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Beginner Creating A Demo With The Computer


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I have written my first song. In the books I've read on songwriting it says the next step to getting it published is to create a demo. That means hiring musicians and a singer which I cannot afford to do. Can you make your demo with a program like Finale or Musescore?

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You can, but they look for as high a quality as possible. I would avoid using a sampled guitar. Most other instruments can be sample or synthesis based. Vocals too would need to be real.

A bit like selling a home you need to give them what they want. Real instruments help them work out if they like a song without being distracted by poor approximations. Guitar and vocals are harder to recreate accurately, and professonals listening can easily spot the difference and then spend time when they could be appreciating the song being irritated by the shortcomings of the recording.

What you could do at this point is a number of things:

1) Shop your song around bands who would be interested in recording it and use that recording for the publisher.

2) Hire a studio and session musicians to record it.

3) Record it yourself using cubase/sonar or similar, and either hiring session musicians to record the main real instruments or finding a few nice musicians ( maybe on Songstuff) to record those parts for free.

In all cases you would be advised to get your recording mastered.

If you believe in your song then you will find a way.

The other two possibilities are:

Instead of paying people you cut them in on any royalties. Not the best way as each is likely to want a high percentage as they will likely lack your belief that the song will go anywhere fast and the likelihood that they will ever be paid is very small.

Last on the list is do a rough recording and send that. Your song will ultimately not be shown at it's best.

Oh, two more possibilities:

You use crowd funding to raise the money necessary. That is likely to be a hard sell to make.

You investigate sourcing a grant from an arts body.

I hope this helps.

Cheers

John

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What is a sampled guitar? My song is not a band song but more of a solo-female-singer song. My Musescore sounds pretty good. This program is amazing. Unfortunately, I don't know how to write guitar and drum music, so I'm short on that.

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well if it's not a guitar song then it's not a problem, apart from getting a female singer.

A sampled guitar. Hmm how to explain. In the early days of recording there was simply real giutar as an option. Then along came synthesizers. Then you could record a series of notes and use midi to trigger different sounds, some only tried to be synth sounds, others to emulate a real instrument such as a string section, or piano, or a guitar, or drums. In general these synth versions of real instruments were pretty primitive and could be spotted a mile away. Then along came samplers. A sampler used short recordings called "samples" to try and recreate something more like the sintrument that had been sampled... For instruments like drums they were pretty good, but still able to be spotted. For a guitar they were still pretty far away from the real instrument sound.

Many VST instruments emulating real instruments are sample based, though some do use some pretty sophisticated physical modelling on top of the samples, yet to a trained ear they can still be spotted fairly easily. 999/1000 you can still spot that it is synth based. For some styles of music that is less of an issue.

The great thing about digitally created music is that it is clean and crisp and clear. For more complicated instruments like guitar you are more likely to get the sound you want with the real instrument. Piano is a different deal. It is a simpler instrument because the strings can be played in different ways, the notes can be bent to new pitches etc. There are apps that are pretty good for getting guitar, but yet again a trained ear or semi-trained ear can simply spot what app made it.

I hope that helps some more :)

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I have written my first song. In the books I've read on songwriting it says the next step to getting it published is to create a demo. That means hiring musicians and a singer which I cannot afford to do. Can you make your demo with a program like Finale or Musescore?

You can, but it takes a lot of time, patience and commitment to a learning curve. The simple answer is that I would find some like minded people to collaborate with on this so you can focus on getting one area of it together.

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Promethus, I'm actually using Musescore (should have said that in the first post). As far as collaborators, do you mean people to instruct me on guitar notation (my weak area)?

Edited by projecttoday
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I can't afford a band for a demo either. What I'm thinking about doing is bartering with a band - i.e., they produce a demo tape, I'll allow them to use my song. I don't know if that'll work or not, since I'm new to this. Any thoughts?

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Promethus, I'm actually using Musescore (should have said that in the first post). As far as collaborators, do you mean people to instruct me on guitar notation (my weak area)?

What is it exactly you wish to do with the demo?

If you're creating it for practice or to lay down ideas, then Musescore should be fine. If you want to send it to an industry professional, it will need to be recorded, mixed and mastered to broadcast quality.

What you want to do is find some people like me in your local area. Technically knowledgeable people who are not business orientated who'll give you a hand. I don't do much engineering for money at all these days, but I still help local musicians if they want my help because I think you should always send the lift down for the people coming after you.

If they do open mic nights around where you live, you could probably get in there, do some networking, buy a few drinks for people and build up a list of contacts who can help you with recording sessions.

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I can't afford a band for a demo either. What I'm thinking about doing is bartering with a band - i.e., they produce a demo tape, I'll allow them to use my song. I don't know if that'll work or not, since I'm new to this. Any thoughts?

I think it's a good idea in principle if you can find a band who need original material and play the style of music you write.

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hi

I mentioned similar in point 1 of my first post. That is in part what writers who aren't performers do anyway. A band records a song, sticks it on album, maybe a single. They then control that version of the song. The songwriter continues to get paid via royalties and further licensing etc

There may be a number of variations in the deal. That is where negotiation comes in.

Beginner songwriters often give away more than they perhaps should just to get their foot in the door, even to the point of giving a Songwriting credit relating to a one word or note change by the artist or allowing use of the song for free.

It's up to you what or how much you trade during negotiations. The fact is, the bigger the artist is the more you might expect to give away in order to get started in the biz.

It should be highlighted not all writers are prepared to negotiate on such fundamentals. Then again having rhianna record your song and taking it to a global market could radically alter the course of your music career.

As ever the pros and cons are weighed up by the individual and hopefully a good balance is struck.

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Goal is to get my song recorded by a successful singer. It's a down-tempo number (but no slower than Someone Like You). Working on a couple of other songs as well.

You have to remember that you're going to be up against fierce competition from pro record producers and established songwriters, and that for the singer it's a buyer's market.

If you want to have the vaguest hope of breaking into what is probably the most competative industry on Earth, you have to produce broadcast quality demos. Even when you have done that, you will have to promote yourself tirelessly every waking moment of your life to succeed.

Personally I like working alone when it comes to producing my own written material, but from first picking up a guitar to learning how to perform, record, mix and master a record from scratch took me ten years, and I was supposed to be some kind of whizz kid at acoustic engineering. If you're young time is on your side, but their are no shortcuts.

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Well, I am not young, and I have to earn a living, so I guess I've got my work cut out for me if it's ever to happen.

It's a hard way to make money.

Over the last decade I had production credits on a few releases, radio airplay of songs I'd written and produced and was getting plenty of sound engineering work, some of it for local bands and musicians and some of it for corporate entities. One or two of the people I was working with were fairly well known, certainly UK wide.

If I was playing the game at that level twenty years ago, I'd have expected to have been making a comfortable living. As it was, between that, repairing PC's and doing odd jobs for my local social club I was living on such a meagre amount of income that I was barely scraping the rent together some weeks... Literally on breadline and less.

Society just doesn't value recorded music or songwriters to anything like the extent it used to. People just download songs for nothing, and so the recording industry has become even more insular than it always was and defaulted to reality TV instead of releasing innovative albums.

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Well, I guess you misunderstood my comment. By making a living I mean my day job, which I can't quit because I need the money. I leave the house at 7:30 am Mon.thru Fri. and don't get home until at least 5:30pm. When I get home I'm always tired. That's leaves Sat. and Sun. for any song writing or anything related to song writing. Not good for promoting myself in the business you describe.

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I understand... I've taken a job outside the music industry too, and I share your frustration. I want to devote my energy to music and art, but like you, I have to live.

I always had to work on the fringes of the industry because I could never keep quiet about what goes on without feeling I was being seen to endorse it in some kind of way.

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