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14 Reasons Why Your Demo Is Dumped

Navigating the music scene can often feel like navigating a stormy sea. And let's be honest, sending out demos can sometimes feel like entering a labyrinth with no clear path out. You hit "send" and hold your breath, hoping your demo catches someone's attention amidst the sea of submissions. But then, inevitably, you receive that dreaded "unfortunately" email, and it feels like a blow to the gut. So, what went wrong?

First, we need to consider the market. Spotify, the ubiquitous platform for music streaming, boasts millions upon millions of songs uploaded. In such a crowded space, standing out is an uphill battle. Additionally, a study from New York University indicates that listeners often make up their minds about a song within a mere five seconds of listening. This underscores the importance of capturing attention right from the start.

Critics, too, often have stringent criteria. We may hone in on the first 20 seconds, the hook, and even the outro of a track. These elements serve as crucial touchpoints for evaluation. So, while your artistic vision may extend far beyond these initial moments, it holds immense weight in the eyes (and ears) of those making decisions about your music.

So, as you craft your demos, it's critical to consider these factors: How does your song captivate within those first few seconds? Is the hook compelling enough to draw listeners in, and does the outro leave them wanting more? By addressing these questions and fine-tuning your approach, you can increase your chances of not only being heard and evaluated, but increasing the odds that your music will be shared. Let's delve into fourteen possible reasons why your demos might be met with rejection.

  1. You're using spamming tactics. Sending out emails like spamming a critic's inbox is as effective as trying to serenade a brick wall with a broken fiddle – a futile endeavor. And when it comes to social media, bombarding every group and page with your links is like casting a fishing net into a desert – you're not going to catch much. Instead, let's refine our approach. Craft messages that say, "I'm not here to clutter your inbox, I'm here to make an impact!" Nobody appreciates inbox clutter. We all appreciate authenticity and honesty. That goes for groups and pages on social media, as well. Do you see artists that insert their links into every comment section? Does it make you want to listen to their stuff? Probably not.

  2. You've neglected to include bio or song info. We're all about getting to know you and your music, so don't worry about sending in a lyric video – although they're cool, what we're really curious about is a peek into your creative world. When I'm listening to your song, I'm not just hearing notes; I'm getting a glimpse of who you are as an artist. You don't need to spill your life story, but a little personal touch can go a long way. If I open an email and find the subject line and body empty, it's a bit like receiving an invitation with no address – I'm left wondering if you've got time for me at all. So, share a bit about yourself and your work.

  3. You're sending unsolicited demo links through social media. In this digital age, most of our communication happens online and that's pretty convenient. But when it comes to sharing your music, sliding into someone's DMs with your links can be a bit of a misstep – unless, of course, you've got a bit of a rapport with the person or you've checked in with them first to make sure they're cool with it. It's all about the method. Just like you wouldn't randomly toss your mixtape at someone on the street, it's important to approach online interactions with a similar level of respect and consideration. Email's no different! There's a whole etiquette to it. So, before you hit send on that link, take a moment to think about how you're reaching out. Building connections and sharing your music is awesome, but doing it the right way can make all the difference.

  4. Your EPK is a mess. If you're new to the game, it's totally understandable that you might not have a fully polished press kit yet. Even if you've been doing this for a minute, it can still take time to acquire enough content to make that happen. And that's okay because simplicity can actually do you some favors. Sometimes, artists feel this pressure to create these elaborate EPKs that end up being more of a headache than anything else. Imagine accessing an EPK with terrible graphics, broken links, and full of grammatical errors. It's frustrating and time-consuming, and honestly, it doesn't leave a great impression. But guess what? A concise, well-organized one-sheet can do the trick just as effectively – if not better. It's like having a clear roadmap instead of wandering around lost in the woods. So, don't stress about having the fanciest EPK on the block. Keep it simple, keep it clean, and let your music do the talking. That brings us to the next misstep:

  5. Your links are scattered. You know that feeling when you're on a treasure hunt but the clues are scattered all over the place? It's frustrating. Imagine that's what it's like for someone trying to find your music when they're interested – they shouldn't have to go on a wild goose chase. And unless you have some top-tier tracks, we simply won't hunt down those links. That's why it's super important to make it easy for people to access your music right off the bat. Having a linktree, EPK, or even a simple one-sheet ready to go is a solid tactic. That applies whether you're submitting a demo or marketing your brand.

  6. You aren't offering originality. It's a competitive world out there, and if your material is unoriginal and formulaic, you're setting yourself up to be lost in the noise. With hundreds of thousands of songs being uploaded every week, it's like trying to shout over a crowded room. Originality is your ticket to getting more exposure. If your music sounds like a carbon copy of what's already saturating the airwaves, don't expect to turn heads. Imagine listening to the same song on repeat – it's not exactly thrilling, right? Standing out takes some bold moves and determination, but it's essential if you want to make an impact. So, when crafting your demo, ditch the cookie-cutter approach. Bring something fresh, something unexpected to the table. Because let's face it, we're drowning in generic tunes – but something unique? That's worth a listen.

  7. Your track is poorly processed. This is a very common issue that causes kickbacks: technical problems with a track. When you're knee-deep in the mixing and mastering process, often technical glitches can slip under the radar. This is especially common if you're self-producing – you become so accustomed to your track that any imperfections start to blend in. You might not even realize when something's off. That's where things can go south. Issues like clipping, muddiness, or imbalance can sneak into your demo, detracting from its overall impact. Take the time to give your demo a critical listen, or better yet, have a fresh pair of ears take a stab at it. This is why getting a professional critique can help. Addressing these technical hiccups can elevate your demo from good to great, ensuring it's ready to go when opportunities come along.

  8. You don't accept critical feedback. Another frequent scenario: receiving a demo that's almost there but falls short due to technical processing issues. It happens more often than you might think. Sometimes, there's a hiccup in the mix or mastering that holds the track back from reaching its full potential. Now, when we provide feedback on these issues, it's not about tearing your work down – it's about helping you elevate it. Consider it as a friendly nudge, a heads-up on what needs tweaking. After all, if we didn't see potential in your track, we wouldn't bother offering suggestions for improvement. So, the next time you receive constructive criticism, embrace it as an opportunity to fine-tune your craft. We're all in this together, striving to create the best music possible.

  9. You've submitted to the wrong listing. So, you've put in the effort to submit your demo, only to find out it's not quite what we're looking for. It's like showing up to a cowboy-themed party in a spacesuit – a bit out of place, right? I want to make the most of your time and ours. So, when we're on the hunt for country tunes and receive an electronica track instead, it's not about brushing off your effort. It's about ensuring that we're aligning with the right criteria for our current search. So, before hitting send, take a moment to make sure your submission matches our genre preferences. That way, we can all make the most out of our time and who knows? Your next demo might just be the perfect fit.

  10. You've overhyped your material. It's awesome to be proud of what you've created, and including quotes from MIPs and fans can definitely add some flair. However, when your bio claims your band is the next "Disturbed," you're setting the bar pretty high. Now, I totally get it – you believe in your music, and that's fantastic. But, when we see big claims like that, we're going to take note. While I don't necessarily take hype at face value (after all, you wouldn't be submitting your track if you didn't believe in it), we do use it as a relative measurement. So, when you set those expectations sky-high, we'll be listening for comparable elements. Just keep in mind that often we have to be able to project that future work will be of similar quality, especially when dealing with your release cycle. Keep rockin' that confidence, but remember to keep it real too. Who knows? You might just exceed your own expectations!

  11. You aren't "reading the room". This is yet another pretty common scenario: an artist submits a track full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll imagery without considering the audience they're pitching to. Here's the deal: if you're aiming for family-friendly airwaves, explicit lyrics won't cut it. Makes perfect sense, right? Sometimes it's a bit difficult to decide if your song is SFW. Always err on the side of caution. There's a rather simple solution: if possible, have a radio edit of your track ready to go. Yep, terrestrial radio is still alive and kicking. So, if you're planning to submit to solicitations like this, having a clean version of your song ensures you're ready for any opportunity that comes your way. (See number 9.)

  12. Your cover art is a mess. Just like you would with the photos in your EPK and one-sheet, it's important to consider all presentations. You know those photos where the boys are sitting in an alley somewhere, solemn and stone-faced? Yeah, it's pretty common. There's only so much you can do to make that cliché look fresh. So, here's a friendly tip: think outside the box, whether you're using photos or digital artwork. Even if you're not a creative whiz, simplicity can be your best friend. Just make sure it aligns with your overall theme – that's the key to making a memorable impression.

  13. We have no placement for your track. There are moments when we're inundated with submissions or our current projects don't align with what you're offering. Trends in the industry can shift as swiftly as the weather – what's hot today might not be tomorrow. However, just because we don't have a spot for your content right now doesn't mean it won't be a great fit in the future. It's not a reflection of your work's quality; it's simply a matter of timing and current needs. So, while we may not have something for you at this moment, keep creating and stay tuned – your time to shine might be just around the corner.

  14. Your music isn't up to par. Sometimes, due to various technical or creative reasons, it might not quite hit the mark we're aiming for. Despite our best efforts to refine it, there are instances where the track just doesn't reach the desired level of quality. In such situations, it's worth considering a fresh start or revisiting the mix with a critical eye. While it can be tough to accept, recognizing when a track isn't meeting expectations is essential for growth and improvement. So, as challenging as it may be, it's important to acknowledge when a track isn't resonating as expected. By staying open to reassessment and potentially revisiting the creative process, you set the stage for future successes in your musical endeavors.

It's frustrating when your material gets kicked back. It almost feels like a personal attack. Trust me. It isn't. When we pitch for you, we want to make sure that you are given every advantage that you deserve. To do this, we have to implement quality control. Remember that you get one shot to make a first impression. And that goes for all of us. When we accept your track, we're putting our names out there, too. We're making connections for you with the implied statement that we are vouching for an artist and his or her music.

So if you do receive that "unfortunately" message, reframe it as an opportunity to look critically at your work. You'd be surprised at often minor issues that are easily overlooked. But most importantly-don't give up. Keep moving forward and focus on the wonderful attributes that make you and your music unique!


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