MAKING A RECORD PART 2: How important is quality?

MAKING A RECORD PART 2: How important is quality? Have you ever wondered what you have to do to get your music heard by the right people? Whether that is radio presenters, labels and those funny looking people who sit in dark corners and call themselves A&R men.

Following up from the recent post ‘MAKING AN RECORD PART 1 – Is this the true costs?‘, I decided to write a follow up post, get in touch with some industry folk and ask the question how important is quality?

Choosing your path

The first thing you have to ask your self is what do you want to achieve? Do you want to be on a label, played on national radio, rock out on the main stage of Glastonbury, or just to sell your records to your friends and play local gigs? The music industry is a complex machine and probably the toughest nut to crack in the business world. It’s a creative business after all, made up of many people who have many opinions. So what do you have to do to get heard, and do you really have to spend thousands to make a single? Or will doing a demo be enough? I’ve spent years doing both full productions and demos for bands and to put it simply it’s about understanding your target audience. Weather that is a self-release or approaching a label or radio presenter, it all comes down to selling records. You start with the song-writing, pick your studio, engineer or producer, get it mastered and then what? It’s usually at this point that I see so many good artists struggle to move past.

Self releasing

Lets start with the self-release as I see more and more bands going down this avenue. I’m a big believer in quality and the devil in the detail. I’m also a big believer in feeling, groove and energy in a record. For me its about getting that balance right for the people who will be promoting your music, buying your music and investing in your music. Going straight to self release, you have to be the investor as a label would be. This means no cutting corners and making sure everything you send out to radio, bloggers, reviewers and record shops has to be the best it can be. The record has to be produced right, recorded right and all the artwork and text has to be in place. Ask yourself the questions: will our music fit well on a presenters’ playlist? Will publishers be able to sell your music with confidence? Will the cover of the album sit nice on the shelf? Or will the reviewer ignore it because he doesn’t like receiving unprinted disks and without a press release? Doing your research is key. Be open to the rejections and the unsociable hours of trying to make connections in an industry where everyone is too busy! If you can devote all of your working days to this then you’re on the right path. It always helps to have someone within the band who is able to objectively think like a label or business would. Get it right and you’re going to be better off than being signed to a label, but it is going to cost time and money and I haven’t even touched on the live side of things yet!

Demo’s

Most bands or artists can’t devote that amount of time or invest the money that is needed to put all of the marketing and studio time in place. So let’s shift the focus to investment, which is going to be the label. To some, labels are money grabbers who only think about the bottom line, but to others a label understands what you need and how to get your music in front of the right person. It helps to able to put yourself in the shoes of a record label. Your job as an artist is to convince a label that you’re worth the time and investment. After all, they will be pumping money and time into you as an artist. They need a good product to pitch and promote. Quality and attention to detail is just as important here as it is self-release in my eyes. A true reflection of who you are as an artist is important, showing what you’re capable of both on record and live. If you’re going for an small indie label chances are you’re going to need a good record to start with as they generally don’t have the funds to develop a new artist. If you’re aiming for a major record label a good quality demo and press release should suffice. One thing to bear in mind is demo quality means just that, demo. The amount of times I see bands putting demo quality material onto the internet in hope that it is going to bring good fortune, when in reality it’s probably doing more damage than good. The demo is there to give an idea to the people you’re trying to get an investment from and what you’re about.

Conclusion

To sum up, quality matters either way. Whether it’s in the song writing, production, radio play or the sale of the release, albeit on different levels. Think about whom the record is meant for and what your end goal is. Use demos for the right reason and don’t be tempted to put it online when it’s not the finished article. Don’t just hit and hope, do your research.

Don’t just take my word for it; I used a few contacts from radio stations and record labels to get opinions on quality. See what they think below.

 

What the industry says:


 Gideon Coe – BBC 6 Music – Broadcaster – Website

 

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The quality of the song or the tune or the idea may carry more weight than anything else. A decent mix helps.  About 6 months ago I’d  have said that if something was pressed on vinyl with a nice sleeve then it might have a better chance of getting listened to but that’s less the case now.  A cd is handy, it doesn’t have to look fancy but a typed sticky  label helps.  Comparisons to other bands can be helpful and/or off putting – so choose them carefully or avoid them. And a written note to the person you’re sending to can help – if you think it will work on their show/blog/etc then tell them why. 

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

It can be any or some or all of these things – song, melody, noise, something that stands out, something that will sound good alongside something else that it brings to mind, use of different instruments, avoidance of tropes,  not over-produced, not too shiny, lyrically good, not confined to genre, a fine example of genre, irrelevant to any genre. That’s enough about genres.

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Joel Ryan Borquaye – BBC Introducing – BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The quality of the record when it comes to introducing is important but I won’t be expecting amazing quality as these are unsigned and under the radar artists. I am mainly looking for a clear track where I can hear the vocals at a good level and the instrumental at a good level. The vocal quality and song writing standard is also important in order to stand out amongst the hundreds of other tracks we get sent every week. With some tracks, they sound like a really rough demo however the melody, lyrics and basic components of the instrumental has a lot of potential. When we can see this we either give it a play to show support or contact the individual and give positive feedback and why we might not play it on air. This is more to do with how it will sound on the radio rather than what we think of the track.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

I don’t actually look for much in a record. I like hearing many different styles and love hearing new sounds which take me by surprise. I think a good intro is important though as if we have to wait 30 seconds to hear the first vocal it is a bit off putting and hard to play on-air.

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David Gamage / Engineer Records / EngineerRecords.com

Just for background on me;

David Gamage, owner of Engineer Records (Indie / emo label with over 230 releases over 17 years) and guitarist of Come The Spring (Ex of Rydell, Joeyfat and Couch Potatoes bands, releasing many records and playing over 800 gigs with bands including Green Day, Down By Law, Hot Water Music, etc. www.EngineerRecords.com

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

1, Vital. The record you release has to be the very best quality possible. This does not mean some auto-tuned over produced art reduced to technology, that would suck all the energy and life right out of it. But it does need to represent the band / artists in the very best light possible. The music should be tight, the sound quality needs to be good, with the opening and endings of tracks thought through and exact. Obviously if the band cant re-create it live, they are wasting their time frankly, but that’s speaking from the point of view of a ‘rock’ label. Sometimes the energy and passion of the track needs to be left on the record to do it justice so the band have to record and mix in a way that doesn’t over-produce the record. This is why it’s important to take the time to find the right studio and the right producer if at all possible. Someone who gets ‘where you are coming from’.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

2, I get sent hundreds of demos every week, and although i approach a demo slightly differently to a finished release, i still look for quality. The band needs to be original, catchy, etc of course – but if the quality really isn’t there it doesn’t say much for the amount they care about their art. Even small independent labels are busy and if the band don’t have time to get it right the label certainly wont get beyond the first thirty seconds of the first track.

For what it’s worth i look for a certain energy and passion in the music i listen to, as well as quality and originality. It’s hard to define, but you know it instantly when a new band is good enough, and to say it is one in every hundred demos we get sent would be generous. It is way less than that. It could be a heavy band or an acoustic artist, but their is a heartfelt style that will shine though. What helps labels though is when bands send along enough information too. Where they’ve played, what plans they have, etc. Not expensive pr packs but a letter or some extra info. Bands need to hone their craft and get out there gigging. For most it takes time to develop their own style, but it will come and as it does so they will have an idea of what to say too.

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Danielle Perry – Presenter / Absolute Radio / absoluteradio.co.uk

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

1.Quality is everything. If it’s not recorded well then it would most probably be unfit for broadcast so you’re making it really hard for yourself! And with the physical look of the product, if it’s not well done, then it seems like you don’t care, so why should we? The music IS the most important thing, and with so much of the industry being online now the physical aspect isn’t AS important but the whole thing must have a constant thing bringing it all together.
2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?
Whether it moves me – either in intrigue, emotionally, technically..
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Stu / Fiercely Independent Records / www.fiercelyindie.co.uk

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

1. Yes, yes, yes.  That doesn’t necessarily meaning spending big money either.  I’ve seen some absolutely beautiful packaged and presented records, CD, cassettes even that were made my hand.  Hand printed, hand folded, etc.  I think people tend to buy these special formats more as they feel they are getting something which isn’t a transitory as an mp3 or YouTube video.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

2. What makes me sit up and notice is the approach.  I get inundated with emails with links to YouTube, Soundcloud, etc. but rarely to I get sent a physical copy of anything, a nice package or presentation.  I often just delete the emails to see if any artist have the tenacity to keep on trying or find a different way to contact us.  I have to say, they don’t and just that fact alone probably means they won’t survive in the industry nowadays!

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Sasha Shaikh / Dirty Bingo Records / www.dirtybingo.co.uk

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The final output quality is very important to us as a label. The mix must be right for the band and really bring out each indidvidual aspect of the music while keeping the essence of the band as a whole. There’s no point in heavily producing a recording a band when they are known for their live pressence so the producer and label really needs to understand the band/artist and what their sound is and how to best reflect that in the recording.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

When listening to demos there needs to be a great intro/hook and for me I’m also a big fan of lyrics and what they mean and how they are interpreted.

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Lucinda – Sound Art Radio 102.5 FM

This is an interesting question, that I can’t resist replying to.

If we are sent a beautifully packaged CD, with a branded and carefully worded copy letter, it will almost always go unlistened to. Why? Because it looks like a vanity project. We get a lot of over produced, solo demos from people looking to live out a dream. Their dream is to write a really bland soft rock song, have some nicely lit portrait photos taken. This makes them happy, and offers nothing to culture.

We don’t care about format, or even recording quality (within reason ) at all. We play and support rough sounding mp3s that appear as email attachments, CDs and tapes with handwritten labels, and sometimes exquisite, expensively produced vinyl. The things we like are not judged on appearance, or even how they sound, very much at all.

The crucial thing, is whether the artist understands what we are about, and how they communicate that with us. This would start with contact on twitter or by email, that demonstrated to us that they are genuinely interested in what we do. Generic emails – even those personally addressed to us are usually ignored – we don’t have the time to follow them up.

But a friendly, personal email, that shows they listen to our station, are passionate about alternative culture and are seeking to change the world even just a little bit will always grab our attention. We love to network with artists, and play exclusive things – for example we are soon to broadcast the 30 hour long recording of the whole of Finnegan’s Wake, performed by many different musicians.

http://www.waywordsandmeansigns.com/

This came about due to an unsolicited email, and was clearly something we wanted to support, along with many others who are making their music or sonic art at home with cheap, simple equipment.

Bands who have worked hard to produce decent music, are better off if they contact one of our presenters directly  – we have no station playlist, we don’t work that way. If we recieve emails with a programme name in the title we’ll forward it on (for example ‘for Steve’s Folk Show’).

Most of our presenters are passionate about music, enjoy corresponding with musicians, and love to play an exclusive track, or host a live set. Community radio is the place for new music, as it is a network of creative individuals who love what they do, much like musicians.

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Autumn Rose Palmer / A&R Alya Records / www.alyarecords.co.uk

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The quality of a song for a release is very important. This is the final product, and people won’t want to invest in a final product sounds like someone’s recorded it on their phone. If the record isn’t to the highest, clean standard, then there’s not much point in showing people, as they won’t get the full feeling of the song. No-one wants to listen to what sounds like a demo.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

Each record gets viewed differently, due to genres and styles etc. However, the main things we look for are:

  • If the record is well recorded.
  • If the band is tight, as in they play the record well together, and no-one’s out of time etc.
  • The most important of all – originality! There’s a lot of good content out there, however, it’s either too similar to another band/song, or copying someone else, which isn’t really going anywhere. Music is about being creative, so originality is everything!

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Josh Thomas – Vibe1076 Radio

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The physical quality of a record only matters when selling to the public, its the only thing they can see and if the public can only see something that doesn’t look very good then they are more than likely not o buy it I reckon. Although in my position as a radio producer the physical quality doesn’t matter at all. most of the music i get isn’s in physical form so it really doesn’t matter to me.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

I look for originality, i can’t stand a song if it is made in a formula to try and get listens or sell records, it has to be real. I also look for the type of music but thats more of a subjective thing and the type of music i like. If someone sends me a song i also look for the effort put into the sending. if a band or artist doesn’t really care how they send it, like in a mass email or something like that then i usually don’t open the email. Physical discs are sometimes a good thing (although i rarely get them), but if you don’t have a cd player to hand when you receive the cd then it can take a while to listen to it.

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Lex / A&R – Stop Out Records / stopoutrecords.com

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

I would say the quality of a release is our top priority, but when I say quality, I do not mean the actual recording. I mean the quality of the ideas and the emotions the record evokes. As an underground electronic label we do like to hear new soundscapes and instrumentations, outside of the generic, still within the boundaries of the genre it is and done well, but it’s only when we can feel what the artist is portraying, can a believable story that will resonate be built around the recording to package up as a release. 

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

We listen to hundreds of records a day, if it’s something that will fit into our office rotation then we are looking to sign it (if the artist fits the rest of our criteria), but too often we receive a demo which is highly polished, as crisp and loud as can be, but the song can be predicted from 10 seconds of an intro. A mixdown or master we can hear through and can be rectified, but a good song structure with some fresh ideas will always grab our attention. We’re not looking for someone copying someone else; we want original music, with raw emotion that can be felt and what people aren’t listening to yet! 

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Callum Mitchell – Salford City Radio – Presenter

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The quality of a record I find is very important. Overall, I don’t mind so much if a song is a bit “rough around the edges”, as long as it is performed with enough passion and conviction. If it’s simply just poor quality I won’t give it much consideration. A first impression makes such a difference, and for an act to put their material out there into the public, I feel they should know that it’s the best possible quality it can be.

Many acts send me very rough demos of their material asking for airplay. I find it quite difficult if the actually songs are good, but the recording quality just isn’t, as if it’s been rushed in order to be released. I would encourage acts to take a bit more time, to ensure that they know that the songs they are releasing are the best possible representation, both of them and their ethos of what they want to achieve as musicians.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

As you can imagine, being the first port of call at a radio station for new and unsigned acts results in a bombardment of material on a daily basis. As such, I’ve found that I’ve had to fine tune my hearing so that I can decide whether I’m interested in an act within around minute of playing them. There are certainly things that I listen out for that really make a difference.

The main one is authenticity. Bands now a days have so much material in the past to draw influence from, that making their own sound can be an almost impossible task. There’s a fine line between taking influence from an artists and simply attempting to imitate their sound. For instance, countless acts from Manchester send me their material citing Oasis as their chief inspiration, within 20 seconds I can tell they’ve just attempted to write an “Oasis” song rather than forge their own sound.

In all fairness it depends what your expectations from music are – whether you want them to sound like your icons, or whether you want to discover something new and unknown. I often try to pip for the latter. There’s so much potential with music, it can move in any direction and make you feel any kind of emotion, and when I hear an act that is tuned in to that idea I find that very appealing.

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Stephen Sutton CEO / Divine Art Recordings Group  / www.divineartrecords.com

We only deal with classical music (including experimental /avant-garde) and a bit of modern jazz so recording wise we look for real perfection in producing the correct sound and ambience of a live setting – not studio mixed.

Having said that:

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

100% –  anything less than top quality has to be rejected. If not it’s the label which gets a bad name

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

As above – true fidelity to natural sound of voices and instruments.  No fals reverb, undue mixing or rebalancing if at all possible,. We have to have HD master quality at 24-bit,192kHz preferred.  Also clean inter track gaps,  properly smoothed fade-ins and fade outs where suitable.

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Paul John Birch / Revolver Records / revolverrecords.com

 

Well I think everything starts and ends with a great song. Get that right and you’re building on a firm footing. The production, sonic quality of the sound recording is very important particularly in jazz and classical. 

Getting the song right, the arrangement right the production right are all givens. In recent years there has been a move to home recording. Technology has given rise to lower costs allowing this. However, the best albums benefit from a range of professionals such as producers and engineers contributing their know-how. Trying to do everything yourself however, you can come up short. Still, to use the well worn northern phrase, needs are as needs must, you have to do the best you can with your budget. If you look at recordings in the Punk and later the N.W.O.B.H.M era, some great recordings came out at very little cost. Bands were able to capture there raw energy at a fraction of the costs of the mainstream.

So my advice would be to put out the best possible single you can afford, rather than spreading your resources thin across a whole album. But if you go to physical releasing you will need to market an album. 

Start with digital, assess demand and then move on to producing physical, initially for supply at gigs then look for wider physical distribution as demand grows. 

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M – Best Of British Unsigned

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The quality of the recording isn’t everything but it is hugely importantly. We live by the rule if the music/song is good enough, we play it – regardless of the production values, however with that in mind, it has to be of a playable quality! 

For instance, just because you haven’t had your song mastered it doesn’t exclude it from our playlist. However sometimes we get sent music that sounds like it has been recorded in a bath, the vocals are off mic, the music is too loud, the mixing is terrible, and all of these things make any song very difficult to play. At the very least mastering a track by a professional can help you ensure all of the basics are correct.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

As a radio show presenter I am looking for different things than a record label. Again if #1 rule is…if the music is good enough I will play it. HOWEVER, there are a lot of things that make it harder to play a track….the biggest three are really bad production (see examples above), the length of the track…..if your song is seven minutes, thats fine for an album, and if it’s incredible I will play all seven minutes, but when you’re trying to make a show packed with as much music as possible, your song is going to have to be AMAZING to take the place of two others, so maybe provide a radio edit too. The final point is LANGUAGE, this is a massive no no – I’m all for freedom of expression and it’s not that I dislike swearing but I simply cannot produce a radio show with bad language because the radio stations who play the show aren’t allowed. If you want to swear, put it on the album, but always provide a radio edit.

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Ellie Flaherty – Quidem Midlands Limited – Touch FM – Radio 

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The quality of a record is extremely important, the quality of sounds and production is the most important along with good vocals. It’s definitely obvious when listening to a track if it has been thrown together, or meticulously examined with every tone and sound analysed. That, in turn, will make the quality of a record a higher standard than filler or badly produced records.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

I look for records that evoke some sort of emotion, this can include such a broad range e.g a typical filler track will be upbeat but will still make you feel happy. An acoustic, rock or ballad may make you feel emotional etc but it still has an impact. I’m always looking for tracks that are having some sort of impact regardless of genre or tempo. 

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Dave Crawley – Director / Fat Cat Records / fat-cat.co.uk

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

not bothered about the quality ( I presume you mean recording quality)…what we are looking for is heart and energy in the recording…some of my favourite recordings would be regarded as lo-fi…….

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

that’s really hard to answer…I guess you would have to listen to what we have released as a label to answer that…….i would like to say though that I wish more artists would research the label before sending their music in….it really helps and is so important if you want to have your music listened to……

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Joe Parker / So Tones Records / sotones.co.uk

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

Totally depends on the artist/repertoire. Many bands/artists early in their career don’t really have the sonic depth to justify a really long complicated recording process, and would be much better writing/recording/releasing as much as often as possible to hone their craft. I can think of too many artists who’ve lost momentum making ‘the perfect’ LP when several singles would’ve served them better. 

For more established artists / those with a really clear and detailed vision, more attention to detail in the recording process can be a good thing to help them stand out, but it doesn’t have to mean ‘perfect sound’ – Kurt Vile for instance is very meticulous, but you wouldn’t call his recordings high-production-value in the classic sense.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

In this order: good tune – good lyrics – good performance – good arrangement – good production. Yes, production really is at the bottom of the list when assessing potential, as it’s the easiest thing to remedy with time and money.

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Jim Gellatly – broadcaster / columnist / gig host & DJ www.jimgellatly.com

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

I’d say so, but I’ve heard a lot of DIY or lo-fi recordings that suit the music perfectly. Nor sure there is any excuse for a “bad quality” recording to become a “proper” release, even if you don’t have a big budget. Even if the song is great, it doesn’t reflect well on the act.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

The songs are key. Even if the recording is a bit dodgy, if it has a certain spirit it might encourage me to see the band live or investigate more. Ultimately I’m looking at stuff to play on the radio though, so even if I pass on the recording, I’ll be aware of the act when they do get their shit together. Get sent a lot of demos and unmastered tracks “just to listen to” prior to release. To be honest I’d rather have the finished thing rather than a work in progress.

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ACMT Records / Indiependant Record Label 

 

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

I think recording quality is a weird one really. Some songs work really well with a really well-polished sound but other songs seem to work better with a really lo-fi edge t them. I guess it depends on the band and the context. The most important thing to me is the qualities of the song itself and whether or not the recording captures any of the aura of it. Whatever the ‘aura’ is. As a general rule, I’d probably hate to hear an entire album of straightforward, well-polished songs (although I’m sure there are exceptions to that statement). Sonic variations and different ideas can really make a record stand out.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

I really just look for that totally intangible and abstract sense of honesty and reality that a good record can hit you with. 

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Ant / Sunstone Records / www.sunstonerecords.co.uk

 

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The pressing, and the playback have to be pristine. There’s nothing worse than somebody buying a record and it being unlistenable. I guess they could hang it on their kitchen or bathroom wall though

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

Originality in sound and approach. It could be someone singing along to a washing machine, but it might have some magic about it rather than a band or artist treading the usual path to ‘acceptance’. One of us will normally get grabbed by something and badger the others. The rest goes into our demo bins of hell.

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Chris Bowen Director / ScreamLite Records / www.screamliterecords.com

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

Great questions, ones that I often ponder about myself. From a purely business point of view, quality it key. From our digital distributors, right through to people on the outside listening, it’s often about the quality of the sound as to how much attention it’ll garner. If the music is poorly produced, fuzzy, the levels are off etc, then it’s less likely that people will sit back and listen to it. Personally, I think it has it’s place as a concern, but it has to be down to musicians choice. If the sound you are going for is really DIY, then it’s more about what is being performed. 

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

I tend to bring acts on board using my gut. I look for a band that can keep me hooked, a sound that’s a bit different to the norm in that particular genre, or a sound that really knows where it’s come from. The bands we’ve got at the moment are varied, but Venture are a really fresh folk rock band who also throw in ska and hardcore punk, Clay Gods are a very ambitious rock band who have the technical ability to change the feel of a song without affecting it’s sound, and Bad Mary know their roots, they have a wonderful NY new wave/punk sound.


Hitoe & Tasmin / Two Piece Records / twopiecerecords.bigcartel.com 

 

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

The quality of a record can be important to certain record labels, mostly the bigger. corporate ones. For us as an independent label it really comes down to if we like it and believe it fits into our genre. So, for us and I’m sure for other independent labels the quality isn’t that important. (The quality within the record/music is). We love home recordings or low quality records as it makes it feel a lot more personal and interesting. 

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

When a band sends us music we don’t care how many ratings you’ve got from other blogs and magazines or how many videos you have. I look for personality in music and have a 2 song rule so make sure to send your favourite 2 first. Also, it’s so important bands don’t try to imitate others, having artists you admire is fine but remember to create your own style too. Again, own recordings are great and preferred because you can hear the little quirks and get a real feel for the band. 

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Guy Stanway / Defcon 2 / ZY Records / www.zyrecords.com

 

Great to hear fro you and for what its worth, this is what the team here at Defcon 2 / Zy Records feel:-

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

For us here every single aspect of the product be it the recording or even packaging is of vital importance. 

In what surely must be the toughest and most unforgiving business on the planet, every detail must represent what you are trying to achieve and it must stand out.

Even after extensive Radio 1 play for our main act ‘The Wholls’ we never the less scrutinise every aspect of the arrangement, production, subject matter and image. The band themselves have gone through an extensive 5 year development programme with us here and they have a total understanding of every aspect of what we and they do and must do and  just how many boxes they and us have to tick to progress their art to the masses.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

Belief in the performance (which you cannot disguise or blag) and a unique quality 

Hope this all helps but of course as well all know opinions are just like arseholes……

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Frank / Amazon Records / www.amazonrecords.co.uk

 

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

To me the physical quality of a record is important and should be for every artist. But this does not mean that quality should be at the expense of creativity, inventiveness and feel.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

In one word ‘creativity’. How to make a record interesting, varied, dynamic, all the things which take it out of the norm and hopefully make you feel better for listening to it.

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D.R Webster / Anchorage Records

 

1. Chris – How important is the quality of a record for a release in your opinion? 

1. The quality of a record should be at as high a standard as possible, it is very important in my opinion. When you are putting your name on a release, putting your work out into the world to be listened to by anyone, it should be the best representation of you as an artist as possible. Going into a good studio does cost more of course but it is a necessary sacrifice, a good producer/engineer at the helm is vital also and can help make or break the quality and impact of recording.

You want to achieve the best sound that your budget can afford when it comes to your recordings, not only in order to do justice to your own music but to help make you appear as professional as possible. The better quality that your recording is, the more seriously you are likely to be taken by the decision makers that you seek such as labels, agents, managers, reviewers and also by important potential fans, casual or new listeners are more likely to purchase a release which sounds good rather than a subpar recording of a song, bad recordings can sound cheap and unprofessional, which might lead to that being the perception of the artist also.

When it comes to packaging, a well packaged release with attractive professional artwork is key, there are a lot of good deals out there when it comes to CD/Vinyl duplication, so it is a must when considering a release. You have to keep in mind that it is a product that you are trying to sell, for people to want to pay money for it, it must look good and not like something just thrown together.

2. Chris – You go through and listen to a lot of records. What do you look for in a record?

2. It’s hard to say specifically, we get sent a lot of material on a daily basis, so first of all we try to focus on music from our preferred genre of rock as to not muddy the waters too much, which means we can’t get back to everyone who submits material of all genres to us, however we do still try to keep an open mind for other things if they really catch our eye at the same time.

When it comes to the actual sound, it has to sound professional and well recorded first of all, the songs have to have an immediate impact in order to hook us in also because when you get many submissions daily and listen to a lot of songs one after the other, it needs to hook in right away, this not only means that it has to be a good song in general but it has to have a good mix which brings the best of the song to the forefront, mastering is also very important in my opinion, maybe something that is often overlooked but the song has to have the correct levels that people are used to hearing, without proper mastering it can be too quiet or too loud etc which can be off putting.

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