What is a Demo?
The dictionary defines demo as – verb – to give demonstration of (something, such as a product or procedure): to show how (something) works, is prepared, or is done. OR: to create a demo, recording of a piece of music.
Song demos are not meant to be finished productions. If we were discussing demos in terms of paintings, it would be the first pencil sketch. Sometimes an artist will use pencil before painting a piece in order to erase any mistakes made or to shift the concept of the drawing before the final painting. Demos are similar. It’s a recording of a music track, vocals, or instrumental that is the outline for what the final melodic structure of the song will sound like once the final master production of the song is finished.
Demos, the unsung heroes of every single hit and a whole lot of non-hits, known to humankind! The demo is the part of the process where a song gains its structure of sound and emotional clarity. It’s usually the part of the process where an artist’s vision comes together with other players and instruments – unless, of course, it’s a one singer, one instrument piece. From being a musician/producer for so long, I tend to think of demos as the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is because they can be good, but very bad, and very ugly.
Demos start with an idea. That idea usually starts one of two ways:
When a musician plays a piece original music and likes what they hear (intentionally or unintentionally) then starts creating a song.
When someone is writing words then turns them in to lyrics and give them to a musician who creates the music to go with it.