Dear Papa Bear,
I'm a musician, and I make EDM [electronic dance music]. I love it when others listen and enjoy it, and every comment I get that's good brings me so much happiness. But that's not what this question is about. I know when you make some kind of art form, whether it's drawing, music, writing, animation, or whatever, you're supposed to make it so you like it, and not care for the other's opinions, but I have really low self-esteem and like I said before, I really care for everyone that comments on what I do. Recently, I felt I had finally gotten really good at what I do, but when I've gone back and looked at what others think, I keep getting hateful comments.
I just want to curl up in a ball and cry when I see that. It makes me want to cry. But, again, that's not what this question is about. My question for you is what do you think I should do to fix this? I know there will always be haters on something that's good, but I just can't get over that hate. It really hurts me to the point that I want to just quit what I love doing.
So, I ask for your advice, What should I do to get over their hateful comments?
Thanks a bunch,
Gelato The Dragon
* * *
As a writer, I can certainly sympathize with the pain of criticism. My fantasy novel was rejected by about 100 publishers before I found Double Dragon Publishing. Even after it was published, it sold very poorly, which also hurt and is really, quite frankly, why I gave up being a fiction writer. I put years of writing, rewriting, and marketing effort into the book for, really, no positive feedback, financially or critically. I then moved on to nonfiction, publishing ten books, including one I was particularly proud of about a zoo in Lansing, Michigan. Again, nothing. So, I didn’t write anything other than for my job as an editor for years. Then I decided to write this column—and I discovered my niche! Sure, I don’t make any money on it, but that’s not the point. I’ve gotten wonderful feedback from many people and that’s what makes it all worthwhile because I know I’m doing something positive that benefits others and people enjoy reading.
You are correct that you should pursue the arts for the love of the arts, not for the lust for lucre. You still have that joy of creating music, so that’s good! I hope you don’t lose that. Now, if you were getting nothing but negative comments about your EDM compositions, it would be one thing, but you are actually getting some good responses, too. So you know you are not really off track here. But if you feel you are getting too much negative input, perhaps you should experiment with other forms or variations of music until, like me, you discover your niche. Music is a very far-ranging art, and maybe you should try experimenting more with all the genres that are out there, or maybe you just need to get more wild and outrageous with the EDM genre itself. Perhaps others think you are too imitative? And remember, in the worst-case scenario, even if you stop composing original music yourself, you are still a musician, and there is much joy you can get out of that by just playing other people’s music.
Another possibility for the negative feedback is jealousy on the part of others. It can be the case, sadly, that when certain shallow people see someone being very successful at an art form in which they themselves stink, they get some satisfaction by trying to trash the person they envy. A friend of mine who is into mascotting has come across the jealousy effect in his life. He has become so good at being a mascot that he is beginning to do well professionally. It seems like the better he does and the more money he makes, the more invective he receives from certain jealous furries. Ugly, but true.
But, to the point: how do you get over the emotional pain of harsh criticism? First of all, consider the source. Is the person criticizing you someone you respect and admire, such as a teacher or a famous musician? If so, yes, that would hurt indeed and maybe you should really see what you can do to improve your skills; hopefully, their criticism is constructive, not simply insulting, and you can learn from it.
Papabear suspects, though, that the criticism you are getting is from the plethora of derps and trolls that slither through the digital miasma of Internet chat rooms, blogs, and social sites. They probably are not even musicians themselves. To put a spin on an old adage: those who cannot do, teach ... or become critics. If they are not musicians or composers themselves, then you can always challenge them to either do better than you have or shut up. And if they are musicians or composers, you can always turn the tables and criticize their work in return. That is, if you really wish to expend the effort.
Artistic spirits like you and I are often the targets of the unimaginative and the hateful, Gelato. It helps to develop a bit of a tough skin so that the slings and arrows bounce off. Hey, you’re a dragon, put those shiny scales to good use!
At the same time, don't forget you're getting a lot of positive feedback, too! Really, this is what you should be focusing the most on. When you hear a compliment, take another look at what that person likes about your EDM compositions and learn from what you are doing right and what is attracting people to your music.
And remember, too, yet another possibility: maybe you’re so damn good and ahead of your time that ordinary people don’t understand what you are trying to do artistically and, therefore, criticize you in order to not appear stupid themselves for being so dense. I have a friend who is an artist and does really amazing acrylic-medium paintings. I love his stuff, yet he has an extremely difficult time selling his pieces because they are out of the ordinary (check him out at his website http://www.digspace-artgallery.com/).
I hope that helps, Gelato. Hey, send Papabear a link to some of your tunes and I’ll post them here and maybe we can get some comments from my readers?
Hugs from one artist to another,
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