Feedback. We know we need it. Although it’s easy to have mixed feelings:
Our songs are precious little nuggets that we’re so proud of. Releasing them into the world and asking for criticism seems masochistic and unnecessary. But feedback is critical for 2 reasons:
- It makes you a better writer.
- If you want to write commercial music, you have to learn how.
That being said, not all feedback is created equal.
You have to take into account a few different things, like, who is it coming from? What is their background? What is their relationship to you?
For example, my mom loves just about every song I write. And I love that. I love that my mom loves my music. Her feedback is so important when I’m feeling like all my songs are sh*t. She can restore my faith in my ability to get back up on the horse and keep writing. I go to her when I need that bump of encouragement.
When I need critical, technical feedback related to the craft of songwriting, I look for feedback from my mentors. Other writers. Publishers and industry professionals. They will tell me if the song is commercial, radio-friendly, or otherwise.
Here is a collection of the resources where I personally send my songs when I need feedback. I’ve used each and every one of these services and I recommend them all.
Read on and see which one fits you and your songs:
Sheree Spoltore and Crew at Global Songwriters Connection
Sheree Spoltore is one of my most favorite, favorite people in Nashville. Heck, in the music industry! She is an angel and offers incredibly detailed and pointed insight when it comes to your songs. I’ve taken many a song to her and she knows exactly what my tunes need to become more commercial.
While I highly encourage signing up for a membership with GSC, you can purchase song critiques a la cart.
Sheree is the kind of person you want on your team. If you work hard, improve, and are writing killer songs, she will become your biggest cheerleader. I love her to death!
- GSC is a small business, run by a very dedicated president.
- They offer 2 evaluators, Sheree, and Bruce Michael Miller.
- 2 Songs per evaluation.
- Great for advanced writers looking for advanced feedback.
- One-on-one session with your mentor (in person or Skype).
- Can be purchased without a yearly membership for $50.
- You don’t have to be in Nashville to use this service.
- Tends to book up quickly.
- You do yourself no favors by not purchasing a yearly membership, as GSC offers many great resources and opportunities for it’s members. Grab a membership, it’s so worth it!
Evaluation Services at NSAI
The Nashville Songwriters Association International is headquartered in Nashville, but provides services for members all across the world. Included in your yearly membership are 12 song evaluations. Yes. 12. Twelve. One two. That’s a lot.
A rep at NSAI will listen to your song, send you feedback, and then, if your song is tops, it has the possibility of being played at their monthly publisher luncheon. This is where they host a group of publishers and pitch their member’s songs on their behalf. Good stuff, especially if you are new to the world of commercial songwriting.
- Great for folks outside of Nashville.
- 12 free sessions included in your $200 yearly membership.
- Great for new writers and those looking for quick feedback.
- Possibility to have song presented at a Pitch to Publisher Luncheon, or featured on NSAI’s Top 40 Song Page.
- Your evals are bundled into a pricey membership.
- Most of the benefits of that membership are only usable for people in Nashville.
- Feedback is not highly personal, follows a rubric.
- All online, you do not get to talk to your evaluator.
Join the online songwriter community, Frettie.com
Frettie is wonderful. I integrate Frettie into my workflow with some of my songs. (disclaimer: affiliate link, cause I love them and they love me!)
Frettie is an online, social network geared toward songwriters who are looking to gain feedback on their songs. You can upload your crusty iphone recording, a copy of the lyrics, ask for specific responses, and post it up for the community to comment on. It’s awesome for quick feedback when you need it. Fast.
Frettie also offers professional feedback from hit songwriters and those working in Nashville. Not to mention, a little birdie told me recently that Frettie is rolling out even MORE amazing new features on the site. Like, the kind of stuff you want to get in on. Trust me.
- Great for peer-to-peer feedback, and advanced feedback from pro songwriters.
- A great community that you can utilize quickly when needed.
- Awesome for writers all over the world.
- Understanding community who knows you’re uploading worktapes, not demo’s!
- Membership in a supportive, growing community of like-minded songwriters
- Pro songwriter feedback slots fill up fast.
- Developing community, with new features in the works.
Ask Friends and Cowriters
You can always go to your trusted friends and cowriters for feedback. That’s a given. It’ll usually cost you $Free.99 and you’ll get their honest responses.
- You’ll get honest feedback, cause they’re your friends and they love you.
- They’re accessible.
- You may get sugarcoated feedback, cause they’re your friends and they love you.
- Your friend/cowriter might not be advanced beyond you own skills.
- You could have written the song together.
- It’ll probably take them ages to get back to you.
Debut Songs at Open Mic Nights
Open mics are great for testing the waters with a new song. There’s nothing quite like playing your freshly minted tune for a room full of actual, real, breathing people. Suddenly, you realize that you have to own this thing. That half-assed filler line you wrote in “for now, until I think of a better one” becomes a gleaming mar on an otherwise awesome song.
Gauge the audience’s reaction to see if your songs are really killin’ it up there. Remember, the best songs are the ones that still sound amazing, even with just a single instrument and a voice.
- Easy to get into and play, usually with only a few hours worth of commitment.
- Generally free.
- You can step right off the stage and converse with listeners about their opinions.
- Every aspect of your song – the good and the bad – is made glaringly obvious.
- You’ll get a mixed bag of responses from usually beginner writers, friends of writers, bar flies, drunks, and those who were only half listening.