Creating the perfect demo tape is essential if you’re trying to get into the industry. A demo tape is essentially your audition for a station. It can also be referred to as a showreel. It can demonstrate your skills in different sections of broadcasting and can give the station a feel of how you’ll sound on air. Here are some top tips to know before putting your demo together.
Research the Station
Researching, in this context, means listening. Tune in to the station that you want to send your demo to. Take note of how presenters deliver their links and tweak yours to sound similar. This style is more than likely what the programme controller wants their station to sound like, so you need to show them that you can nail it. It’ll show them that you’re a good fit for the station. However, make sure to give them a good idea of how you’ll sound on a timeslot that wouldn’t be overly popular, such as an overnight show. They’re probably not going to start you off on a breakfast show, so just be prepared.
Incorporate the Station’s Brand
Each station will have its own style, links and slogans, so be sure to incorporate this into your demo. You’ll have to create a different one for each station if you’re planning on applying to a few. This is because a news-based station won’t sound the same as a station that only plays pop music. A personalised demo will show them that you’re genuinely interested, as opposed to sending demos to any station you can find.
Don’t Over-Do It
Make sure that your demo isn’t too long as there is a chance it won’t be listened to or considered. 3 minutes is probably the ideal time. Chances are, those listening will probably know within the first 30 seconds whether or not they’ll want to hear more. Use this first half-minute to intrigue them and put your best self forward.
Purpose of the Demo
Essentially, you’re trying to convince someone to hire you in under 5 minutes. Your audition tape is an incredibly important thing to perfect if you want to work at a particular radio station. Ensure the first link on the tape is flawless, but be aware that some programme controllers may fast forward to hear how the rest sounds. Overall, you need to have a strong audition.
What to Include
Your demo will need to show that not only can you perform the basics, but that you are good at what you do. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can read clearly and at the correct pace. While it’s important to study the radio station’s presenters, make sure you have your own style that is original but fits into what they’re looking for. Be sure to include yourself reading the weather, Q card and script. You can also add some of the following: Sports headlines, competition link, a news story, chatting to a “listener” (phone a friend!), promotional link or even delivering a joke.
What Not to Include
Stay away from adding in any jingles or music. Demonstrate that you can get in and out of tracks and use maybe 3 seconds of a song but no more. Don’t include any other voice over artists. If you’re good at editing, you can fade between each link but don’t go over the top. You can also add certain sounds for a nicer flow. However, the demo is to present your voice and not a high level of production.
After you’ve recorded your demo, ask someone to have a listen to it. If they’re in the industry themselves, even better. They’ll pick up on things you may have missed and can provide advice. Don’t include anything that you’re not completely happy with. Once it’s finished, contact the station’s receptionist and ask who to send it on to. You also may be able to find this information on their website. If possible, ask how the programme controller would prefer to receive the tape. More than likely, they’ll suggest emailing it on with a CV, but others may ask you to send them a website link with a few photos, experience and the demo or to send it via Soundcloud, Audioboo or Mixcloud. Make sure the file is not too large!
Don’t be too keen to contact them again, but after a couple of weeks, you could email or phone to follow up. However, some programme controllers may keep it until a vacancy comes up. If possible, ask for some feedback on the demo if it doesn’t seem as if you’ll be taken on. September is a good time to get in touch as they may be planning the Christmas period, so make sure they know you’re available to work!
Just remember, demo tapes won’t always get you hired, but they’ll get you noticed in the industry. It’ll be the first step in getting in the door to meet some of the team. Good luck!