Seth Godin wrote a blog today about the experience he had with some musicians over the weekend where he loved their live performance, but hated the CD. He stated:
I’ve thought a lot about what turned me off, and I think it’s the curve above.
Faced with the excitement of making a CD and all the knobs and dials, they overproduced the record. They went from being two real guys playing authentic music, live and for free, and became a multi-tracked quartet in search of a professional sound. And they ended up in the dead zone. Not enough gloss to be slick, too much to be real.
This reminds me of the uncanny valley concept where the more realistic or human-like something is the more we like it (think Wall-E, monkeys, etc.) until it gets to be almost human (think Polar Express, zombies, wax museums) which we generally see as creepy before returning to liking something that is really human.
The lesson for anyone who produces anything is that you should aim for either “real” or “slick”, but be aware that if shoot for slick and aren’t successful you’ll actually be perceived worse than if you would have been unpolished and real.