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Shaking the doubt of my judgement

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I'm not sure if this is the best forum to post this in, but since it deals with a specifc person I figured it was.

I write my own original music and have two albums under my belt already. For both of these albums a friend of mine helped me to produce them. For those that might be unfamiliar with the role of a producer in the rock/metal world, they are there to provide an outside set of ears to capture the best performance from the artist, oversee the sonic end of things (how the mix sounds etc) and sometimes having a say in the songwriting.

For a while I felt like I was working very well with him. I trust his judgement on how things sound, and he overall did a good job for what I paid him for. However, now that I have been writing new music and showing it to him, he has been rejecting a lot of ideas that I have been happy with. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if it wasn't for the fact that I do trust his ears and he gives good reasons when he doesn't like something. Thing is though, that it's gotten to the point where I'm trusting his judgement over my own. I'm constantly writing with the question in the back of my mind if he is going to approve or not. And when he does give his opinion, I'm left wondering if I'm agreeing with him because he is right or because he makes me feel like my judgement is inferior to his, so I go along and agree with him

I know there have been instances where I went with a suggestion of his and from an objective viewpoint it was better than what I orignally had, but I feel like the confidence I once had in my songwriting ability is shot. The guy has been a friend of mine for a long time and like I said, there are instances where his outside ear is useful, I'm just at a loss for how to regain the confidence in my writing when I may present him an idea I'm proud of and he tells me "absolutely not."

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I'm just at a loss for how to regain the confidence in my writing when I may present him an idea I'm proud of and he tells me "absolutely not."

Be selfish. You're writing the music to please yourself, not him. Write what sounds good to you, consider his opinion if you value it, and make a decision. You have to have a strong will to be successful as an artist.

There will be plenty of people down the road who will want to make your music "better." if you take all of their advice to heart, you'll not only lose your passion for music, you'll end up hating what you write, even if it's good, because it won't be your own.

If you find it hard to put other people's criticism of your music in context, it might be better not to ask for opinions at all. At least then your successes and failures will be yours and not dependent on anyone else's judgment.

Have you read The Fountainhead?

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All Myself's advice is spot-on. I have done exactly what you have done, BlackInMind, and wound up just losing all interest in said activity that I had previously loved.

Keep in mind that your friend probably doesn't know what is going on, so try not to blame him. You can even still keep him as producer, just switch your focus from what he thinks first to what you think first. He is there to help you, you are not there to help him, so to speak (although there would be no him without your music). Since you have already developed a habit of turning to him in your mind before yourself, you'll first need to some willpower to break that and turn to yourself first. After you accomplish that and form your previous habit back again, I suspect that you will be able to work with him successfully once more.

You might also try asking him if he thinks your music has changed recently, as you have noticed more negative feedback than before. But, your music may have changed since your focus is less on yourself than it had been.

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All Myself's advice is spot-on. I have done exactly what you have done, BlackInMind, and wound up just losing all interest in said activity that I had previously loved.

Keep in mind that your friend probably doesn't know what is going on, so try not to blame him. You can even still keep him as producer, just switch your focus from what he thinks first to what you think first. He is there to help you, you are not there to help him, so to speak (although there would be no him without your music). Since you have already developed a habit of turning to him in your mind before yourself, you'll first need to some willpower to break that and turn to yourself first. After you accomplish that and form your previous habit back again, I suspect that you will be able to work with him successfully once more.

You might also try asking him if he thinks your music has changed recently, as you have noticed more negative feedback than before. But, your music may have changed since your focus is less on yourself than it had been.

I know its not that my music has changed (in an overall context aside from natural progressions I've made as a musician), he's simply become more critical. I asked him not too long ago if he thought the material I had written on the last album was better (after he had been criticizing my new stuff more) and he basically told me he still didn't like most of it, and he was now saying what he felt about the actual songwriting more than before.

You are right that I know he is just trying to help me and bring the best out of me, but in the process it definitely has screwed up my ability to judge my own work. A few times in the past its driven me to totally resist him, but when I do, he takes offense, telling me I need to be less stubborn.

I have read The Fountainhead, which is why I know there is a problem here to begin with. This also made me think had Rand ever said anything about editors of her novels, since editors are essentially performing the same role as a producer in music?

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I know its not that my music has changed (in an overall context aside from natural progressions I've made as a musician), he's simply become more critical. I asked him not too long ago if he thought the material I had written on the last album was better (after he had been criticizing my new stuff more) and he basically told me he still didn't like most of it, and he was now saying what he felt about the actual songwriting more than before.

You are right that I know he is just trying to help me and bring the best out of me, but in the process it definitely has screwed up my ability to judge my own work. A few times in the past its driven me to totally resist him, but when I do, he takes offense, telling me I need to be less stubborn.

I have read The Fountainhead, which is why I know there is a problem here to begin with. This also made me think had Rand ever said anything about editors of her novels, since editors are essentially performing the same role as a producer in music?

It sounds almost like you have a student/teacher relationship, where he is the teacher and you the student. That's a great relationship sometimes, but if you want to do your own original work you have to be able to work unfettered and if you get advice from others, take it as advice only. You want to be in charge of your work. I think you should tell your producer that in an amicable way. It is your work, after all.

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I have read The Fountainhead, which is why I know there is a problem here to begin with. This also made me think had Rand ever said anything about editors of her novels, since editors are essentially performing the same role as a producer in music?

Yes, Rand did say some things about her attitude to editors in her collected letters. (There may also be some relevant discussion in her Art of Fiction and Art of Non-Fiction collections.) As I recall her essential view was that she was willing to take feedback on ways to make her books better, but she would make the final decisions about what changes to make, and she would make them herself. She was also very clear that the artist should create for himself primarily. An artist who creates works that he does not like, but which he thinks the public will, is not an artist but a hack. Rand's attitude towards that can be seen in The Fountainhead in the scene where Howard Roark first meets the sculptor Stephen Mallory.

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