You’ve finished a version of your track that you’re happy to share. What now? The first thing you should do when getting ready to send a demo to someone is to put yourself in their shoes. How are you going to stand out in their inbox?
Demos are a sample of an artist’s work, typically used to present to record labels and any relevant parties in the music industry to give them a taste of their sound. Artists also sometimes send out demos to PR teams to create a buzz for an upcoming release. A demo has 3-4 of an artist’s strongest songs and can consist of a mix of covers and originals to show off both writing and performing abilities.
Imagine receiving hundreds of demos a month. It must be overwhelming, right? The end goal is to make it as easy as possible for your recipient to know who you are and be able to listen to your music without any hassle. But chances are, they will not have time to get to every single email or listen to every track in full.
We strongly recommend that you send your music as a streamable link for easy access. Of course, there is no harm in giving the option to download, but always make sure that streaming link comes first.
For unreleased music, SoundCloud is the best option. Not only does it give you easy private link streaming with optional downloads, but it can also let you see who has listened to your track (on the paid version). This can be really helpful when it comes to chasing up people for reactions (but, more on that later).
If you’re sending tracks that are past the demo stage and live online, the most professional looking link is your Spotify or other store artist profile, which you can build out with a bio, image gallery and links to your socials.
Pro tip: we suggest creating promo links through websites like Linkfire, Soundplate or Feature.fm, which gives your audience the option of listening on the streaming service of their choice. Plus, it looks clean and easy to navigate!
Your tracks need to look professional if they’re going to be downloaded by the person you’re sending them to. They also need to have all your key information readily at hand. So, make sure you fill in artist name, track name and album name (at the minimum) in your file metadata.
This also ensures that the information of your releases are streamlined and accurate when they’re live on digital streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and the like. It makes it easy for people to search you, but also have a unified presence online.
Do you know the music label you want to send your music to? Maybe you even know the name of the person you want to reach. Do a quick Google search or look for them on LinkedIn to see if their contact or email address is available online.
Keep in mind that you should BCC people on email if you’re going to email more than one person. We do advise sending personalised emails to each A&R or label, however if you’re doing a big send, a group send is appropriate so long as you BCC the contacts.
When trying to cut through the noise of someone’s overflowing inbox, you need to do whatever you can to make your email stand out (without going over-the-top, that is). If you’ve received support from key industry figures, radio stations or publications, don’t be afraid to work them into your email subject. Only put it in there, however, if it makes grammatical sense and actually adds some helpful information. This should then give the reader an idea of what to expect.
Journalists, Artists and Repertoires (A&Rs) and bookers are usually looking for some way to categorise an artist – do everything you can to help them put you in the right place. Just make sure all the information that you share is accurate, and not deceptive or misleading.
Although being bugged relentlessly can definitely get very annoying, a good rule of thumb is that one follow-up email is always OK. People may have every intention of opening your email and listening when they have some free time, but not everyone is as organised or available as they’d like to be; meaning emails can quickly slip down inboxes. A polite reminder after a week or so is fine.
On a related note, as mentioned earlier, SoundCloud lets you see who has listened to your private track if you have one of their paid plans. If you use it to send demos, make sure you check to see if someone has listened in the stats before following up with them. If they listened and they liked it, they will be in touch.
The team at Spinnup Asia has an insightful monthly Instagram series titled “Spinnup Insider“. This is where you’ll find tips from the best in the music business. You’ll get access to some golden nuggets from A&Rs, artist managers, managing directors, marketing executives, you name it. Trust their advice to help you navigate your way in the music industry.
And there you have it! If you’re an independent artist hoping to get your music out there, it’s important to find ways to expand your music’s reach. Your demo is a powerful tool in introducing yourself and your sound, so go on and go forth and share it to the world.