A demo in music is a track that is a rough draft example of the song. The demo is short for demonstration, in which the track demonstrates the idea it's going for, but needs to be fully redone for it to actually turn into a master recording. A master recording on the other hand is the complete and final copy of a song.
Demo recordings usually suffer from poor audio quality because the band or artist that is performing it was not in a good studio. Sometimes, the recording quality of the instrumentation portion of the demo is actually great, but the singer or rapper is doing a demonstration that will need to be done over in the future.
A demo is usually sent to labels or similar companies by bands and artists looking for someone to help them take their marketing to the next level. Labels often want you to send unreleased material that is not finalized in case they want to officially re-record and release that song under their name.
For Song Pitches
Demos can also be sent to established artists in hopes that the artist will take the song and release it as their own. Many demos for these opportunities can come from songwriters and publishers looking for placements with big names. These demos are also often of high quality, with the writer or publisher hiring a professional singer to demo the song for the opportunity.
Underground Bands and Artists
In some scenes, demos from local bands and artists with small but dedicated fan bases can be sold at very low prices or given away at shows. The reason it's called a demo in this instance is that the sound quality of the demo CDs is still 'demo' or low-quality stuff.
If you're looking for help in the music world, and you don't feel like your song quality is on par with the songs you hear getting a lot of spins on Spotify and Youtube, demos are where you can really shine. You don't want to be sending these songs to places where the public will be able to hear and judge you, but sending demos to A&Rs, labels, publishing companies, booking agents, and similar ear that can help you get to that next step is key.
Obviously, the better the sound, the better your chances of impressing your listener. But when you're recording your demo, focus on making your talents and unique appeal really shine, regardless of the recording quality. As long as your talents are clear and easy to hear, you'll have a good chance!
1. Be sure you're not sending your demos to places that state they aren't accepting unsolicited submissions! You'll be wasting your time and possibly putting yourself at risk of legal problems.
2. Don't send demos to places like radio stations! Also don't upload them to your distributor for places like Spotify and iTunes!
3. Be sure you are sending your story along with your demo. Make your overall presentation as full as it can be. Send great pics as well!
4. Your demo song or label doesn't need to be too long. The song can be around 2 minutes and the CD can be around 4 songs at most.