"Sing with your lips a little more closed, a little more pursed together, so we can get that low, melancholy sound."
You want feedback from your producer. You want someone who sees the bigger picture of your song and how it will fit together.
But often, if you’re new to song recording and you’re already feeling jittery and excited, feedback may feel like criticism.
We’ve talked about being prepared to come to the table with a vision that will help guide producers in the right direction towards your particular tastes and styles.
This doesn’t mean, though, that your producer should simply be a robot, or that they should always stick too close to your outline.
Producers are artists too and they bring a lot of creative vision to the table, along with an extensive toolkit of sounds, effects, and musical possibilities you might not even be aware of.
So be open-minded. A good producer might think of something completely different than you would but that is also still an authentic reflection of you.
Just as sometimes your friends or loved ones know something about you that you don’t realize about yourself, a producer may see and be able to accentuate strengths and unique characteristics in you that you didn’t previously see in yourself.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
But what if a comment feels like criticism? I think the first reaction for most of us is to defend ourselves, or worse yet to lash back.
And yet, while criticism can be taken as hurtful and demoralizing, it can also be viewed in a positive way: it can spur us to do better. It’s an opportunity to improve.
Of course, it is your recording, and you can and should express your thoughts and opinions. You want a producer who will take the time to wait with you and make sure you capture that great performance you’re looking for. Don’t ever be afraid to say “I want to do it again” (and again) until you’re happy.
Most artists feel (nervous and) confident when they get started. But if you don’t, ItyDity gives you the option to have a Dedicated Project Manager to be the go-between for you and the producer. We can help you to figure out what you want and help you to communicate that to the producer.
The good people at Zen Habits wrote a wonderful piece on feedback and criticism. It wasn’t written specifically for songwriters, but we love it.
Stop Your First Reaction
If your first reaction is to lash back at the person giving the criticism, or to become defensive, take a minute before reacting at all. Take a deep breath, and give it a little thought.
Turn a Negative Into a Positive
One of the keys to my success in anything I do is my ability to find positive things in things that most people see as negative. Sickness forces me to stop my exercise program? That’s a welcome rest. Tired of my job? That’s a time to rediscover what’s important and to look for a better job. Super typhoon ruined all my possessions? This allowed me to realize that my stuff wasn’t important, and to be thankful that my loved ones were still alive and safe.
You can do the same thing with criticism: find the positive in it. Sure, it may be rude and mean, but in most criticism, you can find a nugget of gold: honest feedback and a suggestion for improvement.
For example, this criticism: “You write about the same things over and over and your posts are boring and stale.”
Can be read: “I need to increase the variety of my posts and find new ways of looking at old things.”
That’s just one example of course — you can do that with just about any criticism. Sometimes it’s just someone having a bad day, but many times there’s at least a grain of truth in the criticism.
See it as an opportunity to improve — and without that constant improvement, we are just sitting still. Improvement is a good thing.
Thank the Critic
Even if someone is harsh and rude, thank them. They might have been having a bad day, or maybe they’re just a negative person in general. But even so, your attitude of gratitude will probably catch them off-guard.
And you know what? My habit of thanking my critics has actually won a few of them over. They became friends of mine, and eventually, a couple of them became some of my biggest proponents. All because of a simple act of saying thank you for the criticism. It’s unexpected and often appreciated.
And even if the critic doesn’t take your “thank you” in a good way, it’s still good to do — for yourself. It’s a way of reminding yourself that the criticism was a good thing for you, a way of keeping yourself humble.
Learn from the Criticism
After seeing criticism in a positive light, and thanking the critic, don’t just move on and go back to business as usual. Actually try to improve.
That’s a difficult concept for some people because they often think that they’re right no matter what. But no one is always right. You, in fact, may be wrong, and the critic may be right. So see if there’s something you can change to make yourself better.
And then make that change. Actually strive to do better.
Be the Better Person
Too many times we take criticism as a personal attack, as an insult to who we are. But it’s not.
Well, perhaps sometimes it is, but we don’t have to take it that way. Take it as a criticism of your actions, not your person. If you do that, you can detach yourself from the criticism emotionally and see what should be done.