So I wrote a demo, Now What?

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  • @ryuu Mar 23

    I know this is going to be a topic where I will have to develop my own approach. Nevertheless, seeing how others approach it is often helpful or gives me a new perspective on it, so if anyone is still reading this, I'd like to pick your brains!

    I'm discontented with how I write things for FAWM and 50/90 ... and then I never do anything with them. I have a fair pile of drafts, some of which have potential if I took the time to finish the unfinished, fleshed out the rough drafts and recorded the dirty one-takes decently.

    Yet, when I think about this pile, it's somehow easier to start something entirely new than sort through it and pick a thing that I want to work on.
    Part of it is fear of my own judgement - looking at all the rubbish to find the hidden gems.

    The other part is that I have no idea how this works! I have some understanding of what the beginning of my creative process looks like - coming up with something at all - but how do you approach the fleshing out of a demo that consists of, say, a set of lyrics, some strummed chords and a melody sung over them? How do you go about reworking drafts or coming up with an arrangement? What stages do you go through between "demo" and "final, publishing-ready production"?

    I'm curious about your processes so I can make mine feel less like a "black box".

  • @mikeb Mar 23

    I can usually tell if a demo is worth pursuing - I can feel it. When its on the borderline, I will often take it to my monthly songwriting circle for suggestions and critiques, or post on the musesongwriters forum. At that point, I can tell from the comments whether it is worth doing anything more with.
    At that point, I may or may not have a demo recording of the song done, but that's the next step - set up a click track or drum track and record the basic idea - guitar or piano, sometimes adding more instruments form there, sometimes working on the lead vocal track. If its a song that I 'feel' it usually goes smoothly right along through the full production. The original guitar demo track may or may not be used in the final mix.
    On the other hand, if a song doesn't have that 'feel' to me, it goes into the 'maybe later' pile, and I may never look at it again, or start over on it months or years later.

  • @ustaknow Mar 23

    @ryuu you've been a member since '11. First paragraph says. "...Classically-trained mezzo-soprano with long choir and some soloist experience, musicologist (and German philologist)... ...making noise on a cheap ukulele, too...".

    However, I have a few decades old, even Juliard trained pianist friends who have me teach their kid guitar since don't know what a Triad is.

    I have to ask (I've listened to your stuff on occasion), -you have any regard for mine? So, step one (1) ask directly and specifically folks who's music effects you, you "like". If not, step two (2) don't! 😝 (It's OK!)

    Then, of what you comment you write, -did you care about it? Were you half angry, annoyed, in love, mildly irritated or even beyond words moved by the moment in time you had those thoughts? If not, step three (3) - do that; you will finish to demo those pieces. πŸ˜€ I guarantee it, or your money back 😝

    Also, as things go in life when we Overwork something, - it looks it. You may have been Educated to the point you can't learn anything, - not from me, anyway πŸ˜€ hahhh

    I love this example, during the "CBGB" days (look it up, view the docuvideos) - most had "a song", "half another" and was starting "guitar lessons next week". From there, we got many bands, songs, - an era of music that exists today.

    So, you're from "over-there" πŸ˜€ (EU) -are you happy about it all over there? (DE) No? Write about it, -find a "crafty" way of writing a song your "enemies" ? (so to speak) will sing while you sit back and drink warm beer and laugh at them for singing your song against them? Motivation? Fun? (it's gotta be fun!)... there's a direction (?).

    The other issue? -some may face, is how they/you? -view Language Structure, you build your sentences diff there, don't "contract" abstractly, usually, correct? Hmmm, song writing, you Right-Rite-Write, Uno? πŸ˜€

    Hit Record, and play for an hour, -pick your best 3 mins, -done? πŸ˜€ Many famous artists "here", -told/paid to do in Studio method.

    But, ...

  • @ustaknow Mar 23

    ... only if you "like" my stuff. Otherwise, do IGNORE all above, πŸ˜€ So, if not, find someone you REALLY really do like and ask them, - mentee-ship is a big part of mentor-ship.

    It's a big ship πŸ˜€

    You posting this here, is a great step 0.9 πŸ˜€ pre-step 1 😝

    Have a great spring weekend there!

  • @ustaknow Mar 23

    Oh, ryuu, -- I'll add, if you see my "mourning-morning-news 5 min writes", from the "mourning-morning-news" (?) --- Yes, so, "Babies aborted while exiting the womans birth canal", legal now in the USA, "bothered" me. So, then "we got...":
    https://ustaknow.bandcamp.com/track/a...

    That was one line from a news feed processed via my brain filter πŸ˜€ AND, was never intended to be a song! I was noodling while soundchecking, setting up, - but kept it.
    --- That experimentation, drove my FAWM2019, all songs started with a krappe-track, made good? - Arguable πŸ˜€

    Again, - if you don't like it, - just ignore me, - it's OK! πŸ˜€
    (And a BIG part of what you need to *learn, FILTER ALL the FORMULAIC krappe people regurgitate back and forth without EXPLANATION of what it means 😝 )

  • @chipwithrow  Mar 23

    @ryuu - I'm sure right there with you. Easier, and more fun, for me to start something new than to re-visit and re-interpret most of the vast. vast pile of demos.
    I need some kind of incentive. In the past it was albums and gigs, but I don't have much time or inclination for either anymore. So what I need, and don't have right now, is at least the possibility of an interested audience.
    I do have the notion that some of my music might be useful within the context of yoga, and last week I attended a workshop to begin exploring what that might be. (Playing for yoga classes and events? Helping others to link yoga to the creative process?)
    Sorry - not much of an answer to your original question, but I am thinking the same thought.

  • @jamkar  Mar 23

    My new approach is to spend less time on production analysis, and just learn some of my songs well enough to.perform live if I needed to. That way I can be ready pitch them in person, or get into a cafe or open mike. 10 years of cold posting has gone nowhere, so time to replan.

  • @tcelliott  Mar 24

    That's why some of us started the Album Production Challenge on FB. To do something with songs we've written. There is a satisfaction that comes with "releasing" an album (or even an EP or single.) Even if it's only on bandcamp. Even if you don't do any marketing.

  • @darcistrutt  Mar 24

    I’ve never β€œreleased” a song but I’ve put a number of them before the public. I’ve used songs to support my messages at our senior living center. I’ve also had a song used by a domestic abuse prevention speaker as she made her speaking circuit. Maybe someday I’ll release something, but that’s not the only way to use your creations.

  • @jamkar  Mar 24

    Well said @darcistrutt . It is wise to think outside the jewelbox.

  • @jmadison  Mar 24

    This is only my second year of FAWM (which is also my second year of songwriting). Anyway for me, I feel like FAWM is over when I take my favorite demos, clean them up and put them on Bandcamp.

    Also, so far I've tended to make fairly complete demos, so they are nearly done when I post to FAWM. Getting them ready for an EP isn't like starting over, it's more like adding finishing touches.

    Next after posting to bandcamp, I have taken a few of those that I can practice to use for solo, live performances. Of course, I haven't done much of that, but hey... I still like to practice them.

  • @chipwithrow  Mar 25

    @tcelliott - Thanks for the reminder about the Facebook group. I finished one Bandcamp album of FAWM songs and will begin work on another this week. But I don't know if what I do really counts as production, since I didn't alter the original demos much at all.
    Still, I'd like to know what that group thinks about "so I made an album - now what?"
    @darcistrutt and @jamkar - I'm also thinking of different ways to use my songs besides the usual release-an-album-or-EP approach that I've done (with minimal "success," whatever that might mean) a few times. And I don't mind performing, but I'm not nearly as into it as I used to be.
    I'd like to figure out a way for my music to be linked to some money-making venture - hence the yoga tie-in I mentioned above. Doesn't have to be a lot of money.

  • @chipwithrow  Mar 25

    @ryuu - And to get back to your original post ...
    When I do re-record my songs, it's usually a one-track guitar/vocal re-recording since that's how I perform. I'll share those on Facebook or Instagram or maybe it's a live recording from a performance.
    I'd love to know what inspires or incentivizes others to re-record more fully-produced, multi-tracked demos.

  • @spingo  Mar 25

    I've moved to making my demos just as rough as possible to retain the idea. Voice, instrument, phone voice memo, done.

    There's an infinite spectrum of production polish you can add, from that up to hiring an orchestra in a studio, you know? It depends on what you want your music to sound like. Is there an artist you like whose production style you like? Mimic it! Playing cover versions is a great way to learn how songs are constructed, and doing "production covers" is a good way to learn what sound you want to have. I like modern drum samples, Nick Lowe rhythm acoustic guitars, and Moog synths and am trying to get that into my stuff, for instance.

    For releases, it depends on what you want to do with them! I cleaned up some earlier stuff so that it sounded finished enough to offer for sale on Bandcamp, and released the music that way (by myself, with a social media post or two, no big fuss). It doesn't sound as good as commercial releases, but there's nothing glaringly wrong with it.

  • @spingo  Mar 25

    But now I have a band and I'm kind of shifting around. We're doing some demo recording to try and get gigs, and we're going for more or less how we sound playing in the room. We record the band live and then I go back with the bassist and we redo the vocals. I might add a hint of a keyboard, or a second guitar part that I can't play live, but it's not a full-on shot at perfection, just something that gives an idea of what we sound like for potential coffee-shop bookers. I hit most of the notes and everything. 😁

    Later, we might do something more like a finished album, with lots of overdubs and the synths etc I mentioned above, but we're just putting the demos up on YouTube and that's good enough for now. I can point friends to them, and they can hear my songs clearly and with pleasant backing music. That works.

    Most did require additional verses/choruses, and intros and outros and bridges, so I had to make some up. Fun, but not as fun as the original creation.

  • @spingo  Mar 25

    For me, the execution/polishing of the idea isn't as fun as coming up with it in the first place, not even close.

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