Music Demo Reel

Since this is still a music based site, I will mention DEMO REELS for musicians, composers, songwriters, bands, and singers.

DO YOU HAVE ONE?   •   DO YOU NEED ONE?Piano Clef

Facts and Fiction about a Music Demo Reel

Demo Reels are a chance for the artist to showcase a segment of their best work, their skills, and talents for potential employers, or to just summarize the best bits for fans, friends, and family.  Acting Reels are the most common form of Demo Reel, but Directors, Special Effects Artists, Editors, and others have made demo reels, and yes, so have people in the Musical Arts — I have a Music Demo Reel for composing, songwriting, performing, and production, as well as, editing, camera, writing, and directing.

Most Demo Reels that I have seen, and some made by me, are vanity videos, possibly even mine;  the demo reel was made but never actually given to potential employers or potential clients — never mind, mine are not vanity videos.  If you are not going to share or use this summarization of your talents, a demo reel, then there is no need to spend the time, and money to create one.

Do I need a Demo Reel?

The use, or benefit, of a music demo reel.  No one needs a demo reel, but would a demo reel be a useful tool in helping your career by showcasing your work to a wider audience?

YES! Yes, it would.  Okay, so you could USE a music demo reel, but WAIT!

You should also consider the body of work you have, or lack thereof, in this NEED, or USE, of a demo reel.

Piano Clef

What to put on a Demo Reel

A question that is asked over and over again.  Some think they have to put everything they have done, in full-length, on a demo reel.  Or they have heard it needs to be as short as possible.

There are a few rules, or guidelines, that I have learned and used over the years of doing demo reels for people, and these are very dynamic depending on the body of work one has to showcase , and the type of demo reel being created, ie… Actor, Director, Dancing, Music, and so forth.

It is important you understand what you should, and should not, put on a demo reel.  Your demo reel impacts your personality, character, work ethic, talents, and professionalism.  It is the first, maybe second, chance you have to make a positive impression, you do not want to miss, or mess, up this limited opportunity. Every stage of the Demo Reel creation is important; one weak area and you are better off not having one at all.

Answer this question.  “Is the material you WANT to, or think you should, put on your demo reel, strong and real?

STRONG

  • Does it showcase your best effort, work, or project?
  • Does it capture what your skills and talents are?
  • Is the quality great? Do you have diverse material?
  • Are you visible?  Is the work visible?  Would the potential employer or client know it is you and your work?

REAL

  • Is it a real work for hire?
  • Does the project actually exist?
  • Never use demonstration, workshop, school, or fake material on your demo reel.  If the project does not exist that the potential employer or client can look up and see the finished product and verify its existence, DO NOT USE IT — mainly for acting reels.

Your material should be REAL, not fake or made up to look like it is a real project; never use school or workshop lessons or assignments (I had a girl send me her visual effects reel that had 3 major TV shows and 2 major films on it which led me to believe she worked on them, but she did not; it was just her class school work.  She never got the job from me. I could not tell what she did or did not do.); it should be your own material not someone else’s that you tweaked or fiddled with;  it should be clearly visible that you are the artist being represented in the piece and for what you did on it; and above all it should be your BEST work.

If you feel your material is Strong and Real enough, and your have at least three pieces, than A DEMO REEL is something to think about.

Piano Clef music demo reel

Length of a Demo Reel

The length of your demo reel is dictated upon the strength of your work, not the amount of work, but the STRENGTH.

If it is compelling enough for someone to keep watching than the length is a mute point. You do not want to show the entire piece; just a sample that shows off your creativity, skills, talents, and uniqueness. It may just be 20 – 30 seconds of a song that shows off a lyrical passage, a vocal spike, or a catchy beat. The sky is the limit, but keep the rules, or guidelines, in mind to help you choose the right piece, section, and length to put your strengths in the mind of the potential employer or client first — remember this is why you are creating a demo reel; to get hired to do music for pay.

Design of a Demo Reel

The design of a demo reel is dictated by the style, and type, of material, and where it is going to be sent. There is no default or mandated design, just as there is no default or mandated length; do not let anyone tell you there is, they lie and are trying to act like they know what they are talking about; they don’t!

What you want to do is keep it simple and easy enough for the potential employer, or client, to navigate and listen to, or view, your material. Get right to the point with little fluff or introduction, and by all means, LABEL everything, and give credit where it is due — trust me, your previous employers, clients, and collaborators will appreciate it more and allowing you to use certain material without issues.

A Demo Reel can help or hinder your career

To make the Demo Reel work for you as a useful tool serious planning and organization are required, as well as, research and design – if you are going to do anything in your life it must be done with conviction, passion, care, and love.  Bottom line:  You have spent your time, blood, sweat, and tears creating your body of work, your talents, and skills, why cheapen them by skimping on your Demo Reel?

Music Demo Reel: do the right thing
Music Demo Reel: do the right thing

DO NOT DO THE DEMO REEL YOURSELF.  I am not writing that because I want you to use me; I have seen too many crappy looking demo reels from people who want to save money or think they know how to do it and do it themselves.  Unless you are an editor and have done successful Demo Reels for people that have gotten them work, your time and money would be better spent hiring a professional to assemble it in a powerful and eye catching manner.  CRAZY FACT: I have done demo reels for other editors, but they never got the job, I did.

Do the right thing when thinking about a music demo reel for you, a friend, or a colleague and get professional advice, because you have one, maybe two, opportunities to make a positive impression about yourself, material, skills, and talents.

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