Most modern-day popular music is heavily compressed (i.e. quiet sounds are increased in volume) to increase a track’s overall "loudness" and apparent intensity. Audiophile purists hate the trend, because it prevents the creation of truly expressive and "dynamic" albums. Many consumers, however, perceive the "loudness" in a modern day track to reflect a higher level of quality. Hence the Loudness War that ensues.
One organization, Turn Me Up!, is trying to "…create an environment where artists will feel comfortable making the creative choice to release a more dynamic record—without the fear of it being misunderstood by the consumer." They’re doing it by creating a new certification process:
To address this we’ve created Turn Me Up! Certification, which would allow records meeting our criteria to display the Turn Me Up! Certified label to inform the consumer nothing is wrong, this record is simply more dynamic and all they need to do is Turn Me Up!
The message on the label they’re suggesting is:
Turn Me Up!™ Certified
To preserve the excitement, emotion and dynamics of the original performances this record is intentionally quieter than some. For full enjoyment simply Turn Me Up! (www.TurnMeUp.org)
It’s the old trade-off between your target consumer’s "perceived value" and your own "artistic integrity." That is, if acoustic dynamics are extremely important to you. Personally, I think disregarding your fans’ tastes is risky business; walk that path with extreme caution! In Turn Me Up’s case, the basic message, "Do you think this CD sounds quiet? Then turn up the volume." seems a little funny to me, though I appreciate the effort. Would it be better to brand the certification as a "premium" label, rather than a "requires increased volume to fix the sound" label? That almost makes it sound broken…
What do you think?
(Thanks for the link, Jay!)