Over the years I have seen a decline in artists creating demo recordings of their songs which they intend to record and produce with me. Demo recordings can be anything from a simple vocal and guitar recording to a 4 to 8 track pre production mix. Demo recordings provide all the parties that will be included in the production process with a blue print to which everybody can work to. I want to share with you 5 reasons why making demos can help artists and producers work faster and more creatively when in the production process of a song.
Demo recordings help confirm the final stages of the songwriting process. The song’s structure, tempo, key, feel, groove, dynamics and mood should be captured in the demo process.
Choice Of Song
When selecting a song to produce it is sometimes good practise to have a few other songs to choose from. Having a selection of demos from the artist helps you to know as a producer that you are about to invest time into the right song and that there’s not a better song from the artist… a hidden gem that may work better in production.
Distance And Evaluation
Creating a demo gives the songwriter a golden opportunity to step back from the song and writing process. If the song still stands up to everyone’s judgement after a week and needs no further rewrites then it is ready for production. Producing a song that still needs lyrics changing or light and shades discovered can harm the song.
Demos can also be treated as a scratch pad for production ideas. It can help when needing to demonstrate creative ideas to other parties of the production. For example, if a drum loop has been used in the demo and it works then this loop can guide the drummer to work a groove around the demo’s feel. If a bass guitar with a distortion plug in works in the demo then a producer or bassist may try to recapture that vibe with a pedal and bass amp. Trying out ideas in a demo can save time in the production phase as trying out millions of ideas that were never going to work for the song are better recorded, heard and declined in the demo format.
Pressure Free Environment
Being able to create with no real sense of pressure is very liberating, the best and most organic musical choices can be made in this frame of mind. I’ve taken some client demos and used stems out of their demo sessions as for what they’ve created in these frames of minds have been outstanding.