A Note from the President:
Avoiding a Demo Dud
Shaffer, Owner of Ultra-Sonix Records
So you and
your band finally decided to record your originals that your friends
swear will get you signed. Not sure you know where to
start? Here are a few tips that will help you avoid creating a
demo dud and will keep you on the right track in the studio.
Practice, Practice. It is essential that you come into
the studio with your songs flawless. The better your band
know the parts, especially on an individual basis, the more money
you will save in the studio. I would recommend your band
members practicing individually on a clicker or a metronome to
prepare for recording in the studio since they will be recording
to a clicker track.
Cut Corners. It may be tempting to record your demo on
your brother's friend's uncle's 4-track because you don't
want to fork out the $50.00 to $80.00 per hour for a good studio
and an engineer. You'll end up wasting your time.
Don't accept anything less than perfection on your
recording. I have heard more demo CD's with songs that have
sloppy cutoffs, vocal intonation problems, and
crappy mixdowns. Do it right or don't do it at all;
otherwise your recording will receive about 20 seconds of playtime
before it is thrown into the trash.
a reputable sound engineer. Since it is the engineer who
records, mixes and masters your CD, he will either make or brake
you, depending on the breadth of his experience and
expertise. Talk to both local music studio heads in your
area and local recording artists whom they would recommend.
Ask them pointed questions about the quality of the engineer's
work as well as his personality. Will he cut corners or is
his work thorough? Were his clients satisfied or unhappy
with the finished product? Is he flexible or rigid? Is
the atmosphere he creates intense or more laid back?
Does he have good communication skills or is he difficult to
understand? A good engineer must personify more than just
good studio recording and mixing skills. His demeanor should
create an environment that perfectly suits their client.
Also, investigate his work portfolio of CDs. From his
previous works you can judge the extent of his ability and make a
Creative "Ear-Candy". Ear-Candy can be summed
up as all the little things that give life to your CD. It's
what causes me to play a song over and over again. Ear-Candy
may be a particular guitar effect in one measure of the
song. Maybe it is a background cello part with a counter
melody. It could even be a pause in the song between your
verse and chorus. However, good Ear-Candy can only go as far
as the extent of your creativity in song arrangement. So
experiment with all of your guitar effects! Utilize
instruments and keyboard sounds that are different that the
norm! Change the time signature for a measure and make
dynamic contrasts in a song! I guarantee your music will
stand above the countless wanna-be "flavor-of-the-month"
rock bands that litter the modern music scene.
sure your CD is mastered for radio play. This is a
tricky one... Much of modern rock music has been mastered at
outrageously high levels. However, the radio station
gatekeepers seem to love it that way. If the mastering
levels are boosted way high, they often deem it good enough for a
spot in their rotation. However, by jacking up the levels,
many bands lose their dynamic quality on their CDs, which can make
them sound bland. The trick is for your engineer to be good
enough to know how to raise the mastering levels high enough for
radio play, without losing its dynamic edge.
could add other suggestions, but artists need to live and learn,
experiencing the highs and lows of the recording process.
Hopefully, your music will turn heads and get the attention of the
music industry...because much of today's Christian music scene is filled
with artistic mediocrity.