Which do you think is scarier…giving feedback or receiving feedback?
I feel like most would say receiving feedback.
Now, think about the first time a friend asked you how you felt about their new song after they played it for you.
“Be honest with me. How do you feel?”
That is followed up with, “I really love this song, and I think it might be my favorite song I’ve ever written.”
Now depending on how you feel, this may or may not be the most intimidating moment of your life. You know you need to be honest, but you are way too scared to tell them it really is not your favorite thing you have ever heard. Or maybe, you feel like it has great potential, but it just feels like something is missing. Maybe, you even think it is the best thing you have ever heard, but your friend is unsure about how they feel, and you don’t want your enthusiasm about it to come across as pity.
So many things can run through a person’s head when getting asked to give feedback on what someone else has taken the time and energy to create. Giving any sort of feedback can be intimidating because you know that person has put their soul into that project. You know it took vulnerability and honesty, and quite frankly, it feels like you are attacking their truth when you critique any part of it.
You do not have to feel like that. It is a very human thing to feel that way. It is a very positive thing that you do feel that way. It shows you have empathy and that you know what went into creating that piece.
If we want to be honest, by masking how you may feel about a certain project and not being honest in your feedback in fear of backlash, you are ultimately doing yourself and the creator of the project a disservice.
WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW THE PERSON?
In your delivery of feedback, you do not have to be harsh if you don’t like it. You don’t have to make it feel like a never-ending chain of grievances being relayed. You just have to be honest. If you know this person, you can easily take what you know about them and give the feedback in a way that you know they will appreciate.
You want to be constructive. This is especially true if you do not know the person very well. You want to be careful in how you may approach a certain thought you have. You want to be empathetic and really put yourself in their shoes. If you do not know the person you are giving feedback to, it is always a good idea to ask questions. Get to know where the idea came from, who they wrote it with. If they are comfortable, maybe they will share the story that brought that song to life. By doing this, you are not only able to see how the idea was manifested, but you are able to see how you can offer constructive criticism and maybe even solutions or other ideas for what you believe has not reach its full potential yet. This also shows that you truly care about giving the feedback. You are wanting to learn more in order to give a more genuine and knowledgeable response.
By being thorough and thoughtful in how you approach giving feedback to creatives, you are able to show people that you truly care. You see them. You hear them. You understand them and their storytelling. You are able to show them they can trust you with some of their most vulnerable expressions.
Although it may not seem like it on the surface, the music industry is a very empathetic industry. We all feel each other’s passion. We feel each other’s stress. We feel each other’s joy. We feel each other’s accomplishments.
It really is beautiful, so do not be afraid of being honest. Do not be intimidated by the idea of giving feedback to a creative. It will ultimately help you grow closer to them as well as their music. They will ultimately grow closer to their music too as long as they are able to invite genuine feedback in from people they trust.