How to make a great demo CD

Posted by Promodiscs

A great demo CD in the right person’s hands can change your life!

There’s no guarantee that you’ll become a superstar, but you could land that dream gig, contract, set or event just progress to the next level in your musical career. It’s all well and good having the skills and ability but if no one knows about you then nothing’s going to happen. You’re going to have to make it happen yourself!

Here are a few tips to help you create a great demo CD

Be ready
So you’ve just bought a guitar and started writing music or have bought some decks and are eager to become the next Pete Tonge. It’s going to take a bit of time to hone your skills and be the best that you can be, unless you’re some kind of musical genius in which case you probably don’t need to read this.
When you feel that your ready it’s time to get a demo CD together.

Sound Quality
This is a pretty in depth subject and has filled many books but if you pay attention to a few of the basics you won’t go far wrong.

Go to a recording studio
You’d be surprised how many local recording studios there are and ideally you should get your demo professionally recorded and mixed. It can often be a lot cheaper than you think and the results will be well worth it. The studio will be able to take care of the whole recording process from recording to mixing and mastering.

If your budget is tight you can record your bands demo using a couple of well-placed Dynamic microphones and a laptop. If your practice room sounds awful why not try recording your demo at your next live gig, this can add atmosphere to the recording and mask some of the limitations of your recording equipment.

If you’re a DJ and wanting to record a demo CD then professional results can easily be achieved using a computer with a half decent sound card and recording software.
Just take the output from your mixer and plug it into the input of your soundcard, press record on the software and away you go.

If you do decide to record your demo DIY the following tips should help you along the way.

Clipping – This happens when the audio signal going into your recording equipment is too loud. It causes awful distortion when recording with digital equipment and cannot be removed once the damage is done. To avoid this keep the input level meters of your recorder in the green and away from the red. Just going into the red once can cause clipping on systems with no headroom!

Good leads – Faulty leads can cause a lot of problems when recording a demo CD. Weather it be a damaged phono lead from the back of your DJ mixer or a dodgy guitar jack lead, these things are bad news. Make sure you test your leads and cables before you start recording to avoid buzz, humm, crackling, signal dropout , incorrect stereo imaging and a whole raft of other undesirable artefacts.

Good quality microphones – these can be picked up at a reasonable price, if buying new is not an option then beg, steal or borrow. The Shure sm57 & sm58 mics have been an industry favourite for many years and don’t cost the earth.

Feedback – Not really applicable to DJ demos but really important when recording a band. To avoid this you need to be aware of signal loops. A signal loop is when the audio signal is sent round and round within the signal chain.

Sound into the mic > into the amp > out of the speaker > into the mic > into the amp > out of the speaker > into the mic > into the amp = loud squeal

To avoid this ,
Have any monitor speakers in a different room to the microphones, if you have to monitor in the same room use headphones.
Don’t have the microphone input levels on the mixer too high
Experiment with different microphone placements
Use good quality microphones
Room acoustics – If you’re in a room with a laminate floor, painted walls and nothing else try adding a rug, some cushions or a big comfy couch.

So you’ve recorded a great demo that sounds amazing and contains the best work you’ve ever done.

Scrawling your name and number on a CD with a felt tip pen is not going to do your demo justice. The appearance of your demo is vitally important and can be the deciding factor in getting your demo heard or chucked in the bin. Before any of the musical content has been heard the prospective listener will have already made an overall judgement be it positive, negative or indifferent.

Seek some inspiration
Before jumping into the design aspect of your demo CD it is a good idea to get inspired. Take a look through some of the artwork on your favourite albums, visit a gallery, look through magazines, take some photos and do anything that will help to create a visual design concept for your demo CD. Often the first thing we do when recalling a piece of music is to attach a visual in our minds, be it a place, a face or more than likely an album cover….. sgt pepper’s lonely hearts club band?

Design time
It’s always a good idea to get your design ideas and concept professionally created by a graphic designer. This will ensure your ideas will come out just how you imagined and in the correct formats ready for printing and duplication. If you feel confident in designing the artwork yourself then go for it, ideally you’d want a professional piece of software such as illustrator or Photoshop to create the artwork digitally but there is nothing stopping you from hand drawing or painting the designs then converting them into a digital image using a high quality scanner.

A great way to get started with your artwork is to base your design concept around photographs either abstract, of nature or a photograph of yourself or band.
If your DIY results are not quite as good as you’d hoped can lend a helping hand with the design process.
Once your artwork is complete the next step is to get your demo CDs professionally printed and duplicated or replicated.
At we offer a full and complete service to give all your hard work the finish and professional quality that it deserves.

We offer many different printing and packaging options that will help your demo CD stand out from the rest.
Please get in touch if you need any help in the process of creating your demo CD