When you're eager to for the powers that be at your favorite record label to listen to your demo, the idea of stopping by the label HQ, CD in hand, is tempting. But is it ever a good idea?
In a word - NO. In almost every instance, dropping by a record label office unannounced to give them your demo is going to backfire on you. There are a few reasons for this:
It's Uncomfortable: No one at the label wants to be subjected to listening to your demo in front of you, and no one really wants to accept it from you in person, either. That's not because people at the label have a bad attitude, and it's not a reflection on your music. The truth is, everyone at the label understands how much your demo means to you, and the truth is also that the vast majority of the demos any label hears will be demos they end up turning down. Giving the label the space to judge your demo on their own terms will work in your favor - putting them on the spot will not.
It's Not Really an Office: This one only counts for small, indie labels, but you might be surprised how many of your favorite music business are operating out of someone's bedroom/garage/dining room/guest room. Turning up at someone's house? Awkward. And a little scary.
The Receptionist Is Ready For You: On the other end of the spectrum, major labels have front desk receptionist who have dealt with people bearing demos on, oh, maybe ten thousand occasions. You're not getting past them. Plus, a vast majority of labels that have receptionists don't accept unsolicited demos.
You'll be Remembered For The Wrong Reasons: It can seem like visiting a record label with your demo shows a bit of spunk and "go get 'em" attitude. It may seem like a great way to make an impression. Well, that it certainly can be. You might not be forgotten. You're unlikely to be remembered fondly.
Almost every record label has a demo policy clearly listed on their website, and it is in your best interest to follow it to the letter. The demo policy isn't there to make your life difficult. It exists so that the label has an efficient way of dealing with the demos that pour into even the tiniest of labels. The demo policy exists so that your demo gets the chance it deserves, or in the case that the demo policy is "no demos," to save you from wasting your time approaching a label that can't help you. It may seem like a record label's demo policy creates a barrier between you and the label - and in a sense it does - but the policy is your friend. It ensures your demo gets a fair airing.
Now, the caveat. Every rule has exceptions. You may happen upon a label that invites drop-in visitors, and there is likely to be some musician, somewhere, who got a deal by bursting into a label office with a demo. You may also win the lottery. Your best bet with demos is to stick to the guidelines. These articles can help: