Please send a demo to the address below.
COP International- USA
1125 Magnolia St.
Oakland, CA 94607
- Make sure to enclosed an e-mail and phone contact.
- CD format is preferable. Please DO NOT e-mail digital files!
- It would be great if you could add at least one photo as well as a short bio and select 3 of your best tracks.
- If we are interested, we will get in touch with you.
- We do listen to all the demos we receive, but we won't send you personal comments due to a shortage of time and man-power (we usually receive around 50 demos a month :)! We also do not send back promo kits.
Thank you for your interest in our label. Keep up the Fight!
Christian Petke (A&R)
I also took the liberty to include an article by Sharon Ortiz that was published in Industrial Nation
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
Disclaimer: The views contained herein are my own. I do not purport to know how every industrial label on the planet feels about demos.
Some viewpoints and opinions, of course, may differ. That said, I'm reasonably confident my advice cannot truly steer anyone wrong.
In the mid-'90s I worked for a US industrial record label (now defunct) that got, on average, between 5-10 demos a week. Once a month or so my boss, I, and a couple other volunteers would gather around the tape deck (this was the low-tech mid-'90s, of course, when a majority of demos were on cassette) and begin the complicated process of evaluating the demos that had passed through our PO box. Having listened to literally hundreds of demos in my life and examined an equal amount of promo packs, I've learned a thing or two about what makes a demo pack stand out from multitudes. The following are a few things to keep in mind before you send out your unsigned band for professional scrutiny.
Is your music really ready to be signed?
This is pretty much your judgment call, although I'd recommend that, when in doubt, don't send the demo out. My reasoning? You never know when a label will have a long memory. There's always a chance that if [Insert Cheesy Band Name Here] sent a demo out in '99 that was complete shit, the label is going to carry that impression along with them the next time they get a demo from that same band. So, then, how are you to know if your recordings on one Casio and a tape deck are crap or retro genius? This is the hard thing for a band to determine themselves. My recommendation:
put a couple tracks on MP3 and solicit anonymous opinions from a nice, upstanding newsgroup like RMI. If you can get away without a flame war, start mailing.
Have you put your best song first?
I know all bands would love to hear that labels listen through each and every demo in its entirety and evaluate it with thorough and stringent methods, but the reality often is much different. It's entirely possible there are labels on this planet that really do listen to every song on every demo, but I haven't met any yet. In the case of the label I worked at, we seldom got past the third or fourth track of a demo, particularly if the band was showing little promise. In fact, we had a 'Gong Show' approach to demo listening. Any one of us could 'gong' the demo as soon as we felt it appropriate and out it went from the tape deck. In this scenario, demos never got a second chance thus I submit to you that making a good first impression is essential.
With that tidbit of information in mind, be sure to put your best tracks at the front of a demo submission. Don't automatically assume that, if your best song is track 9, the label's going to get around to finding that out. And, while you are at it, be sure your kickass song doesn't include a four and a half minute ambient intro (assuming, of course, that you aren't an ambient project to begin with). More often than not, songs get switched by the three minute mark, especially if they don't appear to be going anywhere.
Does the style of music you make match the style of music the label releases?
I can't tell you how many times the label I worked for (which was industrial, let me remind
you) received demos from metalheads, Grateful Dead wannabes, or even rap artists (I probably don't have to tell you that we never signed any of these bands). My guess is that most bands ascribe to the 'more is more' policy when evaluating prospective labels to send demos to.
If they can come up with a vague reason why their release would work on the label's roster ('goth is almost the same thing as industrial,' 'my friends tell me that the one ambient song on my death metal record sounds like Skinny Puppy,'
'this label's logo would look good on my CD art,'
etc) they can make a case to themselves for sending the demo out, hoping, perhaps, that one lone person in the label's cramped office will see the genius in the band's work and want to release it. Sure, I don't fault bands for trying, but think about it from the perspective of the anonymous industrial label: after listening to the zillionth bad Sisters of Mercy ripoff, it starts getting old. With that in mind, if you are planning to send your music to a label's that's predominant sound is somewhat different than your own, I highly recommend acknowledging this fact in your cover letter. Make a short and smart case for your band. Why should the label consider you?
What might they see in your work that would help them look beyond the disparity of style? Oh, and don't compare yourself to 'Nine Inch Nails meets Skinny Puppy meets Front 242', but I'll expound on that later
Do you really think lying is going to help your case?
If I had a dollar for every demo package I've seen that included a band member's transparent attempt to pose as the band's big shot label rep/agent/manager I'd be at least $15 richer.
I've never understood why bands do this because it just makes them look lame. Or desperate. I recall one demo that was sent out with a cover letter by a band member who was posing as the band's producer. The letter started with "as you and I discussed on the phone, I've sent the demo from the hot new artist I've discovered [Insert Cheesy Band Name Here] you requested" This exact demo package-word for word-was sent to at least three other labels at the same time (it goes without saying that none of the labels could ever recall speaking to these people on the phone).
Did this band really think that the labels wouldn't pick up on this? I also used to love it when bands would send demo packages posing as fictitious record labels trying to clue you into an 'exciting new band.' This tactic makes absolutely no sense to me. If your band already has a record deal, why would you be sending the material out to another label? There are rare cases when this is appropriate (for an example, obscure European labels looking for US licensing) and those cases can be easily verified. In any other scenario, however, this looks silly. So, if you are Joe Industrial from Helena, Montana looking to get your band signed, I'd recommend taking the direct approach and letting your music speak for itself. Honesty is always the best policy.
Can you describe your sound without using the
words: Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Ministry, or Nine Inch Nails?
There's nothing wrong with comparing your sound to pre-existing bands if they are a fair comparison. If you sound like Freeze Frame Reality-era Haujobb with an occasional Forma Tadre Automate-esque ambient dalliance, go ahead and say so. A description like the aforementioned gives a fairly clear idea of what a label can expect from your demo. What doesn't work, however, is bands that describe their sound by cramming as many big name industrial bands into the same sentence as possible. Saying that you are a cross between Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and Front 242 is about as imprecise as saying you live on planet earth. The only thing that a statement such as this clues the label into is that you are a giant dork. Namechecking bands is a tricky business. Be sure your music matches your claims.
Do you really want label people making fun of your photos?
I would never recommend including band photos in a demo submission, unless you have a really compelling reason for doing so (for an example, your female bandmate-who plays an instrument-is naked preferably on top of the instrument). Your photo generally has very little bearing on whether the label will like your music and, more often than not, merely gives the label something to laugh at while they flip through your demo.
With that in mind, unless the work 'dork' is somewhere in your band name, do not include a photo in your demo submission if you:
This may come as a shock, but your band isn't the first one to think of wearing boots, fatigues, and an I-want-to-kill-you scowl in a construction yard. Likewise, your band isn't the first to ever dress up in black clothing and lie with bad makeup and a pained expression on a gravestone.
It really doesn't matter how fucking cool you think you look, if you are the billionth artist to do band photos that take all of their cues from goth or industrial clichés, you will probably look very lame. On a similar note, leave the band t-shirts out of the photos. There is nothing more embarrassing that a bad elektro band who's press photos prominently display its members sporting FLA t-shirts (even worse if they're posing in a power plant). If you are determined take press pics despite all that I've written, please err on the side of caution. No bad makeup, no melodramatic poses, and no costume-y outfits. And be honest with yourself when you appraise the photos. Do you look like a dumbshit? No really. Do you?
- Are funny-looking.
- Have things painted on your face in black eyeliner.
- Are posing in front of a graveyard or power plant.
- Are dressed like Richard 23.
- Have hair like Brian Erickson's.
- Are wearing a KMFDM t-shirt.
- Look like an industrial version of Fabio.
- Have friends that see the photos and start laughing uncontrollably.
Do you really want label people making fun of your lyrics?
This is a sister argument to the press photo issue. I don't recommend including lyrics with a demo submission either and, unlike the photo issue, I can't think of any compelling reasons to do so. The overwhelming majority of industrial bands - even signed, successful industrial bands
- have stupid lyrics. Thus, if you fall into this category (and it's likely you do), do not include lyric sheets, particularly if nobody can tell what the hell you are saying without them. Not clueing in the label to your lyrics supporting televised abortions might be the single best thing you can do to up your signing potential.
That said, if you've read this and truly believe you are on par with Shakespeare and want to submit lyric sheets anyway, I refer you, once again, to a venerable institution such as RMI.
Post a couple of your band lyrics and ask for feedback. If readers are compelled to tell you that your iambic pentameter is rife with pedantic posturing and sophomoric tropes (or, more likely, that your shit blows goats), perhaps its best to leave the lyric sheets out.
Do you really think the label wants to read all of those pieces of paper?
In my experience, the first instinct of any label rep after opening a demo package is to toss all those annoying little papers that come with it in the trash and pop the CD/tape into the stereo.
This should tell you everything about what is important in a demo submission. Nine times out of ten the label won't even read your long and in-depth discourse about your band's history and inspiration, and are probably even less likely to read those reviews of your disc your sister wrote for your friend's zine. Thus, I'd recommend keeping the paper quantity in a demo submission down to a minimum. Write a short, succinct letter to the label describing your band, explaining why you feel your band would fit on the label's roster, highlighting a few of your band's key accomplishments (if any), and providing your contact info. That's pretty much all a label needs to know. Also, don't forget to clearly label all of your demo's components with your name and contact information. This includes the packaging, cover letter, case, and the recording medium itself. You have no idea how easily these things get separated. Popping a promising demo out of a tape deck to find it unlabeled and its case missing is the absolute height of annoying.
Oh, and another thing, don't ask the label to return your demo to you, and don't call and harass them every week until they do. You will never, ever get signed. To the six of you out there who are guilty of this, I'm not naming any names, but you know who you are. And my wrath is unequaled.
Can you accept no gracefully?
If you get a call or email from a label turning
you down, be heartened. If they cared enough to
actually contact you and turn your shit down, it
was either a hair shy of good or it was so
fucking bad they're planning to play it at their
Xmas party to amuse their friends. Sadly, labels
will rarely contact you to let you know what they
thought of your demo. This a function of not
having enough hours in a day to finish all the
overwhelming tasks a label already has in front
of it without having to copy down 20+ email
address and craft a few personalized lines of
constructive criticism to each. If you choose to
email or call a label and ask them what they
thought of your demo, pray that you get a person
who actually remembers listening to it on the
other end. If you don't, go ahead and ask if
someone there does, and pray that person actually
returns your phone call/email. If luck was not on
your side and you couldn't get a definitive
answer on your demo's quality, accept defeat and
move on. DO NOT continue to call, fax, email, or
balloon-o-gram the label until you get an answer.
Nobody has time to field irate calls from Joe
Industrial in Des Moines about his demo,
particularly if it was recorded on one Casio and
a tape deck (and was not, contrary to popular
belief, retro genius).
So, there you have it, a few sage words about
sending demos. Now go make some music.