Criticism is an inevitable part of any creative journey, and the music industry is no exception. For music artists, criticism can come from every direction, often when least expected. I believe an important mindset to adopt is understanding that “you’ll never be criticised by someone doing more than you. You’ll always be criticised by someone doing less than you.”

This perspective can be transformative, offering the belief and resilience needed to push through negativity and continue pursuing your passion. 

Recognise the Source of Criticism

The first step in dealing with criticism is recognising where it comes from. Often, the harshest critics are those who haven’t walked the path you’re on. They might be individuals who are dissatisfied with their own lives or careers, projecting their frustrations onto you. Understanding this can help you depersonalise the criticism, seeing it as a reflection of the critic rather than a true assessment of your work.

Focus on Constructive Feedback

Not all criticism is bad. Constructive feedback, especially from peers or mentors who have achieved more or are at a higher level, can be invaluable. These individuals have likely faced similar challenges and can offer insights that help you grow. Seek out these voices and differentiate them from the noise of unproductive critics.

We Build Resilience Through Belief in Ourselves

Belief in your own abilities are crucial. This acts as a protective shield against negativity. Remind yourself why you do what you do, why you started your musical journey, and keep your goals in focus. Self-confidence doesn’t mean ignoring all criticism; it means knowing your worth and trusting your path, even when others don’t.

Create the Community You Need

Surrounding yourself with a supportive community can make a significant difference. When you connect with other artists and professionals who understand the industry’s challenges you are getting input from those who have walked the walk. These relationships can provide encouragement, advice, and a reminder that you’re not alone. 

Criticism is your Kindling

Transforming criticism into motivation can be a powerful tool. Let the doubts and negative comments drive you to work harder and improve your craft. It’s not about proving them wrong, its that they don’t matter, what matters is you staying the course.

Maintain Perspective

Keeping a broader picture can help you manage the trolls and criticism. Remember the journey towards success in the music industry is not a straight path but a winding road with highs and lows. Criticism is just one of the many obstacles you’ll encounter. What seems like a large obstacle can often look like a stepping stone when you shift perspective. Viewing it as a small part of your larger journey can make it easier to handle.

Practice Self-Love

Criticism can take an emotional toll, so taking the time to show yourself some love is essential. Engage in activities that rejuvenate your soul and maintain your inner balance. Whether it’s through hobbies, exercise, or spending time with those that you love, taking care of yourself helps you build resilience.

 Keep Creating

Finally, the best way to overcome is to keep creating. Let your work speak! Over time, your consistency and dedication will overshadow the negative voices, as sadly they will always be there. Each new project is an opportunity for you to grow, refine your skills, and move closer to your dreams.

Protecting Your Journey from Opportunists and Manipulators

Another challenge you will face is when things are going good. What do I mean? When you start gaining traction, you might notice a new set of obstacles: the people who want to jump on board, not to help you build, but to ride your success. These individuals can come in various forms, from opportunists looking to benefit from your achievements to critics who use their words as a means of control. Understanding how to navigate these dynamics is crucial to maintaining your well-being, momentum and integrity.


Recognising Opportunists

Opportunists often appear when your hard work starts paying off. They may come disguised as friends, industry professionals, or even family members. Their main characteristic is a sudden interest in your career once it shows promise, despite having little involvement in your journey thus far. Here’s how to identify and deal with them:

  • Reflect on who was there when you were struggling. True supporters are those who believed in you before your success was apparent. If someone only shows interest after you’ve gained traction, they might be more interested in your success than in you.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. 

Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

  • Pay attention to their actions and words. Are they offering help that aligns with your needs and goals, or are they suggesting ways to benefit themselves? Genuine supporters will prioritise your interests over theirs.
  • Establish clear boundaries and stick to them. If someone seems to be overstepping or taking advantage, communicate the line that must not be crossed. This protects your space and ensures you remain in control of your career.
  • Trust is earned over time. Keep your inner circle small and comprised of those who have consistently supported you. This minimises the risk of opportunists infiltrating your team.
Dealing with Manipulative Critics

It’s better to create something that others criticise than to create nothing & criticise others. Ricky Gervais

Manipulative people that use criticism as a tool for control. Their feedback isn’t aimed at helping you improve but at undermining your confidence and asserting their influence. These individuals can be particularly damaging because their criticism often comes under the guise of helpful advice. Here’s how I would handle them:

  • Consider the source and context of the criticism. Is it coming from someone with experience and a track record of providing constructive feedback, or is it from someone who rarely offers support? Valid criticism usually comes with actionable suggestions for improvement.
  • Your instincts are powerful. If feedback feels more like an attack or an attempt to control rather than help, trust your gut. Manipulative individuals often aim to make you doubt yourself to make you more dependent on their approval. They want to develop a co-dependant relationship.
  • If you’re unsure about the validity of the criticism, seek a second opinion from someone you trust. A mentor or a fellow artist can provide perspective and help you discern whether the feedback is worth considering.
  • Building self-confidence is your best defence against manipulative criticism. When you believe in your vision and capabilities, you become less susceptible to doubt and more capable of discerning genuine feedback from control tactics.
  • The best way to avoid criticism is never do anything ever. Or, do what you love, have a great life & let others spend their time criticising
Safeguarding Your Success

Maintaining success requires vigilance and a proactive approach to protecting your mindset from opportunists and manipulative critics. 

Keep records of your progress, collaborations, and contributions. This documentation can be crucial in establishing your work’s authenticity and protecting your intellectual property.

Your vision and art are what sets you apart. Stay true to your creative process, and don’t let external pressures derail your path. Success should enhance your artistic expression, not compromise it.

Basil Reynolds

Coaching Consultant

Finding the Music Inside