Okay, I'm certain many of you fine folks will have some awesome insight to this, so I'll fire away. I've always wanted to score to film, and am finally getting some opportunities on a smaller scale (gotta start somewhere). I am starting to receive requests on my music for consideration of other projects and really need to get a demo together. The big question, what is gonna showcase me the best?
Is it to create an awesome audio only demo that I create to showcase the depth of my orchestration, production, and variety? And if so, what should the length be? Also, should it segue from one style to another...or should I create separate demos for different genres?
Should it be video oriented that shows how I actually score to picture? It seems like that would be the more obvious one, but I believe the video isn't quite "there enough", so it would seem more of a downgrade than letting the musical creativity flow and letting them "see" through what they hear.
And lastly, I adore the orchestra, but also work in just about every genre of music in my studio. Is it best to try and reflect the different genres through more organic instruments (orchestra, voice, etc...), or should I also include some of the rhythm and tech based stuff too so I don't close myself off from Sci-fi opportunities (ala Matrix and the like).
I realize there are really a lot of questions here. Maybe some I didn't ask, and some I shouldn't have. Any help, advice, etc... would be awesomely kind!
I'll throw in my 2-cents, for whatever that's worth:
I think the idea of a general demo reel is old school, before we had the technology to burn a CD anytime we wanted. Now, I think the best thing for a reel depends on what your submitting it for. I think you need to give a few cues at the top that are perfect for a project. Maybe at the end you give some unrelated stuff that you like that may show your diversity. I just don't think anyone really takes the time to listen through a bunch of music for no purpose. When someone requests a demo it is usually for something specific, so I say give them what they want. Ask as many questions as you can and then build your demo based on that. I have also, many times, written a cue or two the night before that are exactly what the people requested. Sometimes it has worked rather well. Anyway, good luck, this is just my opinion, but having a general demo on the shelf to me is just a waste of time and not worth the stamp it takes to send it.
You should always have a general reel (CD) that shows your versatility. Since I specialize in orchestral music my demo shows versatility of orchestral styles. But you could just as well show a bit of every style you are capable in. If at all possible find out what they're looking for and arrange the CD so that's what they hear first or at least tell them what section to listen to first. If they like what they hear the other styles will at worst be inconsequential and at best further confirmation as to your talent.
The pieces should be kept short say from half a minute to a minute and a half (or a little more.) Production values are everything so make sure it sounds good and even consider professional mastering of your demo.
I heard what I was really hoping to hear. This is something that I've needed to do for quite some time, and up to this point I have only been able to try and show people what I do under vocal tracks or through quick special moments in previous scoring. I'm pretty excited about putting together a solo feature.
Anybody else out there with some unique ideas on putting one together? Of course, if it's really unique, I could understand you not wanting to share. Go ahead, we won't tell!
Ya know, I've been working on my own set of demo's for some years now, thinking I'd put together some assemblage of works that I thought would get me hired onto projects. The more I worked on them, the more generic I thought they were, and very few that I created imo were worth anything. Recently (this last year) I've come to the conclusion that I've been going about this all wrong. The 'demos' I've been making are universally uninspired and bred out of my desire to make a full-time living with my music. When I say uninspired, I mean that they were not works driven by passion or need, instead amounting to merely demonstrations of technique.
I'm taking time now, devoting myself to the development of my own voice and style, and most importantly - learning to translate my own passions and thoughts into the music I write. Study has given me the tools I need to translate whatever I can imagine onto page or mockup, but moving from a life experience to a musical conception within my own mind is the frontier for me atm. I feel I've somewhat accomplished this time to time, but without the grace that comes with sincere intent. To this end, I will no longer limit myself to certain types of demos based on what I think will land me work, and actually, will not create demos at all. From here on out, I'm gunna do what I wanted to in the first place - write music!
So whether its a rock band piece with vocals, a choral work with children's choir, or music for orchestra, whatever... I'm gunna write what I want, become what I will, and seek work once I am satisfied that my portfolio represents me. 'Till then, I'm gunna live, write and be happy.
I'd bet most of the folks here didn't have to figure that out... but I'm slow and thought I'd share my own demo creation experiences. On Topic - I also advise not putting mediocre film (pretty much the only kind I've worked on to date) with your music to show folks, no matter how good the music is or how well it works. The people that will do the hiring are usually going to be very visual folks, who could easily be distracted or put off so much by the poor imagery that their listening experience may be contaminated. Audio only is probably the best way to go unless you've got some high quality footage.
Good luck with the writing Tweed, hope ya have fun with it!
Mike you said very good things and words of wisdom
Couldn't agree with you more. Mike, thank you for your sincerity. I think it's important to remember why we do music and who it is to serve. There are of course some limitations to our creativity when having to work within somebody else's expectations of a project, but we should keep a good root in why we do it. Otherwise, our music becomes less our voice, and more of just a tool to pay some bills.
Thanks for sharing Mike, that is a very sound/true approach to a demo.
I think Mike is dead on. When I came to L.A., my original plan was to be rock star. I made music I thought was "commercial." Listening back to it now, it's embarrassing because it's mostly cheap imitations of other stuff that was on the radio. I didn't really do anything that I believed in, just what I thought could sell. What a waste.
On the specific topic of demo reels, I don't think there is an answer. In some circumstances, like when there is little competition and you mostly just need to prove your skills, a generic reel would actually be preferable. Shows skill and versatility.
In other instances, like when there's heavy competition and you really need to stand out from the pack, you want to be as narrow as possible.
I send a lot of demo reels every year and I still don't have it figured out. It's all guess work, even with respect to what sort of mood your potential listener will be in.