5 Tips for Creating A Better Demo ReelS & PortfolioS

Are you creating your first demo reel or updating your portfolio?

It is important to understand that putting together a demo to showcase your ability takes different skills than the actual work you will do if you get the gig!

Below I share 5 Tips I am thinking about as I set out to create a new demo reel for myself.

At the beginning of the week I made the blog post Reviewing the Past, Planing for the Future in which talked about how I reviewed my music for commercials, created a playlist of my favorite scores of original music to see what I could learn.

Today I am going to talk a little about how I approach the Demo Reel as I am preparing a new reel for myself.

I have a lot of experience putting together portfolios with photographers, graphic designers and illustrators. For a composition reel I believe many of the same principle apply. Helping other artists is one thing but curating a portfolio / demo reel for yourself is a little more difficult. You need to be objective.

By following these steps you are more likely to think through the process rather than get wrapped up in the emotions that happen when trying to sell yourself and review your own work.

First step is defining the purpose for making a reel.
So focus in on the WHO. Who is your audience?
Then focus on the WHAT. What do they need?
Now you can tailor your reel with a purpose to show your audience that you can do what they need.
In my upcoming marketing push I will be seeking out new advertising clients to work with. I will be contacting directors, producers and other production/ad agency creatives. For me, I want to make a demo reel that not only showcases my music for advertising experience but also showcases my favorite styles of music to write it, because in my experience YOU will get hired to do something you have already proven you can. If you want to market to different groups, then make different reels / portfolios!

Make it as short as possible while still giving a good overview of your work. You may only get a few minutes of a new contacts time. The decision makers are often overworked and putting in 60+ hour weeks. Keep it brief. Believe me, if they like what they experience reviewing your work they will remember you.

Front loading is the concept of putting your very best work first. The work that you are most proud of, the work that has a wow factor. Impress in the beginning to keep their attention. Impress at the end to leave them with a bang.

Just because you front and back load your reel / portfolio doesn’t mean the center is just filler. Any work that does not show a clear strength you have that your potential client needs should be cut.

Incorrect spelling, sloppy transitions, clicks, pops, these all will reflect back on you and your work.

Having another set or eyes/ears review your work is invaluable. They will catch things you don’t.
Sometimes, by just showing someone a demo I can tell what works and what doesn’t before they even make a comment. It’s like you are able to see it through their eyes/ears.

Everything is online. So why not think about using search engine optimization on all the parts of your reel / portfolio.
Over the last year I have gotten a big increase in traffic to my site. I believe this is because I have pretty good SEO. I am ranked number 2 on a google “commercial composer” search and I have kept very busy scoring dozens of advertisements and sharing those on youtube, twitter, facebook and soundcloud. I try to load all of these with descriptions of the work, contact info and links back to my website.

Thumbnails can say a lot. Create or choose your thumbnails carefully for your portfolio / demo reel. Your potential clients will most likely see this one image and remember it. I got my thumbnail done!


I hope this is helpful. It really helped me just putting it all into words. I’ll post the reel when I get it finished.

Gotta run – I just got an email with a new edit from my client so . . . back to scoring!