How to Make a Demo CD

Demo stands for demonstration, which is exactly what it is - a demonstration of your band's songs. It's not master quality, but it just shows what you as musicians can accomplish. You can also sell it at your shows, and it just might be a popular underground album in your neighborhood! So, this is how you make one.


  1. Image titled Make a Demo CD Step 1
    Write songs. Your demo needs at least two songs. You can add more if you like, but don't overdo it. No one's gonna listen to a demo with 20 songs. They can be original or cover songs but at least a couple of them should be original.
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    Choose your best songs. Best doesn't mean your most popular songs, it's your best. - The best performed, best sung, best written, with the strongest chorus and the best structure and format. They should all be in the same style. To choose your best songs, don't ask your fans. They most likely don't know much about composition and arrangement. Besides, they're gonna say they're all great, because they're your fans, remember?! Instead, you should ask someone more in the industry, such as your manager, a publisher, a band that has a record deal, a lawyer and if you can't find any of these try asking a local club owner, a DJ, or a small record store manager.
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    Decide where your band is going to record. The general dilemma is cost. If you want to record for $500 to no money, you can record at your home studio. If you're ready to spend more, you should go to a recording studio, because it will be better quality. If you're going to record at your home studio, read step four. If you're going to record at a professional studio, read step five
  4. Image titled Make a Demo CD Step 4
    You can record at your home studio.
    • Obtain some recording software. Audacity is a great program which you can get for free at [1]. If you can afford it, buy Pro Tools, Cubase, or the software that comes with your sound interface.
    • Make sure you have the hardware Mics, amps, an audio interface, a mixer (if you can) and lots of cables!
    • Keep it as simple as possible. You can record guitars and bass directly or by miking the amp with one microphone. Vocals can be recorded directly too. The several drum mics can be run through a mixer and then through the interface. For best recording quality (and just if you already have one) run instruments/mics into a preamp, between the mixer and the interface.
    • Learn to record into an .mp3 or .wav file.
    • Record the drums first. The rest come easier with more precision.

  5. Image titled Make a Demo CD Step 5
    Or you can record at a professional recording studio.
    • Look for small studios. Some of them will do anything for your business, with some of the studios charging as little as $100 dollars a song. Since your demo will have about three songs, that equals to just $300 for the whole CD!
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    Keep the tracks down to two or three, nobody will listen to your demo CD if you provide your epic 20-track mega collection that has ten minute solos on each track.


  • When doing home recording there will be a lot of problems initially. Do not lose hope, try to find a way out.
  • Always get the deal in writing.
  • Don't waste time. Be serious, but have fun doing it.
  • Confirm your actual days and hours of recording.
  • If opting for a professional recording, make sure you practice like mad before you enter the studio. You should eat, sleep and breathe the songs. Time in studio is precious and you don't want to waste time in unnecessary retakes.
  • Find out who keeps the master tapes until the deal is made.
  • Be specific about your plan. Are you only recording? Or mixing? Or both?
  • What's included in the deal? Extra amps? Mics? Outboard gear?
  • Always agree on the songs you pick if your are in a band or it won't work.
  • Let your engineer know your plan ahead of time so he can prepare the studio before you arrive to record.
  • Try to find someone to produce your dates.
  • Lock into consecutive recording dates. Many spec deals drag on and on.
  • If things are going great, make sure you let the owner know about it.
  • Be satisfied with the recording. No home recording is ever perfect. None of the studio recordings are that perfect too.
  • Speak with the engineer, and insist he come to rehearsal.
  • It's a good idea to occasionally treat the engineer to lunch or dinner.
  • Just be yourself and you'll be fine.


  • Make sure the studio owner cannot release the masters to anyone.
  • If you're mixing at the same studios, be sure to leave with a DAT copy and cassette copies of your songs.
  • Don't make any deal without seeing and hearing the actual studio you will be using.
  • Find out if your spec deal means you have to pay the engineer.
  • Are the recording facilities acceptable for mixing?

Things You'll Need

  • Equipment
  • Money (if doing a studio recording)
  • CD

Article Info

Categories: Music Techniques