Getting feedback on your music from a representative sample of your target audience or a seasoned music professional is a great way to measure the progress you're making. Everyone loves that extra boost of confidence, especially when it applies to something you created yourself. But what happens when you get feedback that's the opposite of what you want to hear? Here are five tips that will help minimize the sting and turn it around into something productive.
1. Don't get discouraged, get motivated
Remember that finding your true creative voice and sound – not to mention an audience – requires a significant amount of time, patience, dedication, motivation, and work flow. It also requires that you do a great deal of experimenting, practicing, training, and creative thinking. Bottom line: it requires that you roll up your sleeves and work hard until you find the path that's right for you. This isn't meant to intimidate you, but rather to stimulate you. As AC/DC said in their famous song, "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock 'n' roll."
2. Use constructive criticism wisely
According to John Braheny, author of The Craft and Business of Songwriting, when the legendary songwriter Diane Warren (Whitney Houston, Faith Hill, Celine Dion) was still honing her craft and sorting out her style, she attended songwriting groups in Los Angeles. Every week following the critique sessions in which she received feedback, she returned with complete revisions of her songs with the utmost enthusiasm. She wrote hundreds of songs during this process. That commitment to continuous self-improvement, in addition to pure talent, luck, timing, and planning, was undoubtedly what led to her write over 50 Top 10 hits and achieve the feat of being the first songwriter in the history to have seven hits on the Billboard singles chart at the same time. Now that's pretty impressive.
3. Concentrate on the ideas that have the most potential
A smart organization puts aside its weaker ideas and concentrates its resources on those that have the most potential – and that's what you should do, too. As Scott Austin, former A&R executive of Maverick Records and current VP of Authentik Artists, advises, "Never be afraid to put aside 50 of your compositions to focus on 10 of your very best."
4. Don't shelve your ideas forever, but rather shelve them for the future
Some ideas won't always get the best reviews, but that may be because the marketplace isn't ready for them quite yet. What doesn't work now might work later. Consultant Ira Kalb puts it this way: "One never knows when the opportunity will present itself to go through the vaults of older works."
5. Don't waste time
Don't let the competition beat you to the marketplace while you mope around depressed about the negative feedback you receive or the challenges you face. How many times have you said to yourself, "I could have done that!" or "I thought of that idea first!" Well, you're not going to let that happen again, are you? So what are you waiting for? Get back to work and get it done today!
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack on a Low Budget (September 2014). Find the book on Hal Leonard's website under "Trade Books" or on Amazon. Signed copies with a special offer are also available at bobbyborg.com.