This is a question we hear often at NSAI. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Professional demos can be very expensive and it is in the best interest of most writers to hold off on investing in a full production until you have received professional feedback.
When sending a song in to the NSAI song evaluation service, a simple guitar-vocal or piano-vocal is sufficient. The purpose of the evaluation service is to help you craft your personal best song. The truth is your first draft is probably not the final evolution of your song. More often than not, writers will rewrite and tweak their songs until they have it “just right.” During this pruning process it would be cost prohibitive to do a full demo on each new version of your song.
It is easier to tell a writer when their song is ready for a professional demo than it is to break the news that, although their $500-$1500 demo is well produced, the song itself is just not there yet. A good number of publishers actually prefer stripped down, simple demos when initially meeting with new writers. If they feel your song is ready, they have no problem suggesting a full-blown demo be made.
Once you are certain that your song is crafted at its highest level AND you’ve received confirmation from industry professionals that your song has commercial potential, you can justify spending money on a demo.
It is true that when pitching directly to labels a full-blown demo is the “norm.” However, keep in mind a professional demo of a mediocre song will not garner any attention or interest from a label to begin with.
Think of it this way… Picasso was not concerned about the details of the frame until after the painting was complete. He made it a masterpiece before it was placed in a frame. Use the NSAI evaluation service to help you craft your personal best song before spending money on the finishing touches of a demo.
Once your song is ready to be demoed, there are numerous studios in the major music hubs (NY, LA and Nashville) that can do an awesome job making your song shine!
Remember: “It all begins with a song” and don’t stress over demo quality when submitting to the NSAI Song Evaluation Service!
NSAI Song Evaluations Director