Determining the “quality” of a song can be a tough (and sensitive) question. What - and who - decides a “high” quality song versus a “low” quality song? And what does “quality” actually mean?
These are questions we get a lot. And ones that led us to recently update our Quality Classifier.
Our new and improved Quality Classifier looks solely at the audio recording quality of a track and we show the results on our demo as one of the following five tags: Very Low, Low, Medium, High and Very High, each of these tags is backed by a numerical score of 0-100. This data is available to our API users.
Having the ability to identify a range of qualities allows users to choose their contexts and choose their vibes.
We don’t listen to an old, worn-in vinyl because it’s high quality; we listen to it because the scratchy, lofi element of needle-to-record creates a mood. Whether personally - like a rainy day in our living room, or on a project - finding music that matches a rainy day scene - knowing that we’re getting the right music for an atmosphere is key in music curation and scoring.
Being able to search through a catalogue of music efficiently for the exact music we need stretches across individuals, labels, sync companies and streaming companies alike. As a sync company, the music you’re looking for may need to match a moment, or a character. Knowing the audio quality of a track gives us more room to play and make informed decisions on how to use music.
Case Study: Bohemian Rhapsody
Let's take a look at our Quality Classifier and its five ranges.
To start with, any track that gets tagged “Very Low” quality essentially will not be recognizable music; the quality must be so poor, that the audio is considered more “noise” than music. So no respectable version of Bohemian Rhapsody is going to get tagged Very Low.
But for “Low”, a live performance in a venue with a shoddy sound system and filmed on an older phone will likely receive this tag. Take this version of the Queen song, covered by a band and filmed on a phone at the back of the venue (song starts at 4:05). Their sound is so loud that all you can hear is distortion and the words of the singer are barely audible. But the song is still recognizable, regardless of the poor audio quality.
On the flip side, this original 1975 video for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody receives a “Medium” tag from our AI. This is because the audio quality of a 1975 recording studio differs greatly from one today and our AI is picking up on that. It doesn’t mean that the song is generally of Medium quality - just the audio from the 70s :)
What about remastered recordings of older music? Queen performed their iconic track in Montreal in 1981, which was then remastered in 2007. Because of this remaster, which improved the audio quality of the recording, the video receives a “High” tag.
Our “Very High” quality tag is reserved mostly for tracks recorded within the past 5-10 years; those with million-dollar budgets and millions of views on YouTube. Those like Panic! At The Disco’s cover of Bohemian Rhapsody - and the Rihanna’s and Lady Gaga’s of the world. But this doesn’t mean our highest tag is out of reach for independent artists and labels. Pick your best song and give our AI a shot ;)