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Demo for getting club gigs

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by thewanderer24, Apr 15, 2003.


  1. thewanderer24

    thewanderer24

    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    My band has started playing out a little bit, getting gigs through connections we have. So far so good, but we want to get more serious about getting gigs at better places, with booking folks that we don't know.

    We are gonna need a short demo (along with some sort of professional looking promo package). We have the ability to put together a decent promo package, pics, bio, etc., with a nice but very brief presentation, but need to get working on a demo.

    The question is as follows:
    For a demo CD for this kind of purpose, how many songs is appropriate? How good does the recording and engineering quality need to be?

    We do mostly covers but have some originals we mix in. We try to keep our sets danceable, but usually mix in some slow ballad type stuff. Should the demo revolve around the covers or originals? Mix of rockin dance beats, heavy stuff, mellow ballads? More of one or the other?

    Any thoughts and shared experience would be appreciated.

    Oh, a little additional info: Music style ranges mostly (with occcasional departures) from classic rock to bluesy to funky. For now, looking to book different bars, clubs, and festival/street fair type stuff.
     
  2. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    Unless you have a specific gig in mind that requires something special, I would try and get the best sounding recording I could, while mixing all the aspects of the band to really give the listener and idea of what your band is like. Of course, you want to play what you are best at, but vary it up. Making it longer would not hurt, unless to do so would make it repetitive.
     
  3. SMASH

    SMASH Guest

    Jan 18, 2000
    Canada.
    Most places are happy with live or rehearsal tapes (as long as they don't sound too messy) as they prove you can play and what you really sound like - studio recordings can be faked/overdubbed by bands that turn out to be hacks live. A decent minidisc or tape recording (transferred to CD) is all you need.

    3-5 songs should suffice. I'd suggest making one main demo with fairly uptempo stuff and maybe a couple of softer numbers, and other demos that are totally cranking, totally mellow, totally blues, etc. Assuming you can do entire sets in those styles, the demos that only showcase a given style might get you booked into places that would avoid you if they knew your "other" side.

    Example - my band STOKE is fairly cranking (click band name in my sig for examples), especially if we play a cranking rock barn. But, we also play quiet eateries and mainsteam live venues - we just tailor our demos, and our sets, accordingly. Gives the fans variety as well.

    Make sure that *EVERY* page on every piece of paper, demo, etc. all have your contact number and email address on them. That is professional, far above a slick recording or glossy photos. Also suggest in your promo pack that you'll hustle for promo when you do get a gig offered - posters, radio, etc.

    Good luck.
     
  4. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    My cheezee cover band just got done cutting a new demo. We just recorded snippets of songs, sometimes changing song arrangements slightly to pack in a verse, chorus and a taste of solo in a 30-45 sec. bite. The snippets fade from song to song and give a booking person a good quick idea of what we're about - and because the demo packs in four or five snippets in about the same time span of one full song, we're able to show plenty of variety, without relying on the listener to skip through tracks if they're not excited by the style of the first cut or two. Not the only way to present a cover band demo, but one worth mentioning.

    As far as what to include on the demo, it depends, of course. But to take a wild guess without knowing any details, I'd say focus on upbeat cover tunes - danceable stuff for sure, with a slow tune/ballad or two thrown in to show variety/depth of repertoir. IME, if you're playing a cover/original mix, it's the covers that carry you and are the aspect booking people usually care about most. Perhaps a separate demo of originals would be in order? All of this is just a generalization, of course, so YMMV.

    Good luck with it! :)
     
  5. thewanderer24

    thewanderer24

    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    Thanks. Very good advice from all, and plenty to think about...
     
  6. Yeah, I second the "snippets of songs" approach, first time I heard a demo cut that way I thought it was kinda goofy, but it makes sense. If you're a busy club manager/owner, you don't have 10 minutes of time to listen through three or four full songs. It should be apparent within a few seconds whether a band can play (on tape at least).
     
  7. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane what goes here?

    Feb 23, 2003
    Denton, Texas
    Yes, I will third the idea. We call our promo CD a demo sampler. Fade in - fade out - sections of 5 songs.

    On the back we stick a resume of places that we have played with phone numbers and contact names.
     
  8. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    We're recording our "club demo" right now. We decided instead of the fade in/fade out thing, that we'd do something a little bit different, something that shows that extra bit of creativity. So instead of the snippets we wrote out a 12 minute long medly of snippets where each song goes into the next in a way that sounds pretty decent. Then we'll set up the cd so you can go to each song, but it plays as one long song. Ya follow me?? I'll post it up as soon as it's finished, I like the way it sounds so far.

    As for content, we're also a cover band that does originals. We didn't put any originals on there because it's for club gigs. So we put a little of everything, but tried to put our most energetic stuff in there. Mostly dance/sing along type stuff with just a little hard rock. We should finish recording tonight,then I"m mixing it this weekend. It's nice to have your own studio, hehe.
     
  9. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Great advice from all, but from my experience in radio I'd say keep demo length at 3 songs. No more, no less, and they should obviously be your strongest material.

    If clubs listen the same way radio/label people do, only three songs will get listened to anyway, and if the first minute doesn't grab their attention in some form, too bad.
     
  10. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    Agreed, technically ours is only really one song. But we put our stronger stuff first, good point, I forgot to mention that. I worked in local radio for a VERY short time, but I remember that part.

    However, one thing I also forgot, it seems like the bigger clubs, at least around here, want not only a demo cd, but also a video. Not sure if it's like that other places. But if you're really looking for the big gigs, you should get a video together that shows your music, your crowd, and your stage show.
     
  11. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    I thought I'd drag this old thread up because we just finished our demo last night and I'm happy about it. All mixed and ready to go, I'll probably put some clips up on our website tonight, I'm just psyched that it's finally finished and sounding good.

    EDIT: I didn't realize how long this actually took, damn May? I thought it was going to be done in a few weeks, but with the hectic schedules we all have it took much longer.
     
  12. Pako

    Pako Are we having fun yet?

    Jul 31, 2002
    USA, Montana
    Looking forward to hear the compilation.

    On the topic of Demo's, our band has done a couple of things.

    Of course a good promo pack including B&W glossy photo, bio, ect..., but for a while we would also include a Studio demo which included all original tunes except one cover. This was a Full-Retail ready CD. We actually got really good responses from it! Once those ran out, I took a live recording of a gig we had that was recorded on a 24-track, 24-bit recorder, and made snippets of each song. In each snippet, I would try to capture a) the beginning then cross fade to b) a chorus section then cross fade to c) a guitar solo then I would fade it out. Each snippet was between 30-50 seconds. This included mostly all cover tunes. We also got really good feedback on this demo as well. I think most booking managers in clubs really don't know that much about the technical side of music as we might, being musicians. What's going to matter to them is if it sounds good and that it's recognizable. For clubs (at least in Montana), the main goal of the Band is to keep people in the bar to keep them drinking. This is, as a result, how the club/bar makes it’s money, so they are going to be looking for music that fits that particular venue/crowd. The clubs that we got responses from were venues that fit our genres. Anyhow, that’s what’s worked for us in the past.

    ~Cheers~
     
  13. lionel

    lionel

    Sep 3, 2003
    Guadeloupe - FWI
    we've recorded a 3 song's demo with one of my band. You can find on, the 3 styles we play (jazz,funk, and caribean music) with big standard songs that everybody knows, the arrangement are changed, it gives an idea of our original way to play those tunes...

    after all, we just have to see the manager, makes him listen and usually we take the gig !:D
     
  14. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Lots of good stuff here. One thing we did in one of my former bands was to overdub crowd noises into our demo we sent to bars and clubs. We sent them a live in the studio recording, so they can get an idea of how we really sound while maintaining some sound quality. Then we overdubbed "voices from the crowd" that said phrases like "Man, there are alot of chicks here", "Round of drinks for everybody, on me!", "Big tip for the bartender!" and so on. Sure it was fabricated, but some guys found it amusing and at least it conveyed that we knew had the bar/club's interests in mind. It also made our demo different from others.
     
  15. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    Ok, I put up the mp3s on my site, however I couldn't get them to sound right as transitions(long story), so now it's just a bunch of random clips, but if anyone is interested they're here:

    www.sideshowband.com/media.html
     
  16. lionel

    lionel

    Sep 3, 2003
    Guadeloupe - FWI
    it sounds good:cool:
     
  17. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    thanks
     
  18. Pako

    Pako Are we having fun yet?

    Jul 31, 2002
    USA, Montana
    I like how they all blend together, sounds good! Cool site as well I might add. Toad's Places seems like a pretty good gig you guys, eh?

    Right on man, keep on keepin on! :bassist:
     
  19. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    haha, thanks man, I'm trying to find a way to host the mp3 as one osng, as that's basically what it is. Yeah, Toad's Place rocks that place is always happening.
     
  20. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Forgot to add this one.

    Make your demo visually appealing. Whether it is the CD label, the case, or sleeve. Some club owners/mamagers will throw the CD into a pile along with other bands, and listen to them when they have time. Some bar/club managers have a bunch of demos to listen to, and it's in your best advantage to have stand apart from the other CDs. A demo is no good unless someone listens to it. Just like commercial CDs and any product, interesting packaging can lure people to try it out.