A few helpful tips for both sides:
Person asking for critiques:1) Be open, not defensive:
If you're gonna post stuff and ask for critiques then you need to be open to feedback, even blunt feedback. If feedback appears blunt consider the fact that person that person may be trying to be concise instead of writing a thesis paper on what could be fixed in your music. Remember folks are giving up their time for someone that, in most cases, is a complete stranger. And they're reviewing your content for free. There's great value in that because it's not just your mother or best friend saying "it rawks, dude!" - they're able to give you truthful, unbiased advice and commentary. Remember - YOU put yourself out there! Be ready to take the heat! 2) Be specific about what you'd like reviewed:
In this particular case Shea, you provided 8 tracks, most over a minute long. About 95% of people will skim the surface only listening to a few tracks (maybe 3 at most) or simply hit highlights of your songs. Almost none will sit and listen to all of your music unless you really capture them. I appreciate that you want to grow and get better. That's great! Perhaps it would be more helpful to those reviewing your work as well as to you if you pinpointed several tracks that you are struggling with - or a few tracks that you feel capture what you do best. Then ask for feedback on those items.3) Remember you always have a ton more to learn.
I can tell that you have some basic foundations of harmony, song structure and melodic content. But I can also tell that you have plenty more to learn and experiment with. Instead of becoming defensive and sarcastic in your response try and narrow down what and why someone didn't like your piece. If they bring up theory and melodic content then perhaps they felt what was there was too repetitive or bland. Too predictable? Etc.4) Getting feedback like this is practice for the real deal.
When working with clients, many of whom have little to no musical knowledge, it can become frustrating. At times you have to play detective and really get inside their heads to understand what it is they're asking for in the music. Sometimes what they say and what they want are two different things - mainly because of their lack of knowledge or inability to discuss music. At least in this forum you're dealing with folks that have musical backgrounds and understanding. Just as you're learning and developing your music/audio/production chops and craft - you should focus on developing your interaction chops as well. Because once you're in a real game dev situation - the last thing you want to do is blow up at a client due to negative feedback. Even if you're frustrated to the Nth degree - always be professional, energetic and focused on what's best for the game. When the client's away - take a few moments to punch the wall, cuss, kick the dog
or play Rockband really loudly. I've worked with a few people that would literally blow up anytime anything negative was spoken about their work. It caused communication to break down, morale was lowered and folks didn't want to work with those people again. You don't want this to be your situation.
Person providing the critiques:1) You're dealing with someone's work.
Often our hearts and souls are poured into our work. It can become highly emotional if someone comes along and says it sucks. So be gentle and thorough with your input, especially if it's negative. Give steps on how you'd approach fixing those problem spots. In this situation you're basically mentoring someone - even if just for one interaction so give them something to take away. Present some fixes. Basically - give critiques like you'd hope to recieve them too. (Especially the negative critiques.)2) Understand that it's just your opinion.
Everyone has an opinion. I can think music track A is awesome and you can think it sucks. As long as we can both articulate the reasons why - both opinions are valid. Music is highly subjective. I often tend to say "could just be my ears" or something similar to reinforce the notion that it's just my opinion.3) Practice for the real deal.
Some of us may become audio leads or audio directors at some point. Being able to chat with someone about their work and what isn't up to par is a highly valuable skill and can be a tricky one at that! So just as the other person needs to practice how to take critiques, you need to practice delivering them. Focus on your end goal. Do you want the person to be energized with new focus on how to make the content work? Or deflated and depressed? Frustrated or driven? Do you want that person to have confidence or self doubt?Final point:
(for both sides) This IS the internet. Sometimes folks feel free to become a bit more aggressive or say things they'd not do in "real" life. Try to treat each interaction as if you were sitting in front of that actual person. In other words - humanize the experience instead of feeling like you're just staring at text on a computer screen.
Alright - resume the feedback session!
Edited by nsmadsen, 21 May 2012 - 09:49 AM.