You just can’t please everyone.
It’s something we’ve been told since grade school and yet, most of us still feel compelled to try. And so, when inevitably we fail because, of course we can’t please everyone, we take it personally. It feels like a serious blow to our ego, our self-esteem, and oftentimes, our motivation. It can take a real hit and take some time for us to recover.
All of that is hard enough in our day to day, but when it comes down on you in something you’ve just poured your heart and soul into such as your new single or album it can feel almost devastating.
But I don’t want that for you.
And as much as it might sting to get a negative review, you want to remember a couple key things:
The riches are in the niches
Yes, it’s a cliché, but it is so true. When we try to please everyone, not only do we please basically no one, but we really pigeonhole ourselves out of a profitable and successful career. I know it seems like making music that appeals to everyone is the way to mass success, but it’s not true. Think about so many of the most successful artists right now—Taylor Swift, for instance, is not beloved by everyone. In fact a lot of people actively dislike her and her music. The same can be said for almost any popular artist—the key is to find your people and build that community. Niche down, embrace that your music isn’t for everyone, and you’ll actually see way more success.
Maybe it just wasn’t the best writer for the music
Keep this possibility in mind—odds are, if this writer didn’t love the music, it doesn’t mean it’s because it’s awful, it might just be that this person is more of a pop lover and your music is a little too alt-rock for them. It happens. Maybe they got assigned this piece because their editor wants them to branch out, maybe they took it on because they wanted to try something different, maybe they had a huge fight with their partner that morning, you have no idea. But just because one or two or 20 people don’t adore your music, doesn’t mean there aren’t 1,000 out there who do—it might just mean that it isn’t in the right hands.
This goes doubly if your negative review came from someone on social media or a forum instead of an actual website or magazine. If it’s just some random person online spouting off about how awful your music is, don’t pay it any attention. It just means they aren’t your core target fanbase—and that’s totally ok.
Take it as a learning experience
To be honest, writers very rarely take the time to write and publish negative reviews. They’re insanely busy with music they love and other life responsibilities, so who has time to waste writing about something they hate?
If someone took the time to write a negative review, odds are they had a good reason for it (and no I don’t mean they really hated your music). I mean, they probably saw some potential in the music and they just couldn’t get there for whatever reason, so the review is meant to serve as constructive criticism—so take the time to listen.
It may be that this person just wasn’t a fit, but their words may have validity. Now, if it’s just a spewing, angry review, I say dismiss it. But honestly, I’ve never seen one of those. So if it’s laced with some compliments and a bit of feedback, trust that the writer, who has probably been doing this a long time, really did like parts of the music but saw room for improvement, and take it under advisement. It doesn’t mean you have to listen to or implement all the suggestions, but being able to be open to hearing honest feedback is how we grow and find success. So take the time to really comb through it and see what points might be worth looking more into.
You’ll never grow if you just surround yourself with people who boost your ego and tell you how great you are. So while I know the initial shock might make you want to berate the person who wrote the review and deny it all, remember to be open to a little self-reflection. This is a learning experience, and it can be a really powerful one if you let it be.
Looking to increase fan engagement? Join me for my free Masterclass ‘How to gain your next 1,000 fans. 3 simple steps that lead to higher engagement, sold-out shows, and life-changing opportunities’.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more, as well as the Director of Community and Events for Music Launch Co. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.