The Problem with Believing Your Music is “Not Good Enough”


Why are you not succeeding as a musician? Perhaps some people have told you your music is not good enough. Perhaps you worry about this yourself.

Don’t believe it.

Nobody’s music is “not good enough”, and there are some good reasons why:

  1. Nearly every musician has some friends and/or family that will be fans of whatever they do because they’re being productive and creative. Your music is always good enough for someone. Every musician sucks at the beginning, and relies on their “inner circle” for support and feedback.
  2. Not good enough for what? Have you defined any musical goals? As long as you can measure progress toward the goals you set, then as they say, forget the haters. If you’re not progressing toward your goals, or you haven’t set them, put your focus there. The music will follow.
  3. If someone tells you that your music is not good enough, they’re really saying they don’t like it. Two different things. And in a different context, or with a different song, their reaction might be the opposite. Other people’s opinions on the quality of your music are always subjective, and therefore, never a fact.
  4. Most people don’t like your music simply because not everybody likes the same thing. If you play the Super Bowl, you might have an enormous group of people who like your music, but there are still far more people who don’t. Haters will always be in the majority, and just become louder the bigger you get.
  5. “Not good enough” is a lazy and useless way to give criticism. Instead of focusing on blanket statements of dislike, probe deeper into fan feedback to identify specific issues you can address. Every musician or band has them. Perhaps you need to tune more frequently, or do vocal warmups so you start strong. Always be improving because perfection is unachievable, it’s a matter of being great instead of good.

The key to remember: What you think matters most, but what other people think still matters, because songs are for sharing.

All musicians are somewhere on the spectrum of caring what other people think of their music. Take iconoclast musicians like GG Allin and John Cage, who clearly made their name on doing their own thing regardless of outside influence. But for every one of these musicians you’ve heard of, there are thousands that have gone unnoticed in history because they didn’t care at all what people thought, and people reciprocated.

At the other end of the extreme, there are acts like One Direction and Justin Bieber (and the producers they work with), who are creating music specifically to appeal to the largest group of people. In essence, what other people think is all they care about. And again, for every one of these superstar musicians, there are thousands that never got exposure because it’s both incredibly hard to write a song that appeals to everyone, and (with exceptions) tends to water down the music into something that’s mildly entertaining, but strongly appeals to no one.

Our advice: Train yourself in how to deal with criticism first, then start learning how to grow from it. At the same time you’re following a voice all your own, pay attention to the reaction of your listeners. Put yourself in their shoes. From a fan’s perspective, what could you do to improve your compositions, your performances, your recordings and your brand? Spend a little time listening to the people who spend so much time listening to you!

photo credit (CC-BY-SA) Eva Rinaldi