“The nirvana or being an artists is finding that delicate balance of freedom which is free from criticism and market penetration which is built around people’s preferences, which is based in criticism of some sort.” -Patrick Hess

People have been arguing about what music to play in the car for decades, and they will continue to long after radio is obsolete. There will always be conflict about a party’s playlist, or a bands set list, simply because of taste.

You can’t please everyone. It’s something that most of us realize by now, especially when it comes to individual’s taste in music. And musical criticisms are everywhere. Heck, Simon Cowell has literally made a career off of hating other people’s musical ability, or lack-there-of. And viewers love it.Black and White photo of guitarist singing into microphone

However, being on the receiving end of such criticisms can be disheartening for musicians and artists within the industry. Most realize that not every record label and music critic is going to like what they hear, but criticism of the music industry has taken a new form in tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube comments.

The art industry, in general, is over-peppered with criticism, and it’s important to contextualize the criticisms you’re receiving for your own peace of mind. Knowing when to brush it off your shoulders as opposed to taking it seriously is important to surviving in the music industry, so here are some tools to save you from being burned.

Fans Keep You Cool

These days, everybody’s a critic. And your fans opinion, whether it’s right or wrong, matters. And while it’s definitely important to keep your hand on the pulse of your fanbase (which can often be fickle) you can’t take it all to heart. Fans will often criticize the person and not their musical prowess, which has the power to knock an ego down a couple notches. Don’t let that happen! Separate bullying from objectivity about your music and most importantly, listen to the unspoken comments. And by that, I mean record and ticket sales, the number of plays on YouTube and Soundcloud, etc. It speaks volumes.

Does “The Man” Understand?

This is a tricky line to walk down: on one side, there are powerful, older industry executives whose walls are decorated with gold albums and Grammys, and on the other side are those experts constantly evolving one step ahead of the industry. The latter’s critiques and comments are more valuable. While some execs have a myriad of accolades to display their success in the industry, be weary, they may not have a firm grasp on what it takes to be successful today and instead focus on what it took to be successful when they won those awards. Consider whether their words are timeless before applying it to your music.

Guitarist walking alone

Hess of The Huffington Post urges musicians to listen to those who “earn their living by navigating a lot of views and data. They are insiders of music that hasn’t touched the ears of consumers and those who are sitting atop piles of money from top-of-chart hits today. They are the ones creating the next sensation as you’re reading this.”

Mother Knows Best…Sometimes

It’s pretty rare that a chord or verse or entire song isn’t previewed for a family member or roommate or best friend or boyfriend before it comes to complete fruition. So before you think you’ve got the next Dark Side of the Moon on your hands because your Uncle Steve says so, understand that loved ones criticisms typically has more to do with their relationship to you than their relationship to your music. It’s nearly impossible to get an objective criticism from a friend or family member, so don’t give their words too much weight. If they aren’t experts in the music field (chances are they aren’t) and simply just fans of music (as most of us are) don’t depend on them to give an accurate critique on your hook and choice of lyrics. However, they might be able to critique other parts of your life with sobering truth that can have an effect on your music, such as your lifestyle and habits, so consider those when given.


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