View Full Version : How to make a demo

02-09-2012, 11:20 AM
How to make a demo
(Posted in front page, but never created the thread for it)

There are many steps needed to become a DJ. Some of which take time to develop and others just come with experience. Eventually, after fine-tuning your skills in front of a small crowd, you'll reach a point when you're ready to take it to the next level. This next step would be to package this up and figure out how best to present your talent to someone whoís never heard you before. This is where a demo comes into play.

A demo gives someone an idea of what style music you play and what you're capable of bringing to the table. Although it should reflect what you are capable of doing live, it should also represent your best work, so itís best to plan everything out ahead of time. Keep in mind that you are creating this set for people to listen to, at their leisure. A carefully planned set will show off your creativity and attention to detail, which is what sets us apart from other Djs.

Whether you're making the set for yourself or someone else, try to stick to a theme, to help get an idea of what type of tunes will be needed. We all have tracks that are demo worthy, but not everything blends together.

If you want to throw down a mix of different styles, just remember the theme you gave the set and try to pick tracks with the same feel/mood. Meaning that certain songs, whether it be electro, house, techno, can have a dark, low-key feel to it. This same group can be a bit more bright/epic, so youíll need to able to separate the difference. The best tool every DJ has is his or her ears. Train yourself to catch these subtleties and you'll be able to do this on the fly with ease.

Now once you have the tunes that you would like to use, its time to trim the fat. Remember that the typical CD plays about 70 to 80 minutes of music, so try to keep your set within this time frame. With that said, go back and listen to your tracks again and choose the best of the best, leaving yourself about 12 to 15 tunes, or an hour worth of music. And donít forget, the selection shouldnít only be based off of which song you like best, but which best fits the set.


OK, ask yourself this question. Which track should be your opening tune and how is this going to end? You always want to lead off with something interesting, to grab the listenersí attention. Either pick a track with a good intro or get creative and do something yourself, before the music kicks in. Try some vocal clips, sound efx and/or audio movie quotes, which can be found with a quick search on Google.com.

The opening tune shouldnít start off too big, unless you know youíre going to keep that same energy from that point on, but thatís just my opinion. We all have our own opinions on what is or isnít a strong tune. So whichever you choose, try to start off with something mellow. Save your big floor filers for the mid point, which would be the peak of the set, then try to end the set a bit toned down. Try a classic, well-known tune to finish up, or get creative and throw in some more audio quotes. Itís really up to you. Just give the listeners a clue that the set is ending, instead of finishing up on a high note, sounding as if there was more to follow.

Take notes!

Arrangement is a crucial part of the process, but I think this next topic is the most important. You now need to grab a pen and a pad and write down some cheat notes. You already have your opening and ending tunes, now you need to make the other tracks fit in, like a puzzle. This part of the process will help place them in the best possible order.

Youíll find tracks that mix perfectly together and some that do not. At this time, you should be trying to mix and match writing down what works best.

∑ Track 3 w/ track 7
∑ Track 5 w/ track 2

After that, figure out the best way to mix them, so that youíre sure they are phrased up and timed perfectly.

∑ Track 1: breaks at 3:52 / kick drum comes back in @ 4:25
∑ Start track 4 @ 5:12
∑ what ever works best for you

Some might call this cheating, but youíre recording a demo and you want this as clean as possible. This doesnít mean you couldnít do it live, if you were put to the test. In fact, it helps you get familiar with the track(s), making it that much easier to mix when youíre in front of a crowd. Taking notes helps ease the stress while you record and helps you put the puzzle pieces together, giving your set a good flow from beginning to end.


Iíll skip this section, since there are plenty of tutorials on this site, starting with the one linked below.

There's just one rule you should always follow, and that is to keep the recording volume low. Not too low, but give yourself and the tracks, some room to avoid any clipping in the audio. You can always raise the volume later, as pointed out in the next step.

02-09-2012, 11:20 AM
Now that the hard part is over, it’s time to listen to the set and figure out if you want to add anything to it. Here you can adjust the EQ, trim the dead air, add efx, drops and raise the volume, if needed.

Some more experienced DJs/producers multi-track and start layering songs or different elements onto the mix itself. If interested in this process, please follow the link provided.

After you’ve reviewed the set and all sounds good, it’s time to convert to MP3 format. Be sure to render the mix into a high quality 320kbps MP3 and 128 or 192kbps MP3 for web streaming purposes.


All that’s left is to give you demo a title and type up the track listing. Don’t forget to add “For promotional use only” on the CD and Track listing covers. And if you’re going to be uploading this set to the web, you might consider making some kind of artwork to go with it, as it visually attracts listeners, getting you more download hits then expected.

In regards to the CDs, if you’re going to make the copies yourself, you might want to split the tracks up, so people can skip around if they wish to. If someone’s forced to scan through the set, just to get to the next track, they might not bother listening at all. So for this, you will need to create a cue sheet.

Cue sheets
A cue sheet is used to detail the layout of a CD, where tosplit the track and lists all the information for each song. For more detailedinformation about cue sheets or cue files, please follow the link below.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cue_sheet_(computing)The following is a template I put together as an example,which can be created in Notepad.exe.

(Everything in red needs to be changed)
TITLE “Insert-you-album-title-here”
INDEX 01 00:00:00
INDEX 01 00:00:00
INDEX 01 00:00:00

Continue until you have listed the tracks in your demo andremember to make all necessary changes, like track number and index.

INDEX 01 00:00:00

The track index is the point where the song changes on theCD, in MM:SS:FR (minute-second-frame) format. This is completely up to you, asto where this split should occur. Some place it before the mix and some after,just remember that a cue point is used to advance to the next song.INDEX 01 13:42:12 (13 minutes, 42 seconds, 12 frames).After creating the cue sheet, save the file in the formatshown below.


Both the cue sheet and mix should be saved in the samelocation, either on your desktop or specific folder. Once finished, open thisfile with your CD burning software and the program should do the rest. Not allburning programs can read a cue sheet, so you might want to review the manual and see if it’s possible. If not, you might want to invest in something withthis feature, as it gives off a more professional presentation, if and whensomeone takes a listen.

Now it’s time to start promoting your mix and the quickest way to get your demo out, is online. There are plenty of blogs and websites that encourage DJs to upload their mixes, such as Djforums.com. Also, social networks, like Google Plus and Facebook, can be powerful tools for any DJ, so make sure your profiles are up to date.

The next step would be to start handing out copies to promoters, managers and anyone else you know in the industry. I would also recommend taking a few copies to small shops, with heavy foot traffic or anywhere you think your set would be welcomed.

Handing out a demo is about the same as walking into a business and dropping off a resume. Not only are you trying to get your music circulating, you're also trying to network yourself as a DJ, so a demo alone won't cut it. So before you hand anything out, you might want to introduce yourself and try to build some type of relationship with the person you're speaking with, first. As for promoters and/or club managers, you may want to build a connection first, even if this means buying them a beer. Having them see you at their venue two or three times, before you approach them, will also go alone way. These steps will help avoid having your demo thrown in the trash, once you walk away.

Hopefully, you've made some kind of impression, after all this and your name is starting to get around.In this business, it's all about who you know and crowd you can pull. So, after you've made these vital connections, go out and make some more. Just be sure to have another mix ready to hand out, when you do. Hopefully, your well-planned demos will help open some doors and get you speaking to the right people.

02-09-2012, 11:36 AM
Thanks, Rek. Stuck.

02-11-2012, 12:45 PM
as a new dj this was super helpful

05-09-2012, 09:42 AM
That's a great tutorial you made there!

I'd just like to add two alternative choices for the arrangement (not that your suggestions aren't good, just trying to show some options here.. ;) )

First track: a different approach to the one posted by Rek_Aviles is to start out with a rather big tune, a real "earcatcher" if you like, keep the energy for a couple of tunes and then shift one (or two) gears back (without the mix getting boring), keep it there for a short time before you start working it up to another peak again.

The Reason to do so is the following: promoters and club owners tend to have not much time on the one hand and a huge pile of demos on the other, so they maybe don't listen to each and every one in its entirety. If you get them with a great beginning your chances of getting them hooked on your mix may be higher than when you start out mellow and they have to listen for a while to get to the more energetic part.

Last track: instead of toning it down you can also put a real banger in the end in order to create some kind of 'cliffhanger' effect and leaving the listener with a feeling like "damn, it's already over, I definetely could need more of this.." ;) . Make sure it fits in the arrangement though, toning it down and than playing a highly energetic tune probably won't work.

06-05-2012, 09:08 PM
This is great stuff guys, Thank You, My page is: http://djs@enpuertovallarta.net , when coming to Vallarta, check with us.

06-19-2012, 03:40 PM
Awesome post! I'm going to send this to my partner right away.

07-04-2012, 01:20 AM
Meaning that certain songs, whether it be electro, house, techno, can have a dark, low-key feel to it. This same group can be a bit more bright/epic, so you’ll need to able to separate the difference.

That just sent off a light bulb in my head. Thank you.

Bassline Brine
07-24-2012, 06:53 PM
You know, I agree with 99% of this post.

The one thing I don't agree with entirely, is having a pre-planned set. Some people just don't do that. I know I don't, honestly. I may have a playlist of tracks that I'll pull from, but pre-planning your set shouldn't be something you should "have" to do.

I've gotten many many demo mixes over the years. Just being a constant club goer and a promoter. And some of the best ones? You can tell they were just someone deep in the mix. Digging deep and having fun. You can't always replicate the inner style by pre-planning a mix. Some people can I'm sure, and some people just don't prefer to mix that way.

So on that note, just do what you feel is best. And you don't have to just do one take of a mix. Mix often, record often, and when you have one that you feel really speaks of your skill and music you want to be playing, then burn it to a CD.

And also of note:

People just LOVE being handed a CD. Having it in Audio CD format is still best, because a lot of people listen in cars and don't have Mp3 capable players in their cars still. And that's where people are going to listen to it, in their cars. Because if they are on a computer, they have access to your soundcloud to check out :)

I can't tell you how many times I've listened to random CD's of people just because they actually handed me, and I really enjoyed it. And it makes /me/ (as a listener/consumer) pay attention the next time I see them on a line-up.

It's also some of the most rewarding feedback you can ever get. When someone who may not be a promoter or anything comes up to you and says, "Man, your CD was awesome. It's been two weeks since I last saw you at XYZ show, and I STILL haven't taken it out of my car's CD player."

Seriously, that feel like a million bucks and I can't say enough that this is so damned important. For getting your name out there, getting gigs, and building your personal fan-base.

I try to burn about 20 CD's these days before I go out to a show (More than that and I just get bored :P). I do a couple mixes on there (Usually two 30 minute mixes because it breaks it up nicely, can be the same or different genre's that I like). And when I go to a club, I just pass those CD's out to people.

I'm still an "up and coming" DJ myself. But I've gotten a couple gigs out of it, and that's all I can really say. It's one of those things not everyone does, and really shows that you are stepping up and working for it. At least in the club scene.

12-17-2012, 05:54 PM
WOW, very clear and easy to follow instructions. I have made promo CD's before but these tips are really going to come in handy. Thanx Rek_Aviles

09-09-2013, 03:45 AM
It's a good tip!

03-25-2015, 07:30 PM
amazing instructions, few good pointers even for experienced producers.

07-11-2015, 12:30 AM
I really enjoy reading this info, thanks for sharing,

DJ Jacky
10-12-2015, 01:08 AM
Hy rek so i just wonna to ask you is fruity loops 12 fruity edition good,if you can help me that would ne great thank you!

10-14-2015, 02:05 PM
@Jacky - I have little to no experience with Fruity loops. I would suggest starting a new thread in the Production Forum. I'm sure there are members here who can answer your question.

Production and Recording (http://www.djforums.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?7-Production-and-Recording)

10-14-2015, 02:07 PM
This tutorial needs an update. After switching over to Traktor and using a controller for the past 3 yr, I feel a bit different about the process - just a bit. :teef:

04-01-2016, 05:25 PM
Thanks for complete information about this demo system.