MusicBizAdvice.com answers your questions about the music industry.
Q: What should a demo package contain?
A: It depends on the purpose of the demo package. We’ll get into that in a minute, but regardless of the purpose, every item in your demo package should be clearly marked with your current contact information–including the CD itself, and its jewel box. This is because many companies file paper and music separately, and also because if you’re very lucky, your CD will get passed around from office to office, and you want to make it easy for them to contact you.
If the purpose of the demo package is to get signed: the hard copy of your demo package should contain either a CD with three or four of your best songs, or your full CD with the titles of three or four of your best songs highlighted for the listener’s convenience, a current black and white 8×10 of the artist, a brief, current bio (one page or less), and if you have them, a collage of press clippings. (To do this, take your clippings and attach them to an 8×10 piece of paper in collage form with the dates and names of the publications visible, and photocopy this. You can also do it with your computer, but a photocopy ensures that the clips were real.)
If the demo package is for promotional purposes for radio and TV–in which case its called a promo package or media kit–add a fact sheet with a few interesting factoids and career highlights in bullet form, double-spacing between each one. This makes it easy for on-air personnel to glance down and bring up points during a live interview. Make sure your 8×10 is print-quality, and have good quality jpegs, and at least one print-quality color slide available upon request.
If you’re a cover band and the purpose of the demo package is to get hired for live gigs: the CD should consist of well-recorded live performances of the best three or four songs from your set list, as well as a paper copy of the current set list. You should also have available upon request a well-recorded live VHS or DVD of your show. (Don’t expect to get them back; they should only be made available to potential employers.)
And finally, have electronic copies of everything on your website, using short audio and video clips of your songs. (If you have full versions of your songs on your website, you’re reducing their marketability–and why should a label or publisher pay you for something that’s already out there for free?)
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Answers in the MBADC Q&A are to be taken as general advice only and are not intended as a substitute for legal advice from a competent entertainment or intellectual property rights attorney.