As you write songs and share your art with the world, you’ll start to notice that everyone has an opinion. Some are good, some are bad. Some people will be very adamant that you take their advice. Sometimes, these opinions belong to people who could potentially change the direction of your career. So what do you do? Do you take their advice and dramatically change the artistic direction of the song? Or do you stick to your guns and hold true to what you think is best for the song?
If you ask me, I say go with your gut every time. When I look at my own songs, I stay aware of my weaknesses and try to strengthen them, but ultimately, the choice is no one else’s but your own. This is your art. It’s up to you how the final piece will turn out. Here are some tips that have helped me to accept constructive criticism, better my craft, handle insistant industry professionals, and speak from the true voice in my soul.
1. Write from your heart.
It goes without saying – when you write what moves you to write, it often comes out faster, better, and with much more intention. I find that my best and most well-received songs are the ones that came from my heart, directly from my experiences and feelings. Writing what inspires you not only satisfies your creative itch, it also makes for a more genuine, honest, and energized song in the end.
2. Play it for everyone, and listen to everything.
Like the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one!” This is typical for co-writing, but it’s also applicable when it comes to re-writing. Play your new song for anyone and everyone who will listen. Your friends, your co-writers, your professional friends, your mom, your dog. Play it for everyone, and listen to what they say. But just listen. Don’t start re-writing just yet. Here is where you get as much feedback as you possibly can. Keep it at a safe distance from your heart. Don’t be defensive. Thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts with you. Consider it research. Then sleep on it.
3. Weigh the feedback against your art.
Now that you’ve spent some time apart from your song, take all that advice you’ve collected and analyze it. Did your mom and best friend find they had trouble keeping track of the story? Did the publisher suggest a quicker tempo? Weight it all against what you truly feel is good for the song. Try things out. Keep your goals for the song in mind. Always ask yourself, “Does this serve the song? Does this make my work better?” Weigh the pro’s and cons. Did Joe Publisher suggest making a change, then say he would pitch it for you once said change was made? Make the decision that you’ll feel good about in the morning. Then, re-write!
At the end of this day, this is your art and no one else’s. The final say is up to you. But also be aware of your weaknesses. Then work on them. If you find you’re getting the same criticisms over and over from different people, then that’s something to examine. Be sure you’re growing and becoming better at your craft with every song.
How have you dealt with difficult re-writing choices? Comment and share!