Season 2 Episode 6: How to Deal with Negative Criticism

Posted on
15 May 2013
by shannon kennedy under Episodes |

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Hello and welcome to the fourth podcast and sixth episode of Teen Jazz Radio for 2013! I'm Shannon Kennedy, your host and I'd like to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to our show and the fantastic young artists we feature as part of each podcast.

Today on the show I'm going to answer another question submitted by one of our listeners and I'm also going to feature the music of Adam Larson, Curtis Brooks and Yvonnick Prené.

I know many of you are listening to this podcast for different reasons - some of you may be here for the advice offered as part of this episode and some of you may be listening to check out the music we feature as part of the show. So, as I mentioned in the last episode, I'm going to try and space the music and the advice out evenly throughout the podcast so that there's a little something for everyone in the show.

In today's episode I'd like to talk about something we have all probably experienced at one point or another in our careers as musicians. It's an inevitable part of being in the public eye, but the Internet and social media have facilitated this sort of engagement.

As part of this session, I'd like to talk about trolling. Trolling is defined by Wikipedia as "the act of posting inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community such as forums, blogs, or social media to get an emotional response." More simply, it's mean, unhelpful comments posted in response to YouTube videos, blog posts, on Amazon, etc.

According to many psychologists, trolling is the result of "deindividuation." This means that the anonymity of the online environment leads to disinhibition amongst users. So in other words, anonymity has given individuals the confidence to say things online that they would never say to someone in real life.

For the most part, trolling can be an isolated incident, but there are cases where it can spiral out of control. Take Rebecca Black, for instance. Regardless of what you think of the song or of her as an artist, her song "Friday" received an unnecessary amount of negative criticism. The video not only garnered over 3 million dislikes on Youtube, but Black began receiving threats by phone and email in response to the video. I think that her response to all of the criticism was impressive. She's still doing music, has appeared in one of Katy Perry's music videos and has risen above all of the negative attention she's received. She's even been awarded "Choice Web Star" by the Teen Choice Awards and has been nominated for several other awards.

In the end, it all lies with you. Only you truly have the power to control how trolling and criticism affect you and you career. It's all about how you respond.

But, I don't want to hide the fact that rising above it all is hard. It really is, but if you want to succeed, it's something you'll have to do.

As I mentioned before, being out in the public eye, as is required of a performer, makes you vulnerable to trolling. This can be a hard thing to deal with because the music we create is an extension of ourselves, our experiences and our feelings. We pour ourselves into writing and performing, and negative feedback can be hard to take.

I'd like to introduce our first artist. Adam Larson is an up and coming saxophonist and composer currently residing in New York. He was one of our first Teen Jazz Artists back in 2005 and has since become one of our Influences. You can read more about Adam in our interview with him on Teen Jazz or at his website

The song we'd like to feature is Good Day Without You from his recently released debut album Simple Beauty.

- Get Simple Beauty on Amazon -

Once again that was saxophonist Adam Larson with Good Day Without You from his album Simple Beauty.

To continue with our conversation on trolling.

Before I get into how to respond to trolling, I'd like to discuss the difference between "criticism" and "trolling." Criticism, according to the Oxford dictionary, is "the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work."

Criticism can either be negative or positive, but it usually provides reasons for the statements made.

I'll give you an example. Someone who was trolling might say, "this is the worst cover of this song I've heard!" Someone offering criticism might say, "this isn't your best cover, but I enjoy your voice." Or "I'm a fan, but I prefer when you do this instead of that…"

Regardless of whether the comment is "trolling" or "criticism," it can hurt. The best thing to do, however, is decide which of the two it is and if you decide it's a critique, see what you can learn from it. If it's trolling, it's probably best just to ignore it or delete it.

I had the pleasure of recently meeting our next aspiring young saxophonist a week or two ago at bassist Darryl Williams' jam session in Oceanside. He's an extremely talented player and he just celebrated his eighteenth birthday. This is Curtis Brooks with a cover of Sade's "Is it a Crime."

That was Curtis Brooks with "Is it a Crime." You can check out more recordings of Curtis on Soundcloud at

So how do you respond when trolling or criticism get out of control?

With anything you put online - an album, a sound clip, a youtube video - you have to anticipate negative feedback. Not everyone is going to like what you do and that's okay.

As I mentioned before, the first step is to decide whether or not the comment is criticism or trolling. If it's an actual criticism, it's probably best to reply. You might even thank the person for sharing their opinion, and if it's the case, tell them how you might implement their suggestion. If it's trolling, responding might not be the best option.

If you aren't sure whether the comment is criticism or trolling, get the opinion of a third party. Sometimes your emotional connection may make it difficult to decide. Just use your best judgement and be honest with yourself and your audience regarding any decisions you make.

When it comes down to it, there are really only two or three ways to respond to trolling and/or negative criticism. The first is to ignore it.

By ignoring the comment, you aren't acknowledging the person who made it and this can do one of two things. It can either cause the person to move on to find an easier target or it can anger them and cause them to comment even more. It's hard to gauge which response you might receive. Leaving the comment up also might not be the best choice in case someone who does support you chooses to respond. Even though they may have the best intentions, responding could lead to an argument between them and the other person and that can be draining for everyone.

The second option, which in the case of trolling I feel is the best, is to delete the comment. If the "troll" notices, they might get upset and post something else about how you deleted their comment, and if they do, you should probably block them, but that usually doesn't happen. If you do decide to delete the comment, it's best to be transparent about it.

Sometimes, however deleting the comment isn't an option. For example, deleting a negative review on iTunes, Amazon or a YouTube video someone else posted isn't possible. You only have two options. You can ignore it, or leading us to our third option, respond.

I know what you're thinking - I just said that I didn't think responding to the comment is the best solution, but I'm not saying you need to directly reply to the comment. Instead, post a general comment about your policy on trolling. If you've deleted the comment, tell you audience that's what you did and why.

You could say something like, "I just wanted to let you know that I recently deleted a comment from my YouTube video because I felt that it was offensive. I appreciate comments and critique, but any negative and unhelpful comments will be deleted because I do not feel they contribute to the community and conversation that's a part of this video."

Regardless of whether it's trolling or criticism, it's important to remember that you are unique and that no one will ever be able to do what you do exactly the way that you do it. As an artist or performer, you should create music because you love it. Music is an art and it's intended to a means of self-expression and a way to connect with other people, so keep that in mind!

Share what you love, find your voice and if it's honest, positive feedback will come. It's too easy to get wrapped up in worry over whether other people may or may not like your music, but you should always create music for yourself first. You can't make everyone happy, that's not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to yourself and to do something that makes YOU happy.

So there you have it, our thoughts on trolling, negative criticism and how to respond.

If you'd like to continue reading about this subject or join the conversation, we'll have a few references and links listed along with a transcription of this episode on

Our last performer on today's episode is harmonica player Yvonnick Prené. We recently reviewed Yvonnick's latest album and featured an interview with him on Teen Jazz. You can read both by visiting You can also learn more about Yvonnick at

This is "A Billion Stars" from his debut release Jour de Fête on Steeplechase records.

- Get Jour de Fête on Amazon -

Once again that was "A Billion Stars" by Yvonnick Prene.

Before I close out the show, I'd like to invite you all to check out Teen Jazz if you're interested in learning more about me, Shannon Kennedy or the community. It's

Or if you just would like to say hello, come and say hi at our Facebook page - that's I promise to say hello back!

All the links that I've mentioned as part of the show will be up on Teen Jazz Radio, so if you're interested in learning more about these talented artists, please stop on by - I know they'll appreciate the love! You can leave comments on any of our posts at

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