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How many tracks on a hip hop demo?
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RyanR
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17th December 2003
Old 17th December 2003
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How many tracks on a hip hop demo?

My friends asked me how many tracks people usually put on a hip hop demo cd. I really have no idea - I said a maximum of 6, probably 3 or 4.

What's the consensus on this?
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17th December 2003
Old 17th December 2003
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It depends on how strong the tracks are. I suggest the no-filler approach. Better 2 really good songs by themselves than 2 good songs and 5 or 6 mediocre songs (aka, reasons not to sign the group). Most A&R cats I know hardly even listen past song #2 anyway other than to maybe skim through.

Also, keep the intros short. I hear WAY too many demos when intros that are longer than 30 seconds.
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17th December 2003
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Solid advice from E-cue...

What is the purpose of the demo?

If you're shopping the tracks:
You need to get to the hook in under 30 seconds, or they've already skipped to the next track. Rinse and repeat.

I would strongly recommend you keep the A&R 'audition process' in mind during production... Remember your objective, keep your eye on the prize.

Maybe that extended intro is brilliant for the club mix, but don't send it to the label for consideration. Put your 'business hat' on. I would also keep the tracks on the short side (in length). Make them play it again if they didn't get enough; Do not let them get bored and wonder if it will ever end...

An oft heard, repeated, and wise piece of advice: "Save it for the record!"

Best of Luck!
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17th December 2003
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Thanks.

So generally - the first tracks on the demo should be, first of all, the best tracks they have, but then should be tracks that get to the "point" quickly - the hook and body of the song should appear (very) quickly.

I know they have one track they really like that has an 8 measure build up, then the (vocal & melody) hook straight into the verse. Is even 8 measures too long a delay?

Also - so the first 2 tracks should be the best ones that "appear" quickly, then everything that follows should be tracks that don't "appear" quickly (but they still consider their best) up to the point they don't think the addition of tracks will hurt them? So there really is no number of tracks that is too many or few?
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17th December 2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by RyanR
So generally - the first tracks on the demo should be, first of all, the best tracks they have, but then should be tracks that get to the "point" quickly - the hook and body of the song should appear (very) quickly.
IMHO, yes.

I would suggest no more than 4 tracks. If they want more they'll ask.

All of the tracks should be 'best'; Don't submit 'filler'.

IME, if you're too close to the material (to make objective decisions), girlfriends can work brilliantly for this. Their (qualified, of course) impressions tend to be more in line with how the A&R folks will hear it...
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17th December 2003
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Dont Be scared to make an A&R version of the Demo

Cut the songs up (intros, ect..)
Send these versions out
Sell the Full Demo @ shows or give them out for free to fans

How does everyone feel about sending Snipits to A&R types?
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RyanR
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17th December 2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by Freakuency
How does everyone feel about sending Snipits to A&R types?
Yeah, I'd be interested in knowing as well.
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17th December 2003
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Re: How many tracks on a hip hop demo?

Quote:
Originally posted by RyanR
My friends asked me how many tracks people usually put on a hip hop demo cd. I really have no idea - I said a maximum of 6, probably 3 or 4.

What's the consensus on this?
I worked at a major rap label for a bit b4 I left to start my own company. The general consensus now, is that it is rare for any rap artists to be signed without a buzz. That's the new policy for Jimmy Iovine at Interscope & every other major rap label. Ya'll have to get on major mixtapes regularly- not your local DJ- You have to get at KaySlay, Whoo Kid, Clue, Kool Kid, Big Mike, Jelly, etc. Most of those cats have websites so u can get at them or look for contact info on their CDs. All of those DJs have int'l distribution & they also drop off copies of their CDs to labels & industry cats that matter on a regular basis. Also do shows, college radio, go to industry events, whatever u have to do to network & get it poppin'. After u gather a buzz you may find it easier for an A&R to "listen to your demo" or they may come looking for you. If you don't have the buzz it won't matter how many songs you have on ur demo- the intern or mailroom guy is the one who is gonna hear it if it doesn't go in "the box". It's gonna take time & you have to put your best stuff out there & not worry about somebody stealing it.
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18th December 2003
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Re: Re: How many tracks on a hip hop demo?

Quote:
Originally posted by jlotto
not worry about somebody stealing it.
for me, as a producer, i find myself worrying about that constantly. i do at least 1 or 2 beats per day (5 or 6 on a prolific day), there's no way i can copyright all of it. but i still want to send out demos... i havent figured out a way to protect myself yet.

i saw once someone was putting a sort of audio "watermark" into their beats. it was a voice or something, looped into the beat, that was really out of place. i guess it made the beat pretty much un-sample-able. but it also turned the beat to shit! i couldnt see myself doing that, too counter-productive

how are others dealing with making sure someone doesnt steal your tunes?
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18th December 2003
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Re: Re: Re: How many tracks on a hip hop demo?

Quote:
Originally posted by tiger vomitt

how are others dealing with making sure someone doesnt steal your tunes?
It's happens. If u got a sample they may play it over or they may know the sample & jack it. Got done to me on Nas' 3rd album by a well known production team after I submitted some stuff to them because they were a&r's of the project as well. But it's a double edge sword- "nothing gets sold if it ain't heard" give out too many beat cds without ur best stuff on it & u get known as having mediocore stuff. From then I learned to get at the artists or managers directly and not the a&r or the labels. You have to copyright ur stuff. Do it at least once a month. Problem is, even if you copyright- if someone wants to still it and use it they will. Take them to court, and if it's a major or an artist/producer with chips, they will drag it out til ur $ are gone.
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18th December 2003
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Hey jlotto, I hope you don't mind but please check your p.m.

Thanks in advance,
j.m
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18th December 2003
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Re: Re: Re: Re: How many tracks on a hip hop demo?

Quote:
Originally posted by jlotto
It's happens. If u got a sample they may play it over or they may know the sample & jack it. Got done to me on Nas' 3rd album by a well known production team after I submitted some stuff to them because they were a&r's of the project as well. But it's a double edge sword- "nothing gets sold if it ain't heard" give out too many beat cds without ur best stuff on it & u get known as having mediocore stuff. From then I learned to get at the artists or managers directly and not the a&r or the labels. You have to copyright ur stuff. Do it at least once a month. Problem is, even if you copyright- if someone wants to still it and use it they will. Take them to court, and if it's a major or an artist/producer with chips, they will drag it out til ur $ are gone.
It definitely happens. Stick to it though. This from a friend that used to work at Unique in NYC. Unknown producer, not even hip hop. More of a techno guy. One day he hears this r&b/hip hop (is there even a difference today?) song just exploding everywhere. Funny enough all the electronic stuff blurbbling in the back was his stuff. He was never even remotely connected with the production. Seems that another producer got a hold of his stuff, sampled it into his production and the rest is thong tha, thong, thong, thong history. Man sues, get's credit, and starts to see healthy royalties as a co producer of the song. Ok so this was a friend of a friend story. Take it for what it's worth. Thing is if you're trying to push it out there you need your best stuff out there in any way you can. Be intelligent. Try to get your stuff to anyone that can make a difference but don't let enthusiasm put into someone's hands you get a sketchy feeling from. If your stuff is copyrighted you should feel ok putting it out there. If someone steals it and it goes nowhere don't sweat it. So what if someone uses it and it's never heard. If someone steals it and you start hearing it on a hit or even a major album it's better than it never leaving your house. Then get youself's a lawyer. If you have it clearly copyrighted and even have session tapes/files you will have a strong case. An experienced talented lawyer should be able to evaluate the strength of your case and what it will take to see the issue through. You could try and have the lawyer do it on spec. That will tell how much they feel you have a winable case. I wouldn't burn up hourly legal fees on something like this. Even if the lawyer takes a piece of the pie getting properly credited on something that hits would be worth it. Even if you were to win a case in such a situation collecting is a whole 'nother game. Final moral of the story? If you got something, think it's worth something, and are going to pass it out beyond your girlfriend and mom get it copyrighted.
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19th December 2003
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so is anyone actually doing the whole copyright thing as often as once a month?
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20th December 2003
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I work for a label as an A&R and I can tell you e-cue is right. Most A&R's get so many cd's that they just skim thru each song like a few sec's here and there and then throw it out if it doesn't catch their interest.

We get about 70-100 CDs a week here and the assistants are the ones who 'screen' them and pass them on to me if it's anything interesting... so at times, good things fall thru these cracks...
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20th December 2003
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Thanks for all the info everyone. The group decided on their 3 best tracks, each of which really get going in 4 measures or less.

Also, interesting story about the thong, tha thong, thong, thong - just goes to show how important copyrighting your music is.
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20th December 2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by RyanR
Thanks for all the info everyone. The group decided on their 3 best tracks, each of which really get going in 4 measures or less.

Also, interesting story about the thong, tha thong, thong, thong - just goes to show how important copyrighting your music is.
No disrespect but you are missing the point. 3 songs ain't gonna get you signed. You better go in there with like 8 joints (you can snippet them after 1st verse & chr) and you better have a buzz or it will not be heard unless you already have a relationship with that label. An a&r, whose job is always on the line, cannot project if you are gonna be a successful artist off of 3 songs. There's so much more that goes into being a successful artist than that.
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20th December 2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by jlotto
No disrespect but you are missing the point. 3 songs ain't gonna get you signed. You better go in there with like 8 joints (you can snippet them after 1st verse & chr) and you better have a buzz or it will not be heard unless you already have a relationship with that label.
No disrespect taken, and none given, but I got the point. Let me clarify a few things:

(1) I'm not trying to get signed. It's true I've done some work with the group, but I'm in no way making the decision here. I suggested that they try to build more of a buzz, make sure the demo has only their best tracks, and basically, I said to forget about the demo for now. The group decided they still wanted to do it. Why?

(2) Because they have an inside connection (relationship) at the label. It's something they feel needs to be taken advanage of ASAP. I'm not so sure - I asked them if the connection is going anywhere and why not wait a while longer? Well, I guess the guy expects the demo now because his girl was hyping the music up and it just got assumed somewhere that he was gonna got a demo of it. So now they feel obligated - beats me.

I hear what you're saying - I told everyone in the group to not do it because IMO their buzz isn't big enough, and honestly, IMHO the product isn't quite quality enough yet. But I don't make the decisions cause I'm not the one who would get signed.
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20th December 2003
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Timing is everything.

If you got 3 songs that puts the group in the best light, then do it like that and expect a Part 2, a call asking for more demos.

But first impression and timing is everything so if he's expecting it, get it to him ASAP before he forgets...
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21st December 2003
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Quote:
posted by MPCist:
Most A&R's get so many cd's that they just skim thru each song like a few sec's here and there and then throw it out if it doesn't catch their interest.
Word. Because most if not all the listening masses are the same way.

Intro's are EVERYTHING.

Each and EVERY track you produce should start with ten seconds of HEAT.

Copy the most delicious bits of the hook/chorus, and paste that stuff onto the intro of the track, with dramatic undercurrent music/beat or both.

Too much is never enough. Over-stylize those intros. It's fun.
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1st August 2005
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