I’m a musician and recording artist. Here’s how the industry works. Write a collection of songs. Get into the studio and record them. Release the record. Seek reviews.
I released a record in March. I followed all the steps. I got reviews. The reviews taught me a lot. But not in the way that you’d think.
Here’s how the reviews panned out.
One was a terrible review. Well, it got 3 stars (out of 5) so not terrible. But the words that accompanied it had nothing pleasant to say.
One was a lukewarm review (although they only reviewed one song not the whole album.) They didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t driving them mad with desire either.
All other reviews were scorching. Phrases like “candidate for folk album of the year” were typical. They loved it.
You’d think I’d be happy with that. But I’m not.
Why? Because I noticed something in myself that seemed unhealthy.
The review would arrive in my mailbox.
I’d tense up in trepidation, waiting to see what they had said. I was letting someone else decide if I was “good” or not.
If the review was good, I’d be relieved and delighted. If the review was not, I’d be downcast and miserable. I was outsourcing my mood to somebody else.
They had a public platform to judge people’s work as good or bad. And I worked like mad to ensure it was me they were judging. I lingered on their every word. How supine!
Worse still, they were telling a load of other people what to think about my work.
The bad luck for me is that the worst review was the one that had the biggest readership.
I’d worked hard to ensure my work would get reviewed. The result? One guy tells lots of music fans that my album isn’t worth the bother.
A lot of people who hadn’t ever heard my record now thought that it wasn’t very good. Because one guy said so.
Great promotion strategy Al.
This is the problem with reviews. Whether good or bad, it lets one person be an authority in a matter of taste.
One individual decides for all the non listeners about the value of your work.
And each review would impact my mood. Good review, happy. Bad review, sad.
What Beats Reviews
Here’s what is better than reviews – listeners. Don’t put a ton of effort into getting an individual to review your work.
Put the same effort into having people experience your work for themselves.
Let me show you what I mean.
Alongside my music career, I run personal development workshops.
I never seek reviewers for these. When I run workshops, I never invite someone from Psychology Today magazine to sit in and judge me.
I put the work before people so they can experience it directly.
Theirs is the only experience that matters to me.
I am keen to know how my work met their needs. Or how it didn’t. And what I could have done to improve their experience.
I ask those questions through feedback sheets designed to get those answers. Reviews are not designed to get those answers. Reviews have a different purpose.
Why should I care about a passing reviewer of my workshops rather than the people I created them for?
Why should I care about a passing reviewer of my songs?
Forget reviews. If you see someone with a public stage to pronounce people as “good” or “bad”, don’t beg to be the one they judge. It’s disempowering.
Get people to experience your work for themselves. Seek out their views directly.
Ask them questions that will be most helpful to your growth. Learn only from the people whose lives you are seeking to enrich.
Feedback sheets and testimonials are better than reviews. They let you grow and learn in private. They are constructive not judgemental.
The best exposure is direct, without a middle man.
The best learning is given in private by the the person you are serving, not by a stranger in front of an audience.
The best feedback is the kind that is useful, not the kind that is a public judgement, whether good or bad.
Kick out the reviewers. Focus on the people you are here for. It’s just between you and them.