Who Should You Ask to Critique Your Songs?

Posted by Mike McCready | August 24th, 2009 | No responses

Once you’ve decided that getting some expert feedback on your song is a good idea you then need to decide who is the right person to ask and how to access them.

As a rule of thumb, you should try to seek out the services of someone who has been successful in the market with similar music to your own. I would suggest going with a songwriter or a producer. My next choice would be an accomplished A&R person. These are the three kinds of people who have been successful because they write, record or find the best songs. So, they certainly know one when they hear one or are in the business of polishing good songs to make them great.

I find that crowd sourcing (playing the music for a focus group of music fans) and asking your non-songwriting friends and family is not the best idea. Fans tend to hear good production and can imagine hearing your song on the radio but they aren’t objective when it comes to whether or not the song is compelling. Friends and family are invested (at least emotionally) in you and they cannot be objective.

Furthermore, keep in mind that songs catch fire in the market by a lot of people hearing the song in situations when they aren’t actively listening (while shopping, driving, during ads, in the background at restaurants etc). You can’t easily re-create those situations but professionals who have been successful time and time again really know what a hit song is all about. Of course, my company is in the business of enabling artists to interact directly with music industry professionals so I’d be remiss not to point you here for some of the best in the business.

Why You Should Have Your Songs Professionally Critiqued

Posted by Mike McCready | August 19th, 2009 | No responses

When seeking commercial success, the best, most experienced songwriters have their songs critiqued by their peers and others in their networks they respect and trust. They know they are too close to their work to be objective about it. What’s more, when you pour long hours and hard work into anything you are less willing to admit to its flaws than you should be. You become emotionally invested in the song and have certainly lost the ability to judge the impression it will make on a listener the first time they hear it. Melodies start sounding too familiar and love for your own creation begins to become unconditional.

It takes a certain level of wisdom and sophistication on the part of the artist to seek out critiques. It’s hard to hear you need to go back to the drawing board, or that your song isn’t all you thought it was. It’s even harder if you’ve already poured a lot of money and other resources into getting a good production done only to be told you’ll likely have to do it again. This is all part of paying your dues. It also leads to learning that you might want to start getting feedback earlier in the process, i.e. before you have a song produced and mastered. Are your lyrics compelling? Is the hook catchy? Is it too repetitive? Should the cowbell start in the second verse or should you just bring it in for the bridge? Is the structure right? How could it be improved? These are the things you’ll learn.

You should get multiple opinions.

Another compelling reason to have your song professionally critiqued is that by doing so, you are likely engaging someone who has been successful in the music industry. Perhaps even someone who could know where your song should be placed or someone who has an opportunity for your song. Often times, engaging someone’s professional song critiquing services can lead to developing a broader relationship, songwriting partnerships and professional opportunities.

Should You Spend More Time Creating Music Or Promoting Yourself?

Posted by Mike McCready | August 8th, 2009 | No responses

I get this question from time to time from bands and musicians who are seeking their big break.

The world of social media is so new and is changing so quickly that it’s hard to give an answer and it’s even harder to know if any answer will hold true tomorrow. At any rate, I had an email exchange this morning with a very talented artist who asked this question.

I told him that being an artist is hard enough without having to be the best self-promoter. In an ideal world, you would have a manager who is good at leveraging social media. But, since many artists have to do this on their own, I’d advise to do it in spurts. When you’re in creative mode you need to keep the network you’ve built active, but you should allow yourself to disconnect from making it grow while you work artistically. Then, when you have good material and you’re ready to push again, spend your time networking, promoting and growing your fan base.

In the end, you’ll attract fans because you have great music. That’s your goose that lays the golden eggs so don’t ever neglect that. Your ultimate goal is to leverage your social media efforts. You have to push really hard to get your fan base to a level where your fans are evangelizing your music and spreading it around, so your fan base grows when you’re not pushing it personally. It’s like a rocket. It takes 90% of the fuel to get it out of the pull of earth’s gravity, but then it can go to the moon and back on the 10% of the fuel it has left. If your music has what it takes you’ll get there sooner rather than later. Extremely compelling media (and that includes songs) will spread virally. Keep lighting matches and sooner or later one will light the forest on fire.