Independent Records
Independent Records
Independent Records
Independent Records

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Getting Your Demo Played

If you're sending out your music (CD or demo tape), are people listening to it? While we all like to think our music sells itself, how can we make sure that promoter, producer, or label rep actually listens to our songs? Here are some steps that will help increase the odds.

First, realize that almost any music industry type gets TONS of promo packs in an average week. Some of them look good, but a large amount of them.. well... suck. Someone sent out a CD with no contact info. Or a band sent their demo tape with a scrap of paper saying how great the music is. The name of the game is to make your stuff stand out.

I look around my office, and I see piles of manilla envelopes. While there is nothing wrong, exactly, with a standard manilla envelope, it just doesn't stand out. In fact, it looks just like the other 25 packages I got this week. The first two I looked at (and listened to) came in really slick or otherwise creative packaging.

Since most indie bands don't have a lot of extra money to develop fancy full color brochures and promotional items (which is great if you do have the cash), the way to stand out is through being creative in your packaging.

An example: a few weeks ago, I received a CD from a band called Liberal Dogs. It came in one of those white CD mailers (you can buy them from Disc Makers at that just holds a single CD. The band had hand addressed it, and then someone took a felt tip pen and drew this little cartoon dog on it. Simple, inexpensive,... and effective. It was the first CD I listened to that day. All their other promo materials fit inside the mailer. They used a postcard with all of their contact info. It was amazing how much that CD stood out from the others I received that week.

Another artist, Scott Meldrum, had a very slick, coordinated kit. It came in a small (6 x 9") white plastic envelope, with an address label that matched his CD artwork. Inside, there was an excellent multi-page brochure with pictures and lyrics, a keychain, a button, a coaster, and his CD. Everything was coordinated, and even though this kit obviously cost the artist some money, it was well thought out, using two color printing to achieve a full color effect. And another thing: the design he used on his promo items was cool on its own, independent of the artist. A good thing to keep in mind for all your promo stuff and merchandise.

Even if you can't afford anything fancy, you can stand out by using a little creativity. Search office supply catalogs for envelopes that look different from the norm. Try to come up with some other alternative packaging that is fun. The whole point is to look unique and stand out. With busy music industry people, this will quickly identify yours as the CD they WANT to hear first. It also marks you as a creative thinker and smart business person.

This idea can, and should, be taken past just your external packaging. Glossy black pocket folders are passe. Try another color folder, maybe one with a design. What about one of those folders you color in with colored markers? Don't worry about looking "cheap". Think out of the box, and see what you can devise. Continually work on your presentation. It is this "stand out" quality that will get your music played instead of sitting around the office. Then your music can sell itself.

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