Throughout the life of your career as a singer, singer-songwriter, or singing musician, you are going to get feedback. In fact, your livelihood is contingent upon building a healthy fan base and a following that’s a collective of varied, but positive feedback.
Yet there are times, especially when you’re starting out, trying new material, or exploring a new concept that you might want to solicit feedback so that you can get a sense of what works, what’s being received, and then make any necessary adjustments.
Focused Not General
If you’re looking for general feedback, you’re more likely to get a lot of general, non-specific comments that may not be all that helpful. In fact, it can prove to create more issues, potential insecurities, and actually leave you with more questions about the quality or integrity of your performance.
But an “open comment” approach can be helpful if you’re simply looking to get an overall sense of how you’re being received and what seems to resonate best with your audience.
If you want feedback in a specific area, you need to help direct your target audience of responders by asking the right questions. That will help them focus on specific concerns that you have so that less time is spent in processing and weeding out comments, opinions, and perceptions.
You can put together comment cards, or solicit comments on your website or social media page that will direct your fans, friends, and others to give you relevant input and targeted feedback.
You may wish to use a number scale of one to five for rating a variety of areas such as vocals, stage presence, sound, specific songs – whatever it is that you’re looking to evaluate. A number scale can then give you an overall sense of how something is perceived. For example if five is considered the best, and you received six five’s out of forty respondents, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Justify Highs + Lows
You can ask for specifics for those that give a “five” or “one” rating. This will help you with assessing what’s working or not working depending on the responses. But, remember that feedback, especially with music, is subjective. Thirty different people will likely have thirty different reactions to a single song or question you pose. The responses may be similar to each other or they can vary extensively. Some people respond more to technique while others response more to style or interpretive skills. No one opinion is ever absolutely right or wrong. What you’re looking for is more of a consensus.
Soliciting actual comments beyond a rating scale is best when you have specific objectives or responses you’re looking for. For example, if you wanted a song to move someone to thinking about something that happened to them personally, you might ask, what personal experience that you’ve had did this song trigger? If you performed five songs, you might ask, which songs triggered memories of things you’ve personally experienced?
Specific = Focused
The more specific you are in your questions, the more focused the responses will be. You can always have a section for “other comments.” This way, you’ll also learn if there was something in your material that didn’t work but you assumed was solid. You might also discover that a song has worked in ways differently than you intended, or a song or staging element might have surpassed your expectations.
If soliciting feedback on a live performance include questions on audience interaction and rapport, as well as nervousness and distractions. If soliciting feedback on a recording or new release, focus on the production quality, lyric content, and music.
What You’d Like to Hear
And always include a section for what kind of songs your audience would like to hear you sing. Make it clear that you’re not asking them: what are your favorite songs? You want to know what songs or types of songs they would like to hear you specifically sing. This is another great way to gauge how you are perceived.
Avoid apology, qualifying, leading, or justifying your performance in phrasing your questions about information you’re seeking. The exception is if there are critical elements that you want to make sure are working.
Always thank those that take the time to respond. Look for ways to even reward those that support you. And also identify key respondents that trigger fresh ideas, that understanding where you’re coming from, and are especially encouraging of your unique gifts. Remember, too, that soliciting feedback is a great way to build and shore up your fan base.
Share ideas and strategies for soliciting feedback with others at SingingSuccess.tv to discover what is most effective. Give testimonials of cases where specific feedback lead to critical changes made in a song or where feedback prompted a shift in style or content.
Solicit tips for critical feedback from your vocal coach and fellow singers, as well as from Brett Manning certified associates with whom you’ve booked a session via skype, phone, or in the studio.
You never know what hidden treasures may be triggered by tips that come from supportive fans are following your pursuit of true singing success.