Why Not to Sing Your Own Demos

After performing at a songwriters' showcase recently, an A&R person I'd known for years asked me why -- as I obviously sang reasonably well -- she had never heard my voice on any of the song demos I'd pitched to her. Here are the four reasons I gave -- think about them:

1. Confusion

The question will be asked: "Are you looking for an artist deal, or is this just to pitch the artist on the roster?" Bearing in mind that the function of an A&R person is to reject the bulk of what he or she hears, chances are if they don't like your voice, your song might go down with you.

2. Association

Garth Brooks, T. Graham Brown, Kathy Mattea and many more all sang song demos when they first came to town. If they had sung one of your songs when they were starting out, your work and name just might ring a bell when you submit them a song later on their careers. When you are competing with every writer on the planet for attention from a major artist, every edge helps.

3. Insurance

Once you are in the studio and the track is going down, listen to how easily the singer locks into the lyric. If at any point, he stumbles on a word or a phrase -- re-write immediately. The word "irreconcilable" may be a wonderful word, but there's probably a better way to say "it's over." Remember, if the hot demo singer you are using has a problem with the lyric, so will the artist you are aiming the song at.

4. Personal Preference

Most people hate the sound of their own voice.