The future of music

How to Make a Music Demo: Easy Guide

December 29, 2023
How to Make a Music Demo

If you want to become a professional musician or singer, sooner or later you’ll have to record a demo.

And we assure you that learning how to make a music demo is not as difficult as it may sound.

If you get the necessary equipment, you can easily do it at home.

In today’s article, we will tell you what you need to create recordings at home. 

And we will take you through all the essential steps of recording your first demo. 

What Is a Music Demo?

Demo tracks have been used in the music industry for decades now.

In a way, they are a staple of the music business, as they allow artists, producers, and songwriters to pitch their songs to labels, music publishers, and other music industry members.

In essence, a demo is a draft version of a song.

Demo tracks are expected to be rough – they are a sample of your music.

And they are recorded to demonstrate your skills and showcase the highlights and the essence of your music.

That being said, recording a demo is a great way to start your music career.

With a good music demo, you can reach out to record labels (if you want to make it as an artist) or to music publishers and artists (if you want to become a songwriter.)

Once you enter the music industry and start growing your audience, demo tracks will help you book gigs, find promoters, and generally expand your fan base. 

And since demo tracks aren’t meant to sound like a finished record, you can easily make it from the comfort of your home.

man using microphone recording on a laptop to make a demo.

If you want to record a demo at home, you’ll have to purchase or borrow the essential parts of the audio recording equipment, such as:

With basic recording equipment, you can make a good quality demo recording without hiring a professional.

If you want to get high-end equipment for your demo or you plan to record songs in the future, you can invest in quality gear and build a home recording studio.

You can even build a home studio without spending too much money.

With so many options on the market, it’s possible to find affordable quality production equipment.

Plus, digital-age technology allows us to achieve great results in a home recording studio, even with a limited budget. 

But for demo recording purposes, you won’t need anything expensive, and you won’t have to spend hours figuring out how DAWs and other tools work. 

It all depends on your goals and abilities, but learning the basics is enough for now. 

How to Make a Music Demo – 7 Steps

Regardless of what your goals are, there are certain steps you need to take to make a good demo track. 

The thing is, the quality of your demo won’t depend on your equipment as much as on your skills and your idea. 

Therefore, you need to choose your best songs for your demo. 

Three or four songs are usually enough for a demo unless otherwise requested.

So, pick a few of your best tracks, each two to three minutes long, and start recording!

1. Pick a Recording Method 

There are several ways to record a music demo at home.

So you need to choose a recording method that suits you best.

When choosing a recording method, you should think about your goals, budget, and skills.

These are the options everyone has at their disposal:

  • Recording with a smartphone
  • Using software (a DAW)
  • Hiring a studio

Also, when choosing the best recording method for you, you should think about the way you’re going to approach your demo recording.

And that’s why you should plan things. 

For instance, maybe you want to record a demo for your band and record it in one take, and maybe you want to mix it well so you can showcase your production skills.

Either way, you should pick a method that aligns with your goals. 

2. Arrange Your Song

Generally, the arrangement is an important part of the music production process. 

Arranging a song means taking the core elements of the song and breaking them down into building blocks. 

So, in this step, you should make sure your song is well-structured.

Songs usually have the following elements:

  • Intro
  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Bridge

You can approach the songwriting process in any way you want.

There’s no right or wrong way of writing songs.

However, making sure your song has all the elements it needs to grab someone’s attention will ultimately help you create a great demo track.

3. Lay Down Bed Tracks and Demo Scratch Vocal 

Now that you have your song ready, you can start recording it.

By the way, you can easily change something in the process.

But having the main idea and structure of the song written down is important.

You might feel a bit lost otherwise. 

And one of the best ways to start your demo recording process is to lay down bed tracks for your demo.

In a way, bed tracks are the foundation of your song, and that’s why it’s good to create them early on. 

Bed tracks are made to create an accompanying rhythm, and they usually come in the form of a drum beat, guitar, piano, or synth part.

You can also use automatic drum programs and loops.

laptop with gadgets on the shelf

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, you can lay down your demo scratch vocal.

A scratch vocal refers to recording vocals that will be scratched and replaced with better vocals.

So, a scratch vocal will help you build other parts, so the quality doesn’t have to be as good as your final demo.

4. Embellish

When you have the foundation and the core of your song ready, you can start adding some additional parts and effects.

You can experiment with rhythmic keyboard parts, loops, and so on. 

But since this is a demo version of your song, you shouldn’t put too much work into this.

Your demo should be clear and simple.

But it should also be well-written and well-recorded.

And that’s why adding some hooks, melodic elements, and effects isn’t such a bad idea.

At the end of the day, you should do whatever feels right to you – it’s your track, and it should therefore reflect your musical identity and your unique vision.

5. Add Vocals

Finally, you can now lay down your vocals.

If you want to make an artist demo that will showcase your vocal abilities, you’ll have to record your own vocals.

Recording your own vocals is fun and exciting, but it can also be a bit challenging.

And if you want to send your demo song to a publisher or some other music industry member, you should find an artist or a vocalist who will record the vocals for your demo.

Either way, you should record multiple takes – this way, you’ll be able to choose the best takes and make the final demo version.

6. Mix and Master Your Song

When you’re done with your recording, it’s time to polish your track.

Mixing your demo song will make it more coherent and fluid, and it will prepare it for the final step of post-production and distribution.

Mixing usually involves combining multitrack recordings, balancing sounds, and generally putting everything together nicely.

And mastering includes enhancing the overall sound and optimizing the sound quality, and it’s usually completed by using tools like equalization, compression, limiting, and stereo enhancement.

music recording on the computer

As you already know, a demo track is expected to be rough and simple – therefore, you don’t need to go into detail with mixing and mastering.

On the other hand, the goal is to get the best recording quality possible with the available equipment. 

That said, if you know how to use an editing program, you should mix and master your demo song and make it the best it can be in its raw, simple form.

See also: Best Online Mastering Services

7. Use Different Formats 

When you’re done with mixing and mastering, your song will be ready for export.

Now, regardless of who you want to send your demo song to, we suggest making your first demo available both digitally and physically.

For the physical copies, you can use CDs or USB sticks.

And when it comes to digital copies, you can make them available as a digital download – for instance, you can make a downloadable, private SoundCloud or Dropbox link.

Once you have your demo available in different formats, you can officially wrap things up.

And what you’re going to do next with your demo track is entirely up to you! 

What Makes a Good Music Demo?

Regardless of what your goals and dreams are, you should make a good quality demo song that will capture the essence of your music and showcase your songwriting and/or singing skills.

However, what makes a perfect demo depends on what you intend to do with it.

For example, an artist demo should demonstrate a singer or band’s potential as a recording artist – and that’s what you should focus on if you plan to send your demo to record labels.

Artists’ demos tend to be more fully produced and focused on sounds and effects, so this is something to keep in mind if you plan to send your demo to record labels.

But if you want to use your demo to secure gigs, you should focus on your vocal performance rather than studio effects.

Another thing you should be aware of is that different styles require varying types of production to show your song’s hit potential. 

For instance, in certain music genres, a keyboard or guitar and a vocal are sufficient to see if the publisher is interested in the song. 

So, you should set clear goals before deciding how to approach your demo recording process.

silver condenser microphone

Getting to know how the music industry works will help you make a perfect demo that aligns with your goals. 

So, before reaching out to a record label or a music publisher, do your research on the label or the company to familiarize yourself with how they operate.

Also, nobody will listen to your demo unless you send it in a proper way.

Therefore, when submitting your demo, make sure your email is clear and well-written.

You should keep it short and simple, but you should also include all the necessary information, including links and press clippings (if available.)

But at the end of the day, regardless of what you hope to achieve with your demo, it all comes down to the quality of your music.

Demo Recording Tips 

Speaking of the quality of your music, we want to point out that you should always choose the most musical take over the most technically perfect one. 

Of course, you’ll also want to bring the best out of your track with the equipment you have.

But you should keep your music and your performance a priority.

After all, your demo should convey your song’s hit potential – and unlike ‘real’ fully produced songs, it should give a listener a taste of your music.

Therefore, pick your best songs for your demo, and don’t be afraid to showcase your creativity and uniqueness.

Record labels are always looking for the next great artist, but they’re also getting hundreds (or even thousands) of demos per day.

Therefore, if you want to get yourself noticed, you need to stand out from the crowd.

This doesn’t mean you should send something completely different and shocking – you should simply stick to your strengths and believe in what you’re trying to say with your music.

How to Make a Music Demo – Final Thoughts 

Making a music demo is not difficult, but it does require some time and effort.

The perfect demo is the one that conveys your song’s hit potential and showcases your talent and skills.

And that’s why you’ll have to go through all the essential steps, including arranging, laying down bed tracks, recording instruments and/or vocals, and finally mixing and mastering your track.

Once you finish your demo, you can send it to someone from the music industry – and you’ll be one step closer to achieving your dreams. 

You may also like: How to Record Songs at Home

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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