Welcome 2013! There are so many things to accomplish this year, so many dreams to runs towards. I hope you’ve had a great start to your year. For a while now I’ve been getting emails from people who are wanting to be singers or songwriters asking questions or seeking advice. While I certainly don’t have all the answers, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot. I’ve never been good about sharing my struggles mostly because I think no one wants to hear them. However, my hope and my reason for putting my struggles out in cyberspace is that if you are struggling with any of these issues, maybe you can find comfort in knowing that most everyone (especially artists) goes through them. And if you can avoid the mistakes and pitfalls I made, you can find your voice and own style even faster.
They HATE Me!
I’ve been performing and writing for ten years. When I first started my career as a singer/songwriter, obviously I wasn’t as good of a performer, singer, or songwriter. Unfortunately, I was extremely sensitive and wasn’t able to separate myself from feedback. Frankly, it’s only been in the last two years I’ve been able to do that. This feedback, sometimes unsolicited and sometimes solicited came from everyone who heard my songs. Sometimes it was from people in the business who could potentially give the “break” I so badly wanted. Sometimes these people who were amateur singers or songwriters themselves. Others were just friends or listeners. From the all this feedback, at least a third was negative (I’m separating negative from constructive comments from people who loved me and wanted me to succeed). I wasn’t able to see that most people dug what I was doing. I focused on those who had some issue with me or my music. Ten “you were fantastic” and one “I didn’t like it,” had me obsessing over what was wrong with me or my performance that didn’t reach them. I thought that if I was a great artist, everyone would like me. I would be playing in a coffee shop or at a music venue and people were loud or just didn’t care and be crushed. I spent the bulk of my years touring being miserable because of this.
WRONG. SO WRONG. Even the best artists have a raging anti-fan base of people who think they not very good or overrated. I’m not saying that some of the negative comments probably weren’t true. I have grown a ton since starting. The point is that I took each comment to heart and because I didn’t do a good job of filtering. I spent too many years miserable and lost. I could please no one and I sure wasn’t pleasing myself. The more I tried to write/be what I thought people wanted to hear/see, the more lost I became. So it was, my career wasn’t helped and it held me back. I could wrap this up very nicely and say, “I’ve learned how to trust myself and not give a damn what other people about me,” but I hate when people do that. The truth is it took me years and lots of crying & frustration until finally I reached the point of exhaustion. I couldn’t emotionally stay on that roller coaster anymore.
Hopefully you’ll read this and say to yourself, “I know this.” So this is what I’ve learned. Negative comments come from negative people who are in a negative place. Nowadays when hit with negativity, I always try to look at the person behind the comment. Usually I find an unhappy or jealous person. So that comment had NOTHING to do you or me. It has to do with them. Also, these days I’m careful about who I solicit comments and opinions from. There are people in my life who love me, want the best for my career, and that I trust whom I can ask when I’m struggling. Hopefully you have or are looking for those people as well. They are priceless. I also try my best to not give unsolicited advice. Who am I to say what someone should do with their career or their life? You know better what is best for you than I do. That is where the “Trust yourself,” comes in to play. It has taken me a long time to just trust myself and am still working. Hopefully you are farther along than I am.
Here are some gems from Youtube:
“you try way to hard. makes it sound terrible”
“you totally ruined this song”
“this is awful! she slaughtered it!”One of my favorites: “She looks like she’s about to vomit”
They LOVE Me!
Woo-hoo!!! Haha. Don’t get too excited. I do generally think you should absorb the positive, and ignore the negative. That used to sound totally delusional to me, but now it makes total sense. At least people who are giving you positive feedback are usually coming from a positive place and good energy. But listening too much to the positive has its own drawbacks. It still leaves out a very important part of growth…trusting yourself and your own opinion. Also, it’s hard to grow when you only hear how great you are. If you are like me, I am always trying to improve. When I seek advice, the last thing I want to hear is how great EVERYTHING is. Constructive critiques from those I trust and honest reflections from my own gut have been instrumental in improving my craft and advancing my career. When I’m doubting myself or feeling down, I do go and read positive comments on my videos and emails of people inspired to follow their dreams. It makes me feel better 🙂 The goal is to grow, stay positive and stay motivated. I do whatever I need to do to stay in that place.
Unlike the negative, I think positive comments are welcome without being solicited. Give them & receive them freely. Just keep in mind that whether positive or negative, it is one person’s opinion. Try not to get too attached to any one opinion. People have their own agenda, sometimes it’s good for you, sometimes it’s not. Yours own should be the most valued. I hope it is.