8 Questions To Ask Before You Demo That Song


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.

God Bless,



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

6 thoughts on “8 Questions To Ask Before You Demo That Song”

  1. It’s nice to hear some tips from a successful songwriter about the criteria a writer might use to evaluates their song before recording, producing and demoing it. Just knowing some songwriter’s making a go of it is wonderful. I’ve been writing all of my life and have self published 10-CDs of original, rock music. While I have been able to sell them, that hasn’t been my main focus. The people who buy them also provide me with valuable feed back. You would think that asking one hundred people would result in one hundred different answers. It was a surprise to find they all picked the same songs for their favorites.

  2. Totally agree. So many time I come across an artist trying to get themselves out there whether online or at a gig and they just don’t have it together. I think it’s a level of maturity and dealing with the reality of what it takes to connect with a listener.

  3. Brent – Really enjoyed this post and, as always, appreciate you pulling the curtain back a little so we can see inside the biz…maybe a parallel post would include Demo investment management, what to look “for” and “out for” in demo svcs, or tips like keeping a minus 1 track for lyric changes or additional music-only pitch opps. Grateful for your insights and congrats with your recent Canadian successes…Go Hogs!

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