Every now and then, artists feel unsure about the quality of their work or the path they are on. In these moments, asking for feedback can be highly beneficial as it can help them accurately assess their skills, strengths, and weaknesses.
However, unhelpful feedback can distort one’s perception, confuse, or even discourage artists from pursuing their goals. For this reason, it is vital to ask the right individuals and pose the right questions when seeking insight.
In this article, we will discuss when, how, and who to ask for career and music feedback.
Intentions and feedback questions
Asking for feedback begins with setting an intention. Wrap your mind around your intentions before reaching out to others, as this will determine who you will ask for feedback. Some common intentions can be getting more insight into your strengths and weaknesses, finding out what you need to improve on, or understanding how others perceive your music.
Once you understand what exactly you want to achieve by requesting feedback, you can start thinking about how to frame your questions. Overall, questions can be asked in a broad or specific way. For example, feeling like something sounds ‘off’ but being unable to figure out what it is is a somewhat more general concern as it depends on both skill and taste.
Meanwhile, questions on the quality of your mix (such as the relationship between different elements of your track) or whether your arrangement adds more variety and tension to your song are more specific. The more precise your inquiry, the easier it will be for others to offer customized feedback.
Keep in mind that all concerns are valid, and that there is nothing wrong with feeling insecure about the quality of your song. Industry standards are high and difficult to comprehend, so it makes sense for independent artists to feel unsure.
Who should you ask for feedback
After setting an intention and figuring out what questions you want to ask, the next step is to find the right people to reach out to. In most cases, it makes sense to reach out to more experienced people than you as they can expose you to new knowledge and information. Lesser experienced musicians may not be able to answer your question accurately – at worst, they may offer faulty advice, especially regarding highly technical questions on mixing, mastering, sound design, or music theory.
This is especially important when asking for career feedback. Even though friends or family members usually mean well, they can unintentionally discourage you or offer faulty advice if they do not comprehend the intricacies of the music industry. Because music is still considered a non-traditional, unstable path, some might suggest that you should primarily focus on security and only pursue music as a side project.
While having basic stability in times of rising living costs and increasing competition is extremely important, this statement can also strongly discourage people from taking calculated risks to pursue their dreams. For this reason, it makes more sense to speak to industry professionals and experienced artists who can offer realistic and constructive advice.
One exception to the “rule” of asking more experienced people is when you want to gain general insight into the enjoyability of your track. In this case, feedback from people outside the industry can be helpful as it will be less objective and technical. It can also show you what emotions others associate your song with, which can surprise you greatly!
Where to find people you can ask for advice
Now that you know what and who to ask, the next step is to figure out where to find people who can offer constructive feedback. You can start by reaching out to people within your network, including friends, teachers, or people you meet at music-related events.
Unfortunately, not everyone has direct access to offline networks. This is where making use of the internet comes in handy. You can join online forums, platforms like Reddit or iMusician’s community, or Facebook groups to connect with other musicians willing to help you.
Look for communities that are directly connected to your genre and music-making process. For example, if you wish to improve your workflow in FL Studio, joining a group full of people who work with the same software makes the most sense. Similarly, if your inquiry is related to mixing, join a community of fellow mixing engineers rather than those that consists of music producers in a broader sense.
But be careful! Although places like Reddit can be helpful, they also consist of tons of members asking for feedback, people with little to no experience, and inactive communities. Make sure you join active groups full of artists who take their craft as seriously as you and are willing to offer constructive advice.
How to receive and process feedback
While receiving accurate feedback from experienced peers is generally helpful, it is not always the most enjoyable experience. Someone may tell you that your mix is too muddy and unbalanced or that you tend to add too many elements to your track, even though you thought everything was fine. Refrain from getting defensive when someone criticizes your work. Negative feedback might hurt, but it can also be a valuable opportunity to learn and improve.
However, if you genuinely feel like their feedback does not resonate, assess its validity and consider the broader context of your genre, style, and personal goals. For example, suppose you’re currently practicing a specific style, and someone says your last ten tracks sound too repetitive. In that case, their feedback might not be fully applicable since you actively choose to stick to one sound. However, if you intentionally try to add more variety to your tracks but fail to achieve your desired results, you might want to ask them how to reduce repetitiveness.
Conclusion: why feedback matters
Seeking feedback is an intentional process that requires a healthy amount of self-reflection and conversations with experienced musicians who can offer constructive advice. By asking the right questions in suitable spaces, you can learn much about what to improve, how to improve, and how others perceive your music.
Do not hesitate to reach out to others. Although their insight might not be what you want to hear, it might be exactly what you need to hear to reach the next step in your career and improve your skills as a musician.
All You Need.
All in One Place.
Get tips on How to Succeed as an Artist, receive Music Distribution Discounts, and get the latest iMusician news sent straight to your inbox! Everything you need to grow your music career.