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5 Things Not To Do When Asking For Feedback
Feedback is important.
Why? Because it helps us improve, it gives us a fresh perspective on what we’re working on, and it helps illuminate ongoing problems.
Unfortunately, many producers ask for feedback the wrong way. Whether it’s spamming message boards with 10 different WIPs or asking that one friend who always appeals to your ego by saying things that make you feel good—asking for feedback the wrong way is an inhibition to your growth as an artist, and also as a respectable figure in the industry.
In this post, I’m going to go over five things that you should not do when asking for feedback. Avoid all of them, and you’ll come across as someone who’s dedicated, respectful, professional, and willing to learn. In return, you’ll be given more time, more respect, and you’ll receive more in-depth, quality feedback.
1. Ask People Who Are Dishonest
There are two types of dishonest people: those who are nice, and those who aren’t.
The former are typically family and friends, those who will listen to your work and compliment you on it regardless of how good or bad it sounds. We frequently ask for feedback from these people because they make us feel good. What’s worse is that many of us tend to form a circle of these people because we know we’ll receive praise instead of criticism.
It may make you feel warm inside, but it won’t help you progress as an artist. Find people who will give you honest, direct feedback. Even if it hurts.
But there are also dishonest people who aren’t dishonest out of friendliness but jealousy. They might say something’s wrong with your track simply because they want to feel good about themselves, or make you feel worse. Yes, these people exist, and it’s best to avoid them.
Feedback is much more powerful when you get it from more than one source. However, that doesn’t not mean you should spam people.
Most producers and engineers (at least the ones who will give you quality feedback) are incredibly busy as it is. They already get spammed, so why shouldn’t they ignore you? Spamming, or contacting someone after they’ve already told you their too busy is a surefire way of not gaining respect and/or feedback.
Oh, and it makes you look like an amateur.
3. Be Offended
As an educator in the music production field, I’ve dished out my fair share of feedback. It’s always been honest feedback, not sugar-coated, but shared respectively and carefully. Even so, I’ve had a number of people respond with a level of anger and disrespect that you’d think I just killed their dog.
Here’s what needs to be understood—negative feedback is far more helpful than positive feedback. It’s what helps us improve. The person giving you feedback is not criticizing you as a person, but rather your music.
But let’s face it - some people are born to offend. You will receive feedback from time to time that is blatantly insulting. What needs to done is a separation of truth from bullshit. If someone tells you that you "clearly suck at creating melodies and should stick to producing experimental industrial noise”, then you need to realize that melody creation could be a weakness of yours, and that you should improve it, but you should ignore the insult portion of it.
Note: being offended can also cause people to give you dishonest feedback in the future in hopes to avoid offending you again.
4. Justify Criticisms
If someone points out an error in your track, do not try and pass it off by saying something like, "Oh yeah. I already knew about that.” Don’t say, "It’s not mastered yet.” Or, "Aha, yes, I forgot to fix that.” Simply embrace the feedback. Humility is imperative to progress.
With that said, some feedback is completely wrong. It might be because you gathered it from someone who’s not as knowledgeable or talented enough to give you decent feedback, or from someone who’s simply too lazy to really listen through your track.
So what should you do? How do you strain out the correct feedback from the incorrect?
The easiest way is to get feedback from multiple sources and pick up on any points that more than one person brings up. For example, if someone says your bassline is too loud, and another person says it’s too quiet, then one of them is wrong. On the contrary, if two or more people tell you that your bassline is too loud, then it probably is.
5. Act Entitled
Finally, you should never act like you’re entitled to feedback. Being a music producer does not mean you deserve feedback by default from people higher up than you.
Acting entitled makes you look arrogant, and it tends to go hand-in-hand with justifying criticisms and taking offense.
Instead, approach people with humility and respect. Go in with the expectation of not receiving any feedback at all, and you won’t be disappointed. Many producers are more willing to help than you think; you just have to be respectful.
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