What it takes to record a songwriter demo.
I get a lot of questions on how the demo recording process works. Why does it take four weeks to record a demo, who's playing on my song, are all instruments played by live professional studio musicians and not sampled or midi instruments?
There are many steps to the process. I won't go into detail on every step, only what I think might interest you, to give you an understanding of the process.
This is how a full production demo is recorded at GC Music.
The first contact is normally an email sent to me from a songwriter with a list of questions.
I answer all emails daily and give detailed answers to each question.
The next step, is for the songwriter to send me a mp3 via email along with a typed lyric sheet.
After i receive the mp3, read over the lyrics, I listen to the song and take notes as far as production, singer, instrumentation, etc.
I contact the songwriter, normally, the very next day and give them my ideas for the song.
Once the two of us decide on a direction for the song, style, etc. I write a chart and arrangement.
Next, I contact the singer that will be singing the demo and send them the mp3 of the song to get the perfect key.
After I have all the info I need to schedule a studio session, I book the session about 7 to 10 days out.
On the tracking date I only track drums, bass, piano, and acoustic guitar. This way I can concentrate on the rhythm section only, making sure everything is perfect.
About a week later I track electric guitars, steel guitar and any other overdub instruments the song will need.
At this point I book the singer as soon as they are available. Normally about a week out.
When the singer arrives at my studio they study the song for as long as it takes to learn the melody and phrasing. The singer then goes into the vocal booth and we start tracking. It takes about an hour and a half for the singer to perform a song unless it has a complex vocal harmony arrangement.
After all the tracks are cut for the song I schedule it for mixing.
I Normally spend about 6 hours tuning the vocals, mixing and mastering.
Now the song is ready to upload to the songwriter.
Oftentimes songwriters don't know how to pitch their songs.
This is a learning experience that all songwriters should be studying regularly, as it is always changing.
Get on the internet and start digging. Plan on several months of educating yourself before you make any contact with a publisher.
I hope this brief blog helps you understand the demo recording process a little better.