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Demo CD for Cover Band??? Thoughts Please

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Stewie26, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. I am in a one year old cover band that has been playing at a few local beach bars. We play out once or twice a month. We are looking to get more bar/club gigs. We have been thinking of making a 4 or 5 song Demo CD of some of the cover songs we play. This would give us a tool to hand out to bar owners/managers so they can hear our band and hopefully book us. My question is: Has any other cover bands tried this
    booking strategy and if so, was it successful for you. Please post your thoughts. Thanks.
  2. J Gold

    J Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    we did it after 6 months of serious practicing, and the $700 bucks it cost (not including duplication and packaging) was very well spent...we shopped it around, and now for the last 3 years, we have at least 2 shows per month..really, without the good demo, its very hard for any club owner to care.

    FYI, its at:
  3. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I give a CD all the time and it gets us many gigs; especially out of town gigs where the people can't come here us live. I am going to a place today with a CD and promo package. However, our CD is from a live performance so they can hear what we actually sound like live and not a doctored up studio production. The live presenation has been very beneficial for my band.
  4. jonas_24112


    Jul 11, 2011
    Bottom line is YES. To get into most venues, a demo is required.

    I started by ripping the audio from some live videos. It was rough, but gave me something to hand out and put on FB and RN. It's gotten me in a bunch of smaller bars.

    I'm currently looking to make a more professional demo to start marketing to larger venues. My preferred route is a professional studio, but the $$$ it costs is an issue. $700 IMO is WAY too much for 5 cover songs. My second option is a buddy of mine has an originals band and they have cut a couple of albums themselves recording in his home. He would probably do it nearly free.

    The advice I've been given on using a pro studio is pick your songs beforehand. Practice them until you can play them in your sleep and not make mistakes. Go into the studio and don't waste time. All instruments record playing the song in one take. Vocals are then recorded separately. Harmonies are recorded next. Fix anything you may have botched. Mix down and master. Get the heck out.

    Remember, the longer you're in the studio, the more it'll cost ya!!
  5. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
    Personally when I'm booking bands I'm always more interested in Live YouTube Videos and stuff like that over pre-recorded studio stuff. Being a musician myself I know how much can be done in a studio to make complete junk sound pretty good, and I know how going to a bad studio can make a good band sound really bad.
  6. MrDOS

    MrDOS Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I would check with the venues you are interested in -- if that's what they want, by all means do it. I record demos for local bands here regularly, and for a good bit less than $700. But I am a little far from Redondo here in Colorado :)
  7. sloppy_phil


    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    It's a good idea, but take it a step further. My cover band did a video shoot so that they (promoters/agents/bars) can see the visual package they are getting as well. Let's not kid ourselves, a cover band is as much an image sell as it is about the music, whether we care to admit it or not.

    The video's recent, but it seems to be working. We're now booked to play a showcase for the couple REALLY big booking agents here in town! :D

    here's the video in question
  8. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I agree with that, but it also depends on the client. Folks like bar owners, club managers, and promoters would rather have the live video or recording. Agencies probably like the live video/audio as well, but may want a studio demo or video to show to clients. For clients who are not savvy like a bride, the glossy, produced promo is the way to go. They don't know studio tricks, or even notice there are no amps in the video. They just compare the audio and visual, and the glossiest usually wins. There's a reason why the top wedding and corporate bands spend tens of thousands on their promo video (and it's usually not live).
  9. They either check out our video demo dvd of live shows or the 170+ videos posted on our you Tube channel. We discovered they do not listen to the studio cd we were shopping early on.Even though they ask you to drop at demo 9 times out of 10 during the follow up they hadn't listened or have no idea what they did with it!
  10. OP here. Really good advice. Thanks everyone for your input. I do have a pretty good home studio but I would prefer to use a pro studio and let someone else do the engineering and mix. I have found that when a third party is engineering then I don't have to deal with band member's egos to how loud they sit in the final mix. An unbiased third party's ear is the best way to go to avoid nit picking conflicts.
    Another qustion that I forgot to put in the opening tread is how many songs you put on the demo?
  11. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    Here's the video we are using and it is working well. We paid $300 to a friend of a friend who is just getting into video production and is doing several other local bands. He came to a big bene gig we did and set up 3 set cameras and one hand held and mixed it all down for us. For the 3 hundred bucks we got this promo with interview segs spliced in, 40 DVD's with artwork and eight fully mastered songs on you tube and DVD. It's not perfect but I'm happy with the way he mixed the band interviews into the demo. Helps with rappore with the bar owners to get an idea of who you are as people as well as what tunes you play.

  12. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I will not drop a demo at any club ever again in my life. You are better off throwing them up in the air and shooting skeet. I will walk in with a boom box, (with good bottom end! I spent a lot of money on my boom box,) and make sure we listen together, or my guitar player brings his laptop, and we watch video right there with the booking person.

    I will spend exactly NOTHING, and not a penny more.
    Muttleybass likes this.
  13. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY

    I feel this way at times too. Although we have gotten some work leaving demos at bars, sometimes sending the demo via email along with links to youtube videos is the door opener. Actually we seem to book even more gigs on the spot after meeting the principals at the bar before we even give them the demo but I think showing up with some kind of promo package lends an air of professionalism. I don't know if they ever look at the demo in many cases but it doesn't matter. DVD's are cheap and for pennies more we put artwork and contact info on the disc and jewel case. AND they make great stocking stuffers!
  14. Doug R

    Doug R

    Jan 27, 2011
    Spokane, WA USA
    We have had great response to our "demo" recording. Keep in mind that people won't listen to very much, or for very long.

    We recorded 14-songs "live" onto 8 channels of a Zoom digital recorder. Then we mixed them down with minimal re-tracking (okay, I re-recorded my bass on a few).

    The fun part was finding about 30-seconds from each song, usually a chorus or the "hook" and edited them together into a fun sequence. We ended with 11 clips in 5-minutes. Just when you're starting to get into a song, it fades into another one. As they say, always leave 'em wanting more.

    Once completed, we made CD copies & can also send as mp3 e-mail attachments. Now the demo is also on our website.

    Combine your recording with a promo pack including photo, song list, band info, business card and cover letter. You can send them out by mail, pass them out at places in-person, and send versions by e-mail where possible. We did most everything ourselves, kept the cost low (mostly just color printing, blank CDs & postage) and got over 100 of them out for less than $100.

    Keep it simple and classy if you can. Out of about 100 we sent out by mail & email, we reeled-in about 6 or 8 jobs initially in the first few months. Now, with a website, we also have all that available online and we get "discovered" and booked using that stuff from nearly 2-years ago.

    Website here
  15. Alrod


    Apr 7, 2012
    Huh :confused:
    bungletrpg likes this.
  16. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Ejrm trsfomh om Rmh;odj. zvCPMT os o[prmt/
  17. MrDOS

    MrDOS Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Colorado Springs, CO
    When reading in English,

    {I'm stuck on the rest...}
  18. ShoeManiac

    ShoeManiac Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    A cover band is ultimately a business. Sure, it's fun to play. But you're investing in a demo in order to get work. So start with an overall plan in mind. And along with that, a budget.

    What are you going to record? Pick out 5 or 6 of your strongest songs that will show the energy of your act, but also some dynamic versatility. Keep it generally uptempo, but don't be afraid to throw one slow number in there, too.

    From there, rehearse like hell, and start recording your rehearsals. Those rehearsal recordings are going to make it a lot easier for you to narrow down which songs to record, and may have the added benefit of drawing attention to some material that might need a little more work.

    From there, you need to find a studio. You should be able to find a well equipped studio that should charge about $50 / hr. Time-wise, tracking & mixing 4 or 5 songs can be done in about 10 hrs if your band and engineer can work efficiently. As for the studio itself? It should be a room where everyone can track together live. That means iso booths for vocals, amps, and you possibly needing to go direct. Vocals are probably the one area where you're going to want to overdub.

    As for the finished product? I would aim for 3 - 5 songs tops. You don't need to burn an excessive number of CD copies, simply because hard copies of music are on their way out. Email and file sharing should be your primary way of distributing your demo. So your engineer should prep both CD's and mp3's for you.

    I also wouldn't stop at the studio recording. Video of your band live can be very handy in selling your band. To that end, the band should have it's own YouTube channel that gets regularly updated with new material. You're going to want some things shot in HD, and the sound quality needs to be good. Those should be the videos that you offer up to club bookers. But it's also worth getting some video from something like an HD flip or an iPhone. You'd be surprised at the quality of some of those devices, and it makes for good web content for both demo purposes as well as fans.
  19. We haven't needed one so far. The videos on our Facebook page have seemed to work fine. I personally don't see the need to invest a couple hundred bucks in a demo that most bar owners are going to be too busy/lazy to bother listening to. Not trying to sound negative, but I just don't think they're that necessary unless you're maybe working with agencies or something.
  20. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Portfolios /w CD's are for getting gigs with agencies.
    Live vids and youtube links are for getting local bar work.

    Get the email addy of the decision maker you need..send them links. That will pull harder than anything else you're gonna do.


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