SongTown: Demo Decisions - Full Band or Simple Guitar And Vocal?

So you've finished your latest greatest song and it's time to do a demo.

Should you do a full band demo or a simple guitar/vocal?

The next decision you make can be the difference in an artist recording your song or not! I'd like to step you through the thought process my co-writers and I used on the way to landing our song "Gotta Love It" on the latest Joe Nichols record.

Dave Berg, Marla Cannon, and I got together last spring on two occasions and wrote a song we thought was pretty cool. At the end of the second session I turned on my iPhone recording app, and Dave and I played our guitars and sang the song from start to finish. I sang the melody, and Dave added a harmony part and played some guitar riffs to create the mood we were looking for.

Our publishers loved our worktape. So we all discussed the possibility of demoing the song. I had been having good luck with Darius Rucker cuts by presenting his producer with a great guitar/vocal demo done in my home studio. His producer Frank Rogers is great at hearing simple demos and imagining the finish production.

But since we didn't know if this song would be right for Darius, we decided a full demo would be a better idea. It would broaden our pitch opportunities. The song is also a fun uptempo song with a cool groove. Often these types of songs benefit from the energy of a full band; so another reason for doing a full production demo.

So that left us with one more decision to make-- who will sing the demo? We knew the song could possibly be recorded by a male or female artist but we didn't want to record two versions. So we decided to cut the demo with a male singer. Female artists seem to hear through demos of the opposite sex better than vice versa. Also one of the publishers remarked he liked my voice on the worktape and suggested I sing the final demo.

So there ya have it. A few months after we wrote the song, it was played for country superstar Joe Nichols and "Gotta Love It" was included on his new album Crickets. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the process.

You can hear the 3 stages of the recording: 1)Worktape 2)Demo 3)Album Cut by clicking on this link:

Write On! Clay Mills

Clay Mills is a 11-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. His songs have been recorded by such artist as Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Babyface, Reba McEntire, and Kimberly Locke. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Follow him here:, at, and at or visit Twiiter@SongTownUSA

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