Here’s the scene:
You’ve put every ounce of creative juice into this one masterpiece. You’ve counted your syllables, you’ve leaned on hard rhymes, and your hook is killer. Every line of the lyric brilliantly supports the hook. (How will you stay humble?!)
If all that isn’t enough, then there’s the melody. Holy cow, the MELODY! You LOVE singing it. It just ‘feel’s right. It fits in that perfect pocket. Genius.
Let’s just be honest. If you had to choose between THIS song and your first born, you would actually have to have a quick internal dialogue about which one you love more.
THAT is how stinking amazing this song is.
…and then the unfathomable happens.
You play it for that publisher you’ve been trying so hard to impress and, well, they just don’t “get” it.
“I mean, it’s technically correct, but it just doesn’t do anything for me.”
SAY THAT AGAIN A LITTLE CLOSER TO MY FACE, HOT SHOT!
You start growing your horns. You’re ready for battle. Who does this joker think they are?
You breathe in. Breathe out.
You remember that burning bridges is a bad idea at this point in your career.
You thank them for their time and leave with your tail tucked.
By the time you get to the car, you’re fighting back tears.
Why do I even mess with this? Why bother?
The music industry stinks.
Everybody hates you.
…it’s all just a…
I’ve been there. Shoot, I’ve been on both sides of that. I’ve gotten that reaction and I’ve given that feedback.
Here’s what I suggest, Gang.
As writers, and especially as new writers, we pour so much of our precious time and thought in our songs that it can be hard to distinguish the line between where we, the person, ends and where the song begins. You have to remember that the person listening is only seeing what’s on the page and hearing what’s in the room. They are having a reaction to the SONG, not to you. When a listener doesn’t like your song, it is not a commentary on your worth as a human being.
If you really need to know, then ask. “Is there a particular part that’s not working for you?” “Do you see anyway I could improve it?” But remember, the answer could just be ‘no.’ And trust me, whatever you do, don’t start defending the song. It’s over. It’s done. You’re not going to convince someone to love a song by being defensive. Thank them for their time and move along. (Note** If you handle this step right, you could actually get a future meeting with a new song! Again, trust me.)
Based on the feedback you got, now you have to decide. Do you want to play the song for someone else? Do you want to shelve it for a while and see how you feel about it in a few months? Do you want to rework it? Regardless, DECIDE. Do NOT let the experience roll around in your head and defeat you. Make a decision, do what you need to do, and get back to work.
Remember, at the end of the day, you’re the writer and you get to decide what to do with your feedback, but navigating this field can be tough. Write the best song you can write today, and then tomorrow, write the best song you can write tomorrow. Always, ALWAYS take the good with the not-so-good and use it to get better.