I love listening to demos, it’s one of the most interesting aspects of working in radio, when someone you’ve never met wants to demonstrate what they can do; whether they’re seeking a job, looking for experience, or just interested in constructive feedback.
I did a talk at Bournemouth University last year as part of an SRA Training Day Workshop on “How To Make the Perfect Demo”, and there’s one big aspect worth sharing…
Don’t snip, cut, change or edit the content in your demo. Ever.
It’s a personal bugbear of mine, and something I regularly mention in feedback to demos that include part of a link – usually a funny or enthusiastic opening remark or an observation off the back of a song – abruptly cut off by a sound effect, followed by another half a link with a particularly strong bit they want to show off.
But what I really want to hear is the rest of that first link.
George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, and Harvey Keitel are going to illustrate this point, thanks to the film “From Dusk Till Dawn“.
The premise is this – brothers Seth and Richie Gecko hold up a liquor store. They kidnap a pastor and his children, taking their motorhome and driving across the border to Mexico. In Mexico, they arrive at a strip club in the desert, where the Geckos will be met by their contact, Carlos. Carlos will escort them to a safehouse for fugitives. It’s cops vs robbers, kidnap, violence, explosions, and a motorhome… it’s “Breaking Bad” without the meth.
That’s the first hour of the film. Up until this point, I was really enjoying it.
I’m going to paraphrase from Wikipedia what happens after the sixty minute mark, mainly because my memory of the latter part is clouded by red mist.
The strip club employees reveal themselves as vampires and kill most of the patrons. Richie is bitten by a stripper and dies; only Seth, Jacob, Kate, Scott, and a biker named “Sex Machine”, survive. The others are reborn as vampires, including Richie, forcing the survivors to kill them all. When an army of vampires, in bat form, assembles outside, the survivors lock themselves in, but Sex Machine is bitten, becomes a vampire, and bites Frost and Jacob. Frost throws Sex Machine through the door, allowing the vampires to enter.
Whether that completely turns you off – like it did for me – or piques your interest more than the first hour, you can’t deny a fairly conclusive gear change happened there.
Based on the first hour, I’d have said it’s a great film, one to recommend. But I had to see the whole thing to know it goes in a completely different direction, one that I didn’t like. I wouldn’t want to see it again, nor would I recommend it to anyone who shares my tastes.
So if you include a link in your demo that cuts off halfway through, and moves to something else, I’m immediately – scarred by From Dusk Till Dawn – thinking “how did that end? How wrong did the link go after that point for it to be not included?”
Unless the whole link is good, then it isn’t a good link. If you’re not confident in it, I’m not either.