3 Tips on Making a Game Music Demo CD

I recently had to make a new Demo CD, which pretty much everyone and their dog requires when applying for a Music job, and with good reason. That is, unless you’re an established, well-known artist like John Williams, Jack Wall, Hanz Zimmer, Chance Thomas, or Vanilla Ice. In those cases, they probably don’t need a demo. For everyone else, there is the Demo CD dilemma.

I always hate making Demo CDs because it feels like I’m writing my own obituary for some reason. When you have over 300 songs to choose from which you’ve written (almost half of which are on this site here and here) you have to choose which tunes to slap together, which best represent you, hopefully in under 5 minutes. Also, I’ve worked on multiple platforms and genres, should I blow them away with my orchestral pieces at full quality, or my chip-tune music in XM format? I’m sure the following doesn’t only apply to Game Music either, this could be applied to pretty much any Music Demo CD.

In any case, Tip 1: Use one track for multiple clips of songs. Not only does this keep people from a bunch of tracks to choose from (stuffing a CD full of 99 short clips of stuff you worked on is really, really frowned upon. I forget the real reason why, but I’m sure I could make one up: people don’t like a lot of choices), but this also proves that you know how to use a DAW competently by using crossfades between clips and also shows off a bit more of your composition skills by selecting what pieces to transition in and out of.

And here is what my first track ended up like (this time): Hi-Fi Mix

Tip 2: If you have done different platforms and have a bunch of portable music lying around, it’s always a good idea to show this off on another track. This also applies if you’ve worked with a bunch of live performances (orchestral, live bands, or otherwise), you don’t want to mix them in with any electronic stuff. That’s just confusing for the audio director (or whoever is listening to your stuff).

And here is how my second track ended up: Lo-Fi Mix (I named it lo-fi mix for a damn good reason and made sure it wasn’t the first track, most audio directors may not even listen to more than the first track; but if they do, then this is where you put your other expertise-like stuff)

Tip 3: Stay around 5 minutes per track. That’s a good target, and most people (including me) miss it everytime. The above tracks ended up around 6 minutes even, which is still very acceptable. 7 is pushing it. 10 minutes and you’re crazy. This area is really gray and sounds a bit silly, but it’s not. Keeping the listener engaged for 5-6 minutes is possible, after that you’re just getting greedy. Cut some tracks out.

And here is how my third track ended up (which is way shorter to make up for my two 6 minutes tracks, see how that works out? 🙂 ) Pop-Mix

Anyway, if you ever end up in the position where you have to make yet another Demo CD to get hired for a new project. I feel you. Just keep the above in mind, and you might just get the job this time 😉