Derek Sivers

What should I do when someone says, “Let me know what you think!” of their music?


I love listening to music, but the minute someone says, “Let me know what you think,” it becomes work.

See — I’m still a musician and producer at heart, so if someone really wants to know what I think, my real thoughts sound something like, “Rearrange the structure to put the bridge into the intro. The lyrics in the 2nd verse need some editing. Drop out all instrumentation there in the 3rd verse to give it more sonic variety. Tell the drummer to lay off the cymbals a bit.”

But if it’s a finished recording, what’s there to say? It’s too late to change anything, so who cares what I think? Whether I like it or not shouldn’t change anything they’re doing. Better for me to just enjoy it and not tell them what I think, unless I’m the producer.

On the other hand, I love real constructive critiquing like songwriting workshops.

So, it’s really two different kinds of questions:

Unfinished work-in-progress? Say what I really think. Hope they’re tough enough to ignore me if they disagree.

Finished recording? They don’t want to know what I really think. They just want to know if I’ll help promote it by telling others. So find something positive to compliment, to lift spirits a bit, maybe give a bit of marketing advice, and wish them the best.

Or... am I thinking about this all wrong?