How to NOT submit a demo to Pesto Music (or in general)

This is quite a long read, please check the main post to read the full article.
Rather than actually searching for new talent on the interwebz, I usually get demos sent in by (serious and wannabe) producers. Some stuff is great and therefore gets signed. Other stuff is just not good enough to be released or does not match the style Pesto releases. Believe it or not - there must be people sending demos to each and every record label they find on or, regardless of their style. I already had Metal demos, pure plastic Trance (does it say Tiesto on somewhere?) or HipHop/Rap stuff ("yo dawg - I got fresh beats, holla atcha").

One of the main things to consider when sending demos: don't try to copy what's already out on the label. It may improve your chances with regards to matching the style but I do not need a slightly different version of a tune that has been released already. Try to get a feeling for what I might like. 95% of my signings cannot be explained by words such as "I like the bassline" or "I like how you use that Reaktor preset". I simply have to feel a tune. If it's a minimal track (which I usually don't like that much) but I feel it and I can imagine playing it in my sets, chances are that I am at least interested. If it's a rap tune and I feel it (and it has great remix potential on top of that), I might be interested, as well. Rather than checking Pesto's former releases (and if you do, you'll quickly notice how different they are), you might find more hints on what's hot with me by listening to the PestoMixes, mine included. If I don't like it, it just means I don't feel it (and not that it's a bad tune).

The A&R of a different label may tell you it's the greatest thing since the invention of the whopper, which is hard to imagine given how tasty whoppers are, but it happens.

Usually, I will always try to reply to your demo submission within two weeks and usually, I will get back with some feedback telling you what exactly I did not like about your music.
There are a few things though that will keep me silent and you're free to tell all your friends what an arrogant prick I am by not getting back. Here you go:

1. "Listen my track"

Okay, I'm not a native tongue myself when it comes to english language and I am sure a lot of native speakers have a good laugh every now and then when they read texts on or on the Facebook pages. I try to get it right though and if I'm unsure, I will look things up in order not to make too much of a fool of myself. "Listen my track" though is not just wrong (I was taught that the infinitive is "to listen to something").
Call me a grammar nazi but read on: it's plain harsh, unfriendly and makes you sound like an uneducated idiot. What you could try instead: "Please listen my track" or "Could you listen my track (please)?" or something along those lines. I did 13 months of civil service here in Germany so I'm hard to convince to follow any orders, especially not from people that I do not know. "Listen my track!" - there it goes in the bin, even quicker if you post it as a comment.

2. You want to have your music released with Pesto so badly that you have read some news items, read about our philospophy and checked out our releases and the PestoCasts. You did not? Ah, that explains quite something. At least some "hi" or "ladies and gentlemen" or "Hey Jon" would do. It's simply a question of how you behave, how you treat the people around you (in general, not only valid for submitting demos). If you don't think your demo submission needs to meet at least minor levels of etiquette, I'm already nearly sure I don't want you as an artist. If you send your girl a nasty loveletter, do you also just write "I wanna f**k"? Next time, you should try "Hey Baby, you are the sexiest woman on earth for me. I'd love to f**k you big time, can't get this idea outta my head. Love...". Your chances will improve, believe me!

Here's such an example of a demo submission sent in via our contact form:

Demo from Russia, submitted via the contact form on

Yup, that's the whole thing. And I even listened to it because I thought "ok, the guy's from Russia, maybe his english lacks a bit, let's see - I get great demos from Russia usually". After listening, I noticed it wasn't for Pesto so I should have followed my instinct. Anyways.

Here's the next one, this time from Germany, I believe:

Demo track on YouTube

Ummm...are you fukking kidding me, homeboy? A demo to get your track signed and all you send me is a YouTube link? To say it with Gordon Ramsay: "Fockoooff!" The funny thing is though, I even signed one tune via YouTube. The guy (his name is Coce, his track was on my Goosebumped Mix and will be out on a future Pesto EP) sent me a message via YouTube mail that went like this:

subject: "Demo" message body: "Hey Jon, i have a demo track on my channel called Underground sound, please check it up and give me a review.Thanks Coce"

Ha...notice the difference? Track signed, remix kit sent, release later this year - everybody's happy.

And one example for guys who just harvest some label directories or Soundcloud without paying too much attention to detail. This time from Italy, the guy writes:

demo submission from Italy

So, if I actually really were I grammar nazi, I'd have got back to the guy as follows: "Ricky, you capitalize "I" (pronoun) and since there is more than one track (you say tracks), it has to be 'these are my tracks'. Please get your grammar straight before attempting to send us whacky messages - here at Pesto Music, we pay attention to those details! Have a nice day!" I did not for the reasons stated above rather than replying to him that I was indeed interested in signing one of the tunes. His reply:

hi sorry for the late this moment i search only vinyl release...if you are interest contactg me peace

Ouch, that hurts! How come you like my label (as you have stated in your mass mail) but aren't aware of the fact we don't release vinyl anymore (for a couple of years already, that is)? What's the point of sending a demo to a company that does not meet YOUR criteria for a release? Exactly, there is none - I consider this spam: advertising something that is not of my interest and that I have not opted in to receive notice of. S-P-A-M.

To finish the rant part, there are the role models, the shining examples, the kings of demo submission, the lonely sailors of....ok, I'll stop here. Check out this demo submission (Yohan contacted me on Facebook before, kindly asking for my email address in order to submit a demo):

perfect demo submission from a french guy

Do you notice the friendly tone of his message? "Hi", "thanks for the mail", "I'm this guy, having done that already", "download or stream - whatever you prefer, I can also send you a CD if you dislike both", "thanks". Wow - is it because he's french? Are all french people that nice? Is it because I'm reading his message out loud with that charming french accent? Hell no! This guy is simply doing it the right way! Short and to the point (because he knows time is precious), offering different options and to say it in one word: professional!

The bottom line here is: I do actually listen to demos (as probably all other label reps will do). Most of the signings on Pesto were not done because people knew me or I knew them or they had been recommended by somebody we both know. The tracks got signed because I felt the music, liked the producer's vibe when sending emails back and forth and the tune fit in my agenda for the label.

So if you have producer friends, please forward this post to them, share it on their Facebook walls, on their blinking GIF and Flash-cluttered comment section on myspace, retweet it and I can assure you that you've done a big favour to many A&R managers and record label owners out there! And you've also greatly improved chances for your producer friends that labels will actually listen to their music. Everybody wins!

Last but not least, we also have a dropbox on Soundcloud which is a good way to submit demos. Nearly every serious label I know has one. You can find ours here (yeah, it's a bit hidden).