How A Music Xray Focus Group Comment Made My Blood Boil

I recently submitted one of my songs in to a music xray focus group.

If you don't know what Music Xray is, it's a service that can help you with the marketing of your music. It allows you to match your music to opportunities (like record labels) who are looking for your type of music.

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His website is a bit hokey (Flaming guitars? Seriously?), but his program really shows independant artists how to get a leg-up on signed artists.

It analyzes your music, and makes the best judgment (who knows what criteria) as to who would be interested in your music.

An extra service that I'm talking about today is their focus groups. You can submit one of your songs to a group of people (they offer 25 free reviews of your song to start) and they will rate your song and give their impressions on your music.

[As a warning, after re-reading my article I realize that I went off on a fairly crazy tangent. I just thought I should warn you of it before you continue on, because this article definitely finishes in a completely different place than where it started.]

Here are 3 screenshots of what some of my results looked like:

As you can see, you get a very diverse crowd in your results. Which brings me to my first complaint (Although not the thing that made my blood boil…)

No Control Over The Audience Of Your Focus Group

My issue here is that you don't really have any control over who gets to listen to your music. Because music is already so subjective, making your focus group targeted at least to people who like your genre of music would really be appropriate.

For example, here are some of the genre's that most of the people who reviewed my music were into:

Now you need to consider that the song I submitted has dark ambient, hard rock, metal, jazz, latin, and trip hop elements in it.

How interested, or trustworthy, do you think the people with the above genre's as interests, are going to be? (In my opinion, anyone interested in country shouldn't be reviewing any music at all, but I digress...)

I happen to know that I get the most trustworthy response for my music from people that are interested in metal and experimental music. Now if I had the option to choose which genre's I wanted my focus group participants to like, then the feedback I received could be much more useful to me in improving my song.

For anyone who actually does something new with your music, you have right away alienated most of the mainstream market with your music. So why would you be looking for advice and feedback from those people that you already know you are going to alienate?

Heh Heh...Aliens...

I'm sure if Trent Reznor submitted "The Fragile" to most of the people with the above genre's, he would have pretty crappy scores (mind you, the scores I received weren't awful, but I just don't feel that they are trustworthy.)

And now on to my main gripe…

This Comment Did It For Me!

This is the one relating to the title of this article:

"Very Good, but find a way to clean up the demonic nature of your music so it would appeal to more people, you have the ability to produce really GOOD stuff, so do it. I know by listening to your music that you are Spiritual, create from your good nature "

Now this particular person, on the surface seems to have constructive criticism. He makes some compliments (some that are valid), but then said "but find a way to clean up the demonic nature of your music".

The sheer ignorance of this comment completely baffles me. And I'll try to explain the best I can, maybe starting by saying "With what evidence do you provide that my music is in any way 'demonic?'"

Take a listen to the song here.

Shameless Plug, but it's not shameless anymore because I recognized it openly!

I realize that the reviewer tried to make the point of "it would appeal to more people", but we all know that in reality if I "cleaned up my music" (whatever that means) it would simply appeal to more religious people.

So let's see exactly why this song is demonic.

Here is the premise of the lyrics for the song:

"As human's we try and hold on to things that hurt us (relationships, drugs, addictions, etc.), but once we are willing to let those go we are released into a world of peace, serenity, and creativity."

Hmmm, that sounds like a really demonic concept to me.

It is obvious that this persons perspective comes from a Judeo-Christian point of view, and attempts to come from a level of conservatism and Christian morality.

It's all fine for this reviewer to have their own opinion about things. That's not what makes me annoyed. It's perfectly acceptable for someone to think whatever they please.

There's only one problem with the comment…

…I AM a Christian. And I wasn't just "raised Christian".

I very seriously protect and grow my relationship with god. I spend time in prayer and meditation every day. I spend countless chapters with my nose in my bible, and am actively serving in my church.

I'm not saying this to "toot my own horn", but rather to show how out of place and unfounded this comment is.

My question is, who exactly are YOU to tell me that I need to "Clean up the 'demonic' nature". In fact, who are you to tell me that my song has a demonic nature at all?

The song is about having discipline, and facing difficult challenges in your life with a sense of morality. Wait a second, isn't that a huge premise in the bible? But simply because it kind of "sounds demonic", you've made the assumption that I now need to clean it up? Because you aren't used to distorted guitars and minor keys?

"Wait, you mean I have to read all of it? And IN Context?"

What exactly makes something sound 'evil' anyways?

"Oh no! He used dissonance in his musical style! The music must be demonic! You can't use minor notes, because they are emotionally associated with sadness, and sadness is demonic!"

Can anybody here answer me, and let me know exactly how certain notes or rhythms can be more evil than others? Notes, by themselves, don't mean anything at all.

It's not like any note can be intrinsically evil. It is only when the artist attaches a meaning or value to them that they actually take form.

And usually that meaning comes from the lyrics. Which this reviewer…did not even know. So how exactly could they make any judgment call whatsoever whether it was demonic or not? Or whether it even sounded demonic?

The only way you could make that statement would be if you carefully analyzed the context of the lyrics, and understood them in their entirety, and saw that the notes themselves were trying to further the impact of specifically demonic lyrics.

I realize that I turned this music article into a massive gripe against religious ignorance (it's not like I've never spoken against religious ignorance before), but it frustrated me enough to take a stand on it.

Some ignorance, I'm afraid, is much more detrimental...

No wonder most atheists believe that Christians are inconsiderate, closed-minded, and ignorant. It's assumptions like THESE that cause them to think that.

So not only does it make that person look bad, but it makes all Christians around the world look like morons. It makes you seem judgmental and self-righteous.

And I'm not necessarily just talking about this specific reviewer, but I'm talking about ignorant Christian's in general. I'm talking about people who tell you that you are a terrible person if you don't believe in Jesus Christ.

Newsflash: Even people who do believe in Jesus Christ are still terrible people. They still do pretty much all the same bad things that Non-christians do.

The only difference is that God, in his ultimate wisdom, sent his son so that he could act as a supreme sacrifice so that terrible people like me could still experience a relationship with him.

And it says this really explicitly in the bible. Even though we all suck and do crappy things, God can make you righteous (provided you actually believe that he made a sacrifice for you) simply because you believe in him.

He doesn't say "You are righteous because you are trying really hard!", nor does he say "You aren't a murderer, so you must be a great dude!". Nor does he say "You are a good person, so that makes you good".

No, we all suck, the end.

(He also doesn't say "Minor keys? That's blasphemy! No salvation for you boy!")

Don't put your nose up in the air like you are actually better than anyone else who walks this earth. You aren't, you do terrible things just like other people. The only difference is that you aren't honest about it.

While I'm on a rant, I'm also annoyed at ignorant 'creationists' who use sloppy arguments like "there must a god because there is molecule called Laminin, that is shaped like a cross!".

Believe it or not, there is actually a buttload of really excellent science that shows evolution as a load of croc and many Scientists (with doctorates, not pseudoscience creationists) agree with the biblical account of creation.

But simply because you are too lazy to find out where the real proof is, you end up sounding like an absolute fool and no one gets to hear any real scientific truth from your mouth.

But never mind THAT idea evidence, because "we've got a bloody molecule that looks like a cross!".

I realize that this article about music into a big science debate, but I was on a roll so I went with it.

If I sounded frustrated with some of the ignorance around me, it's because I very much was. Now don't misinterpret me into thinking that I'm just this really angry guy, I'm really not that angry at all (catchy headlines get people's attention you know).

I allowed myself to get in such a tiff here because I need to make it clear that I, as a Christian, don't align with all of the Bill O'Reilly's of the world. Most Christians don't.

I don't align with people who jump to wild conclusions based on their own emotions that they don't understand (sounds demonic!)

I just want you to understand that people who do that are not necessarily an accurate representation of the Bible, and I don't want to be represented by that.

Faith, logic, kindness, generosity, selflessness, moderation, and love. Those are the things I align with and hope to be represented by, not aggressiveness and ignorance.

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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.