How Musicians Should Deal with Bad Reviews

While it can be disheartening to receive a bad review of your music, few, if any, musicians are able to avoid them. However, there are a number of ways to deal with them and, in some cases a bad review can be of benefit. In this article, we look at how to react (or not in some cases) to a bad review of your music or performance.

Listen and consider what they say about your music

Critical reviews are an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle: critics often know a fair bit about music, but that doesn’t mean they are always right.

Don’t panic and don’t take action, yet

Bad reviews are something everyone in the industry deals with. You might feel blind-sided and angry, but it is important, in the first few moments after reading a bad review, to avoid responding or taking action.

As upset as you will inevitably be, allow yourself to calm down before you decide on your plan of action.

Consider the reviewer’s perspective

As a new musician it can be easy to take everything to heart and, sadly, it’s often human nature to internalise the bad and not the good.

However, music is subjective and you’re not going to be able to please everyone all of the time. Ask yourself: “How does the bad review stack up against the good ones?”

Review the facts

While opinions are a dime a dozen, a bad review can be an opportunity for reflection. Is there anything in there that rings true: does the critic have a point? Is the criticism constructive or does it seem to be unfounded? Has the reviewer come across badly when they’re simply trying to give you some well-meaning pointers?

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Should you respond to a bad review?

It may be your impulse to want to reply. But should you?

Ultimately, responding to a bad review — or not — is your choice and yours alone. But how can you decide?

What was the content of the music review?

Factual or minor criticisms

Has someone posted a negative review that states the facts but is a minor criticism? Perhaps they picked up on a live mistake.

Often, these kinds of reviews don’t need a response. If you would like to respond, do so succinctly and politely, thank them for their feedback and move on.

Generic criticisms

Often negative reviews will be a result of trolls and bots posting generic, copy-and-paste, comments.

Honestly, in a situation like this, there isn’t much you can do. As frustrating as it might be, if their review is completely false, there’s little that will fix it; you can dispute it but it’s unlikely to be removed.

Rants that ring true

Sometimes, rant-like reviews have some truth behind them. These are the ones that are most likely to get under your skin.

Wait until you’ve calmed down before you reply. When you do, remain polite and be aware that responding gracefully to a bad review is an art form in its own right. Avoid getting into a back and forth as this will inevitably come off petty and may damage your reputation.

Genuine concern

If, after some consideration, you decide that the review is fair and something of a genuine concern, it is important to respond.

Public replies can lead to frustrating he-said-she-said scenarios, which are to be avoided at all costs. Furthermore, some people aren’t even looking for a positive interaction and are just posting to cause trouble.

In contrast, genuine reviews, and the way you respond to them, can show your fanbase that you care and that you take constructive criticism on board. Again, be concise, polite and acknowledge a difference in opinion if that is what it is.

Don’t feed the trolls

More often than not, replying to bad review is unnecessary, especially if it’s a subjective critique of your work. As a musician, you should be proud of everything you put out there, so be confident in yourself and your music.

At the end of the day, critics will always be there and as you gain more traction in the music world, you will become more and more confident in dealing with them.

Have you ever received a bad review? How did you handle it? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

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