There are many ways to make a demo better without spending more money on it. Try these quick tips to get better results.
Do all of the pre-production you can BEFORE starting to record the demo. Figure out the exact tempo. There are great phone Apps out there, just to nae one there is one called BPM that will let you tap out a temp and get the beats per minute. This saves studio time and it keeps you from recording the song too fast or too slow. Also go in armed with the key of the song already noted. If you are able, recording a good solid guitar or piano/vocal demo in the right key and at the right tempo can give you more time in the studio to work on more important things! It’s always a good idea to go in knowing the exact arrangement you want and even having the song charted in advance. The more time you spend before you are in the studio, the more time you have to experiment and get the song right IN the studio.
Learn to speak “studio” language. The better you can communicate with the musicians, the better your demos will be. If you go in and say, “I want this to be vibey like Kenny Chesney’s ‘Anything But Mine'”, the musicians instantly know what you are after. Simply telling them who you are hoping to pitch the song to gives them a lot of direction. Learning all of the studio lingo can also speed things up. Learn what a “click track’ is. Anytime someone says something that you don’t understand, ask what it is. If you speak the language, you get better demos.
Simplify. It’s hard to direct 7 musicians and catch what each of them are playing as they track your song. I’ve started booking less musicians and trying to book people who are very versatile. It’s cheaper to pay 4-5 musicians AND you can often get your demo sounding more like you want it because you have time to listen to each part being played.
Bump up the vocals. Nothing is worse than playing a new demo for someone only to have them say “I can’t understand what he’s saying there.” Doing a mix with the vocal track turned up one dB (Decibel) is always a good idea. You want the vocal more forward on your demo than you do on a record.
Do all of your re-writing BEFORE you get to the studio. There’s nothing worse or costlier than writers trying to re-write something while everyone in the studio sits and waits. Don’t even book your demo session until your song is 100% done.
These simple steps can save you a lot of time and money. And, who doesn’t want a better demo!