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When Online Criticism Tries to Knock You Down

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It’s a very different world to practice the art of songwriting in, compared to a generation ago. Social media makes it possible to write a song in the morning and be streaming it to the world by suppertime.

And in this modern world, it also means that you have to steel yourself against backlash from people who may not like what you write, and feel compelled to express that opinion with vitriol and — sometimes — hate.

Everybody has their own way to handle online hate, and I hope you’ve discovered your own way to keep someone else’s negativity from eating away at you. And if you’re finding it hard, keep these thoughts in mind:

  1. Someone else’s hate of your music is their issue, not yours.
  2. Every song you write will have likers and haters. Every song you write starts with your personal vision for that song, and it’s unreasonable to assume that everyone will love what you’ve done.
  3. Someone disliking your song is not an indication that there’s something wrong with your song. It’s simply an indication that their taste in music doesn’t align with yours.
  4. Don’t change your song because someone has a different idea. Remember, your song starts with your vision, not theirs. Change your song if you’ve come up with a better idea.
  5. Be kind to other songwriters online, encourage them in their uniqueness, and give honest, considerate responses if they’re asking for opinions. You’ve done that correctly if they feel encouraged and inspired after they read your comment. (This is what you’d want for yourself, isn’t it?)

There will always be haters. It may feel good to fire back with your own harsh comments. But it doesn’t change anything.

What you need to do is this: every time you record something and then stream it, be sure it sounds just the way you want it to sound. That’s what you’re supposed to do. To change your song to suit someone else’s taste won’t make you happy.

It takes a lot of courage to be a songwriter in the 21st century. There are days when online criticism will eat away at you. But the only relevant part of songwriting is this: “Do I like what I’ve written?”

Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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