Submitting a demo, where to start?

You’re an aspiring producer and after working hard in the studio for quite a while you feel the time is ready to send your demo to a label to get their feedback and hopefully sign your very first release! But where do you start? We get this question quite a lot so we’ve decided to write up this “how to” on submitting a demo!

Preparing your track to submit
Before you send out your track to a label of your choice, make sure your track is finished. Lots of labels hate it when someone sends a preview, and most labels instantly delete it, because they can’t judge a track based on a preview. They need the full version in order to judge the full arrangement, the build up and flow of the track etc. So always make sure to submit an extended version of your track. Every label prefers a different file format, but it’s always best to use a 320 kbps MP3 file. Don’t submit remixes or bootlegs, especially not if the original is released on another label! Ok, checked all of these points off? On to the next step…

Picking a label
Which label are you going to submit the track to? Make sure to pick a label that your track would fit on in terms of genre and style. Is it a trance record? Than chances are pretty slim a bigroom or house label will sign it and vice versa. Is it full on uplifting trance? Than chances are pretty slim a progressive trance label will sign it. Do you love a certain label but aren’t you sure your track will fit with them? Check out their recent releases on platforms such as Soundcloud, Spotify and Beatport. Still not sure? Make sure to let them know in your writing…

Sending your demo via email or a demo form
There are several ways to get your demo heared by the A&R of the label you’re submitting it to, and every label prefers a different method. So before you start sending out email blasts, visit the website of the label and check how they prefer to receive a demo. Some have a general email address, some have a demo form but whatever they prefer, you should always submit your track with a short story about yourself, your demo and why you’re sending your demo to this specific label. Don’t overdo it, no use in sending a 2000 word essay on the matter. Around 10 to 15 lines of text is more than enough to give the A&R manager an idea about you and your demo. Last but not least; stay humble. Never assume your track is 100% finished and it’s a take-it-or-leave-it situation, an A&R will think your arrogant.

Off course there are also a few definite no-go’s when submitting a demo:
– Never attach your track to an email. Always use a link where the A&R can listen directly, most prefer a private soundcloud link with download function enabled.
– Never send out a mass email. A&R’s like to get a track that’s exclusive, not a track that’s submitted to 200 labels at once with a soundcloud link that has over 200 plays.
– Personalize your email. Nothing says unprofessional more than an email with a different label name copy/pasted. Do some research, address the A&R by name and be polite.
– Don’t send it via social media, checking how to send it via socials is ok, but sending a demo via socials is not. Labels like to have a clear overview of their demos.
– Submitting once is quite enough. No need to send an email (or submit via a demo form) every day in order to make sure the A&R hears it…

Waiting for a reply
So, your demo is submitted to the label and now comes the hard part… the waiting! First of all, give the A&R some time to check it out properly. Most labels get a lot of demos on a weekly or even daily bases and need some proper time to listen to all of them. Besides that, A&R managers don’t just listen to demos all day so it might happen that you submit a demo just after they did an extensive A&R session. A&R’s find it very annoying when a producer starts emailing them on a daily bases to ask if he/she heard it already and has news on it. Best is to give the A&R at least a full week to check it out. That way you give them enough time to check it out and get back to you on it, if they have feedback or want to sign it. But it doesn’t guarantee a reply, some labels only reply when they want to sign a record. So how do you know the status if they don’t reply? Give them some more time. Remind the A&R after a week or two, if they still don’t reply within two weeks than, you can be pretty sure they don’t wish to sign your track.

Dealing with a negative reply, criticism and feedback
Most A&R’s however always try to respond to your demo, even if with a simple “not for us”. So how do you cope with a negative reply or criticism? Most important: always stay polite. An A&R listens to a LOT of demos and simply can’t go into full details on why he/she passes on all demos they get, it would take way too much time so if they reply it’s mostly a “Not for us”. If they do go into the track but with criticism, embrace that. They’re spending their valuable time to explain to you why they’re turning down your record, which means they hear potential in your music and want stay updated with your next tracks. It’s also possible that the A&R has some feedback on your demo in order to make the track even better or make it a better fit for their label. Always be open for this feedback, they’re helping you to make an even better track and get your music signed.

The record label wants to release your track, now what?
Congratulations, the record label really liked your track and wants to sign it in order to release it! But what’s the next step? The most important thing to keep in mind when you need to deal with the paperwork for the release; there’s no such thing as a dumb question. Inform yourself on the contents of the paperwork! Not sure what’s what? Ask the label!

Want to submit your demo to Flashover Recordings? You can submit it via the demo form on our demo page!

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