“Quality over quantity” is a phrase we’ve all heard at one time or another. But what does it really mean?
Hearing that saying over and over has caused people to give up on their dreams because not every song they write is great.
But really what it means is that you should only release your best work – that doesn’t mean everything you create will be gold. Many major artists write 50-100 songs for every album they release, working out which songs are the best and letting the world hear those.
Listen now to dive deep into the myths and truths of “quality over quantity” so you can put out better products, get (and keep) more fans, and feel confident in your work!
What you’ll learn:
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Welcome to Episode 57 of the Bandhive Podcast.
It is time for another episode of the podcast that teaches your band that you need to pay attention to business because if you don't, you just might be hosed. My name is James Cross, and I'm here with Matt Hoos of Alive in Barcelona.
You're the worst. James E. No, I know. For the record, we were talking about that pun before the episode and Matt said he was going to start using it and I figured I'll beat him to the punch. And I'm sure you've heard it before, but I did not hear it from you. I came up with it on my own. James, you beat me to the punch. Oh, God. Did I make you cross? Oh, yeah. Quite cross. Well, I hope you're having a good day, man. How are you?
I'm doing well. How are you glad to hear it. I am also doing well. I'm not going to report on the weather because it's not doing anything special. But I will say And I said this on the outro of an episode a few episodes back. It was the episode where I made the simple plan and set your goals pun or simple plan and stick to your guns. That's what it was. After that. I spent about 20 to 30 minutes speaking to my fiancee, Jamie, and band puns, and she was getting so flustered.
It was amazing. I bet it was like the best day of my life, and it's now continued, like do a little like five minutes a day. Like where I'll just talk to her and band puns and it's wonderful. So that's what's new in my life. You gotta make a tick tock channel of that. Oh, I'm so bad at social media. I can't even keep up with Facebook and Instagram. You think I could do a Tic tac? Yeah, If the puns air worth it, then absolutely. No one's going to get this, but tick tock Zaki Machina India knocked it's unknown highly song and it basically says tick tock says the machine in the night.
So van fun right there. But no one gets it because it's German. So anyway, yeah, that's what's new. And I think you've got some exciting events coming up in the next few days, right? Yeah, there's, Ah, couple family birthdays. And so this will be a This will be a fun week. My son will be turning three. That's gonna be fun time. This will probably be like the first birthday that he remembers. That makes it really fun for us, his parents and then my week. My birthday's the week after, so we'll be having some fun events and then hopefully seen some family for Christmas.
It should be a fun month, Lord willing. Yeah, And for those listening after Christmas, this we're recording this on December 4th. So that's why we're talking about Christmas being in the future. But happy advanced birthday to you and your son. I hope you both have awesome days. Thank you. We will. Yeah, Well, and speaking of birthdays, everybody just has one birthday, and some people celebrate, you know, half birthdays, or if you're really vain quarter birthdays and all that. It's like, Come on. And I'm a hypocrite. Because I did celebrate my half birthday with just a delicious meal, and it was more of a coincidence than anything.
I'm just like, Oh, this is really good. You know, it's my half birthday, so that sounds more like justification. Yeah, probably. It sounds like you ordered something expensive. And then you realized it was your after afterwards. Well, Jamie made Taco Bowls, so I think it wasn't expensive, but it was delicious. That sounds great. Anyway. Oh. Oh, man. Yesterday was her half birthday, and I didn't make her a delicious meal. So what you're basically saying is you didn't make her a high quality meal. No, I didn't. You didn't even make her a single meal.
Not yesterday was not my turn to cook. So you had no quality and no quantity? Exactly. Half birthday. Yeah, And that's what we're going at. You only have one birthday quality over quantity. Now, obviously, that's one. Every year. I hope you have more than one birthday. That's such a dark thought. Anyway, this podcast we have a really rambling intro point being this episode. We are going to talk about quality over quantity when it comes to what you put out there, be that music merch, videos, whatever you put out there.
But there is a major exception which we will get to. But first, Matt, do you want to tell people why Quality over quantity for products matters? There's this wonderful thing in business called making money. You start to do that when you put your best foot forward. You know, there's an awesome phrase that I love to use. It's one of my all time favorite quotes, and it's you never get a second chance at making first impressions when you are walking through the door and you've got you know, your best suit on you're going to You know, if you're going to a business meeting your dress to the nines. Why?
Because you wanna make a good impression. The same is with your products when you have a display of your product, when you put out a product, you want to make sure that the first time that that product is seen or heard, it's, you know, there's something perfect about it right now. Ring doorbells or a really popular thing. One thing I have noticed in particular about the ring. Doorbell is its packaging. You okay? If you've ever opened one of these things, there's a clean sleeve on the outside that the inner case slides out of it folds open from the top.
All that's there on the top is like just this sleek little machine with a cool little pamphlets. Just kind of like opening and a new iPhone or a new a new galaxy. You know, the packaging is always wonderful. This is the first part of the process in selling your products. It's the first thing that they see. It's the first thing that they touch. It kind of adds this awesome layer of mysticism, this packaging, and that's because it's like, Oh, this person's buying this thing and it's finally in their hands and you have this beautiful first impression.
So as an artist, we've talked about always putting your best foot forward. It is the quality of your of your first impression is at the highest it can be that's going to really, really, really help you out in the long run. Yeah, absolutely. And speaking of first impression is going a little bit off. Topic one of my favorite songs is The great disappointment by a f I. And it's a long song. I love it. It's a great song, but I guarantee that if it was the first song I had ever heard by F I, I would not love it because literally, there's like a minute and a half of like feedback from guitars and just this amazing baseline that's building.
And then the vocals come in. But there's still just it's building and it's a great song. Like I said, I love this song. But so many times I have seen artists put out a single that has, like, a two minute intro. And I'm like, Dude, what are you doing? That is an album cut. I don't care how much you like the song that is an album cut. You know this, Matt, your singles boom right to the punch. You don't dilly dally. You are straight to the point, and the song is there for your listeners, and that is something that I don't hear nearly often enough.
I see so many bands, even if it's just like a 12th intro, it's like if this is your single, get to the point. I don't want to hear some cool movie clip or effect that makes it sound like it's on the radio or something like that. I want to hear your song within the first three seconds. Don't bore us. Get to the chorus. Exactly. New politics. Their first single ever. Yeah, yeah, yeah, literally. It starts with the chorus. There's like two bars of guitar riff, which is the chorus riff, and then they start singing.
Yeah, that's like most of our songs. Most of my singles there all. They all start with the chorus. I think we have one single that doesn't start with the chorus, and that's because that's what people really want to hear. You know, you don't have to start with the vocals, obviously, and that's more of a songwriting podcast in and of itself. But the really cool thing about starting with a chorus is that it's literally the hook. That's why they call it that. It's what hooks your attention. It's what gets you focused.
Generally, it's high energy. Maybe it's a little bit louder than you know the verses, you know, if you go listen to most popular music, I mean, listen to a whole new Bring me the horizon record. Tell me what they're doing during the verses. Most of the stuff is like, now digital. He's doing a lot of like rapping on his album, which you know is totally different than what they were doing. But that's actually what's popular right now. So he's basically toned his verses down a ton, and then they, like, re become Bring me the horizon during their choruses.
That's really captivating. You can have static songs or you can have dynamic songs You never want your song to be static. Static means that it's staying the same the entire time. The magic in a dynamic song is utilizing the different musical tools do, their maximum going being quiet. You know, the most powerful tool that a musician can learn is when to stop playing. Everybody wants to keep playing all the time. If you go listen to like single mom Steen or Joe Satriani or Steve I, or like John Petrucci, all these guys who are super like Shred Head's, you listen to them and they don't know how to stop playing the guitar, and that's why they're not as popular as like some like random rock guitars.
You know, that's why people know slash and people know, you know, sinister Gates because they know how to stop sometimes. Well, you know, you're taking it back to quality over quantity. If every one of your songs is a constant guitar solo, people are not going to care now. Obviously, guitarists will care. They will love it, but going back to F, they have a solo in maybe one or two songs per album, and that's it. They are not a solo centric band, and it works out for them.
It works really well. Typically, their song structure is verse chorus, verse, chorus, bridge chorus. Maybe they'll send the chorus around of second time at the end there, but that's it. If there's a solo. Okay, there's a solo. But like I said, one or two songs per album tops having dynamics in your songs. So everything is building and growing is amazing. If you write just a static lullaby every time you write a song that's gonna be absolutely toxic to your career, waiting for that fun to hit static global by toxic.
Yeah, because they did the Britney Spears cover. I didn't even know that they were the ones who did that. That's a little a what we're getting at here to loop it back to quality over quantity. You want to put your best songs out there. You don't want to put every song out there. You don't want to have a guitar solo in every song because they're not going to be your best guitar solos. Cut out guitar solos and put your best ones out there on a handful of songs.
Rather than having every single song have a guitar solo. It's not Theeighties anymore. People don't care about guitar solos. They want trap beats and you know electron, ICS and dub step. I've been on entered Akari kick lately, so I'll throw a dub step out there, even though that's like so last decade. But you get the point. People want modern sounds. And as much as I love guitar centric music, don't be afraid to change things up once in a while and don't do a solo in every single song you put out.
So to get back to our outline here, if it comes down to releasing a song that's OK every month, or releasing a great song every three months. What do you think we're going to say? We're going to say, Do the great song every three months? There's no question about it. Why would you put out an inferior product that somebody might hear as their first introduction to your music and say, Oh, this is terrible. I don't like this. That's a terrible idea. You're doing terrible things. If you do this, you know, I want to actually point out one of my favorite bands four years strong.
They are incredible, fantastic live. They will go down in history as one of the best bands ever do. They're so good. They are phenomenal. If you've never seen for your strong live, there's no excuse. Do what you can to see them because it's worth it. But they put out an album where half of the songs had 10 out of 10 production, and the other half of songs did not. And they basically got to the point where either they ran out of money or there was a deadline on the record, and things just basically weren't able to be perfect the first time.
So they put up this album. It had some really good songs on it, and they were able to do some really good things. Not as good as they could have done. Some time goes by. I believe it is set your goals, drops an album and people were like Oh my gosh, this is incredible! The press release that ended up coming out was titled It must Really suck to be four years strong Right now. The article was saying that set your goals just did what four years strong does, and they did it better.
Well, here's the best part. Four years strong took that to heart and it obviously cut them deep because then they wrote on entire album. That was absolutely phenomenal. And I believe the first song on that record is called It must Really Suck to Be for Your Strong right Now. And the chorus of that song literally says, Don't regret it if it hasn't happened yet is basically the idea that he's pushing out in this song. But they took that critique toe heart, and the next record that they put out was 10 out of 10 production cover to cover, and then the next year I believe I think is the next year.
The year after that, they were one of the headlining bands on warp tour. They put out a product that hurt them and that got them some bad press and in turn, you know they internalize that, and we're actually able to make some positive changes in their band. But the point is, you want to skip the hard step if you can sharpen yourself, not by throwing yourself in the fire. Do that first. If you don't have to be broken down by critics, media by other artists, things like that.
It's like, you know, and those guys have actually ended up having, like, kind of a rough run of it in terms of just being in their industry, because there's also a lot of beef between them and a day to remember. And that's actually what the song's Second Sucks is about is a day to remember calling out for your strong as well. And that's a whole other story. So if you're interested in that, but if you can do some digging there. But the point is, if you have a product that you're trying to release, don't cut corners, don't spend all of your money on three songs, and then the other seven are weak.
You only get one chance at a first impression. You wanna make sure that every single song hits harder than the last one did? Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, going to the next point on our list. We can tie it back into beef because a few episodes ago you mentioned the brand new shirt that said Mike Surfer singing Not for swinging that is a great merchant design and merch designs. Same thing. It's songs if you can print a few D I y designs, or you can print one really well done design that has a professional designer and it's printed by an actual print shop and taking advantage of the bulk discounts so you can afford to use an actual print shop rather than doing it.
D i y a home. You'll probably end up selling more shirts of that one design than you would of the other three combined. If you did the D I Y. Route because it looks better, it's better material. It's better quality. People are going to gravitate towards that, plus, options make people indecisive. If somebody walks up to emerge table. They're going to gravitate towards one item. No matter what it is, it could be a record. If they're fans of vinyl, it could be a tape. If you do tapes and you're in that scene, it could be a shirt.
It could be a hoody. It could be abandoned, whatever it is. But if you're the kind of band who wants to have 20 different merch items, you're gonna find that probably 20%. So four items outsell everything else by far. And you're probably gonna find that's gonna be one hoodie or sweatshirt won t shirt, one album and some other miscellaneous item, because those are gonna be what people focus on. So instead of lugging around 20 shirts, get your top three or four designs. Make sure at least one of them is on a black shirt.
We talked about that in the past episode way back in the day where we talked about selling merchant your show, Blackshirts by far outsell anything else. So you always have to have at least one black T shirt at your merch table. If you don't, you're losing sales. I have gone to shows where there was no black shirt at the merch table from one of my favorite bands, who I mentioned earlier new politics and did not buy a shirt because there was no black shirt and I'm not the only one like you might think that sounds weird.
I'm not the only person who does that have a black shirt, have just a few designs that are great rather than lots of designs that air. So so. And that goes for any type of merch. Quality, not quantity, absolutely. As somebody who's worked merch, Ah, lot of ours in his life, let me tell you that there is nothing more powerful than an exclusive item. So if you're going on tour during Halloween, maybe make a Halloween shirt. If you're going on a major tour and you're headlining, make it shirt that has the tour dates on it.
That's something that's unique to the tour. And they might not even be things that you regularly think about, but a lot of the time that's like a huge thing that people come up and ask. That's a piece of memorabilia. That's a one time print that people you know, there's only so many of them to get when I was working merch for escaped the fate. The tour is on Halloween and their shirts came in like three days later than they were supposed Thio. So I literally had one day before Halloween to sell 100 of these shirts.
So all I said was, Hey, everybody thes We're never getting printed again. I sold all 100 of them in two days and it was really, really easy. Thio I sold shirts to people who couldn't even wear them because the size was wrong. But it didn't matter because they were going to take it and hang it up on their wall. There's more value than you might even realize. Value is in the eye of the purchaser. And so in your mind you're like, uh, you know, this This is a shirt that I have to sell or whatever, but to them, it might be something that much more magical.
I've sold so many broken symbols that I literally couldn't tell you how many broken symbols I've sold. You know why? Because you can't recreate that the simple in and of itself is already unique when it was made and then it breaks from your favorite drummer or so on and so forth. And then people are like, You know what? I really wanna buy that priceless. You know, it's a unique artifact, and people love that. Yeah, absolutely. Especially when it's a symbolic item that was used in a show or something like that.
That's really special. It's unique, and it's literally one of a kind. And I recall last time you were talking about that the drummer was just going to throw him out. So he was stoked to be making money on his old symbols. I replaced all of his symbols with broken symbols. Essentially paid for brand new set. Yeah, that's amazing. You just gotta look on the bright side. It's killer to be able to do that. That was awful. I'm sorry, folks. My puns today, those flowers smelled like poo poo.
Oh, no. Okay. You did not just go there. I just double layered your pun. Okay, You did. Somebody told me about that. Well, this podcast is officially over. The puns have killed it. No, I'm just kidding. There. We have more to talk about. Don't worry. I think it's time for part two of this episode where we talk about how everything we just said about quality over quantity doesn't matter, because you should actually have quantity over quality. So you can then cherry pick the quality out of that and release it.
So what we're saying is, if you're writing songs, you should be writing 4 to 5 times as many songs as you end up releasing Matt. You love the example of Red Hot Chili Peppers and how they wrote What, like 60 songs for an album. Half of them were so good they released a double album. They average writing 40 songs per album. That's incredible, you know. And then most of their albums end up being, what, 12 to 14 songs that would wager they. Actually, a lot of them go between like 13 and 17. And then Stadium Arcadium was 26.
Okay, well, there you go on and then you see, you know I'm gonna mention a f. I again for December Underground. Back in 2006, they wrote somewhere in the range of 80 to 100 songs and put 12 songs on the album They de Mode. I want to say 15 to 20 of those songs like full production demos and then still whittled it down to 12. And then there were. Besides, you know, two or three songs came out as B sides, and those were essentially the demos because the demos were that good. That's what happens and thes days.
Obviously, a band isn't going to do a full production demo of a song, but you can still go into you know, GarageBand or logic or pro tools or whatever you use, because somebody in your band has those skills like That's just a given these days. Somebody in the band knows how. Toe pull up. GarageBand, At the very least, do a demo of the song Don't release it, but then you have what it could sound like. When you take it to a producer, they will say, Hey, let's make these changes.
Let's do a full recording because I think this song at its core is really good. Let's do it that song. You know I like it, but it's not your strongest. Let's focus on something else first, and that is how production works. Ah, lot of local artists will write 10 songs and then release 11, which I know that doesn't sound possible, but that's how it feels. You're stretching yourself thin, you're straining yourself. At that point, you are not putting out the best possible product for your fans because we already talked about quality over quantity.
But you still need quantity to put out an album. And that's where having that quantity on the back side comes in. Not every song is going to be a hit. You want every hit song on your album, even if it doesn't make it as a hit on the billboard charts or whatever you want it to sound like a hit. You can get super artsy with your music and do all kinds of unique stuff. That's fine. Just recognize that that's not gonna be a hit when you have 100 songs to choose from.
If you get the right person to help you choose what songs you are statistically more likely to have a hit among those. Then if you put 10 songs out on an album, that's just how it is. The key to success in almost any business is have lots of ideas and then focus on developing and promoting the best ones you know The law of large numbers, says that if you write a large amount of songs, then you have a large amount of chances at making something good. If you write one song, you have one chance of making a hit.
If you write 1000 songs, you have 1000 chances at making a hit. Now you shouldn't put out all 1000 of those songs. Please don't quality over quantity. And how do you get the quality with quantity? Exactly. Just to piggyback off of that. We're not saying that when you write 1000 songs. Obviously, yes, you will get better as you're writing them. But even when you've written 1000 songs, your 1001st song could still be awful. It's not the kind of thing where we're saying, Don't release anything till you've written 1000 songs We are saying have a batch of songs, pick the best ones and release those even when you've written 5000 songs, which is a lot.
But I'm sure there's some commercial songwriters who have done that or at least collaborated on 5000 songs. When you get to that point, there's still gonna be songs that you scrap because, like, you know, what? It's good, but it's not great. I could do better, and that is the main thing we're talking about here. Recognize when you could do better and make sure that you apply that and only put out your best products. That does it for this episode of the podcast. Thanks so much for taking a listen.
I hope that you will really consider what it means to put out the right songs. The right merch. Whatever it is. Take the time to decide which are your best options and focus on those instead of throwing a billion things at the wall and hoping that one of them's a hit. Figure out what the best thing is and put that out there publicly for your fans, your followers, everyone to enjoy. Thanks so much for listening. We'll be back with another episode next Tuesday at 6 a.m. Until then, have an awesome week stay safe.
And, of course, as always, keep rockin
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