Stop seeking approval from anyone and everyone.
And yes, that includes industry professionals.
You already have (almost) all the answers 😉
Now, I don’t want to discourage you from asking for the opinion of others, testing your music on friends and strangers, asking for feedback on how you can improve your mix, etc.
That’s fine. As long as you take every piece of feedback, positive or negative, with a pinch of salt.
In this post, I’ll talk about:
- Why you should always back yourself to make the right call for your music
- How to ask better questions of yourself and others
- How to deal with unhelpful criticism
- What matters more than what people say
You’ve Got Your Back
As a creative, it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to decide which way to go.
Compulsively seeking approval from others will only make you second-guess yourself and harm the music.
Are you proud of the music you made? Are you happy you made it? Are you excited about sharing it with the world?
Then go ahead and share it!
Trust yourself, back yourself to make the right call for YOU because nobody cares quite as much as you do.
Only YOUR OPINION of your work matters.
The rest is just random people spouting opinions, with more or less conviction and aggression depending on their mood.
If you’re not quite sure your music is there yet, then it makes sense to reach out and ask for help.
But if you want to receive helpful feedback, you need to make sure you ask good questions.
The Art of Asking Questions
Before you can ask good questions, you have to know what kind of answers you’re looking for.
Of course, we all want people to tell us our music is great!
But asking someone what they think of your song is not very helpful. Some people will like it, some people won’t. Some people will know why, some people won’t.
The key to receiving constructive criticism that will boost (not hurt) your creativity is to help the person you’re asking understand where you’re struggling.
Asking for feedback makes sense when you know something is not quite right with your track and you need help figuring out what it is exactly and how to fix it.
I’m feeling a bit stuck, don’t know where to take this track, how to finish it. Do you have any ideas?
The production sounds a little bit off to me but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Is there something that jumps out to you?
I made this track and I’m really happy about it but don’t quite know how to describe it and who might be interested in licensing it. Any thoughts?
By being explicit about what you need help with, you’re giving the person permission to be helpful.
That’s super important because otherwise, someone who noticed something wrong but doesn’t want to hurt your feelings might just take the easy way out and say it sounds great.
Accepting Some People Will Just Be Rude
Making an effort to ask good questions will increase your chances of receiving helpful feedback.
But, unfortunately, it won’t rid the world of unhelpful and hurtful criticism entirely….
Even when you ask high quality questions, you’ll sometimes come across someone who feels the need to be rude…..
Here’s a sample pep talk from when that happened to Jim.
In Jim’s case, it was obvious that the review came from a professional critique and not a fellow creative or decision maker.
It was a good reminder that, in addition to asking better questions, we must strive to ask better people.
Ask Better People
Not because some people’s opinion are more legitimate than others.
I do my best to stay open-minded and critical of “expert opinion”.
But because actions are more reliable feedback than voiced opinions.
If you’re trying to get your music into film, send it to filmmakers and music supervisors.
Not me or any other reviewer. We’re not the ones calling the shots.
The only real, valuable feedback you get will be when the filmmaker accept or rejects your track. Everything else is just fluff.
If you’re disappointed with the number of people you attract to your local gigs, look at what’s working for your local competition and try a few things they’re doing.
Online and anonymous is great and works sometimes but local and face-to-face tends to work better.
Actually TEST things, TRY stuff and see what works.
If you just released an album with relaxation and meditation music, visit spas in your area. Ask them how they choose the music they play in the background and show them where they can listen to your album online.
After a few weeks, check your streaming numbers to see if they’ve gone up or not.
This will be a much better use of your time than promoting your album on social media to people who don’t even listen to that kind of music.
The feedback you get from this type of experiment will be much more valuable: if your target audience doesn’t react positively to your music, then maybe some more work needs to be done to make that music stand out.
Key Takeaway: STOP asking for approval/permission and START putting your music out there.
Find out how people react to it.
Music review submissions can be helpful if you have a specific question you’re trying to answer but, ultimately, what 2 or 20 people (say they) think doesn’t matter.
What matters is what they DO.
Do they listen to your songs on Spotify? Do they place your track in their movie? Do they purchase your album or merchandise? Do they show up at your gigs?
The real validation, the only validation that matters, is how people behave/respond when you take action and put your music out there.
And even that doesn’t matter as much as how YOU feel about making music and how happy you are with your end product…..
A Little Inspiration Before You Go
To close out this post, I’ll turn to Dani Osvaldo for inspiration.
People sometimes don’t understand me. They look at me like, “You are crazy. You had everything, played for some of the best teams in the world and decided to just quit – for this.”
But, I don’t know, it’s my passion. Just play. If the people like it, better. If not, we like it at least.