As time goes on it is becoming easier and easier to make a good demo for pitching. Now that doesn’t mean publishers are looking for demos ready for the radio, just something that shows off your song and your ability as a songwriter. A good demo should be clear, in time, on pitch and has potential to be turned into a hit.
Phone recordings are not the best idea because the publisher needs to hear each part of the recording with good balance. This means that the guitar/piano cannot out-shine the vocals. Using simple recording gear and overdubbing skills can help get the balance right so the publisher can easily judge your song.
You need to show effort with your song and have the song in time and on pitch. This helps the publisher see potential in the song with a recording that has been worked on and perfected. It doesn’t need to have a whole orchestra, but the instruments and vocals that are there need to be perfect. You can use a click track when recording to help stay on beat and do multiple takes and choose the best one.
If you show them an upbeat song recorded with just vocals and piano. That won’t work. The recording needs to match the song, helping the publisher imagine what that song could be when professionally recorded.
A good demo is the way to get noticed by publishers and by artists. There are recording studios out there that will help you get the perfect recording, but at home recording will work too. Make sure the demo shows off your song and shows what kind of songwriter you are.