Part of developing a new musical is creating demo tracks of the music. Why is it important? Who listens to them? When is the best time to create the demos? Glad you asked……
First, I should say that there are different kind of demos. The most basic demo is what the composer records after they have finished composing a first draft of a song. Usually, the composer just sings and plays the piano while recording the session. Most of the time, there are gaps, incomplete lyrics or is simply in the wrong key. Those demos are for very limited purposes. Next, after the song seems “on track” and “almost there”, I hire actors to sing the song in a more controlled environment – sometimes in a recording studio but many times in the composers work space. These are higher quality and mostly complete. I use these for promotion purposes on social media and in email blasts. They are used to generate interest and get people talking about the show. Last, there are demos of a final product. Lyrics and tempos are finalized, usually some instrumentation is added as well as any background vocals, and then to a recording studio. This time, it is best to get top of the line actor/singers to record. These official tracks will be used in licensing and in the portfolios of the composer and lyricist.
Next, what I have learned in recording demos is this: I tell the actors that acting is more important than singing. Because demos are used to showcase the style and purpose-in-the-show of the music and lyrics, it is important to make the story come through. And I tell the actors, remember – no one can see you on a record, so you must convey ALL of your emotions through your voice. (This is not easy for some actors who are used to using their facial expressions as a tool in their acting.)
As you can guess, recording demos takes time. Time to schedule a rehearsal, time to record the session, time to edit the session and then time to create the final product that will be used in promotions. And, yes…money. Money for the actors, musicians, studio technicians and marketing people. They are not cheap!
But, once you have good demos, you can apply to festivals, start to promote your show, and have these tracks available for actors to use to learn the music.
Finally…..this blog is timely because….we have our first demo for GRACE & THE ISLAND OF MISFITS. Click HERE to check it out.
Love to hear your thoughts.