Don’t Swig The Haterade: The Musicians Guide To Dealing With Negative Criticism


So, you’ve spent years mastering your craft and finally feel that you’re ready to show the world what you’ve accomplished with your time and devotion. Perhaps you’ve already shared your music with your friends and family and have received enough encouraging comments that you feel confident enough to set up a Soundcloud or YouTube profile.

You spend hours ironing out the nuances of your band description and play with the formatting until it looks just perfect. Finally, it’s time to share your heart and soul with the world as you select the first MP3 to go on your profile.

You watch the status bar of the upload incrementally creeping towards 100 per cent as you imagine the abundance of validation that will soon be heading your way. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for; recognition, admiration, superstardom! With a majestic glow, you triumphantly hit the “Upload” button.

And then the negative comments start coming in.

Just as Frodo Baggins left the sanctity of the Shire to discover a world full of dark and ghoulish creatures who wished to inflict harm upon him, the aspiring musician may find his or herself in a similar predicament when venturing into Internetland.

The internet is scary

Unfortunately, the internet is full of trolls who thrive on belittling the achievements of others.

While many people will find you compelling because of your uniqueness, the more ways in which you differ from the status quo, the more people will start to perceive you as “the generalised other”. This is not to say that uniqueness is the only reason that someone would hate on you; haters can be drawn to you for any number of rational or irrational reasons.

The Anatomy Of A Hater

To quote Urban Dictionary’s definition of a hater:

“One who either verbally and/or physically inhibits another individual’s game or mode of operation primarily due to jealousy, envy, animosity, bitterness, resentment, and contempt. A hater will exhibit either one or all of the aforementioned traits.”

Of course, online haters have absolutely no impact in the physical world because they hide behind anonymous usernames to avoid repercussions, but every other facet of this definition rings true. In other words, a hater is someone who dwells in a predominantly negative headspace and can’t wait to share his or her inner discontent with the world.

By posting disparaging comments on an artist’s Soundcloud account or YouTube channel, these individuals are infesting a wider audience with their own negativity, but are also enhancing their sense of self by condemning something that they do not identify with. Outwardly rejecting that which we are not is a common way for people to try and establish a sense of personal identity when we are growing up – maybe this accounts for why many online haters are of a younger age (both physically, and emotionally).

This is not to say that everyone who dislikes your music or who criticises you is a hater. However, when it comes to posting your music on artist forums and internet communities, a positive, emotionally centred person who doesn’t like your music will either not respond or give you some constructive feedback, highlighting the good points as well as the bad ones that can be improved upon. Someone with high self esteem that leads a fulfilling life is unlikely to leave you with a comment box full of vitriolic obscenities.

The Stages To Recovering From Hater Induced Psychosis

Stage 1: Demonic possession
pea soup, anyone?
Your dream of reaching out and connecting to people via the medium of music has turned into a nightmare. The faceless messageboard demons have managed to drag you to a hellish realm of self doubt and keyboard mashing flame wars.

Perhaps you’ve resorted to insulting the inadequate spelling and grammar usage of your online detractors or have even considered tracking them down and kicking their ass like Jay and Silent Bob. It’s natural to want to fight back, you’ve laid your soul bare only to have it trampled by someone you don’t even know. However, you can also use the negative energy directed towards you to your advantage.

Stage 2: Fuel for the fire
“My haters are my motivators”
– Nicki Minaj

From the dorky, late-blooming highschool girl who sets out to make a career as a model, to the determined athlete that was told he wasn’t talented enough to go professional, the desire to prove people wrong is undeniably one of the biggest motivating forces we have as human beings. We are a perverse species, artists in particular. When someone tells us we can’t do something it makes us want to do it even more. A great deal of momentum can be generated by visualising the day when we are finally able to tell our detractors to “I told you so!”

I’m not suggesting that you should use all negative feedback to generate a raging inferno. Taking heed of constructive criticism is essential if you want to reach your potential as an artist. However, it’s a good idea to take the time to develop the acuity to discern between valuable feedback and irrational cynicism disguised as such. Always judge a tree by its fruit. You’d want to take financial advice from someone who is rich and successful and fitness advice from someone who eats healthily and exercises regularly; the same applies for music.

Stage 3: It is what it is
“When negativity comes your way, let it go”
– KRS One

While taking a strong adversarial standpoint against your doubters can kickstart the journey towards achieving your goals, in the end it comes down to what you want, not other people. If you’re in this for the long haul, drawing power from negativity can only get you so far before corruption ensues.

What you focus on expands; your love for the music and desire to be successful has to be a stronger motivator than your contempt for the naysayers when planning for long term fulfilment.

To summarise, I will leave you with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s inspirational speech, colloquially known as “The Man in the Arena.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Fire image credit: Ben W @ Flickr

The Ultimate Guide To Social Media Advertising For DJs

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook

Social media advertising is set to explode in the near future, so be sure to move with the times when promoting your music

Billions of users log into social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter every day, and this figure is expected to rise exponentially thanks to the increased accessibility provided by the latest generation of mobile devices. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that forecasts suggest the amount of money spent on social media advertising by 2017 will be over $10 billion. This rapid adoption of social media has allowed advertisers to target specific demographics like never before, and this process will undoubtedly become more refined.

With users inputting their personal interests on their profiles as well as other key data such as age, gender, occupation and more, advertisers can make a much more accurate assessment of whether or not their products will be of value or not. For DJs and EDM musicians, this facet of social media advertising is equally true. Here are some pointers to help get you started when advertising your music on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.


youtube ad setup 1

YouTube has over a billion users and is available in 61 languages, thus by advertising on this platform you may be able to connect your music with a significantly more diverse group of people than you ever before imagined. When you visit Google Adwords for Video, you will be presented with several options that must be carefully considered in order to maximise the efficacy of your YouTube ad.

People tend to cruise YouTube in a kind of autopilot state of consciousness, so make sure to choose a title for your ad that is viscerally impactful and non-generic to get their attention – you only have 25 characters so make them count! In the same vein, your advertising video itself must be immediately captivating – if you haven’t piqued a persons attention in the first few seconds you’ve probably lost them!

When picking the user demographic for your ad, try to be as specific as you can without isolating potential fans. When inputting user interests, include general terms pertaining to EDM culture but also remember to input terms which apply specifically to your brand, such as your sub-genre or nightclub venue that you’re renowned for performing at.

For more information on getting started with YouTube ads, check out this article.



With over 1.23 billion monthly active users, 250 million of which are logging in everyday, Facebook not only represents a huge potential audience for your music, but it also has certain functionalities which enable you to highly refine the demographic you’re targeting.

Some cynics primarily regard Facebook as a data-mining site, and with the vast amount of personal information inputted by users which can be exploited by advertisers, there may be some validity to these claims. For instance, if you’re looking to increase the amount of likes on your page, you can specifically target the connections of people who do already like your page or who like the same sub-genre of music. Likewise, if you’ve run a promotional contest in the past and have a list of email addresses/contact details for people who might be interested in following you on Facebook but for some reason haven’t already, this list can be targeted with your ads.

For more information about the different functionalities of Facebook ads click here.

For a step by step guide for how to set up Facebook ads for a custom audience check out this article.


Twitter Ads

Twitter has around 230 million users and represents the best social media platform for DJs and musicians to connect with their fanbase on a more intimate level. As with Facebook and YouTube, advertising with Twitter enables you to target specific demographics with your ads.

Unlike the other platforms however, Twitter has a unique way of recording the way people interact with one another and it also monitors all consumer purchases which emanate from its network. This provides crucial data, which can be utilised by DJs and musicians when deciding who will benefit most from their advertisements.

Fully customisable promoted tweets and promoted accounts can help to draw attention to your music or live appearances, and targeting can be done via keywords and by interests (with 350 categories to choose from).

For more information about advertising with Twitter, check out this article.