by J.P. Kallio
What internet has done to us musicians, is given us a platform where with some great tools and a smart plan we can introduce our music to worldwide audience extremely fast. We can upload music online. In the past we had to mail tapes and later CDs to share music (yeah, that was not that long ago…). Now there are a generation of musicians who have built their career on the strength of the internet.
But as so often, anything good comes with something not so good… As fast as we had internet, we had a platform for people to express their opinions. Now, nothing wrong with having a place to express your opinion. But this same platform became loved by people who loved to criticise anybody who ever posted any of their art online. The rest is history. Any YouTube video that gets a reasonable amount of views, will get some “graphic comments”.
In the internet age, we have become to know the people behind these comments as “Trolls”. But even before these “trolls” came along, us musicians had to deal with hard criticism. In the past most of it came from critics in magazines, judges in the local battle of the bands or sometimes even family or friends. The difference with the “trolls” is that most of the time they are not interested (or in any way qualified) in giving you productive feedback. They want to slant you, put you down, provoke you in to argument. Our natural response is to defend ourselves and the best way we know how to do this is attack back.
So I advice you to take a deep breath. The worse thing you can do is bark back. That is exactly what they want you to do! If you do this, you accept their challenge for a messy, cowardly fight where the punches below the belt are not forbidden. You will bring your self down to their level. I know you are heated up from their comment, but resist the temptation to bark back at them. Put your phone, tablet, or a laptop down. Get up, go for a walk around the block, get coffee. Do anything to distract your self from replying when you are angry.
I know you took this attack from a complete stranger very personally, but the fact is they don’t even know you. They are people who feel the need to point out their tastes and views as some kind of ultimate tight or wrong… If you respond to their attack, you validate them. Don’t give them the pleasure.
My best advice is walk away. Life is too short to get stuck on one persons opinion about your music. Just think of all the positive feedback you have got so far, that is what you should feel passionate about and rush to respond to. Not the boastings of some lonely soul who’s biggest aspiration in life is spread negativity to as many people as possible. Walk away!
If you really feel the need to engage, and I still recommend you just walk away, but if you refuse to take first advice, then here is the second thing you can do. Wait few days, and when you have calmed down, write a very nice reply explain how sorry you are that they feel that way. But let me warn you, this is very provocation in its own way. As this will make them feel bad, no matter how soulless we might think they are. And if you make them feel bad, they will either bark back again, and anybody can see how low they have steeped… Or they will engage in bit more adult conversation. I have actually done this in few occasions where something in my gut made me feel like the person on the other end of the cyber highway might just be having a bad day. And most of the time they ended up becoming a strong supporters of my music, buying albums, sharing my music with their friends and spreading the good word
But just remember attack is the worst defence, and it will make you look bad. Most of the time the best thing you can do is turn around and walk away from the fight. By doing this you are the bigger person.