On Songwriting: How to NOT Give Feedback

Sometimes friends and maybe even strangers will send you a song and ask for feedback. Before you go all “advice monster” on them, try to remember when you first sent your songs to people for feedback. Were you really wanting critical comments and analysis or were you simply wanting some affirmation and encouragement? If you were like me, you were just insecure and needing a little reassurance that your song didn’t completely suck.

And no song completely sucks. The sheer act of bringing it into existence is amazing when you think about it.

If someone has written a song, I like to automatically put that person in the “Wow, good for you, welcome to the club!” bucket. Remember how much time and struggle it takes to write a song, let alone share it. Try to find at least one thing—and there will always be at least one thing—you can genuinely appreciate. It could be the way they phrased a lyric. It could be a melodic moment.

For now, never mind that the intro was two minutes long and the entire song was 12 minutes. Your job is to give them the courage to keep going, to write another song; not to be the person that discourages them and makes them want to give up.

Side note: There will be a time when you have a trusted circle of songwriter friends. These are people actually wanting critical feedback. People with whom you can be a little more harsh and vice versa. These friends are not the people I’m referring to above.