You've got a band. You've got rhythm. You've got style. Your only problem? Execs are not willing to show up for a Saturday night concert in your garage. Those elitist bastards!

But believe it or not, you're not the only garage band out there, and record execs hate garages. Therefore, the only way you have a chance at getting an agent, signing a record deal, or even playing in front of a respectable crowd is for you to cut a demo. A "demo" is basically a CD that showcases your music, style, personality, and convinces A&R reps to sign you onto a contract. But cutting a demo isn't easy - you'll need determination, time, know-how, and some serious cash to cut a good demo. We can't give you determination or time (and Lord knows we can't give you any cash), but we will provide you with ass-loads of know-how. Read on!

(By the way, it might help you to read our article "SYW get signed to a record label?" just in case your demo rocks).


This is probably the most important step in planning your demo CD; establishing how much money is available for your project will help you to determine what recording studio to use, what duplication company to use, and what your limitations will be in designing a cover for your CD. Creating 1,000 CD demos will set you back at least $1500, and as much as $10,000, but we'll those details later - right now, just keep in mind that you'll be shelling out a lot of cash.

If you're low on money, here are a few ways to get some:

  1. Look to local companies who are willing to support your up-and-coming band. Offer to perform for their business picnic in exchange for a stipend to help you defray the costs of recording. Heck, offer to scrub their cars or walk their dogs if you have to! Having a little extra cash for a project like this can NEVER hurt, because you'll always need more than you plan for.

  2. There are many scholarship programs available to young adults in music that offer stipends for various projects, including demos. So go to your local library and find the section on grants and scholarships. When you find the section, spend a few hours sifting through the reference books there and copy down the names and addresses of any promising leads. Send information to these places, along with a cover letter that explains who you are and what you need. Be sure you get the right name in the right envelope. This can otherwise be very embarrassing, not to mention horribly unprofessional.

If libraries scare you (we understand - you're a musician), then start with these online resources:

A word to the wise: do not "gamble" all your money onto one project, because if you get screwed over, you'll have no backup plan. The music world is unpredictable, there are some shady characters, and you may find out halfway through the process that your cover design is completely wrong.

A few bonus (though not required) expenses to consider: photographs of your group, graphic art design, extra equipment you might need, and additional amenities for the CD packaging.