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Nobody asked you!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Just curious - do you ever offer your unasked for critique of things, if you think it could be really helpful?

    Example: I saw a young band last Saturday that I thought was great. They gave me a free CD that they'll be releasing in the end of May. The CD sucked. I realized a big part of it sucking was because you couldn't hear any kick drum in the mix. They happened to email me to ask if we would put them on a bill at this all ages show we organize. I said sure, but added (in a very nice long and detailed rant) that I think they really need to do some remixing, bring up the kick drum, blah, blah, blah.

    They read the email yet didn't respond.

    I often wish people would tell me what they honestly think, I can take it or leave it and I'm not too sensitive about that kind of thing - but I'm not sure how others react to this stuff. They may think I'm a d*ck right now, but that's okay. I was willing to risk that, if I could be of help - don't know them anyhow.

    What's your thoughts.... we'd like to know. :)
  2. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I've been thinking about this very thing all week! It seems like I've been seeing alot of people with REALLY bad toupes and comb-overs. UGH! They look awful! I just want to tell these dudes that they aren't fooling anybody, and they'd look better bald. Over 80% of men have hair loss to some degree; why can't they just accept it?

    I don't think it would be too well received if I just told them, though. People are too sensitive to accept critisism from strangers.

    Edit: By the way, Joe, did you see my custom Walkabout? :D
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    If these people can't take criticism from you, imagine them getting signed. Criticism from every angle; the production company, sound engineers, fans, managers, magazine critics, etc. etc. etc.

    I deplore this idea that we must always be kind and sensitive to one another. Yeah, that's preparing us for life.

    Tell them the truth. If they're grateful for it, and critically listen, they have hope. If they turn a deaf ear, it's obvious where they're headed.

  4. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    and yet if you happen to mention that a bongo looks a little bit like a toilet seat or that you think a bass has too many strings all hell breaks loose! :D

    I guess it needs to be made clear when something changes from being an observation / opinion to being fair criticism, but even when its clear that the criticism is "constructive", a lot of people don't take it too well. Especially if its unsolicited or in the wrong forum.
  5. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Constructive criticism is why we are here to some degree. If a guy that has been gigging and playing for a while offered advice I would take it, I always do. Ego man, to many egos these days. I learned a long time ago to put my ego aside, by doing this I can learn anything I wanted to. Hey you tried to help, they can take it or leave it.
  6. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    I always have girls complaining to me things. Being the practical son of my practical father, I offer them a solution. Sometimes they get angry at me, othertimes they stare at me blankly for a few seconds and smile or laugh out loud.

    In the household I grew up in, if you complained about a problem, it meant that you wanted help with something, if not, you were just whining. But, as a learned from the girls I talked to, they just complain to get it off their chest. I can understand that now, in the past I felt bad when people would complain about something and I didn't have anything to say, I felt so unhelpful. Now, I'm learning, sometimes that's a good thing. I've learned to identify which times they are just whining to whine, and which times they are asking for advice.

    Now, I think I understand my mother a little better.

    Constructive criticism is usually worth listening to, but always should be taken with a grain of salt. If they person doesn't know jack about what they're talking about then you probably shouldn't take their advice.
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    put yourself in their position. they might not be able to afford anything better. they may be arguing as a band right now about how the cd sounds and what to do about it. they might really look up to you guys as a band, and a little unqualified praise sometimes goes a long way, especially when a band is first developing.

    as someone who's put out a cd that has a few small production limitations on it :meh: , i'd like to say a few things here -

    1. you're not the first person to hear the problem, and by criticising the probably obvious you're not helping. think austin powers and the famous "mole".

    2. if they asked "what do you think?" tell them what you think of the songs as a listener. that's the most relevant and important aspect of a cd, not how loud the kick is. not trying to harp on you joe, but just in general, musicians tend to get overly focused on the unimportant things, and tend to lose sight of the essentials. we've had cd reviews were folks went off profusely on the production flaws of our "mixed-in-5-days-by-someone-who-never-heard-the-music-before" cd and then ended their review with a quick "but i really loved the songs" being the sum-total of their music-related communications.

    3. if someone does ask for in depth criticisms, then cut loose, but make a real effort to divorce one's ego from the criticism. again, not directing this at you per se joe, but in general, ime, many musician folks get threatened when they listen to other folks' music. often they either try to find something wrong with it, or else, if the flaws are more obvious, they denegrate it mercilessly - the same reactions would probably not apply to them enjoying a movie, say. obviously we can't divorce ourselves from our calling, but it's important to remain as objective as possible.
  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Yes John you have great points I guess it's a very personal thing. If I see another band doing something, or playing something and I see where it can be improved I say something, "Hey guys, if your kick was a little louder in the mix it would really make it sound great" Etc Etc. It's just me but they know Joe, not saying his word is the gospel but they understand he's been around the biz and has some validity to what he has to say. I would listen, the fact is we don't know what's going through their heads right now since they never responded. But overall maybe a majority bands are kind of like that when someone offers advice, I sure noticed it before.
  9. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I should add I really appreciate it when other musicans offer me free advice (especially older guys that have been there done that), most of the time it's really good.
  10. On this note, I found out in one of my Psych lectures recently that parenting classes that are given at a prominent Uni in Brisbane have started to tell parents that they need to actually use punishment and negative reinforcement again on kids. Basically, my generation coming through aren't used to criticism and to save other generations from the same fate, they're trying to teach parents that just building your kids up with self-esteem isn't enough - they have to be realistic. At the moment, those coming through now are all full of self-esteem but are completely unrealistic and think that they can do anything. Hopefully the next generation will grow up able to handle criticism without falling apart.

    As far as I’m concerned, as long as you told them what they could do to fix the issue, then they’re the ones with the problem. That, by all definitions that I’ve heard, is constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is one of the best things you can ever get – how else can you improve without someone telling you what you did wrong and how to fix it? I understand that they could be touchy seeings that it could be something that they’re very proud of but you didn’t tell them anything that they wouldn’t have heard in the future. The point is that they need to be able to handle something that is going to help them. If people can’t, then how will you ever get better at something?

  11. Well said ric. Its good to give advice, as long as you know what you are talking about! As the old saying goes: your never too old to learn. I totally agree with the ego comment. Some Pepole just take themselves too seriously and take it all personally.
  12. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    thanks Puttz buster, I think Khyos said it too. I'm almost 30 but a lot people in thier teens 20's and even early 30's in music seem to have this thing where it's a competition and if your giving them advice it shows weakness or whatever not sure. Sooo many times I have talked with musicians and they are just too cool for tips and advice. They are legends in their own minds I guess. But in order to become a real legend in anything you have to shut your mouth and open your ears and mind and subdue the ego. Life is too short to be so cool.
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    But that doesn't justify a bad mix.

    So then comments coming from the outside may help give direction and clarity to those comments coming from the group.

    If they look up to them, all the more reason to give them the truth.

    Why not? It reaffirms that the production problem is just that, a problem?

    Of course it's important to highlight the strong points. When giving criticism, I think it's essential to provide positives as well, but one can make criticisms of subtleties while honoring the integrity of the product overall. This sounds like an original band, the more work they can do to provide a good sound, the better their chances of success. In my experience, a good mix on a demo is not all that expensive. Further, in my experience, I very strongly feel that many bands do not put the proper energies into the business aspect of their bands. Let's not forget, this band asked to be on Joe's bill. They're inviting criticism.

    3. if someone does ask for in depth criticisms, then cut loose, but make a real effort to divorce one's ego from the criticism. again, not directing this at you per se joe, but in general, ime, many musician folks get threatened when they listen to other folks' music. often they either try to find something wrong with it, or else, if the flaws are more obvious, they denegrate it mercilessly - the same reactions would probably not apply to them enjoying a movie, say. obviously we can't divorce ourselves from our calling, but it's important to remain as objective as possible.[/QUOTE]
  14. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I try not to offer my opinion unless it's asked for. If it is, however, I'm going to be honest (albeit as tactfully as possible). If people can't take the truth, then that's unfortunate.

    As JB said, it's part of life. If you tell someone they sound good when they really didn't, you aren't doing them any favours - regardless of what those idiots on "Friends" would have said.
  15. You have to think why you're giving your opinion, and whether it's worth anything

    Do you know enough about what they like? If you assume they want to sound like Metallica but they were hoping to sound like Dave Matthews, your advice can be spot-on wrong. Do you know what you're advising ABOUT? Maybe they're trying to avoid a kick-heavy mix. Maybe what you disliked was intentional. you thought it 'sucked', but then again *some* people think the same about almost every band out there.

    Did you 'fight the hypothetical'? if someone has $300 to spend on a bass, I don't care how 'expert' you are--stop telling them to get a Sadowsky. (and if someone has limited funds, you might want to know whether they can afford to remix, before you tell them their mix sucks. that's just polite).

    Is your advice just an opinion or an assessment of experience? Just because you're a long time bassist doesn't necessarily mean the latter, depending on what you say and how you phrase it. "I think your mix is too light on the kick drum" is a personal opinion. "I think your mix is unlikely to get much radio time because the local stations prefer to play pieces with more kick; listen to these examples and see if you agree" is a statement based on useful experience. Only one of those is likely to be well received unless asked for; if you're giving your unsolicited personal opinion without relating it to some benefit to the receiver it's no surprise they don't like it.

    Is your opinion valuable? I've gotten plenty of bad advice from 'experienced' people in my life and generally it's pretty damn annoying. you can have all the experience in the world but unless you're intelligent enough to draw ACCURATE conclusions from taht experience, and present those conclusions accurately, your experience isn't worth much to me. (this is the global 'you', *not* you personally, btw). did you explain why you should be listened to?

    Are you right? are you SURE? Why are you so sure? What happens if you're wrong? If you don't explain how you might be wrong, what the chances are, and what the other options might be, you're setting someone up for a fall.

    Anyway, back to 'nobody asked you'... yes, IMHO that was a bit obnoxious. You should have said "i have some opinions on your mix, do you want to hear them?" that might have gotten a better response. But hey, that's just my opinion... :D
  16. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I like to hear criticism of my work. It gives me new angles to look at it from. I sometimes agree with it, sometimes do not... But I always appreciate honest criticism.

    I think any criticism that has the purpose of helping another to improve can be a good thing so long as it is structured in such a way that the person in question can learn from it, and they are willing to learn.

    It sounds to me, from Joe's description of the problem, they would be better off being aware of it so that if possible, they can address it.
  17. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    So, didn't you hate it when people told you that your
    band blew globs.

    And like JT said, if that band just spent 5 Big Bongo's or more
    on a CD venture that basically, was Bush League, they are not
    exactly receptive to criticism.

    It's gonna die its own death, whipping it won't change

    Try to learn from their mistakes ...

    If you can't be kind ...