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Do I Have to Follow the Record Label Demo Policy?


Question: Do I Have to Follow the Record Label Demo Policy?

In a word - YES! When you are ready to send your demo to a record label, finding out the label demo policies can feel like a smack in the face. You've put in lots of work to get your sound just right, and then you find out that you can't send your demo to the record label in the format that you would like - or even that you can't send it all. Frustrating? Yes. But that doesn't mean you can go around the rules and ignore the demo policies. Here's why:

  • Demo Policies Exist for a Reason: Sure, it can seem like a record label's demo policy exists for the sole purpose of keeping you far, far away from the label itself. There's a nugget of truth to that - and you shouldn't take it personally. No one at a label would get any work done if they had to field demo calls all day. Controlling access to the label staff is only a small fraction of the reason labels have ruled about how they accept demos. The real reasons are:

    • Format Restrictions: A label may not want towers and towers of CDs cluttering up their office, or on the flipside, they may have been burned by virus filled attachments one time too many. Maybe they want to avoid all the paper waste that comes along with physical demos, or maybe they just can't get a good feel for music if they don't have a physical copy of something. Whatever the reason, there IS a reason when a label stipulates the format in which they are willing to accept your demo.

    • Length Restrictions: You would be surprised - no, absolutely FLOORED - to see how many demos make their way to even the tiniest of record labels. There are not enough hours in a day to listen to 12, 13, 14 or more songs from every person who submits a demo. You can learn more about choosing songs for your demo by clicking here.

    • Follow Up Restrictions: As previously stated, there is just not enough time in the day to accept phone calls from everyone who submits a demo AND still run the label. Waiting for some feedback from a label that may never come is incredibly nerve wracking, but unfortunately, it's one experience that kind of goes with the territory.

  • Demo Policies Ensure Your Demo Gets Heard: A demo policy is actually a glimpse into the day to day functioning of your favorite label. When you adhere to the demo policy, the label is prepared to deal with your music. It will go to the right person and it will get a listen. This will happen in as timely a manner as possible (keep in mind that some labels have VERY small staffs, and it can take a long time to wade through demos).

    When you DON'T adhere to the demo policy, your music could get pushed to the side, lost in the shuffle or outright binned for violating the rules. The policy is actually your friend if you want someone at the label to check out your song.

  • Label's May Not Accept Demos for Legal Reasons: The hardest thing to swallow may be when you find out that your dream label doesn't accept demos at all. There is a good reason for this rule, however. Many labels refuse unsolicited demos because it opens them up to legal troubles. Someone can send them a demo, and then claim that their songs have been stolen and given to other artists on the label. It has happened. So, some labels - especially large labels - simply can't afford to take the risk. Violating this rule won't get you anywhere.

The label demo policies might seem inconvenient, but following them helps you in the end. Resist the urge to try and force your way on the label.

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