So, you’ve written a stack of songs, and you’ve mowed a bunch of yards to get demo money. The big question right now is not when to demo, where to demo, or how to demo. The big question to ask is SHOULD you demo this song? If you thoughtfully and honestly answer the following questions, you will spend your money more efficiently and effectively.
1. Is the song finished?
I love the emotional high of having just finished a song and feeling like it’s a big ‘ol hit. But it’s important to step back and make sure it’s really finished. 90% right and 100% right might mean the difference between a pass and a keep or a hold and a cut. Have you played it for an industry pro and gotten their feedback? Have you played it for other writers and asked them for their honest opinion?
2. Is it a wide pitch?
A wide pitch is a song that fits a large number of artists. A narrow pitch is one that only a very limited number of artists could record. For example, if you say, “If George Strait doesn’t cut this, I don’t know who will,” that’s a narrow pitch. As a general rule, I’m gonna demo the wide pitch, because there are more pitch possibilities- there are more paths to victory.
3. Is it commercially relevant?
Is this a song that a large audience will want to hear? Will it make the listener laugh, cry, dance, or think? It’s not about you- it’s about the audience.
4. Who could sing this?
As I discussed in my post, “The Band Is A Brand” (read it here), a wise artist is really only looking for songs that fit their brand and speak to their audience. Does this song fit the general branding of the format?
5. Does the song have a fresh melody and lyric?
You HAVE to bring something different, especially if you are a new, unknown writer. YOUR vanilla has no chance. An artist has no reason to invest in your vanilla when they can get vanilla from friends, established hit songwriters, or just write it themselves.
6. Will I pitch it… really?
If you have already demoed ten songs just like this one (and they’re not getting cut), and this one isn’t any better… what’s the point? Will you really pitch it? Maybe you should spend your time writing a song that you will pitch instead of demoing a song you won’t.
7. Does this song NEED a full demo?
You should do what’s best for your song. Some need a full demo- rocking uptempo anthems, for example. Certain ballads and midtempos might be best presented with two guitars, a drum loop, and a great singer.
8. Is it great?
I’ve never had a so-so song get pitched to and cut by a major artist. I just haven’t. My cuts are each different- fast, slow, funny, sad – but, to me, each one has something really strong about it.
Good luck! Thanks again for checking out MvR.
What did I miss? Anything you’d like to add or ask? Leave a comment!
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Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter
Brent Baxter Music: http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com