Your Friends are Liars: What People REALLY Think of Your Music!

January 9, 2013{ 13 Comments }

Honest Music FeedbackYour friends are not true fans

Look, your parents and your partner and your neighbors are not going to tell you that your music sucks. Neither will your co-workers, your church friends, or the people you play rugby with on Wednesdays. Your cousins, your counselor, your drinking-buddies, your favorite barista — nope, can’t trust them either.

They lie to you. They tell you you’re magnificent because they care about your feelings — or at the very least they have to see you on a regular basis and don’t want to have to deal with you pouting all the time.

Some folks even go so far as to lie about purchasing your music.

We see it from time to time at CD Baby: Johnny X calls up saying his friend Bob bought the new Johnny X album, and he wants to know why that sale isn’t showing up in his accounting section yet.

Well, unfortunately it’s because the CD is still on our shelves and Bob was politely trying to wriggle around the issue that he hates Johnny’s music. So he fibbed rather than say, “Stop bugging me, man! I don’t wanna buy your CD already. I’ve sat through your last 3 shows; what more do you want from me?”

Your friends are not your fans. Beyond their initial support of your musical endeavors (coming out to your early shows, liking you on Facebook, etc.) you cannot rely on them to sustain your career — or to give you the kind of unfettered feedback that will help you analyze your weaknesses, identify your strengths, and craft a better sound, song, or show!

An honest assessment of your music

OK, perhaps I’m being a little harsh. I’m sure some of your family and friends legitimately DO enjoy your music. But I’m trying to drive home a simple point:  you gotta get out of your comfort zone and let people who have no personal connection to you give their unbiased opinion!

Why? Otherwise, you’re like the delusional king who can do no wrong in his own mind because he only trusts in a counsel of yes-men. You’re like the vain queen who only looks at herself in magical mirrors, always reflecting an image back in the most favorable light. You have no realistic way of testing how your music truly moves people.

Luckily, it’s an easy problem to remedy:

* Play in front of a room of strangers and gauge their reaction.

* Post new tracks on SoundCloud (or to a SoundCloud feedback group page like THIS) and ask other users to comment.

* Send your CDs to music journalists who will critique your work.

* Contact bloggers and see if they want to give away one of your MP3s.

Seek outside opinions and listen to the feedback! You don’t have to accept every criticism, but at the very least — listen. Let it sink in; let it lift your spirits or sting accordingly; and after the dust has settled, if you think a bit of negative feedback has some validity to it, make the necessary adjustments. Your act will be far stronger for it down the road.

On the other hand, it’s healthy to remember the internet can be a cruel place, so brace yourself for harsh trolls and haters. As the much-maligned Richard Marx says in this recent story, “There’s nothing more subjective than music.”

The people out there who love your music aren’t wrong, but neither are the ones who don’t.

What do you think? Who do you trust to give you honest feedback? How can you tell if your music is “working?” Let us know in the comments section below.

  • We recorded an entire show with a hand held H1Zoom placed in back of the venue behind the crowd and it was amazing the comments about us we picked up.
    On a side note, we played a 75 minute set that time and it was also interesting to hear how the crowd went from lukewarm to enthusiastic as the set went on.

    • Haha. Spy-Tech! What was the best comment you recorded?

      • I recommend all bands try to do this if possible. You can really tell also which songs they got into the most. It's enlightening

  • So true. People close to you will also lie to you if they think your music is good. They will subconsciously (or consciously if they're a real asshole) try to cut you down a notch because it makes them feel unworthy or unsuccessful to see you move ahead and become accomplished if they are not.

    A complete stranger and music fan is the only trustworthy source, but they might not say anything either. The only worthy measure is response at shows, and sales.

    People who say they hate Richard Marx are secretly singing his songs in their car.

    • metea11

      “People close to you will also lie to you if they think your music is
      good. They will subconsciously (or consciously if they’re a real
      asshole) try to cut you down a notch because it makes them feel unworthy
      or unsuccessful to see you move ahead and become accomplished if they
      are not.” Exactly ! And that’s especially true when you have musicians/composers friends. I know i do have a few friends like that, and there is a tacit competition each and every one of us. Hell, i caught myself thinking like that, even if i hate to since they are my friends and i love them. But jealousy is true, deep honesty.

  • If you talk about it too much, you look like a major nong. Better to let them make up their own minds, and never ask for reviews. You know if your sh*t is good enough. No need to ask.

    • I agree Mike I never ask anyone what they think of us. It seems desperate to me when other bands do this, so I figure I can't be the only one who thinks that.

  • Hmmm. I guess that depends. Are you buying guaranteed good reviews? Because that'd seem a little shady. And I'm sure people would catch on after a while and start discounting anything they read from that service. But if they're simply saying "hey, give us some dough and we'll give you honest feedback" — I don't really see a problem, especially when it's so hard to get attention from recognized bloggers, critics, etc. It's not that different from paying someone for a production or songwriting consultation, and no one thinks hiring a producer is a bad idea.

  • Lee Jones

    If I've learned one thing, it's that most (99.9%) musicians/singers/writers/performers are totally delusional when it comes to their own appeal. Also, most are playing from their ego, they're up there to take, not to give – and it shows. They are in denial about people being ho hum about their shows. No matter what sales/marketing tricks one might employ, people are generally not going to pay for mediocrity – and from what I've seen, mediocrity makes up the huge majority of those who get up on a stage with a guitar and/or a microphone. You can bet on one thing – any band member who says something like, "We packed the house", or, "We brought the house down", chances are, they have no business being anywhere near a stage.

  • We could hear people asking about us several times and heard someone say you are in for a treat. We heard several people also ask who we are though we had out huge logo on the stage
    We also heard at the end several people saying that rocked and is there more when we played the last song.

  • That's one of the reasons I love my inner circle – they'll actually tell me if it sucks and I so much more appreciate that and they know it.

  • Seth Kutzleb

    Check out my soundcloud if you feel up to it! Any feed back is welcome. I post new music every saturday. Thanks, Seth

  • J-Nasty