If you are an artist today, you know how hard it is to get heard. Listeners nowadays are constantly bombarded from all directions for competition for their attention. So here’s an interesting question, why should you care audio quality?
The quality of a recording is the frame and presentation of your music. An art gallery doesn’t just pull a piece of dusty art from the back and lean it up against a wall on the floor. They clean it up, frame it properly, and hang it at eye level. They also organize and display it with similar works. Only in the music world, the similar works are all of the big name artists that you know and love.
Just to clarify what I mean by audio quality, I am talking about all of the things that go into how a recording is presented. This is from the initial capture of the instruments to the final mastering.
Here are 5 reasons artists should care about audio quality.
1. Immediate AttentionI already mentioned competition. Competition for attention, let alone your music, has never been higher. A high-quality recording can capture attention immediately and give your music a listening change. The maintaining of attention is up to how good the song is.
2. Avoid Artistic PenaltiesAverage listeners can’t always differentiate between a bad song and a bad recording. So a good song poorly recorded may be perceived as bad. After initially listening to your music, a listener may decide that they don’t want to continue and getting them to revisit in the future could be difficult.
3. Demonstrate CommitmentA high-quality recording demonstrates effort and commitment. It says that you took the time to do things right. If you don’t care about how your art is presented, why would you expect a listener to care? Listeners want to know if they dedicate time to you, that you are going stick around.
4. More MoneyHigher quality audio means more plays, which equals more money in your pocket. The old paradigm of purchasing an album once just isn’t there anymore. A listener no longer has to take a chance on your album. You now need streams to make album sales and the more streams, the better. More sonically pleasing music has the highest chance of getting repeat plays in online streaming platforms.
5. Remove RegretYou have to live with the recording of your material forever. Maybe not forever, but at least as long as you are alive. In the digital age it’s possible your music might last forever. Artistic regret is something that we have all felt and will all feel again. One thing you can make sure you don’t have regrets about is the quality of the recording.
Final ThoughtAs a final thought, I see quite a few memes like the one below relating to audio quality.
Even though there is some truth to this, a high-quality recording will translate better on all listening environments even through compressed audio formats to something like MP3.
When people listen on a phone speaker while painting a room or earbuds while jogging, they are listening for convenience. People listening for convenience, aren’t listening for quality. Many times in these situations listeners are not even listening to the music, the music is background noise while they kill time to make some other activity move faster.
To say that these situations mean that audio quality doesn’t matter isn’t accurate. Quite often you have to capture people’s attention elsewhere first before even making it to their "out and about" playlist. This is also the lowest common denominator in the listening situation. Are you making music to be someone’s background noise or are you making music to engage people? If the answer is the latter, then audio quality should matter to you. Don’t make the lowest common denominator your focus, present your music right the first time.