Congratulations: You wrote enough songs for an album. The studio is booked and you are rehearsing perfectly. Should you do a demo first? And if so, how should it be completely fleshed out? Should you set all the details in stone, or leave room for your testing? Is deliberately leaving songs unfinished a creative opportunity disaster or a disaster recipe? We’ve talked to veteran manufacturers Sunford Parker (Hand woven, Thurston Moore, YOB) And Alex Newport (Block party, Death Cab for QT, In drive-in) To find out.
This may seem like a previous conclusion for a post like this, but Parker noted that some artists actually bothered to do a demo before hitting the studio. “Often, I don’t get demos at all,” he says with a laugh. “It’s getting better because recording equipment is getting cheaper and more accessible, so people are starting to do more demos. But you’d be surprised how many bands don’t do their staff demos today. And that only makes it more complicated. I like to get an idea of what I’m getting into. ”
Although Parker likes to hear a demo before production starts, Newport Emphasizes For new clients on them. “The pre-production demo is absolutely huge for me,” he says. “If there’s an artist I’ve worked with more than once and I know what they’re capable of or what their direction is, it might be less important. But is that the first time I’m working with that artist? I won’t even book a session until I get that demo. How important they are. ”
Don’t: Concerned about sound quality.
Parker and Newport agree that bringing down the concept of the song is far more important than worrying about Demo’s fidelity. “While demos are crucial for a producer and artist, demos are not standard,” says Newport. “Focus on the song itself, but you don’t have to spend forever on them. Just take the idea, and move on to the next. You can always go back and fix it.
You don’t need an extensive recording setup. You don’t have to have pro tools rigs or anything like that, Parker said. “I would ask a band to record a rehearsal on their phone. And with phone recordings, you don’t even have to join a band. You can get the idea and have them check it out and they can write their own part. The important thing is that you capture it so you can go back and listen to it.
Do: Leave room for testing.
Although the demo itself is essential, not a complete song layout. In fact, it is best to leave some space for testing. “I always say leave about 20 percent for the studio,” Parker said. “The main thing is to get the arrangement and the tempo – really basic things like that. Put the meat and the potatoes, and we’ll take out the gravy on the spot.”
Newport says, “I really only need one verse and one chorus – and sometimes just one chorus.” “It’s easy to make a song if you get it. I just have to look at some aspects or intentions and then I can help take it all the way. As long as we have a chorus or a verse and the backbone of the chorus, the rest is really easy.”
Do: Pay special attention to tempo and vocal placement.
Is your song a high-BPM dance banger or a dull ballad বা or something? It’s best to find out before you start burning valuable studio time. “A lot of the time we start tracking in the studio and we spend a lot of time getting the right tempo,” Parker said. “But it could have been easily sorted by recording a demo.”
If you make music with vocals, you don’t have to work for a demo of all your songs. But it is important to know where the voice goes. Newport says, “What’s not good for me is the track of an instrument where the voice is supposed to be but isn’t there.” “It doesn’t have to be perfect – you can just sing ‘blah, blah, blah’ as a placeholder. You can find out the lyrics later.”
Your demo is just a template. Capture the basic song concept without going down the obsessing or technology rabbit hole on Minutiae. “You don’t want the recording process to get in the way of composing songs,” Parker said. “Keep the idea simple and easy and fast – so when you have an idea, you can bring it down right away. Otherwise, you’ll get lost.”
“At the end of the day, it’s still a demo,” Newport notes. “Everything will be done again. The key is not to fall into the trap of making it too perfect, because that time could bring another song.”
– J. Bennett