Famous Artist Manager (but not Mr Manager) [FAMBNMM]: Listen to this production. We don't like it. The original producer says it's completed but we feel like it's not. Now he won't answer my calls. Can you help us finish it?
Me: How can I help?
FAMBNMM: Can you add live instruments?
Me: I don't think the problem here is whether the instruments are real or not. It's the arrangement itself. It just sounds old. You add real instruments, you'd just have a nice sounding old arrangement.
That's the problem right there.
"It's better to sound new than to sound good" - David Pensado. Mix engineer for a lot of famous pop hits.
Many people in the business of making music does not know the difference between sounding GOOD and sounding NEW.
We get caught up when something sounds good and truth be told, there are a lot of music that sounds good out there. But what "good" really means is that if it is playing on radio in the background, the listener will less likely to change stations for something else. They hear it but they may not listen.
If it's "new" (and "good"), they'd turn the volume up.
It's not just the music. It's also the lyrics and the mix.
That's why you hear the difference between a local mix and a current US mix. It's not that the Americans are better than us. It's simply because they are going for a different sound.
Then there's the audio version of the placebo effect. This is when they are convinced that only real instruments sound good. It doesn't matter who the musician is or how it was recorded. As long as it was a real violin therefore it must be good.
No one comments on the arrangement or the mix or the sounds. But hell, put in a violin and you're gold!