Dealing With Feedback About Your Music From Critics

What Do Music Critics Mean To You As A Musician?

First things first: Pitchfork is not an authority on whether or not music is good or not. Neither is MetalSucks, or GorillaVSBear, Rolling Stone, or any other music publication.

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Music publications hire a writer to write a review for them, so they are one man’s opinion, that’s all.

If you are a metal artist, and a reviewer who naturally hates metal reviews you, it’s not gonna be good. There are so many different biases that a review might have, no single review should get you down in the dumps (even if it is that dreaded 4.5 review on Pitchfork, which attached to it comes a loss of potential album sales).

I would recommend taking a look at the wide variety of reviews that you get though. If 50 publications review your album, and none of them like it at all, you might have a bit of an issue.

In The Case Of Consistently Bad Reviews, How Do You Respond?

You shouldn’t be changing your entire sound or music just to please others, you should write it for yourself…right?

Well…there’s a balance to that. And it comes down to this:

“Did I really put everything I had into this album?”

If you are getting some bad reviews, you need to be honest with yourself; did you deserve them? Are you secretly wishing that you had done a better job, and that you had put more of yourself into it?

It’s Not Being Dishonest With Yourself To Change Your Music Based On Reviewers If They’re Right!

If a critic's review convicts you of something that you compromised on, that’s when I can see them being useful.

Now, if you think that you really put everything you had into the music, and that it’s a piece of art that you deeply appreciate, then you shouldn’t change the music. You wrote that genuinely, and that’s yours; no action needed.

In that case... 

…Accept That Critics Don’t Appreciate What You Have To Offer

And don’t change yourself for anyone.

If accepting criticism is a big problem for you, then you may want to examine your motives behind writing music. Everyone likes to be appreciated, myself included, and it can be pretty painful to feel misunderstood, but hopefully you have a few fans or friends or a partner that really gets what you’re doing. 

That should feel enough to be understood. You don’t need any more than that. Forget the critics…

…it’s one man’s opinion.

He might have a lot of long and pretentious words to describe you, but that shouldn’t change much for you; most reviewers only listen to an album a few times (and often they will only listen to it once). That’s hardly enough time to really take in some music. I have some amazing albums that took me 10-20 listens before I started to really like them.

How Critics Can Affect You As A Musician (From Teen Daze)

I spent some time talking to my friend Jameson from Teen Daze about some of the reviews he’s received. He’s received both positive and negative reviews on publications like Pitchfork.

Here’s some of the wisdom that he imparted to me about the subject:

"Well it should always lead to a positive reaction, never a negative one, and if you can, do your best to just avoid critics at all costs.

You shouldn't let a critic define your sound, but it doesn't mean that you shouldn't let them influence it.

You shouldn't ever feel pressured  to change because of what someone else wants/expects from you, and there's nothing wrong with letting a critic influence something, but it's gotta be forward movement; having spite be in the back of your mind is not a healthy thing for creativity.

It will make you second guess a lot, even if it's something you're proud of/excited about. I've basically written off "all of us together", because of the negative reviews, which is dumb, because I was excited about it leading up to the release. But that's how it goes, always moving forward!

Best case scenario is to just put on the blinders and make music. That seems like such a difficult thing to do.

If someone was writing reviews of my music I would want to see it a lot.

You have to resist the temptation."

-Jameson (Teen Daze)

Avoiding Reviews Of Your Music Is The Best Thing You Can Do.

In the words of Jameson: “I know [it’s hard to just put on the blinders, ignore critics, and make music], you have to resist the temptation”.

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. 

I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.