Demo Submissions – The Top Seven Mistakes Made When Submitting Demos


Are you following important industry guidelines on demo submissions?

There is quite a lot of detail which must be considered before a songwriter or musician goes about submitting demos. As a musician or songwriter, you need to do everything in your power to get the attention of record label reps so that you can get that deal; but you must go about it the right way. Avoid the many mistakes that musicians make when it comes to demo submissions.

In the following paragraphs, I will seek to highlight the seven biggest mistakes that songwriters and musicians make when submitting demos, and how to avoid them.

#1: Making unsolicited demo submissions.

Most major labels have strict policies against submitting demos which they haven’t requested. If you go down that route, all you’re doing is wasting money. They will simply return your CD with a cover letter explaining their policy against unsolicited demo submissions. Some kind of connection must be made first. Never send your demo to a label which hasn’t made that request.

#2: Submitting music with no contact information.

Most likely, this happens as an oversight. But my research has shown that it does happen very often. In their eagerness to submit their demos to a record label, artists forget important contact information. Ensure that your name, address, telephone number, email address etc. is included. You will be wondering what is happening with your music at the record label, but that’s all that’s ever going to take place if they have no means of contacting you.

#3: Demo submissions where music is not original.

The major labels want to hear something which is unique about you. If you’re just another rock band, or hip hop artist, and there is nothing fresh or different about you, your demo submission may be in vain.

This doesn’t mean that your music shouldn’t follow present trends; it certainly should. But your music should be distinctive and stand out from the pack. Similarly, it must be music that is marketable and that will sell.

#4: Music is poorly recorded.

If your recording is highly inferior, it is very likely that your demo will be rejected. There are so many studios around and so many musicians have home recording studios. What is one’s excuse for submitting poor quality material to a label?

Although reps at these labels are not necessarily looking for the best studio quality, it must be said that if your music is very sub-standard, they will have a good reason to say…NEXT! Essentially, you should try to make the best recording that you can. You may want to get your hands on some good recording equipment to enhance your production.

#5: Submitting the wrong music to the wrong companies.

Musicians often make the sad mistake of submitting demos to the wrong labels. If a label deals only with hip hop or rap music, why send them a country demo? Most likely your music will find its way to the trash. What a waste! You should take time to find out about a label before submitting your demos to them. If they don’t release music which is similar to yours then you would just be wasting time, money and energy.

#6: Songs reveal incompetence at playing instruments.

It takes time to be good at playing a musical instrument. (Just like songwriting ). If you rush things and submit your music to a record label, they will hear the incompetence within seconds. A record label has a reputation to maintain, and most importantly, they’re running a business. They would reject music which shows lack of skills. Don’t rush the songwriting process, then make lots of mistakes, and expect to get positive feedback on your demo submission. Be guided by industry standards.

#7: Demo submissions in which tapes are not cued up.

The reps at a major record label really do not have the time to rewind tapes to search for songs. If your tape isn’t cued up properly, then most likely it will be trashed. Think of the number of A&R reps receive every week. Sometimes they receive as many as a hundred. They will probably view you as being discourteous and unprofessional and you won’t stand a chance. So the best thing to do if your music is in tape format, is to cue it up.

If you’re submitting a CD, then you wouldn’t have that problem. In that case all you should do is ensure that your best song is first on the CD.


Nowadays, music is mostly submitted online in mp3 format to a record label’s email address. Some of the best sites for uploading your music are, and Gone are the days when you had to submit tapes and the CD is dying slowly.

Further Reading:

All About Getting Record Deals

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