It is so important that you are ready and focused when it comes to recording your demo CD. With you being unprepared within any area production will lead to time being wasting in the studio, just to correct mistakes, which will turn around and cost you big money in the long run.
Now you must choose exactly which songs you want to record. But first you should consider the type of song to choose, and not your favorite song, but the song with the most tangible marketability. (Meaning something thats catchy)
(Quick note) all songs on your demo should be radio ready meaning each song on your demo should be a song that can go straight to the radio or the club and it can hold its own weight against other popular songs and always remember to have a good clean mix and most importantly use non-explicit lyrics, Im talking bout no cursing, cause with your music being banned from certain marketplaces will cost you millions, and all Im saying is to wait, to curse on your album but not on the demo.
Next Im going to list a few elements to consider when choosing which songs to record.
TEMPO, the tempo is the element of money, meaning it has what they call the groove pace and a good groove pace (which is between 110 to 90 BPM) is a danceable pace, nothing to fast or to slow, which can lead to record spins on the radio, and record spins eventually leads to record sales.
Next is the format of the song, or basically to order and time frame in which the verses and chorus are played, like a simple format would be 1st a two or four bar intro, nothing that takes the song to long to start, 2nd would be a 16 bar verse and then a 8 bar hook and repeat twice.
Basic song format
1st verse 16 bars
chorus 8 bars
2nd verse 16 bars
chorus 8 bars
3rd verse 16 bars
chorus 8 bars
outro/ending 8 bars
Make it catchy, especially since the chorus is the backbone of a marketable song, so the chorus has to be something that the person will sing even when the song has stopped. From my experience it is best to use singing on the hooks or some kind of repetitive type of word play.
(Quick note) the musical bar in a song is when the beat loops, so each time the beat loops that is considered a bar, so in a normal verse the beat would have looped 16 times, and if you cant understand the concept of a musical bar then you shouldnt be in music.
Make sure you have your instrumentals legally with permission from the producer only if you are not the producer and artist of the track, cause what can happen is that the record company will like your song.
Meaning they would like to buy the lyrics plus the beat and wants to release the song as a single, but they cannot use the beat cause you didnt get permission from the producer, which in turn can result in them not being able to use you either.
Even if you practice hard and you are well rehearsed, you must remember that each part of the creation process can take a long time to record.
For a simple 4 to 5 minute song, you should be prepared to spend at least 4 hours to record in the studio if you’re a vocalist and even shorter for a rapper. Plus bands can take much longer. The great thing about recording in a studio is that if you make a mistake, you dont have to start all over again. They have what we call punch recording and it where the audio engineer can drop in at any part of the recording, without any strange noises or clicks.
Once you have finished recording the music (beat) first and then the voice(s), the recording process is not even half finished yet. The engineer then goes through the process of mixing or mixing down which means that all the recorded tracks are balanced and equalized. Often, special effects are used For example; delay and equalization can enhance the recording.
Then the final process is burning the CD. Depending what you want to do with the final product, but a good move would be to digitally master the product and you must have CD labels made with your contact information on them, (i.e. phone number and e-mail address).
The personal manager is the artist’s personal representative. The job of the personal manager includes anything that will help enhance and further an artist’s career. These responsibilities range from detailed, long-range career planning and complex contract negotiation to suggesting a lyric change or giving feedback on a new song. The personal manager is a planner, adviser, organizer, strategist, overseer, psychologist, manipulator, coordinator, detailer, traveling companion and friend. The exact responsibilities of a personal manager are directly dependent on the needs of the artist.
Successful management is simply balancing the artistic and commercial interests of his client at the same time. A personal manager is not the following: an employment agency, a record promoter, or music publisher. Although they do help the artist in finding an agent and landing a record deal, they are not expected to find work for the artist all by themselves.
Typically, a personal manager is on-call 24 hours a day 7 days a week and they are very much aware of whats going on in the artist’s professional life, as well as their personal life to a great extent. In a typical week, a manager might have a meeting in Los Angeles for one of the artists they represent, and then fly to New York City to meet with some record label representatives, then be in the office listening to demos, or even spending a few days in the studio while the artist records their album.
HOW TO GET THE DEAL:
It is really all about the game and the deal, the record deal aka the recording contract, which is simply a legally binding document between an artist and a production or record companies, which is basically like a car loan but we will call it an album loan, in which the record company loans you the money to record, mix, master, and promote your album. As the record companies usually prepare the contract, it is then negotiated between them and the Artist manager and the artists. The main purpose of a record deal is to give the record company rights to use or sell recordings of the artists live or studio performances, which in turn would then be licensed to the record company by the artist to sell commercially.
All contracts 90% of the time will be in favor of the Record Companies, who can control the master, recordings and charge the full amount of production cost to the artists possible royalty accounts or overall profit from album sales leaving them with an outstanding debt unless the records are hugely successful.
Where as the Record Label may pay for the manufacturing costs of CD’s, records etc., but understand that a packaging deduction’ is taken from the artists profits on the CD, these expenses cover the cost of CD/Cassette Covers, Artwork etc., which are hugely overcharged and are rarely close to the actual cost. Basically the artist will pay anything that is paid for by the record company on behalf of the artist, back to the company from the overall profits of the sale of the album.
Like I said, they act like a Bank who loans you money to record your music then the artist has to repay all of the loan back and remember that you will not be able to get a second loan until you pay back the first loan, and that is the major reason some artist never release a second album. Even after the money has been made back the record Company still owns the copyrights to the album and if the sales on the album are low then all possible future monies from music are taken to pay off the artists debt!
But what is all bad about it is how the Recording Industry can often sign artist to long unrealistic contracts for huge advances in the hope of fame, but the company feels that they shouldnt spend huge sums developing and signing artists that may actually never sell commercial quantities of songs, so they mostly spend time marketing and promoting their current successful artists and re-investing in new talent.
Another down side of the record deal is the practice of shelving or ditching an act/band if the A&R person leaves the company or if they have been failing to develop or promote the artist or their recordings. This has left many talented musicians out of pocket with no control of their recordings and career, by being tied into a contract with a company who no longer has an interest in their material, but retains all of the artists copyrights until the artists debt is repaid. Ouch!
Approaching Record Companies:
Millions of unsolicited demos are sent in every week to record companies, most of which are never listened to. Even the most conscientious A&R person will only listen to the first 20 seconds of a song before trashing it, so how does an unsigned artist get their music heard? The most effective way to get heard is to do live shows in places where record executives go to the most, TV and Radio appearances if you can, then you have myspace and your own web site which are to be supported by good music which is more likely to help an artist/band succeed in the business of music!
When approaching record companies straight up, you first got to check the background of the company to know what style and genres of music they sell and produce before sending them your demo cd. Before any of your live performances try to call A&R departments a week before a show, so they can have a talent scout to come out. Don’t be depressed if you don’t hear anything for a while or receive a rejection letter, it is mainly that the major companies deal with so many demos it could take over a month before you hear anything and just remember that many well known artists were rejected many times before getting their record deal! If an A&R person likes your demo they will call you or write requesting more new material.
Congratulations may be in order if you manage to get a meeting with an A&R person, but don’t start getting your hopes up! At this stage all they require is a chat to get to know you better or choose to make an arrangement to see the artist live. So be prepared to take criticism of the songs, recordings and performance.
Luck often plays a large part with artists being discovered in the most unlikely places but anyone who is serious about getting a record deal should concentrate on creating their own luck by Self Promotion of good and original music, image and live work. Artists may have to do this themselves unless signed to Management.
When a label or publisher makes an offer to an artist it is standard practice for an artists manager/lawyer to tell rival record companies in the hope of starting a bidding war for the artist to sign a record deal at there company, be careful not to sign a deal just for the extra money as you should always look at the long term picture and aim for a company/A&R person/producer who are easy to get along with and creatively on the same page with you.