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Demo Quality?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Turtletheyertle, Oct 4, 2004.

  1. Turtletheyertle


    Oct 1, 2004
    Ok, my band is looking for some local gigs at small clubs, etc. im wondering what quality the demo cds need to be. i mean were not sending it off to a record label, but I dont want to come off as sloppy. Do i need to use a studio? can i just stick a mic in the middle of the room for a live recording? can i just run a few channels and a few drum mics and do it live? what do i need to get gigs here and there?
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    the mic in the room for a live recording isnt gonna cut it unless you use a really good ribbon mic and mic preamp (think 5 k worth of stuff)
    using a few channels you can make a demo "live" if you're tight enough and you have someone good at the board.
    OF course you can look around and find someone with a multitrack who wants the practice and you can arrange a mutually benificial arrangement.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I think it depends a lot on the clubs you're looking to get gigs in. There are no hard and fast rules. We've gotten gigs simply by talking our way in. I'd advise to go to a good studio, and at the very least get really well mixed cd of 2 or 3 songs. If you guys are tight the fact that it's a live take will probably work in your favor. If you've got the money and the time then by all means do an all out multitracked recording. You're probably going to need it eventually anyhow. I wouldn't go with the mike in the room, lousy quality thing though. It's not very professional and could give off the vibe that you couldn't care less about what you do. that's my $02.
  4. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    As with everything else, the better the quality of your demo, the better the potential to get gigs, I believe. Studio is the way to go.

    My band did a four song cover demo in studio. 4 hours out the door for $200 with a couple of CDs that I ran duplicates from my computer and off we went. We have steady one weekend per month engagements at 3 of the 5 places we gave promo packs to. The fourth is pending after follow (the fifth is a lost cause).

    I have steady work playing bass because of that time and 200 bucks spent in studio so I would recommend that.
  5. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yeah; you already have who-knows-HOW-much money invested in equipment, you have all that time invested in rehersal and all, and you'll potentially RECOVER this money at the gigs you get with the demo.

    I think it's pretty spun to go around trying to harvest the fruits of all this work with a crappy demo.

    Just be careful with whos studio you choose. There are some real rip-offs out their all over the place. With the cheap and easy availability of recording gear these days, there are some VERY clueless engineers (NOT) and producers (NOT) out there. ..acoustically abhorrent rooms; crappy mics that look expensive; improper (or NO) compression on the tracks; horrendous mixes; awful use of effects... the list goes on. There are a lot of guys out there just going through the motions - some have never even done so much as to read a textbook on recording, much less mentored under someone who knows what they're doing.

  6. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I personally don't believe that a demo needs to be a CD quality item.

    A demo is something that gives potential clients an idea of what your band is like. Most demos are listened to for 5-10 minutes and then discarded. That's regardless of the quality. If the band's material is no good for the venue, then no amount of audiophile quality is going get you the gig. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that you should use a crappy recording using your $20 boombox in your cement basement. It just doesn't need to be CD quality. It just needs to accurately represent your band. Trust me, even though agents and clubs managers can be slimy, they're not all stupid. Something overproduced will make them wonder if a band can pull it off live.

    If you insist on getting CD quality, then create a full length CD. If you are going to go through the time and money in the studio, you should come out with something more substantial that you can sell/distribute at shows as well as to promote your band and to get gigs. It enhance your perceived professionalism and marketability.
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    A live recording may work fine, sometimes the audio quality is good enough. It's hit or miss based on the room and the mikes (recorder matters very little). You still need to be able to edit and copy the recordings.

    Recording at rehearsals works a bit better because you have the option to move stuff around to get a better balance.

    Studio is simplest but can be more expensive. Pick 3-4 best songs, go in and play 'em live, overdub vocals and mix. If you're well prepared before going in and don't waste time you can record and mix a short demo with 8-12 hours total studio time.

    Like Jeb I've done studio demos for $200 which is less than going out and buying a recorder and mikes for DIY recordings.

    Like Joe P writes above, shop carefully for a studio. Ask other bands what studios they like, get samples from every studio you contact.
  8. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I have handled booking from both ends. I have also worked as a studio engineer.

    I have always felt that the more professional the product the more the band has thier act together. This is not always the case but the booking agent has little else to go on. Look at it from the booking agent end. If you have a stack of 15 demos to listen too, the first one you're gonna pick is the one that looks most professional. I always felt that it was a good reflection of the professionality of the band. Remember, as much as we hate to admit it, we're talking buisiness here.

    Also remember that the booking guy is probably gonna listen to 30 sec of 3 songs if that. Don't waste your money on a full length cd if it is just for getting gigs. The booking agent won't listen to all of it. Only record a full length if you are planning on selling it at gigs.
  9. keeping what fingers has said in mind, you might consider something like (this) to get a pretty slick look. Get a few studio tracks, and maybe a few recordings from a past show (pull off the soundboard or just use a couple mics in the room, nothing elaborate) and put them on a nicely labeled cdr. Go with the $200 package, and give 50 discs to booking agents and the like. Sell the other 50 for like $4 at the shows you'll get with your slick package and recover your duplication cost. Sell them for $5 and start eating into that studio cost as well. :)
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Fingers is dead on about the reject rate, your best song MUST be first on the disc.

    Only 50% of people will get to song 2, fewer to song 3...it's much easier to hit EJECT than FF :D
  11. I'll say this much. If you want to go do a good demo, don't go to a studio until your really ready to invest. when your there, pick up a couple of mixers for $99 each. I have one and all i had to do to get a decent sound was to turn down the mixer input to almost nill, then run it into analog and put that at five for the level. sounded great and picked up everything in the room, even if it was a little thin. that was with one karaoke mic for drums, one for vox, and a lineout from the bass, and it sounded good. all we needed to sound professional was a couple better mics (obviously), and a few extra trax, and we would have sounded near professional.

    in short, sometimes it is better to get a couple of crap mixers together for 200 bucks than it is to spend 200 on 15 minutes of good quality studio sound. you learn more anyways.
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Our current demo was recorded live at an outdoor gig. We went into 8 tracks on a Boss BR1600. A little light remixing produced a halfway decent bunch of tunes.
  13. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2002
    An easy way to get a pretty good demo for cheap is to mike or DI everything into the board and hook the line out to a CD recorder. Take some time and set the levels one instrument at a time watching your peak levels. Try not to play to loud.
    The recording you get will not be very adjustable and it will be mono, but it will also be a fairly accurate rendition of your live sound.
  14. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I truly agree with this. I say, hire a sound engineer to record a live gig, and then take your 2 or 3 best songs. It doesn't need to be anymore, and you're giving clubs an accurate version of what you will sound like. With all of the amazing recording software and equipment out there right now, any band can sound amazing in a studio recording.
  15. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Technology is such that you can find a cheap studio that get 'CD Quality' sound. I am a firm believer in spending money to make money. I've worked in all areas of this field and have seem demos go straight in the trashcan if they don't seem professional. Remember, the guy who is booking you needs all the help he can get to like you. Then comes to relentless phone calls you have to make... but thats a different story.