A music demo, or simply demo, is a sample recording of your music. Usually, demos are rough recordings of songs and often do not include an entire album's worth of material. Demos are frequently sent by bands to record labels to try and land a deal, but they have a few other uses as well:
- Demo recordings of new songs can be given to producers before a band goes into the studio
- The songwriter in a band may give rough demos of new songs to other band members
- Sometimes, a record label will allow the media to hear demo recordings to build some interest in an upcoming release. When this does happen, it is usually the case that only a select few media members will get to hear the demos - often people who have proven themselves to be fans of the band in the past - and generally this happens when demos that contain "finished" songs. In other words, songs that are still in the writing and tweaking stage don't often get played for people outside the band and label.
One of the most important things to remember about a demo, especially when you are getting started, is that it is not intended to be a finished product. There is no need to spend a lot of money on a recording studio to make a demo. Labels expect your demo to be rough, and no one is going to give you a record deal (or turn you down) based on the recording quality of your demo. Also remember that a demo should be short. It should contain your best songs; three or four is ideal. Demos offer a taste of your music, not your whole catalog.