Why Most Demo Recordings Are Rejected

"Getting a deal" has long been the goal of many would-be artists and bands. For mostly naive reasons, most new talent feel that by securing a recording contract with a significant major or independent label, success will be guaranteed (talk about naivete). To get this 'belief system' up and running, many musicians figure all they have to do is send off their music to a label, and a recording contract will come their way shortly.

The following list of '10 Reasons Why Demo Are Rejected' was gathered together after years of listening to comments made by record label A&R reps at music industry conferences and workshops; as well as from personal interviews with reps, and from many interviews A&R reps have given to the press. In addition, I can verify that these observations as true, from having personally listened to thousands of demos over the years.

The purpose of providing you with this information is to at least improve the odds that your music will get listened to when you submit your demos. This list will look at the most common mistakes musicians make when either shopping for a record deal, or trying to get the attention of A&R Reps with their demo recordings.

10 Reasons Why Demos Are Rejected

1. No Contact Information on CD-R and/or CD-R container
(put your name, address, email, and phone number on both).

2. Lack of Originality (just because you can record, doesn't mean your music is worth recording).

3. The Music Is Good, But The Artist Doesn't Play Live (this applies to all genres of music except electroninca and experimental music).

4. Poorly Recorded Material (So you bought ProTools....so what!)

5. Best songs are not identified or highltghted on the CD-R (give the folks a break, for demos, send only 3 or 4 songs and highlight the best ones).

6. Sending Videos In Place Of CD-Rs (keep it simple, in the demo mode, all anyone wants is to check out your songwriting and musicianship).

7. Sending Unsolicited Recordings (you sent them, but they never asked for them).

8. Sending The Wrong Music To The Wrong Label (you didn't do your research to find out what labels put out what kind of music).

9. Musicians Can't Play Their Instruments Competently (this is so basic, but you would be astounded at how incompetant most start-up musicians are).

10. The Music Sucks (this criticism is as old as music itself. you may think your music is the greatest thing since frappacinos, but most demo recordings the industry receives are as bad as the first round contestants on American Idol).

Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.

Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.

He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".

Christopher Knab