Soak it in, ladies and gentlemen! The dictionary definition of Criticism! On a regular basis I receive remarks about the “harsh” and “unfair” nature of my writing and analysis. Perhaps people are right and I’m just a total dick, but what if they’re wrong? What if I’m just following the dictionary definition of what a critic is? Either way, thousands of writers around the world will follow similar principles to me and it’d probably be useful to understand asshats like me. Here’s a swift little gift to help understand the mind of a critic and our usefulness to you. Here’s five things to remember and five things to avoid when your band reads a review written by a bastard like me!
1. Respect the writer’s points
If we think it, other people will think it too. Our opinions and pieces are a reflection of what we saw and heard and remarks on the negative are made to highlight mistakes for improvement.
2. Listen and Learn
We’re not here to mock or disrespect your music or performance and we have no personal investment in the success or failure of your band. We stand on totally impartial grounds to fairly analyse and critique your work. We’re not biassed either way and as a result, we are of the few you can actually turn to for productive feedback.
3. Stay Impartial
Just as we take the middle ground, so should you. Distance yourself from the onslaught and respond with civility and objectivity. Even the most negative reviews will offer a great insight on how to better yourself and this improvement is paramount to any beginning band or artist.
4. Be Positive
Much like the above point, your mentality and approach will hugely dictate what you actually take from the review. Read a positive review in a negative way and the content won’t matter to you at all because you won’t have learned anything and if you approach a negative review with a negative mindset you will just dismiss the points. Stay positive and logical if you want to make the most of a review.
5. Understand our Role
The most important advice I can give to a band or artist is to understand the role of a critic before you involve one. We are under no professional obligation to promote your work or even be kind about it. Our job is to highlight flaws and merits and provide an honest accounting of our personal experience with your music and/or performance.
1. Take it Personally
As stated above, we work impartially and have no investment either way. Good writers know that treating people like shit doesn’t gain the attention of the reader anywhere near as much as the ability to cleverly incorporate the phrase “titty titty fuck” into an article, so if we give harsh criticisms it’s not an act of malice, it’s an honest interpretation of what we experienced. We don’t want to attack you, we’re just honest.
2. Dismiss Criticisms
A review is composed of three main things: Criticisms, praise and our opinion. Dismissing criticisms eliminates a third of the value of a review and limits what you can gain from the piece. Its simple really – you should take the good and bad points of a review if you want to improve your work.
3. Drastically Alter the Band
Always see the value behind the opinions of the critic, but if you’re completely sure of what you’re doing then you’re under no obligation to change. Your music is a product of your own personality and taste and should be treated as such. We highlight issues and hope to help you achieve your best but we also respect your attempts of originality. As stated above, you should remain impartial in a review, accept negativity and when you incorporate feedback it should work with your own ideas and vision.
4. Make Excuses
Never assume that a critic is wrong or that they don’t understand you. We probably do, and our outsider perspective allows us observations you may not have considered. We formulate opinions based on our personal response to what you show us, that’s all. Take responsibility for your own mistakes and flaws and use the experience to better yourself.
5. Mock the Critic
If you have doubts or questions then we’re usually just a message away and we’re happy to respond. Mocking us just amuses us and encourages us to write snarky and flouting pieces implying your lack of cognitive ability. In addition to making you look like an absolute joke, it reflects on your band or work and makes it considerably more difficult to respect you as professionals.
There’s more to consider than that, of course, but the main point is to respect reviews as a professional product and understand our role. Critics are just heartless bastards who can separate ourselves from emotional attachment and see things from a completely unbiassed perspective – a great resource if you have the right mindset for it! I feel fortunate that most have seen the benefit to my reviews and I respect them for their civility and consideration, but I am more than aware of the many who don’t appreciate us critics and it is for them that I present this delightful post.