Music reviews are one of those mixed blessings that musicians have to deal with. It's hard to appreciate the reviewers who dislike your work and easy to celebrate those that do. And it's incredibly tempting to blast reviewers when they say things you don't like. Generally speaking, that's when you should chill out and move on but there are exceptions to every rule.
Reviewers have to be recognized as an important piece of the marketing puzzle. They'll actually listen to (or claim that they listened to) your music and will then give what appears to be an honest appraisal. And some of them actually know quite a bit about music and when they get the right kind of music do have something insightful to say.
But that shouldn't matter to a musician. If you start taking reviewers more seriously than any other marketing outlet, then you have opened yourself up to random shots from all angles by people who ultimately simply like or dislike your music. And once you open yourself up, especially given the extraordinary levels of hate expressed on the web towards any human endeavor, then you are setting yourself up for a crisis of confidence that could ultimately undermine your ability to create new music.
Tech N9ne - Fragile (ft. Kendrick Lamar, ¡MAYDAY! & Kendall Morgan)
But if you feel you can't ignore reviews and need some help dealing with the bad ones, you should check out Chris Singleton's excellent post "How to deal with a bad review."
Singleton shares 7 tips on dealing with bad reviews. Here are the tips but you should go the read the post cause he goes into more detail and knows what's up.
7 Excellent Tips On Dealing With Bad Music Reviews
1. Keep calm and don’t write letters to the publication
2. Remember that you can’t please all of the people all of the time
3. Accept that the critic might have a point
4. Put your stinking review in context
5. Remember that even a bad review can have some benefits
6. Don’t forget the other channels of music promo
7. Prove your critic wrong
The first is especially important. There's nothing more hilarious than an angry artist's rant against a critic gone viral. Even if what you say mostly makes sense, if you put it out there it's likely to have a far worse impact than any bad review.
Keep in mind that the actual reviews rarely go viral.
Musicians Can Criticize Critics But Only When It No Longer Matters
But what's interesting is that the artists who can get away with criticizing the critics are the ones who don't really need to bother. They are either too big, like the artist formerly known as Jay-Z, or they've built their own world, like Tech N9ne.
Yet both these artists have criticized critics in their lyrics as did Jay Z in "99 Problems":
"I'm like fuck critics, you can kiss my whole asshole
If you don't like my lyrics, you can press fast forward"
The lyrics to Tech N9ne's new song "Fragile" (audio above) is a more complex look at the artist's response to critics as well as an attack on critics.
Which is surprising cause he's truly built his own world in which critics are largely irrelevant.
And if they're still mad, why shouldn't you be mad too?
So even if you do believe you're going to rise to the top or can build your own world, it's worth reading Singleton's post and working on your objectivity. Maybe see a psychologist to build up your self-esteem. Or surround yourself with yes people cause, as I learned long ago, even the worst drag queen has an entourage of worshippers so why shouldn't you?
Or you could recognize that reviews are just another marketing vehicle and take yourself and your music seriously enough to focus on building your base and following your dream.
[Thumbnail image courtesy Clarence E. Jones III.]
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.