Following up on Your RecordDemo

Mixing desk in a recording studio

Charriau Pierre/Getty Images

You're an aspiring musician who's ready to reach for the stars. You've recorded a demo. You've researched record labels. You've sent your demo to the right people. After you send your demo to a record label, what is the next step?

While it would be nice if the phone started ringing right away, chances are that you are going to need to follow up on your demo. The approach you take when you follow up makes all the difference. The wrong follow-up ensures it will never be heard. Here are some label-friendly music demo follow-up practices that just might work.

Important Rules for Contacting Record Labels

  1. Check the Label Demo Policy
    1. Most record labels have a demo policy, and sometimes the policy explains how you can follow up on your demo. You really, really must stick to the policy, even if it states that follow-ups are NOT welcome. Being that person to send the "I know you said not to get in touch, BUT.." email is not going to do you any favors. Frustrating though it may be, if the label doesn't accept follow-ups, you're going to need to take a deep breath. You can wait for the label to call, but meanwhile, keep reaching out to other labels.
  2. Use Email
    1. Assuming follow-ups are welcome or the demo policy doesn't specify, send an email asking for feedback. The label's site will likely list the email address for the person who deals with demos If it doesn't, use the A&R address. If there isn't one of those, try the general "info" address.
    2. Your email should be brief and to the point. State who you are, when you sent your demo and ask if anyone has had a chance to listen to it yet. Request some feedback and offer to send more information if necessary.
    3. DO NOT follow up by phone, unless the demo policy says phone calls are OK.
  3. Space Out Your Follow-Ups
    1. Asking for some feedback on your demo is not unreasonable, but keep in mind that the person on the other end of the email is likely getting lots of emails like yours. Try sending an email once a month; it is the right balance of reminding labels that your demo is waiting to be listened to and not being a pest.

How to Respond to a Rejection

You sent an email asking about your demo, and you finally got the response you were waiting for. The label tells you "you're not a good fit for the label." This kind of rejection is not at all unusual; most major recording artists have a file full of them. But the standard "you're not a good fit" tells you nothing at all about your music--it's just a kind way of saying "thanks but no thanks."

At this point, you don't really know what the label disliked about your demo. And of course, the more you know, the better you'll be able to improve your submission next time. Did they like your work or think you had potential? Was there a technical problem that got between you and a contract? Would they be willing to consider another demo with some specific changes?

This is your chance to pick up a little free advice. Send an email thanking them for taking the time to check out your music, and then ask if they might recommend any other labels. You might get some insight into how other people hear your music, and you might end up finding your perfect label.