If you're a fan of New Order at all, you were probably pretty excited to hear that they were releasing re-masters of the band's first five albums (aka "the good ones") with bonus material. But as you may have heard in recent weeks, the remasters are apparently fraught with audio problems not present on the originals, some even sounding as if they were lifted from vinyl!
By now, the New Order fan community is rightly pretty pissed off. After all, it's not an unreasonable expectation to have a remaster of an album sound better than the original. If you are one of these pissed off fans, you can make your voice heard by sending an email to: Neworder.firstname.lastname@example.org. The record company says that if they get enough complaints, they will do proper remasters. (Why is this something they even need to ask about?!?)
So what can we learn from this? I think this incident (along with abysmal mastering on the new Metallica and countless other 'louder is better' releases) exposes a deep cynicism in the record industry regarding its customers. I don't think that's exactly earth-shattering news, but it doesn't mean we as musicians can't learn something from it. For me, the lesson of this is not to underestimate the sophistication of your fans and listeners. And though you undoubtedly have some fans who are less discerning, always do what you do in an effort to satisfy that discerning listener. You don't have to spend ages tweaking everything to death (Axl Rose, I'm looking in your direction...), just don't take short-cuts or sell your final product short out of the belief that your listeners ears aren't finely honed enough to notice. Don't take anything for granted, and don't assume that fans are going to be thrilled with everything that has your name on it just because it has your name on it. Yes, it takes more work, some of it tedious, but your fans will appreciate it. And at the end of the day, the customer is always right. Even when they're not.