A “demo” is a song, or a number of songs recorded for promotional purposes. As such, these recordings are not intended for sale, airplay or commercial distribution, and are usually low cost productions. If you have a band or you are a solo artist, you can record a demo to introduce yourself to live clubs, take part in a contest or even propose your music to a record label. Let’s find out how you can produce a good sounding demo, without having to invest a fortune.
If you have a computer and some basic equipment, you can try to record in your own home. All you need is a quiet room, some microphones, headphones, a dedicated software and an external audio interface to connect all of the devices.
If you decide to record using the multitrack technique, you will have to start with the drums and bass. You can record them together, as long as you connect the bass directly in the “line” connector of the audio interface, and provide the bass player with headphones so that they can monitor their performance.
Once you are happy with the rhythm section parts, you can start laying down the guitars, piano and vocal tracks, one at a time. Make sure the recording levels are correct by checking the microphone’s volume indicators on the software. Then, you will have to balance the levels of the various tracks, add effects (such as reverb on the vocals) and export the audio in stereo format.
If you have the chance to get a gig in a well-equipped live music venue, you can ask the audio engineer to record your performance. The audio guy will export the audio signals going through the console directly into a computer software. This will allow some mixing, as the tracks will be recorded separately. Through a live recording, you will be able to achieve a powerful performance, especially suitable for rock and funk bands.
Once you have your demo ready, you can burn a CD or decide to share it on a streaming service. Do not forget to include the song titles, the name of the band, name and instrument of the band members, as well as full contact details.