Unpopular Opinion

I’ve talked about this before. Music is a funny thing where very few people (considering how many people attempt it) are any good at it (I mean really good). But EVERYBODY, I mean freaking EVERYBODY is a critic who spews endless volumes of musical criticism on a daily basis. On the one hand its great to see people listening, talking about, generally being excited about music. On the other hand all of the observations and criticisms coming from the vast majority of the music consuming public are purely subjective, not rooted in anything that comes close to an understanding of how music works, and usually done with a reckless sort of off-handed cavalier attitude with very little thought as to what is being said about whatever music is being misunderstood.

When you are in a studio environment, rehearsal or live show its normal to ask the other people present what they think of your music. What isn’t normal is to give appropriate weight to the responses. If there are musical experts (professionals) present, their opinions weigh a lot more. You should listen to those opinions. If those opinions disagree with your own self assessment than you should seek second and third opinions from other professionals at the same, or higher, level than the first professional opinion giver. Don’t let buddy who picked up the saxophone yesterday over rule the badass pro who has been playing for 20 years. That is just dumb.

Its great to receive praise. Any praise is great really. If you made a connection with someone because of a song you wrote or a performance you gave than that is awesome. Good for you. However, too much parse from non-experts can mislead you into thinking you are badass when real musicians are rolling their eyes at you. This is an actual thing called Dunning–Kruger effect (where unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate).

One of my hero’s, trail blazing political dissident badass Noam Chomsky, has talked about a negative aspect of the internet. He is referring to its tendency to be an “echo chamber.” It’s like an unguided force of nature that brings like-minded people together through blogs and social media. Like minded people come together all the time for productive and positive results. But it works the other way to. Dumb-asses get connected and have their communications streamlined all the time (god help us). I see untalented cats in Toronto that by all appearances seem to have it going on. They have such big active followings on twitter and Facebook. They are popular and well liked. They are excellent at working the social media towards promotional and personal branding ends. The only thing is they suck awful. Real musicians roll their eyes almost to the point of convulsions when they hear the crap these faux artists are producing. A social media following can easily become an echo chamber of frivolous unqualified opinion givers with the potential to mislead you into thinking you are king shit, when really you are king suck.

Here is some scholarly stuff on the matter.

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