First of all, let me say that I don’t privately critique lyrics anymore for several reasons. The most important one being that it takes a lot of time to do a proper critique of most lyrics, and I just don’t have that time anymore! Be happy for me, that’s a good thing 🙂
So what I want to do is give a list of places where you can post your lyrics for critique. There is no guarantee with any of them that you will get lots of critiques, or even good ones, but it’s really important to keep trying to get feedback on your songs, so these places are a good starting block. For most of them, you simply have to scan down to the “lyric critiques” section:
The Muse’s Muse forum is tops on my list because I know that Jodi keeps an eye out for what is going on there. I know how sensitive you all are to having your lyrics evaluated by people you don’t know 🙂
The Just Plain Folks forum is also a good one, and busy! You can also get feedback on your mp3 files if you have ’em!
If you do a search on any search engine using keywords “lyric critique” you’ll find a bunch more, I promise you, but the ones above are set up by people that I know and therefore recommend. Now, onto the “what to expect from a critique” part of our discussion 🙂
I’ve got other articles on critiques and how they work, etc., but I still find that many songwriters really don’t know how to judge a critique and what to take from it. The first thing you must realize is that many songwriters who will critique your songs on these boards are in the same position you are…they may not know all, but they are sincerely looking to improve their craft. You can expect some of them to pat you on the back…”great song!”…”wow, I really like this!”. This might make your head swell, but it isn’t much of a reality check 🙂 What you NEED from a critique can be broken down into several things:
1. Honesty. This doesn’t mean that the “wow, this is great” comments aren’t honest, but they really don’t help you much. There is no perfect song, and always something you can do to improve a song. Those who are willing to give you an honest assessment, are your best friends! Even if they don’t like something!
2. Meat & Potatoes. You need people to tell you, as much as they can, why something isn’t working for them. Do they misunderstand your lyric’s message? Do they get mixed up with your songs’ characters? What isn’t working and why? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just remember not to sound too defensive 🙂
3. Suggestions. You can take them or leave them, but if someone suggests another way of writing something, give it a good look first before you decide to ignore it! You might not want to re-write exactly that way, but it might give you a better understanding of where they are coming from and what isn’t working.
4. Twice is Right. If you don’t agree with an assessment, that’s cool. But if you hear the SAME THING from more than one source, this is really something you should take a second look at! Don’t ignore it, don’t let your hurt feelings get in the way.
5. The Truth Hurts. Critiques are NOT easy to take in the beginning. But someone who takes the time to give you the hard facts, some real feedback, is worth thanking. So PLEASE remember your manners and thank them, even if they just mashed your song to pieces and flushed it down the loo.
Try doing a few critiques yourself on these boards so that you can feel what it’s like to be on the other side. Just because you don’t think you know enough, you can still offer some feedback, and that is a very valuable thing!
Okay, now take a deep breath, and put your lyrics out there!
[Oh, and p.s. – if you know of a great forum where you can post lyrics and songs for feedback, please let us know and add it in the comments below!]