Songwriter Habit #4 – Getting Feedback
Songwriters are often solitary creatures. Most of us like to work away at our projects, treating them as our babies and ensuring that they never reach another person’s ears till they’re complete. However, one of the most crucial habits that distinguishes highly effective songwriters from the rest is their willingness to seek and embrace feedback. In this blog post, we discuss what getting feedback means, why it matters and more.
This article is a summarised transcript of the fourth point in our video “7 Habits of Highly Effective Songwriters’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
What is Feedback?
It’s necessary to understand that getting feedback doesn’t mean sharing your song the week before it releases on Spotify. While that is important, that’s asking for support and not getting feedback.
Getting feedback means asking for a third party’s opinion during the process of creating your song. This gives you the chance to take their opinions onboard, and consider how you might better improve your song.
If you’d like to discover more ways you could improve your songwriting, download this free PDF eBook entitled “14-Day Songwriting Challenge”:
Examples of Artists Who Find Getting Feedback Important
- John Legend:
During a Hollywood Reporter Roundtable discussion, John Legend talked about how he shared a collection of songs that included his hit single “All of Me”, with a group of trusted friends and collaborators. What’s important to note here, is that at the point in time of sharing his songs, he didn’t know that he would release “All of Me” as his single.
However, when he got feedback from the people he shared them with, all of them unanimously agreed that “All of Me” was the song. In this instance, John used feedback to help him narrow down which of his songs he should focus on and develop further. He understood that a third party would be able to make a more impartial decision, since he as the songwriter was too close to the matter.
- Dua Lipa:
Sometimes, feedback can be given in the form of collaboration or co-writing. On a Song Explorer episode, Dua Lipa discusses the writing of her song “Levitating”. She talks about how the song was constructed working with some of her long-time collaborators in the studio bouncing ideas off each other.
This situation can be described as her receiving real-time feedback. She’s essentially taking their suggestions onboard, making changes and throwing it back to them again. Through this, we can see that collaboration, co-writing and feedback sometimes all blur the lines between each other.
In interviews, he talks about how he often starts a song by himself. Then, he takes the song draft to his band, and if they can’t make it work within 30 minutes, he scraps the idea.
You can see from this that Sting uses feedback not only as a way to develop a song, but also as a process of elimination. In this manner, he’s able to ensure that he doesn’t waste time on developing songs which might not work out. He uses feedback as a tool to help him decide.
When to Ask for Feedback
There are multiple stages throughout a song’s life where you can ask for feedback. The initial draft phase of a song is one of the best times that you can get feedback. Since the song is in its early stages, everything is still very easily changed and there are so many different directions that it could go in. By asking for feedback, you’ll be able to easily influence your song in the early stages of its life.
However, for some people, it’s too difficult for them to share a song in its first stage. This is understandable as the first stage is when things are still very raw, which would make many songwriters embarrassed of sharing. If this is the case, you could polish your song a bit more first, before using the second or third version to seek feedback from other musicians, producers or songwriters who don’t necessarily write in the same genre or style as you.
Who to Ask for Feedback
A lot of musicians aren’t sure who to ask for feedback. This is mostly due to the fact that songwriters are often solitary, and have trouble forming the right relationships to help with this process. One way to go about it, is to seek out a community of songwriters or join some songwriting groups.
An amazing example of this is our Patreon channel which we specifically set up to invite other songwriters in and give them a safe space to be able to share their songs at different phases of the writing process. We also host songwriting groups that run 4 times a year that anyone in the world can join. – click here to check that out.
Another thing that’s really important, is to identify and follow the kinds of songwriters whose music and songwriting you love. Find out who the producers on that record are, then take a chance and reach out to them, asking if it’s alright for you to get some feedback.
You should also be sure to actually go watch live music shows. These environments are great to physically meet people in, foster relationships with people and ask for the kind of feedback that you’d require as a songwriter. This might result in you having to pay people for their help. However at some point, it’s really important to hire people who have the skills and knowledge to help you take your own craft to the next level.
Conclusion: Songwriter Habit #4 – Getting Feedback
As songwriters, we need to be open-minded enough to understand that feedback is meant to be a tool to help us grow. To that end, we should actively seek out feedback to further develop our craft and ensure that we can make our songs the best versions of themselves that they can be.
Learn professional songwriting methods and discover strategies for collaborating with artists around the world: