Feedback for Artists: It’s Worth It
Imagine a baker who couldn’t care less of what his customers thought of his breakfast pastries or an app developer who didn’t do analysis on user experience. What would happen to these businesses? They’d surely go broke, and rightfully so!
Only in the arts do we expect people to support our work while often rejecting and shutting out outside opinions…unless they are positive, of course. Yes, it is a vulnerable and highly fraught career path, and other people’s opinions of our product and business can be difficult to let in and consider when it all feels so personal.
However, most of us cannot afford to ignore feedback from others, artistic and personal integrity aside. It’s just too risky.
Why is feedback so valuable?
1. It gives you intel on industry needs.
As actors, we expect to be embraced by a community of casting directors, agents, directors, producers and audiences alike without considering what their needs might be. This is something we’ve all struggled with and it is, frankly, career suicide. When we get feedback from any industry folks it is valuable insight into how their minds work and what they’re looking for. Any information you can get from potential “clients” or “buyers” should directly affect elements of your business strategy: be it branding, content creation or community cultivation (networking). So much of conducting good business is asking what value can I provide? Well, when anyone offers you a piece of feedback – whether on your wardrobe, self-tape set-up, or how you present yourself to potential collaborators – you get a little closer to really understanding how the business works and what it really wants.
2. It can make you better.
This one’s obvious. Because there is so much at stake and so much feeling tied up in our work, it can be challenging to get feedback from your agents after an audition or when you’re pitching a project to a colleague or producer. It’s even more difficult when fellow actors, in an effort to support each other, say things like: “Oh, they just don’t get what you’re about” or “They don’t appreciate what you have to offer” and “Haters gonna hate.”
Meanwhile, we never know how our product is truly coming across or being received. This feedback gives you the opportunity to grow and gain perspective, better preparing you and your business for longevity.
3. It makes your clients feel good.
Dale Carnegie, one of the greatest businessmen of the 20th century said one of the keys to good business is to “make other people feel important – and do it sincerely.” Not caring or outright rejecting others’ thoughts of your product makes them feel undervalued, and if you make them feel this way why would they ever want to work with you? Talent is a cheap commodity, it can be found everywhere and yours will rarely be so great that it allows you to disregard opinions. Whether or not you choose to take their advice or notes should be a thoughtful decision, but you must consider it or at least show gratitude for someone’s willingness to share it. They will notice and remember.
The more earnestly open someone is to feedback, the more confident they are in their art and business. Fantastic leaders and innovators in their fields are always, always, eager to hear what the market thinks of them and what they have to offer. Is it scary? Yes. Is it vulnerable? Yes. Does it require adeptness and insightfulness to sift through what is helpful feedback and what is not? Sure does. But unless you are one of the 1% who will win the lottery and “make it” without too much work, it is a necessary and vital skill.