You don’t have to be a pro to give good music feedback, but it does require some thought.
There are forums after forums centered on giving and receiving others’ thoughts on your music. Yet, a high-quality review is hard to find! With so many musicians these days, this is a problem that has to be solved.
You can learn to express your opinions well, so they are more gladly received, and jump-start a good music feedback community with our advice, whether in person or on collaboration apps.
- Do you have the right and consent to give feedback?
Does this musician trust you, or do you have acknowledged credibility or authority? No one likes unsolicited advice. With that in mind, make sure the answer is “yes” to one of these questions before moving forward.
- Understand what they’re trying to express with the song, and what feedback they’re looking for
Before you begin to say anything, put on your empathy hat and understand the intention of the song. Is there a message they’re trying to get across? Did they write the song simply to practice a new instrument? Or alternatively, the song could be expressing a hard-to-explain mood. If you’re not sure, ask. This step is crucial, and it doesn’t require you to be a big fan of the song’s genre. Everyone is capable of understanding the feeling behind a song, to a certain degree.
- Feedback is not judgment! Feedback is a kind service ☺️
This is not about whether a song is good or bad. You’re doing someone a favor by considering how to improve their music. The recipe is this: discover what you like about the song, and what you don’t like about the song. Next, think about why that is, and consider any solutions you come up with. At this point, begin jotting down notes about the song.
- Be Specific
Does the tone of the lyrics match the music? Do you just not like the guitar solo? In any case, look at your notes, and begin to fill them out into clear sentences. Be objective and clear about your opinions, whether it’s the pre-chorus, the drums, the mixing, or whatever. If you have too many buffer words or aren’t objective enough, the songwriter won’t understand you, and could easily write off your feedback.
It’s also very important to be clear and enthusiastic about what you do like about the song, as it builds trust. In fact, offering positive feedback primes the person to receive instruction on how to improve the song. Additionally, people are more prone to believe you’re offering help if you are verbally supportive of them!
- Offer solutions
Now that you know what you like and don’t like about the song and why, consider what next steps you could offer them. Being specific about the issues is important for you, as the one giving feedback because it makes it easier to pinpoint how to fix things. Try to find a potential solution for every issue you raise.
- Make it a two-way street
Feedback is collaboration. Offer your solutions, don’t demand they change their song. It can be effective to end your feedback with a question so that it’s more of a conversation.
- End on a compliment
This is just to tie off the feedback with a bow 🎀!
- BONUS TIP: When offering constructive criticism, sandwich it between two compliments.
- And lastly: Be quick about it!
There’s no need for an essay. Trust that other people will give them quality feedback. Comment on the things you noticed first and feel strongest about, and be clear and specific about those.
The more thoughtful feedback you give, the more trust you will acquire, and the more people will be willing to give you high-quality feedback as well 🙂 There’s an art to it, like any good piece of writing, but with practice, anyone can give helpful music advice.
Got any tips for giving good music feedback? Let us know! Tweet at us @tonicaudiolabs, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org), or comment below! Don’t forget to check out our other songwriting tips, as well.
With our app, Tonic, collaboration, and feedback are super easy and all in one platform, right in your browser. Ever wonder how to collaborate long-distance on a song, without long email chains and missing mixes? We’ve created a simple solution for you. Beta-testing is happening now, come help us out.