Your Inner Child Could Beat Up My Inner Child
There has been a recent thread on the Arlington music scene email list concerning criticism. Long story short, someone took it upon themself to post their negative opinion of the demos by one of the bands that pretty much everyone in the scene knows. A lot of us rose to their defense. The someone said in return [I’m paraphrasing here], “Hey, can’t you take criticism? You won’t get any better if you can’t.”
Meanwhile I’m recording my demos, as always, in fear and trembling.
Here are some of my thoughts, along with a couple great quotes off of the list:
 Equal to the elation of a new creative moment–the finding just the right chord, words, or little sound that makes a great song–is the destruction of the negative comment–the reminder of a mistake that we hear every single time we listen to the tune, which has been exponentially more times than the critic…
One thing I will always have a lot of respect for are the people who just go out and do it. I will always support the musicians who make original music, put it out there for others to hear and then continue to push forward in a business that can beat you down day after day if you don't focus on the positive and keep things in perspective.
--Mike Holden, mikeholdenmusic.com Art work is a delicate house of cards, emotionally speaking. Artists are generally the most insecure people around. Secure people (or those who have convinced themselves they are or have built up tough exteriors) go into stock trading and on the board of record labels. We express the insecurity everyone is feeling; we are closer to it; we are working with that soft heart. You don't walk up in an open heart surgery and poke the heart while the doctor is massaging it.  Not all mistakes can be fixed. While it is true in theory that you can always go back and re-track something, there are budgets to be concerned with, especially at our level--money, and more importantly, time budgets. Given enough of both, we could always go to a better studio and spend more time with a great engineer, producer and musicians.  Art is business, but art isn't business. This is an issue I have been struggling with for six years. There is a severe paradox occurring with art, in that true art cannot be born in the bed of commerce (perhaps there is a necessary differentiation to be made between performers, creatives, and those creatives who just happen to fall right into marketplace), and yet in order to feed ourselves, in order to become "successful" in the eyes of others, the art must be consumed. How do we strike that balance? I would love to just be a song writer, but when the words that come out of my creative self are things like they'll give you a shot and start to kneed your face like dough and pacifist me and the guy in the lexus...just numb us, who else is going to sing that? They are words that only work in the context of my life, in the context of my own creative unfolding. Art rarely works outside of a context which includes some understanding of the artist. If you simply judge a song by it's technical merits, you are missing much of what makes that song valuable. The critic on the Arlington list did not have that context; those of us who responded did. "Technical merits" begins to get hazy quick anyway--who is to say what is good art, "technically"? This is why most great art--especially visual art--is not fully appreciated until the artist is dead. If you go to a gallery of modern art, how will you judge that art? "Anybody could do that." "This work comes out of a movement which occurred in Rome in the 1950's blah blah blah." How about you are looking through a window into that artists soul. How about what is the artist trying to communicate? How about what was the context in which this was created?  Play nice.
the problem that i see is that demos....aren't really demos anymore. a demo is something that you used to give a club owner, your buddy, or yourself as a work in progress. other words, limited distribution. welcome now to the world of MP3.com + cdr's! give your "demo" to anyone and within minutes it can and will be made available to the entire modern world, with no boundaries. your demo has now been released. there's no turning back. people will consider this music to be a reflection of you, your capabilities, and your direction. for better or for worse. if you find yourself making excuses for your recordings, then maybe its time to head back to the basement or the studio for a while longer.
--Scott Spelbring, dragonflyeast.com This is a very interesting observation, and it applies to more than just music--what about us writers who blog? How many typos, retractions, and just bad writing gets out there now that we blog? How many people have called blogs "crap" because they judge the entire form on the forms of the past and without any context for the work? This is a new aspect of creative consumption that I am very interested in, both its merits and it problems. You can begin to see the great conflict commerce has created within art. A market--a manipulated market at that--has created for us the benchmarks by which our work is judged. It is only through our consumption that we can do anything about it--by subverting what is currently considered to be cool, we become the cool-makers. In the end, we can control the market, and if we say we want authentic, honest and pure art, then eventually that is what we will get. And in the end, money can't create honesty.  But It's Only Entertainment
Amanda of the underground brings high art to her lo-fi sound. Her nifty hipster friends agree a band's only as good as its scene. Save us Polly Jean, we know not what we mean It's only entertainment Don't make it so hard Don't make it so hard Freddie's demographic grows, angry boys in baggy clothes. As critics eulogize the songs, and record store clerks mourn along. And the years go by and the chords don't change. We're all Pat Boone by different namesBy the amazing Josh Joplin.  Historical.