6 tips to get your demo submissions heard

Step 1 – Choosing your Tracks

Select music you are 100% happy with. Get some close friends to give a listen to your tracks and keep the best ones. Focus on sending the tracks that you are most proud of. Record labels do not want to receive your entire catalogue if they have never heard of you. If the record labels really love your selection, they are likely to ask you for more songs. If requested, send over the other tracks you have lying around.

Step 2 – Preparing for Sending

Do not even consider sending short demos or teasers. Send the full-length tracks preferably 320 kbps. If the A&R department cannot hear the quality of the track, they are quite busy receiving hundreds of demos a day so its unlikely they come back to you asking for a better version. Upload your selected tracks to a private Soundcloud link to make it easy for the receiver to play. Ensure you disable the free download option. Also, double check if the link you are sending works.

Step 3 – The Demo Submission Message

It’s time to write the email, but what on earth do you write to a record label? Put some thought into writing your demo submission. Keep in mind that you are asking a company to do business with you, so be professional about what you are writing to them. Create an attention-grabbing subject line. In the body of your email, explain who you are, what your music is about, and what you are searching for. Include your personal details, track descriptions, press shots and of course — links to your music. A number of formatting templates are available for you to personalise your email campaign and express your style as an artist.

Step 4 – Sending to the right Record Label(s)

Even if you didn’t think the A&R managers are reading and receiving your e-mail (if the mail address is correct), they actually do! Sometimes you’re sending the mail at a wrong time (more about this at point 5) or they just didn’t have the time to check your e-mail at that moment (and they will forget about it).
Make sure you follow up your demo e-mail after 5–7 days. Most A&R managers are flooded with e-mails (150+/day), so give them time to catch up. The second e-mail should be something like “Hey X! Did you had the time yet to check out the track :)?” Just keep it short and simple.
The 3rd e-mail follows up should end with “If you don’t like it that’s ok, just let me know so I can move on to the next label”. That will create a sense of urgency which will click-bait them to check it out. No need to send the 4th e-mail. Bother them with a new demo, later on, be persistent!

*Quick tip: Build a sustainable relationship with the A&R manager. Meet them in real life (during ADE for example), follow and talk to them on Twitter Facebook or LinkedIn. After a while, they will recognize you and that will increase your chance to get heard. Don’t be a stalker though and don’t push it too hard.

Step 5 – Timing

This is a nice trick if you want to make sure they are reading your demo e-mail. Find out where the A&R manager is based so you can send your demo the right time. Most people read their e-mails in the morning. I would recommend sending demo’s around 10:15–11:00. Make sure you have selected the right time zone, their time can be different from yours of course. For example, if you’re from New York, send your demo 4 AM in the morning (your time) if you want to get read by someone in Amsterdam at 10 AM. There are actually plugins and add-ons to schedule this so you don’t have to wake up early 😉 Mac mail example: https://www.feingeist.io/mail-plugins/

Step 6 – Be ready to respond

The fun part. Check your email inbox regularly for feedback and release offers from the A&R departments that dig what you do. Our advice, be responsive to all replies but also be patient with your decisions. The A&R \Managers are busy people and won’t always respond to your submissions immediately. Allow some time for responses before finalising any offers. Do not sign the same track without communicating with the record labels involved. Any correspondence with the record labels following the demo submission is entirely up to you, so be professional.

Bonus

Get introduced by someone who has dealt with the label before (Artist/Manager/Publisher/). If an A&R manager dealt with someone before they will most likely check it out if they trust that person.

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