Great World of Sound starts out looking and feeling like a low-budget Office Space, with a lackadaisical yet likeable lead, the pleasantly bland, gently self-loathing Martin (Pat Healy) interviewing for a job as a "music producer" at the shady recording company Great World of Sound. The job is totally suspect: a fly-by-night operation in which producers are essentially traveling salesmen, auditioning musicians in hotel rooms and then convincing them to drop a couple grand for the privilege of recording an album. It soon becomes clear, though, that this is no mere commentary on the absurdity of the recording industry: While the sketchiness of Great World of Sound is obvious to the audience, our hapless hero has no idea what he's gotten into.
So Martin and his partner, Clarence (Kene Holliday), go on the road to "audition" musical acts, persuading the talentless and the delusional that their moment in the sun has arrived—as long as they can afford to contribute some cash, of course. Deep down, Martin is a nice enough guy who just wants to help people make things, and it's painful to watch as the awareness of what he's really involved in slowly comes to light.
The musicians auditioning for Martin and Clarence seem implausibly credulous—not to mention implausibly terrible—until you realize that they're all real performers who responded to a fake newspaper ad placed by filmmakers Craig Zobel and George Smith. In other words, the musicians in Great World of Sound who're auditioning for Martin actually believed that they were playing for legitimate record producers. It's this undercurrent of pathetically naked hope that makes Great World of Sound weirdly compelling, and a sad-but-honest look at the depressing consequence of our national obsession with fame. Here, we catch a glimpse of the millions of people who completely lack talent, yet wholeheartedly believe they deserve to be famous.