So far, we've looked at options for doing demos in LA and in Nashville. Now, we'll talk about how to prepare for the demo session, and the session itself.
Your choice of studio will be based on your budget, the studio's production quality, and your comfort level with the people at the studio. The latter isn't always easy to determine in advance, since your contact prior to the session will probably be limited to a brief phone call or two. You should always ask for the details about cost, and you should request a sample tape, which will allow you to gauge the quality of their work.
It's a good idea to schedule your session at least a month in advance, if possible. If you wait until the week before, there's a good chance that the studio of your choice will already be booked.
Once you've booked the session, the next step is to decide on instrumentation and the vocalist(s). If you know exactly what and who you want, you can arrange to have those people come in, assuming they're available. If you're not sure, the studio can usually find people. If you've chosen a good studio, you can generally be confident that they'll make good recommendations.
In any case, you'll probably need to send the studio a work tape of your song in advance. This will enable the producer to get a feeling for how the song should be arranged and who should sing it. At the very least, they're going to need to determine the right key for the vocalist so they can create the tracks..
Typically, the producer will estimate the time required to create the tracks prior to the arrival of the vocalist. The vocals for a song can usually be completed in an hour or less in most cases, including backgrounds. Singers will often come up with harmonies for your song, even if you had no prior conception of them yourself.
Before and during the session, creative decisions will need to be made on every aspect of the song. If you know exactly what you want, tell the producer and players. If you have only a general idea or no idea at all, tell them as much as you can and let them do the rest.
Musicians will often make suggestions, and you can either accept them or ask them to try something else. If you have ideas of your during the session, don't be afraid to communicate them. The best results come from the right combination of your own creative vision and openness to the ideas of others.
Unless otherwise noted, workshops are held from 5-8 p.m. at Musician's Institute, 1655 McCadden Place, just off Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. Admission is free for NSAI members and NAS members, $10 for non-members. For more information, call Bev Nelson at (714)733-2717, or Craig Lackey at (310)439-4069.
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