My goal as a songwriter on YouTube is a three-fold endeavor:
First, to write and practice a song that I can really believe in, a song that is emotionally charged and lyrically purposeful, a song that I hope will convey my thoughts and energy to the listener, particularly those listeners who have had similar experiences.
Second, to record the best version I can as a live acoustic performance, understanding of course that it is just a live performance, not a studio recording, and is an imperfect representation of the song as I hear it in my mind.
Third, and this is the important part, my goal as a songwriter on YouTube is not simply to post songs for others to hear — or not hear, as is, practically speaking, more often the case on a website literally flooded with original music by artists no has ever or will ever hear of. My ultimate goal, after posting a song, is to receive feedback in the form of criticism, tearing my song apart in every conceivable fashion, but concluded with a line about how it has “potential” or, better yet, with the all might smiley face because, when a smiley face is attached, it is certain that a person cannot and should not be offended on any level.
After all, it’s all in good fun, right?
Well, as much as it is in good fun for the commenter — usually a person who does not post original music of his or her own — it is not for fun that the songwriter posts music on YouTube. Someone such as myself understands that I am not releasing my videos to the viewership of thousands or even hundreds; I am, after all, realistic about my view counts on YouTube. With such an audience and so little commentary, it can be challenging to process the negative criticism when it is so… negative and critical. Music is something I love. I listen to CDs like they’re going out of style (which, I suppose, they are). I write not only because it’s fun and certainly not because it’s a hobby, but because I don’t know how to stifle the songs when they come to me. It is cathartic and it is exciting and, when I’m playing them for others, even if it’s only via YouTube, it is fun.
So, where is this all leading? To the explanation for why I have decided to refrain from responding to such comments on YouTube: because I do not record and post my original music to garner feedback and improve myself as an artist. I simply will not grow as an artist by heeding the advice of YouTube trolls critiquing my strumming patterns, singing voice, or overall compositional skills.
That’s what comments on my cover songs are for.
Feedback on cover songs is another animal entirely, the key difference being that there is an ideal composition that is acknowledged by all who know the original song. As such, criticism on cover song music videos is much more constructive and useful.
Comments that serve only — or even mostly — to deconstruct an original song in a negative fashion only distracts the songwriter from what is most important about his or her music. Even the songwriter who is an absolutely terrible singer or instrumentalist knows on some level that he is terrible. Unless he is being overly pretentious about his abilities, he doesn’t need — or, I would argue, deserve — to have it pointed out via the commentary of fools of an equal and opposite nature.
For a songwriter such as myself, one who is not embarrassing himself yet is not getting signed to a major label any time soon, I greatly appreciate anyone and everyone who will take the time to listen to my songs. (And I am impressed by anyone who can find them adrift in the sea of songwriting on YouTube.) I will not delete negative comments, but I can neither reply to them nor can I give them more than passing notice, at best filing away compositional topics — strumming patterns, singing abilities, all the aspects that I recognize can always be improved and am, in fact, always seeking to expand — to consider at a later date.
For now, this is my song, and I am not only singing it for you.