How To Submit Your Demo (Music) To A Record Label

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How To Submit Music To A Record Label

Since I have been working with Suspended Sunrise Recordings, I’ve been getting emails from people who want me to sign a particular band or artist they know of to our record label. Various people submit (bands themselves, friends, parents, family dentists) because they think they know of a band that has ‘what it takes’ to be successful.

But before we can even address if the band is amazing or horrible, we first need to address how you submit it. Because from my limited experience, there are good ways and bad ways.

First, the BAD:

Don’t write a long email. Keep it simple, short and to the point. Record labels love a band who knows exactly who they are and where they want to go with quiet confidence. Too many emails feel like they’re trying to hard. Don’t do that. This is not an opportunity to amazing people with your fancy writing. It starts and ends with great MUSIC. Let the music talk.

Never let your music be hard to find. If I have to go more than (2) two clicks to get to your music, then you have failed. Maybe somebody has enough time in their day to click through long winding emails and links in the hopes that we will find the next Lumineers, Lady Antebellum, Imagine Dragons, or Green Day, but the reality is that we probably don’t, so it would just be smart of you to put your music ONE CLICK AWAY.

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Do not talk about response you have been getting from family and  friends. How would I know how to judge their listening abilities? I wouldn’t. So avoid it altogether.

Do not try to tell a record label that you would be a good ‘match’ for them.  Essentially you are asking for a loan of cash and a significant time commitment from many individuals who you consider to have experience in the music business who could help you get to where you want to go. Beyond the investments in recording, producing, mixing, mastering, promotion & marketing for you are the salaries for the people who will be ‘working’ your record, your release. All that money is included as well… so who is to say you are a good match? If no one in your family wants to take out a second (or third) mortgage on their home to float you 10-50k then why should we?

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Don’t tell us about anything that isn’t finished yet. This is not very bright. And I say that with love. Does it sound harsh? C’mon people, why would you tell us in an email about a song or website or download that is about to happen. Keep focused on the stuff you have now. No excuses if you have a new song in the pipeline that sounds ‘like a hit’ but you haven’t uploaded yet. We want to hear it now, not later. We are trying to discover you. Help us help you.

Do not write emails IN ALL CAPS. Not sure why some submissions come this way. It just makes you seem like every word is being screamed at the top of your lungs with your shirt off and you just got thrown out of your favorite bar at 2:00am. Avoid it.

Now the GOOD:

Be different than everybody else. Just stand out. If you are asking us to invest all our time, energy and money into you, is that what you’re doing too? Have you gone all the way? And I’m not talking about being fancy spending money. I’m talking about being clever and using your brain to be different from everyone else. That’s free. If you are so dedicated to making music your career choice, standing out in a clever way couldn’t hurt you. (I’ll give an example- back in the horse and carriage days before my band got a record deal, we delivered IN PERSON to record labels a finished VHS tape [which was yellow with our sticker on it- different] INSIDE A PIZZA BOX. Get it, delivered? We were delivering our music in a unique way. If our music sucked, no, it wouldn’t have helped, but at the very least it gave us a chance to put a smile on people’s faces and really pay attention to who we were amongst all the piles of bland CDs that bands of our time were submitting. In short, it made us different and it gave the impression that we cared. Do the same.

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Include links. We like links. Even if your email has too many words, we can still see those links and we know we are very close to the music. We can then decide to skip your story and get to the point.

Call it your Music. ‘Demo’ is an old word and not used that much anymore because technology has made it where you can record great sounding albums and EPs on your laptop. To me what a demo really means is that you’ve recorded a bunch of ideas that aren’t really finished yet. What record label wants to hear that? Unless you’re an unbelievable superstar yet to be discovered, I think it would be smarter to wait until your realized vision is put down on your Garageband, or whatever you record on, then send THAT and call it your MUSIC.

Offer us something. Imagine what it would be like to read emails all day long about people telling you how great they are, and how they want something from you. It begins to feel less like discovering talent than people trying to withdraw cash from your company. A few emails have been different, and they offered us something, that is to say, they didn’t just tell us about them, them, them, them, them, as if we were blowing it because they were the next U2. Those few emails were well thought-out, and although they may not have resulted in a signing, we will remember and appreciate them more than the others, which isn’t a bad place to be.

The perfect submission: A short & to the point email, explaining where the band is from, what style they are and why they’re submitting to this particular label at this particular time. The email then points us in the direction of an online download hyperlink of an album or a song, for free, and it’s one click away. Two is fine. The music is recorded well, and the art (or photos) attached in .pdf form matches what they have mentioned in the email and looks professionally done, as if they spent time and energy making decisions to get their entire essence to be represented correctly.

If you’re a young band hoping to get the attention of a record label, hopefully these tips will help you in your cause.

Good luck.

I’ll be waiting at murphy@suspendedsunrise.com

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5 thoughts on “How To Submit Your Demo (Music) To A Record Label

  1. Remember the old days when one of the most important things was to put your phone number on the cassette? It wasn’t enough to have your number on the letter the the cassette case, but on the actual tape, because it would get separated from the case and no one would know how to get in touch with you …

  2. When you guys got signed to Atlantic didnt you only have like 3 songs when they were expecting a full album with lemonade and brownies? hah

    1. We basically got signed on one song. Doug Morris signed us because of a hunch he felt after seeing the video for “Caboose.” From there, it was up to us…
      Thank the good Lord for Doug Morris!

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