Okay, so you finally got the chance to either sit down with (or email) an industry pro to have them listen to your song… and they didn’t like it. Maybe they were “meh.” Maybe they ripped it apart. Your song- your sweet little innocent baby- and they tore into it like a redneck tearing into peel-and-eat shrimp at a Chinese buffet.
What do you do now?
Well, first let me tell you- we’ve all been there. Every songwriting pro started out as a newbie with bad songs. And, at some point, somebody in the industry heard them and didn’t like them. I remember mailing in (yep- snail mail) my best song to NSAI’s song evaluation service years ago, waiting weeks to get it back… only to wonder how in the world the evaluator seemed to be completely oblivious to my songwriting genius. I mean, I was certain back then that I was a virtual songwriting panther, but the evaluator just seemed fixated on his opinion that my song would NEVER get cut. Seems MY title “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” had already been a huge hit for Glen Campbell.
Other than yelling “But I’m a songwriting panther!” into the empty Arkansas sky (which I may or may not have done), here are some helpful ways to react to a negative song evaluation.
1. Don’t freak out.
Chances are, you’re feeling a little kicked around. Don’t worry- we’ve all been kicked around. This is an opportunity to build your “getting-back-on-the-horse” muscles. Believe me, you’ll need them over the years to come. It’s important not to swing too far in either direction- “I’ve arrived” or “I’ll never get there.” Just because your coach didn’t do backflips doesn’t mean it’s time to feed your guitar to a woodchipper. Just take a deep breath.
2. Don’t go off.
You might feel personally attacked. You might think that idiot has bricks for ears- and should be informed of that fact immediately. Well… don’t. Just don’t. There is NOTHING to be gained from storming out of that office or sending that nasty email. You can’t argue someone into liking your song. All you’ll do is take that person from not liking your song to not liking YOU. Writing a bad song is forgivable. We all do it. But being a bad person- that poisons the well. Play the long game. Be nice even when you don’t feel like it.
3. Thoughtfully consider their feedback.
Put away the voice of pride which says, “they don’t know what they’re talking about- just ignore ‘em.” Also put away the voice of fear and laziness that doesn’t want to admit you may have a lot of work ahead of you. Honestly, did the coach make some valid points? Maybe you brought in a rodeo song and your coach told you rodeo songs aren’t in demand right now. Well, get on iTunes or Billboard and do the research. It’s not about seeing the world as you want it to be. See the world as it is.
4. Seek out additional educated feedback.
Nobody’s opinion is gospel. Nobody has perfect understanding. If you disagreed with everything your coach said, get another opinion. If you agreed with everything your coach said, get additional opinions. If you hear the same point made by two or more pros, really give it a lot of consideration. But there’s another reason to seek additional opinions- it will help you grow your network and increase the chance that you find your champion.
5. Don’t quit.
Write more songs! After all, didn’t you start writing songs because YOU love it? Don’t let one or two people’s opinion of your song change your love for songwriting. Don’t let one meeting determine the validity of your dreams. That is a decision for you, your family, and the Good Lord. Well, it’s actually HIS decision alone, but it sure is a lot easier on everyone if you and your family get on the same page with Him.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you done something you regret right after a song evaluation? Or did you do something to make the most of a bad evaluation? Do you have some advice you’d like to add to this list? Please leave a comment!
If you want to become a songwriting pro (in how you write songs or in how you do business), then a great place to start is RIGHT HERE. I want to help you on your songwriting journey. I’ve been in the music business for years, and I’m here to help you get the cuts – and avoid the bruises. CLICK HERE TO START HERE.
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.