Do Labels And Producers ONLY Want To Hear Fully-Produced Demos?

So, you finally did it!  You have an opportunity to pitch a song to a label or producer for one of their artists.  Awesome!

You’re excited, pumping your fists in the air and wondering how many bottles of champagne you can fit on a yacht, when all of a sudden, it hits you…

“Should I play a full demo, a guitar/vocal, or a work tape?”


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Like so many questions in the music biz, there’s no one right answer.  Personally, I’ve gotten cuts in a few different ways.  “Monday Morning Church” (Alan Jackson) and “Every Head Bowed” (Randy Travis) were pitched with full demos.  “Last Night Last” was written with Lady Antebellum, and they demoed it themselves before they cut it.  “Crickets” was pitched as a guitar/vocal for Joe Nichols.  And “When Your Lips Are So Close” was a cowrite with the artist, Gord Bamford, and cut from the work tape.

So, apparently, your songs don’t HAVE to be demoed to get cut.  But, honestly…

A great demo gives your song a better chance to get cut.

“Well, any producer or A&R rep worth anything should be able to hear a great song even if it’s not demoed!”  I agree.  But it isn’t that simple.

First of all, your song may not even get to the A&R or producer.

What if an intern or low-level A&R person listens to the “other” songs (the ones that don’t come in from already-established writers or publishers), and your song ends up on their desk?  Can THAT person hear your hit song through a work tape or simple guitar/vocal?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Don’t forget to consider the competition.

You’re not the only songwriter trying to land on an album, ya know.  The producer or A&R rep will be listening to hundreds if not thousands of other songs by a bunch of other songwriters – and many of those demos will sound amazing.  That’s your competition.

Pros don’t pitch from hissy cassette tapes these days.

If your song doesn’t sound, at the very least, clean and easy to listen to, the producer / A&R will probably immediately assume you’re a newbie.  Then your song has to be even better to get out of the hole that your recording put it in.

A poor recording puts your pitch at a disadvantage.

At the end of the day, you want your songs to sound professional and competitive.  That may mean full production with a killer demo singer.  Or it may mean guitar, some loops, and a good cowriter vocal.

Maybe you want to start demoing a few songs, or maybe you want to take your demos to the next level.  If so, I have a cool event coming up.

On Tuesday, February 28, I’m hosting a live, online videoconference with top Nashville demo singer, Matt Dame.  If you want to ask your questions and learn from one of the top singers in the game… if you want to learn how to get the best performance possible from a demo singer (or how not to screw up a demo vocal) this is your chance! CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.  Oh, and there are only a few spots available (so we can keep things personal and “face to face,”) so don’t wait- check it out now!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,


Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

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