AngelCityOutlaw

How Significant Is Forum Feedback In Improvement?

25 posts in this topic

Long post: So I'll bold the important parts.

OCR was the first site I joined where I got (and gave) feedback on music, and as the years have gone by and I've recently been sharing more music and listening to more on various forums, this is something I've put a lot of thought into:

Does feedback and criticism from forum members actually do anything more than make the individual question their decisions? Does it directly "help you improve" like is so often said?

I've always noticed this underlying feeling of responsibility in online music communities when one of their members (OCR is no stranger to this) goes on to great things. I think communities (obviously) like this sense of being like "That's our boy/girl! out there!" when they see this happen; they remember how, when that user showed up back in 200(?) they could barely play a coherent phrase, and now they're off composing epic scores, or making popular albums, etc. and I think that most feel like the feedback that user got from the community nurtured them to this greatness, or at least accelerated it, and that in some small way, we contributed to this person's success.

I'm starting to doubt if that's the case. I think that most of these people probably just had the ambition, honesty, and willingness to learn and study on their own so that them improving to the point they have was inevitable, and of their own doing. The best advice I've ever seen online has happened not in feedback to a particular tune, but rather someone asking a question, and then a member explains a concept that opens the person's eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. 

Because most of the established, pro musicians aren't generally sharing their tracks for critiques anymore, nor do they offer much advice. Some of that is probably due to time constraints, but I really suspect most of it is simply "I don't care what a bunch of people on forums think" as they've become confident in their ability to make what they want to hear, or what the people they're making it for want to hear, that it's unlikely any critique is going to be of much real value unless it's fairly unanimous. If they do share their tracks for feedback, it's likely limited to trusted peers who are at the same or greater level.

As an example, @timaeus222 's most recent track in workshop was apparently submitted before he shared. And why wouldn't it be? He knows the standards so well, and has hit them so consistently, that what a bunch of us randos think about it, is really inconsequential. It's going to pass, he's satisfied with it, his listeners will probably all be satisfied with it, and being the smart dude he is, I'm of the opinion (he may disagree) that he would've got to this point regardless. And when subbing to OCR, it's only the feedback of the judges that ultimately matters.

So I'm curious to know what you think? Has feedback from the forum been directly responsible for your improvements, or have they simply been opinions you use to gauge wider reaction, and a fun, good way of engaging with the rest of the community?

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I think (because this is how it was for me), they're useful to a point where problems with the music is more objective and agreeable by everyone. Once stuff gets subjective (which is a lot earlier than people would think), the feedback might continue contributing to shaping how the person writes and produces, but isn't at all necessary for that person to keep improving.

Like you said people who have the drive for this stuff will keep going, and I particularly relate to not coming to WIP forums anymore and just bouncing tracks at a few peers instead. When I do it, it's more one-sided. I'm not asking what's wrong with the track or what I should fix, but rather I'm gauging the reaction of a person who isn't already familiar with it just as a fresh set of ears. Just if they might say something like "this ____ part feels like _____ ". I might've clearly perceived that and been fine with that in my taste, but it comes down to how listeners will react to it, so I'll try to compromise a little. It's like when a game dev polls about a control scheme or something. The dev might be perfectly fine with it, and it's not just that they created it, because it really does just work for them, but they just want to make sure other people can enjoy it too, so they send out a survey.

Even my most skilled peers, I'll send stuff to them and on rare occasions they're like "wow this sounds really good", but I'll come back to the stuff a year later and I can still clearly perceive that I've been improving and I can see flaws in the sound I used to have. And those flaws are subjective to my own taste, because it's been shown other people with experienced tastes still enjoy them.

My improvement, personally, is pretty self-driven at this point. I don't think a lot of friends really share much of my influences at this point, and I chase production techniques I don't see my friends doing. I think at a certain point you can absolutely trust yourself to be your own critic (without causing self-esteem issues or creative paralysis).

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I think it depends on how long you've been writing music in the first place.

I like to think of it in a few somewhat general stages (fyi, I just came up with these now): 

  • Early on / Barely started something  -----> Definitely ask for feedback
  • Somewhat proficient / usually appreciates feedback  -----> Definitely ask for feedback
  • Quite proficient / sometimes needs feedback   -----> doesn't hurt, ask for it!
  • Extremely proficient / occasionally asks for feedback for a reality check -----> Nice to have, but not absolutely necessary to ask for feedback

Back when I personally found the feedback worthwhile (enough to come back and work with the poster to continually improve the same WIP), it was when, e.g. I did not have good headphones, or did not pass any or recently passed only 1 or 2 tracks on OCR already. (I try to take all feedback into account, though, and give it a chance first. As another note, whenever I share after I submit, I usually just forget to share before I submit, sorry!)

I definitely attribute OCR to helping me get to where I am now, though, not even from any obligation. Without OCR forum feedback, I would not have good headphones, nor good arrangement skills (in practice). I would say it was the headphones that helped the most with production skills, but OCR with arrangement skills. Mainly, what I can only learn in practice is what I found most helpful from OCR.

And so, what I mean by that is if you don't know what questions to ask, or you don't know how you could proceed, then ask for feedback. You'll learn about topics you haven't thought about, and it'll give you a better sense of what path you could take.

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At the starting poin, work shop was a great place for me. Cause that was the only place I had feedback. Can't say it was "very" usefull, still it gave some stimul to continiue.

Real boost was a OC projects with deadlines and dirrectors. These guys just giving you an advice and dirrection to follow. Do that or get out.

 And thanks to community I know some vsts. 

Overall my opinion about the subject: depends of surcumstance. If I will be a supa star someday, I'll by thankfull to this community. 

Still, I'm not posting my wips and I don't submit my tracks to judges for a  vary long time. One day I've realised that I'm out of place or time here. Don't know)

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I think it's very important when someone's starting out.  I had no idea what questions I needed to be asking back when I first started, and having people to point out flaws I wasn't even aware of and explain how to improve them is, in my opinion, absolutely instrumental to anyone's development (whether I wanted to hear it or not at the time :P ).  Whether someone gets the feedback from a forum, or friends/peers with more experience, or teachers/mentors, I think most people need feedback from those with more experience up to a point.  I know I did.

Once you're familiar with the general concepts of music composition and production (and know where to look to further your knowledge), improvement becomes much easier to pursue on your own.  But it's hard to know what questions you should be asking when you don't know what you need to know, ya know?

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Perhaps I'm biased, but I'd argue that feedback is more often than not helpful when someone is specifically asks for it, no matter the skill level. However, if no one is asking for the help and they're just sharing their music it can be counterproductive to point out all of the track's flaws. It took me a few years to realize this myself, but if you pour your critique of someone's music when they're not asking for it, it can take the fun out of the craft and possibly drive people away. Context is important, so if you want to be helpful pay attention to what the artist wants from you.

It sounds a little counter-intuitive saying even experts can benefit from critique, but given the right circumstances it can help make things go faster. Sometimes, for example, if I'm working on something and I need a fresh set of ears I ask for some feedback (I haven't written anything in months, so you'd likely not notice nowadays). It's harder to accept feedback when you're more seasoned, but you can still get some use out of it if you remains somewhat humble about it. Most seasoned musicians will likely fine tune the track eventually, sure, but it can help make things go faster if you just let more fresh ears listen to something and give some honest feedback.

So yeah, if people are looking for feedback it's quite helpful for them when they receive it no matter the skill level, but it's markedly less so when they're not looking for it.

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As with most other people in this topic, I’ve found the feedback to be most useful in the initial stages when I was still figuring things out. Always refreshing to have a (preferably more experienced) set of ears point out things you so obviously missed yourself, frankly because you didn’t know what to listen for just yet. So in the initial stages, forum feedback - as well as feedback on IRC/Discord and, later, from the judges panel helped and helps a lot. Also if you’re more experienced, I still really appreciate a fresh perspective on things, even though it’s easier to figure things out yourself.

It’s also quite enjoyable to discuss (VGM) music with others, of course, even if only in banter. I’ve done a ton of collaborations, and working with my peers always brings out some interesting new things, thoughts or approaches, it’s always educational as well as enjoyable. Feedback is usually part of the deal, since you’re in it with others and with a mutual goal to make it the best it can be.

The last thing that really helped me is the bar for posted remixes, in that it helped me push myself to reach that bar. Probably I otherwise might not have done, despite all my intrinsic motivation.

One thing I will point out is that the forums have been less active than when I started. Forums just don’t really seem to be a big thing anymore these days, with discussions moved to platforms like Discord or Facebook. As a result, I’d say that the better question is whether or not community feedback is important rather than forum feedback. I also think that the feedback is only part of the nudge to help you grow, as are the aforementioned judges bar, the opportunity to interact and work with peers and in general being a fertile bed to hone your skills as a musician and as a human. So to me it’s the full package rather than just community feedback.

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Based on the unanimous point of its importance in the initial stages, to point you in the right direction so that you may pursue it further on your own, it seems that it's actually not the feedback (critique) on one's portfolio that is valuable; it's mentorship (I don't think feedback as we're discussing it is truly the same thing) that is important. Obviously, for largely self-taught musicians online, this is really the closest you can get to a teacher. 

I think that naturally leads into the discussion of the pros and cons of this method.

 

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Goals are important. Whether these goals are in pleasing some random peson that gave you feedback, regulars on the feedback board, the judges, your peers, project directors, or yourself doesn't really matter so long as you're challenged to develop as you try to meet them.

(Tangential, mostly for staff: we could have a chat about the prefixes, if finished vs. wip sufficiently communicates the type of feedback people want, or if there should be a "destroy me with thorough critique so I'm forced to learn and apply new things and improve".)

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I kind of stopped asking for feedback because so many people would just pass over it.  There were a lot of people who would just label what I did as too niche and not touch it.  I would ask for production advice, and largely get ignored because of this reason.  Asking for feedback is almost exclusively for production value.  Very rarely for composition/arranging.

When I went into the more common area, big band, etc, I would get more advice.  But that wasn't what I was trying to grow with.  I haven't really asked for much feedback, but submit stuff mainly for the judge panel, and to gauge what I can "get away with" in regards to out there/liberal interpretations of tunes.  It's been wonderful because when something gets accepted, I can use those techniques in other arrangements and compositions.  I also do this with my original compositions, but generally, nothing original I've done has gotten any significant feedback, so I don't post them.

 

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8 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

Based on the unanimous point of its importance in the initial stages, to point you in the right direction so that you may pursue it further on your own, it seems that it's actually not the feedback (critique) on one's portfolio that is valuable; it's mentorship (I don't think feedback as we're discussing it is truly the same thing) that is important. Obviously, for largely self-taught musicians online, this is really the closest you can get to a teacher. 

I think that naturally leads into the discussion of the pros and cons of this method.

 

For me, being self-taught, when you out it like this, the mentorship was definitely valuable, as I've been mucking about on my own for years figuring out fundamentals without getting feedback, and essentially also needing time to let things sink in and simmer for a while. A process that would have definitely been smoother with having access to said mentorship sooner. On the flip side, I was young, stubborn and put in all the hard work so that, for example, transcription just became something I had to do to reach my goal, when I sometimes see newer remixers here get into a slight panic if there's no midi available. Or figuring out how chords work by just messing with them (and feeling smug about it, not realising there was something like music theory that explains it in so much detail it's not funny anymore). But yeah, even though I did learn the fundamentals mostly by myself and wasted a lot of time and energy on it but gained an intimate understanding of these things, I can imagine mentorship would have definitely helped in many ways - both subtle and not so subtle.

Anyway, I'd be interested how the more formally trained musicians like Nabeel or John feel about this mentorship, since they received more formal mentorship during their studies. Was community feedback/advice a good addition to what you already learned, was it contradictory, did it matter at all?

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8 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

...it seems that it's actually not the feedback (critique) on one's portfolio that is valuable; it's mentorship (I don't think feedback as we're discussing it is truly the same thing) that is important.

 

...how the fuck is a mentorship going to work without feedback? Lol

A mentor giving advice without knowing what the mentee needs sounds like an extremely ineffectual relationship

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1 hour ago, Phonetic Hero said:

...how the fuck is a mentorship going to work without feedback? Lol

A mentor giving advice without knowing what the mentee needs sounds like an extremely ineffectual relationship

Maybe you should consider this fully before flying off the handle.

To mentor someone is to train them and provide guidance; a teacher. Feedback is simply a response and opinion to something. The former does not actually require the latter.

When you take a course, which are offered at points of varying levels of prerequisite knowledge, your job is to learn something you are not yet proficient in. Like, studying music isn't primarily bouncing your latest track off the instructors for opinions on how to improve it. You learn and then practice what you've been taught, and tests (evaluation of your pieces) are to assess whether or not you've actually learned what they've been teaching you

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Is an assessment not feedback? In assessing, you are responding to an incoming interaction to provide your thoughts, which, whether opinionated or not, is feedback, no? I don't think feedback is disconnected from mentorship, especially since it should involve communication.

@AngelCityOutlaw So, what @Phonetic Hero seems to be referring to is that the mentor is like a teaching assistant, while you seem to be referring to the mentor being like an actual teacher/professor.

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I'll concede that feedback isn't technically necessary in a mentorship (which is extremely strange to read), but I still think you're reeeaaally glossing over the importance of feedback.  A "mentorship" in which the mentor isn't observing the mentee's work and giving feedback more fits the description of a generalized teaching course, where a teacher/professor is going down a list and throwing out advice or covering topics point by point, regardless of whether or not it's pertinent to the student.   At least in my opinion/experience, this isn't the most effective way to help someone learn.

Back on topic (and a slight edit for clarity): the feedback process, to me, is about looking at where someone needs to improve and providing targeted advice to help them learn how to do it.  The source of advice doesn't matter imo - whether it's a forum rando or someone you look up to, you're the ultimate arbitrator of which pieces you decide to listen to and which you don't.  Yes, personal drive/ambition is obviously important to anyone's progress as an artist, but why undercut feedback (even "forum feedback") as a valuable part of the improvement process?

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17 minutes ago, timaeus222 said:

Is an assessment not feedback? In assessing, you are responding to an incoming interaction to provide your thoughts, which, whether opinionated or not, is feedback, no? I don't think feedback is disconnected from mentorship, especially since it should involve communication.

I spoke of feedback "as we're discussing it" in which you open up your work to general critique, which may or may not have particular goals in mind. 

In the situation you're talking about, the assessment is demonstrating to the teacher that you have learned what they're teaching you. They may not necessarily even like your piece, and may have made certain subjective changes, but you will still pass because you have learned what they wanted you to.

As you've all brought up regarding the importance of feedback you got from the community in the initial stages, it's guided-criticism that "sets you on the right path" that is valuable and not just feedback in general.

Traditionally, one finds this in a teacher. If you don't know anything about drawing, but want to learn: You could put your attempts up on deviantart and follow the clues and resources from the constructive-criticisms you get, or you could take art lessons and directly learn what you need to become a proficient artist.

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I think we've gotten to a difference of choice, which gets rather confusing...

You're considering "feedback" as opening to public critique with no particular expectations, while I'm considering it in a more general sense, where any interaction involving critique about your stuff, public or not, is feedback.

Also, you have basically stated (using your definition of feedback) that mentorship does not require the public to give critique. That's true, it doesn't, but why do that? I wouldn't value the mentor's feedback (my definition) any more or any less than public feedback (your definition); everyone's feedback (my definition) should be taken into account, even if the poster is proficient (whether they do or not is another story).

That is why I am saying that

  • mentorship necessarily requires feedback (my definition), but also that
  • feedback does not require a designated mentor to obtain (i.e. can be from untrained critic in public or in private),

whereas you are apparently saying that

  • feedback (your definition) is not required within a mentorship. 

See the confusion it makes? :) What it looks like is that we agree about general feedback, but not about public feedback.

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1 hour ago, timaeus222 said:

Also, you have basically stated (using your definition of feedback) that mentorship does not require the public to give critique. That's true, it doesn't, but why do that? I wouldn't value the mentor's feedback (my definition) any more or any less than public feedback (your definition); everyone's feedback (my definition) should be taken into account, even if the poster is proficient (whether they do or not is another story).

Well, given the context of the OP, I sorta thought it was obvious I was talking about the public feedback.

And this is what I was getting at with my 2nd post: This mentorship/guidance/whatever you want to call it seems to be what beginners are really looking for from that critique and as I've observed, the more experienced musicians typically aren't giving much for public feedback/critique whatever you want to call it.

Therefore, I put forth the question: Is it not then a better course of action to simply seek one-on-one guidance — I'll call it "educational input" — from an experienced musician, as a beginner than it is to open your creative output to scrutiny from a wide variety of sources on the internet, from the get go, if you're trying to learn any given skill? Is this not why people take lessons on anything? Can you not get really good, perhaps faster, at something from just that method?

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Outsider opinion:

I see a mentor as somebody you talk to regularly.  You have an open line of communication and they help you grow in depth.

I see feedback like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing who asks about it.  As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people will look at the spaghetti, but move on without saying much.  Some comment on it, but it's not a regular thing if they don't really know about the type of spaghetti you threw at the wall.

A mentor eats the spaghetti with you, and also helps you learn how to cook better spaghetti.

(Sorry I've had a craptastic day and want to have some fun here.)

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Wait, are we asking if it's better to get one-on-one, personal training from a professional over random public feedback? I'd think that's almost comically obvious - of course it's better to have one-on-one teaching from a professional (assuming the professional is worth their salt). If you can afford personalized training and education, that's the way to go. That's sort of like saying a healthy balanced diet is better for you than McDonalds, because of course it is.

However, the caveat is pretty easy, here - also like a balanced diet vs. McDonalds, it's better if you can afford it, and it's better if you can dedicate the extra time required for it. Many casual artists simply don't have those kind of resources, and unless they push toward making it into a profession it's difficult to justify the time and financial investments required for such one-on-one interaction. Sometimes you can get lucky and get some attention from a willing professional for funsies, but outside of that you've got to put in some real resources in order to get something like the one-on-one mentoring you're talking about. You won't get as much out of something like public feedback, sure, but getting less out of it is certainly different than getting nothing out of it. With online forums and chat servers today it requires much less investment from an artist - dropping a quick link and asking "Thoughts?" is faster and cheaper than sitting with a mentor to discuss your music.

tl;dr of course personal mentoring is better than public feedback, but public feedback is more accessible, and it's better than nothing at all (provided my caveat I presented earlier).

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As someone who has recently been in the category (may still be) of "barely play a coherent phrase", the feedback I have received from the WIP board and random mixers have been extraordinarily helpful in learning musical concepts I would not have figured out on my own otherwise. The only problem is this forum tends to be rather inactive.

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2 hours ago, Gario said:

Wait, are we asking if it's better to get one-on-one, personal training from a professional over random public feedback? I'd think that's almost comically obvious - of course it's better to have one-on-one teaching from a professional (assuming the professional is worth their salt). If you can afford personalized training and education, that's the way to go. That's sort of like saying a healthy balanced diet is better for you than McDonalds, because of course it is.

[...]

tl;dr of course personal mentoring is better than public feedback, but public feedback is more accessible, and it's better than nothing at all (provided my caveat I presented earlier).

I think @Gario pretty much shares brains with me at this point. :) Yes, all this. Having a mentor is good and if you find someone who can help like that, go for it. But don't let that be your only avenue for learning.

Public feedback can be useful too, because

  1. It potentially could provide a greater number of fresh ears.
  2. In principle it is probably easier to obtain (if the mentor would be hard to contact, which he/she probably will be because he/she is only one person who has a life).
  3. It opens you to potentially inexperienced perspectives that you should digest, which likely provide for you a realistic experience on how your music may sound to a general audience.

The main problem with public feedback is of course that sometimes, you have to filter it and figure out who is actually saying what, because more experienced people might either speak with jargon, or less experienced people might say what they think they mean without actually projecting what they meant. That's the chance you take, and I am quite glad I took that chance for 2+ years...

Fortunately, when I got public feedback, the people who came in (Flexstyle, Gario, Phonetic Hero, Chimpazilla, DaMonz, . . . ) knew enough, and I will fully admit that at the time it was I who needed to learn more! And it was because I took that chance and met those people, that I had extra motivation to keep coming back! So, for me personally, public feedback (forum feedback) was more important than mentor feedback. I don't think I had a real mentor (besides the Judges), more like I had some friendly collaborators...

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I think another deeply valuable aspect of public feedback that hasn't really been touched on is that you might find out you're not as good as you think you are.  Sometimes people on a forum are blunt and brutally honest, and as far as I'm concerned, that exposure is extremely important.  Because hey, that's the way the world is, and if you really want to improve then you have to learn to be brutally honest with yourself.  Sometimes, that's a practice that begins externally.

When I was 19 and first starting out, I thought I was amazing.  After having my ass broken repeatedly, learning just how much there was to know and breaking through that Dunning-Kruger wall, I was able to be MUCH more objective and honest about where I actually was, what my weaknesses were, and what to do in order to address them (or who to ask if I didn't know).  If you already think you're the best, you don't have much incentive to improve, and without people giving me their honest impressions (musically experienced or not) I doubt I'd be half the musician I am today.  Often it takes time to sink in, and sometimes people can be very averse to honest critique (I certainly was for a good while), but I find it to be another valuable part of the process. 

In this regard, I think feedback from strangers is much more potent than that of a mentor or teacher - finding out what your peers or the general public thinks about your art can be a powerful agent for introspection.

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5 hours ago, Gario said:

Wait, are we asking if it's better to get one-on-one, personal training from a professional over random public feedback? I'd think that's almost comically obvious

Timaeus did say that he wouldn't value a mentor's word more than anyone else's.

1 hour ago, Phonetic Hero said:

In this regard, I think feedback from strangers is much more potent than that of a mentor or teacher - finding out what your peers or the general public thinks about your art can be a powerful agent for introspection.

That's true, but my personal experience is that teachers, good ones anyway, are usually way harder on their students than anyone else because it's their job and your failure reflects badly on them. People on forums can just ignore you if they don't like it and don't want to beat you down, etc. I had a kung fu instructor, shop teacher, etc. who were all hardcore on the students and it was for the better.

There is also a flipside to this and it all keeps going back to what I've said about experienced people actually being the minority in public feedback: Some people think they are, and are really good at passing themselves off as gurus when in reality, they're no better (sometimes worse) than the person they're criticizing. Not to say they may not still be correct in their criticism, but I've seen or been on the receiving end of this quite a number of times. YouTube is especially full of bad advice/blatantly incorrect information from musicians who have many followers, and no one calls them on it because they like the person's music and don't know any better.

That can also be a downside of a teacher, too.

5 hours ago, Gario said:

unless they push toward making it into a profession it's difficult to justify the time and financial investments required for such one-on-one interaction

I don't disagree at all with your point about the accessibility, because that would be stupid, although I'm willing to bet that a lot of these people could throw a bit of money into this no problem.

A lot of people will throw down money on new sample libraries, video games that cost 80 bucks, etc. but comparatively, how many do you think own books on composition, theory, orchestration, etc? How many have bought or subscribed to one of the online masterclasses (there are some good ones out there)? How many will spend a bit of cash to spend an hour or two on skype with someone like JJay Berthume for one-on-one feedback and lessons? How many out there have spent (or their parents have spent) 600 on a new Ibanez, but have never taken a single guitar lesson? 

Comparatively few, I suspect. 

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20 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

That's true, but my personal experience is that teachers, good ones anyway, are usually way harder on their students than anyone else because it's their job and your failure reflects badly on them. People on forums can just ignore you if they don't like it and don't want to beat you down, etc. I had a kung fu instructor, shop teacher, etc. who were all hardcore on the students and it was for the better.

There is also a flipside to this and it all keeps going back to what I've said about experienced people actually being the minority in public feedback: Some people think they are, and are really good at passing themselves off as gurus when in reality, they're no better (sometimes worse) than the person they're criticizing. Not to say they may not still be correct in their criticism, but I've seen or been on the receiving end of this quite a number of times. YouTube is especially full of bad advice/blatantly incorrect information from musicians who have many followers, and no one calls them on it because they like the person's music and don't know any better.

That can also be a downside of a teacher, too.

Fair enough, my counter-point would be that it's a teacher's job to be hard on you and expect more out of you though.  When people don't (appear to) have any motive other than the commentary itself and providing their opinion, it can be a real kick in the ass to hear someone doesn't like something.  And whether or not the commenter actually knows what they're talking about vs. just trying to puff themselves up, if it pushes you to improve, the effect is the same (at least in terms of general advice/impressions - if someone's telling you to blow up the low mids on all your instruments or something like that, that's another story).

Using myself as an example again, I used to think of myself as a great composer, even after I found out exactly how bad of a producer I was.  But when you hear "wandering melody" and "stagnant harmony" (or whatever variation of that, if the feedback was coming from someone who didn't have the musical vocabulary to describe it as such) over and over from people on forums or non-musician friends or comments from complete strangers on music hosting sites, it eventually sunk in that "oh wait a second, maybe I'm actually not nearly as good as I think I am".  That was what it took for me, and it made much more of an impact than it did in situations where someone whose outward purpose in critiquing me was to help me learn.  I guess some additional context is also necessary to clarify my point - I've never been a good student until I "decide" I want to learn more about something, and I know I'm not the only one.  Again, that's what it took for me, and I have to wager there are others who operate the same way.

As a bonus, I came to find out eventually that a lot of those people giving me that feedback actually WERE being hyper-critical and couldn't follow their own advice.  But the result was the same - I put my nose to the grindstone to learn how to better structure a tune, how to write stronger melodies, how to mix better, whatever the criticism might've been.  I still learned as a result of the feedback, regardless of where it came from or how much the person giving the critique actually knew themselves.

Hopefully I didn't botch the point I'm trying to make in so many words, but basically: feedback from different sources can have drastically different effects, and people will respond to the effect it has on them accordingly.

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