What would you rather have:
A great song that tugs at people, drawing them into the music and evokes emotions connecting the listener to you and your music
A great production that has the music jumping out and wrapping itself around the head of your listeners with balance and proper blending that focuses their attention on the nuances that are within?
Of course in a dream world, you could have both of these, but that is a much harder prospect to come by, so let's examine the benefits of both.
I once heard it said, (and I'm paraphrasing here) "I've never heard a shitty band sound so good."
How you look at that statement is generally going to be reflective of what you want your take away to be. If you look at that statement and emphasize the "sound so good" portion, you definitely are doing your best to remain optimistic that someone thought you sounded good. But you are ignoring a very important part in that they called you a shitty band. A shitty band or song with a great production behind it may only emphasize and expose all the flaws, mistakes, and issues that a band has.
By the same turn, a great band or song can have issues overcoming a terrible mix. The best example of this is hearing a band’s album and thinking that the music was just decent but not exceptional. Then you go and see the act perform live and the music just has a whole new life to it that leaves you humming your new favorite tune as you exit the show.
This is one of the most common examples where a bad production can actually hurt good songwriting and performance.
Good songwriting can overcome a poor production, but poor songwriting will only be more exposed by a bad production.
The reason that I'm emphasizing the idea of good songwriting vs. good production is because in the modern age of the home studio, artists sometimes get too attached to their music and aren’t able to let it breathe beyond their vision or get too caught up in the production aspects causing them to forget why they wrote the song in the first place.
A good song will carry an artist no matter how high quality the production may be. So musicians out there, please, focus on your craft. Emphasize the playing and the writing. The production can be simple and the song will speak for itself. Use the talents that you have to create a high quality product, and when the time and opportunity come, get the high quality engineer to take it to the next level. But never forget, it all starts with you and your songs, the production is secondary.