Producing Your Own Demos
by India McCarty –
If you’re a songwriter, you might feel a certain resistance to learning how to record and produce your own demos. You wrote the song, and that’s the most important part, right? Wrong.
One of the best parts of writing a song is having people listen to it and appreciate the song and the work you’ve put into it. This can’t happen if all those hit songs you’ve written are living in the voice memos app on your phone. Also, if you’re pitching your songs to publishers and labels, you need to have professional sounding demos to play for them.
Now, you could pay someone to record and produce your demos for you, but studio time and producer fees are a huge money drain. You could save a lot of money and time by simply learning how to make your demos yourself.
Today, it’s so easy to use different computer programs, like Logic and ProTools, to create studio-quality demos without ever leaving your bedroom. There are three basic components of a track that you should try to master in order to make your demos really great.
Firstly, vocal and instrumental production. For around $400, you should be able to get a decent microphone and interface. The interface converts the analog audio from your microphone or instrument into digital audio on your computer. It also controls the volume, so you can properly hear your vocal or instrumental tracks through headphones or speakers. It’s important to really master the vocal production part of this process. A great vocal track can make even a mediocre instrumental track sound great!
Secondly, producing good beats. Even if you’re not a techno or EDM artist, you still need a good beat in your song, so it’s a good idea to practice and mess around with different beats on a MIDI keyboard. This is a keyboard you can plug into ProTools, Logic, etc. and use to make drum beats, basslines, or even synthesizer sections.
Lastly, the engineering. This is the part of production that focuses on the technical aspects, like deciding which mics to use, cutting and pasting parts of the track to clean it up, and making sure the track sounds perfect. Start out simple, with just one or two mics on a guitar, and then record it on your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). You can also use your DAW to clean up any minor mistakes you might make on a take.
This seems like a lot to tackle, especially if you don’t have any experience with production. A good idea would be to pick one of these elements and then try to master it before moving on to the next one. A good place to start is with vocals. If you can get a great vocal track, putting it over a simple piano or guitar track will sound great!
Producing your own demos is a great way to save money, and it’s another skill you can add to your toolbelt. After some practice and a little experimentation, you might find yourself making something truly unique!