A demo CD is a necessity for any artist seeking to get a recording contract under a record label, it is basically a sample of what they can expect from you and your music, so you better put your best work out there so you can get that deal!

Take your pick

And it should only be the best! Pick out your best songs, lyrically/content wise. No more than 4-6 songs are needed on any one demo. Remember the purpose of the demo is to show not only how great you can sing, rap etc but also how versatile you are as an artist. Record labels are now seeking artists who are able to produce hits in a multitude of genres, hence the reason why there are so many cross-over artists/songs. Do you have what it takes to fulfill those needs? well you have to show yourself to be a multi-faceted artist/musician through your music. Are you a hardcore underground rapper? Try mixing your style with something a little out of the box like heavy metal rock. Can’t be done? Tell Run-DMC that…they dared to think out of the box when they made their hit collaboration with heavy metal rock band Aerosmith in the song “Walk This Way” in 1986.

Clarity is Compulsory

Before you hand your demo to anyone who you would deem as important, an A&R/Record Label etc. you should always and I repeat always make sure your music on that demo is of the highest quality! Every one of your tracks should be mastered. Mastering a track evens out tone and increases clarity. As mentioned in a previous article, with so much competition in the music industry, you don’t want your demo being thrown out due to clarity rather than content. So,you may ask, how do i know if my track is mastered well?…. Play it! and play it everywhere…at home, in  your car, at work….when the boss isn’t looking… and in the studio. Why? because this lets you see or rather hear if the clarity/quality of the song is really good by testing it out on different systems. A song should sound the same whether it’s played in studio or on your old CD boom box at home, that’s how you can tell a well mastered track…it always sounds the same.


Mix it up

This is a follow-up on the previous point. A well mixed song and good quality mastering, are two things that can make your music sound industry standard…along with great lyrical content of course. A well mixed track is one in which all instruments of the beat are clear and well-defined in the song. No instrument in the beat should be neither too overpowering nor buried beneath the other elements of the song. This can be done by separating the instruments of the beat, but a track can also be well mixed without separation of the instruments, it depends on both the choice and preference of the artist and skill of the producer at work.



Without a good presentation for your demo, the other three points would be worthless. Why? because before the record label listens to your tracks they would have to make a decision……a decision as to whether or not they even want to listen to your music based on what they are seeing on the outside –  your cover art. While cover art may seem like an extra to many,it is actually an essential, every time you produce a mix tape/album your cover art should be an artistic reflection of your music and you as an artist. To labels your image is just as important as your music, and so, every year, millions of dollars are spent by record labels on the public relations teams of their top acts.Remember you have to give the signs that you are worth the investment before you can get signed by a record label.

Below is an example of a creative and professionally done album cover for Qtip’s The [Abstract] Best Mixtape.

Written by Tamika Simon