Top 5 Tips to Recording a Great Demo
These days anyone who forms a music group or takes an interest in singing is likely thinking about recording a demo. That’s because with the advent of home studio equipment followed by digital recording software it’s never been easier for anyone to record music, regardless of their personal means. But just because there are many ways for musicians to quickly record their sound with little effort does not necessarily mean that musicians should take this path of least resistance.
Those who are truly interested in recording a demo that will showcase their sound and grab the attention of professionals must put their noses to the grindstone and take into account a variety of considerations. Make no mistake, those individuals in positions of power in the music biz can recognize a recording that has been haphazardly tossed together. Polished demos that are the result of hard, professional work always stand out.
So with that in mind here are some easy tips to recording a great-sounding, professional-quality demo.
SECURE A GOOD STUDIO
Those who want a top-notch demo need to record their music in a top-notch environment. That means springing for a fully equipped recording studio owned and run by professionals. Those without the funds to pay for pricey studio time can certainly record a professional-quality demo in a home studio. However, and this can’t be stressed enough, the home studio must contain quality equipment. That means sequencing software, effects units, drum machines editing software and anything else the pros use. And above all else, don’t skimp on the microphone. A great way to ensure a sub par demo is to record with a sub par mic.
ENLIST THE HELP OF A QUALIFIED ENGINEER
All the professional equipment in the world is for naught without a pro to operate it. Before booking studio time it’s important to talk with the engineer and find out their level of skill as well as their professional qualifications. Look for engineers with years of experience recording various musical genres on equipment both old and new. Once again, those with limited funds should consult friends or family to see if they know anyone qualified to operate pro studio equipment. The musician recording his or her demo should only record it themselves if they have a fundamental understanding of music recording and years of practical experience on the equipment. Otherwise the end result will showcase the lack of knowledge on the part of the musician.
RECORD WITH PROPER MUSICIANS
Those solo artists looking to record musical accompaniment should vet all potential musicians to ensure they would be a good fit for the recording. A good studio musician will be able to contribute ideas and take direction without overstepping their boundaries. Obviously those in bands that have been together for a lengthy period of time will likely be more cohesive in the recording studio than those working with strangers. And solo artists that are proficient at playing a number of instruments will have the easiest time of all.
When it comes to recording a tight demo that showcases a unique sound, there’s no room for an impromptu jam session. Those looking to represent themselves as professional musicians must have a demo that reflects such professionalism. That means rehearsing the demo tracks ad nauseam before the actual recording of the demo.
RECORD A STRONG BASIC TRACK
Like any body, it needs a strong skeletal system to support it. In musical terms this skeleton is a strong basic track. This includes drums, bass, keyboards and guitar, all recorded at the song’s natural tempo. Once a solid basic track is down, the artist can add layers to that foundation in order to flush out the song as a whole.
These are just a few things to keep in mind when considering a demo record. Obviously the most crucial aspect of recording a demo is the final mix. While there are no set rules to a great mix, artists should trust their ears and instincts. They also shouldn’t over produce, and focus instead on creating a sound they can recreate live in a performance environment.
Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including electric guitar lessons. He writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ guitar lessons for kids online in HD.