girls, everybody's rapped about cars, everybody's rapped about money, everybody's rapped about politics, people have rapped about the struggle and such and such and such.

    It's all about how you deliver it.

    What sound? What stands out?"

    Sheryl Crow - Recording Artist, Songwriter, and Producer
    "I think one of the smartest things to do when you go out to make a demo is to make sure that you're getting yourself on tape, that you're getting something that's a real estate, something that's honest, and that is really what will attract the attention of whoever is listening to it."

    Jimmy Iovine - Chairman of Interscope, Geffan, and A&M Records
    "Passion is all you're looking for, you're looking for something that you can feel the energy off the tape."

    Matt Serletic Producer
    "As a producer I always look for the moment when I feel the hairs on the back of my neck, or the chills going down my spine or whatever you use as a gage to know that something magical happened.

    What I'll often do is go one or two takes, one or two performances, whatever it make be past that point and see if there's any more of that magic happening. If it's not then you've gone far enough and you've gotten what you need to hear."

    Nelly - Recording Artist
    "I like to go in the studio and just shoot whatever I have in my head out, at that time, put it over the beat, make the song right there so that way when I put it in the corner I ride with it for a minute.

    I can really listen and be like "yo, you know what this song needs?", it needs this, it needs that, so when I go back to actually put it on the album I know exactly how I want to do it.

    But you've got to keep people like "that was tight, I'd have never thought of that", but also make them feel. It's a tricky situation because you also want to make them feel like a part of the song like I said before.

    It's a fine line in there but that's the creativity of it."

    Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) - Recording Artist
    "What gets my attention on a demo is not the quality of the demo, know that immediately.

    Everyone that gives me a demo says "hey man, check this out, it sounds crap, we recorded it..."

    I don't really care how you have, you can have a boombox in a room or out in your yard, it doesn't matter."

    Sheryl Crow - Recording Artist, Songwriter, and Producer
    "I also got sort of trapped by thinking that my demos had to be incredible, when really the bottom line is it's above what you're saying, it's about your personality coming across, it's about getting the best snapshot of who you are.

    Whether it's just you sitting at a piano or with a guitar and all the production in the world can't mask the lack of message or the lack of personality or somebody who's trying to impress instead of connect."

    Tony Brown - President of MCA Nashville
    "It can be just voice, it can be the song itself but something really good will pop out.

    I've signed artists that had finished demos that were amazing and I ended up making a record out of.

    Lyle Lovett, his first album was his demo and ended up making a record on that artists demo and pulling out all the arrangements from that little boombox demo.

    You just gotta do something that is compelling."

    Barry Gibb - Recording Artist and Songwriter
    "In reference to the demo process I liken it to a sketch of a photograph. You go into your recording studio and you do as quickly as you can the vision that is in your head. You record as quickly as you can and as rough as you wish.

    You'd be surprised how many people will say "I like the demo better than the record".

    So don't try to do something too perfectly because someone else will want to add stuff to that, so if you're trying to sell a song you need the vision, get the vision on tape and I call that a sketch. So later on make the photograph, but that to me is a demo.

    It can be very rough, very scaled down, it can just be guitar, bass and drums, it could just be guitar."

    Darren Dean - CEO of Ruff Ryders
    "You can't expect a demo to sound perfect because if a person is bringing you a demo nine times out of ten they are just trying to get in the game, so they probably don't have that much money to be able to get it mixed or anything, so you gotta know it's gonna be raw."

    Chuck Reed Engineer
    "Production is not really what we're looking for when we listen to demo tapes, it's good and it probably helps having a good sounding demo but more important is the songs and the artist and the group itself, as opposed to how good the demo sounds."

    Jason Flom - President at Lava Records
    "When I first pop a demo in I'm not really listening for any particular thing.

    A lot of people say the production quality doesn't matter, don't worry but I think you want to present it the best way you possibly can because there's a lot of stuff going on in the office at the time it's being listened to presumably, or if you're lucky a guy sometimes takes it home or listens to it in his car, working out or whenever."

    Thom Pannunzio - Record Producer and Engineer
    "You get the overall feel, vibe and spirit of the band across and the song.

    Most people buy a record because of the song and the singer, they like the song and they like and believe the singer. So if you can capture those two things on a demo it doesn't matter if you don't have all the little over dubs, all the little guitar parts or drum parts or keyboard parts.

    It doesn't matter if you don't have the perfect mix or not, you really just want to show that this person can sing, their whole vibe and spirit and their song."

    Tony Ferguson - VP, and A&R at Interscope
    "Performance, energy and hooks of the song and the way they construct it, I don't care if it's done on a ghetto blaster in some basement or if it's done on an open field with some little cassette recorder, although some of the stuff we've been getting over the last five years with technology the way it is right now is extremely sophisticated."

    Tony Brown - President of MCA Nashville
    "It doesn't need to be studio quality just something good.

    When you sit down to do something do it to the best of your ability and it should work."

    That concludes this how to become a recording artist article.

    You will be able to get help with becoming a rapper by posting a thread in the Artist & Band Talk forum, and by asking other artists who post their music in the Audio Tracks & Songs forum.

    The article above is merely a rough transcript from the video embeded at the top of the article. The video has been found freely available online, unless otherwise stated.
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