How to get your demos heard?

Posted: 17 December 2019

Creating great music is the first step but how do you get labels to listen to it?

Read time - 6 mins

Nearly every band wants to be signed to a label. It’s a great milestone as it shows that you’ve been recognised for your talents and someone is willing to put money in to your band to grow your presence and get your music heard by as many people as possible. But getting these labels to listen to your demos and discover you is a hard task. The digital age has opened more avenues for artists looking to get their music signed but that’s created a surge of competition. If you’re wanting to catch the attention of some labels, there are things you should prepare first before dropping them your Soundcloud link over Facebook messenger.

Are you ready for a label?

Many complaints from A&R managers revolve around the fact that a lot of the demo’s they receive simply aren’t up to their standards. Listen to your favourite artists, your inspirations and ask yourself:

Getting signed to a label is a step you should be taking once you’ve already established yourself to some degree. If the answer to these is yes, then you’re probably ready to approach some labels.

Be professional

The music industry is still a business, just because it is an art doesn’t mean that rules don’t still apply to you when you submit your demos. A label wants someone who is passionate, creates great music and they can work with.

It’s important to balance the fine line between keen and desperate. It’s fine to contact the label again after a few weeks and ask for some feedback, most are happy to do so but constantly chasing is going to get you blacklisted. Ask for feedback once and if you don’t hear back, accept it and move on.

Do your research

If you want the best shot at someone listening to your track and signing you then you’re going to need to do some research. Take some time to list your favourite record labels and work out what sounds they’re after. Lots of labels complain that a large amount of the demos that are sent in just simply do not fit the label. Why spend time creating an incredible track to then pitch it to the wrong person? You don’t want to waste your time and you really don’t want to be wasting the time of the A&R rep.

This sounds simple but check the submission process before sending in your demo. Most labels are happy to accept demos but that doesn’t mean you should be tracking the A&R rep down on Facebook messenger or twitter. If they have a set way of accepting demos, use it, you can still be creative in your submission.

It’s generally not a good idea to send general emails out to all labels. They’re easy to spot and it shows that you’re not really committed to the label you’re submitting to. Labels want to feel like they’re special to you. They don’t want a generic email with a Soundcloud link that already has 100+ listens, they want a personal email with a link that hasn’t been viewed by anyone. They want something unique.

Some labels don’t accept submissions. What do you do then? This is where having a manager comes in handy. A manager’s job is to get you work and to grow your presence. They should be looking to help get you signed using their industry connections and word of mouth.

Take the chance

You’ll never get signed if you never send out demos. Start small by contacting a few smaller labels. You might not hear back and that’s fine. It can be really demoralising to constantly send out demos and hear nothing back but, unless you’re incredibly lucky, it’s going to happen. These labels can receive hundreds of demos a day, they can’t listen and provide feedback for every single one of them. Keep at it and, if your music is good enough, you’ll eventually be recognised for it. Send them another track later down the line and remember to chase up once after a couple of weeks.