Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review of SpinTunes 1, Round 1 JUDGING

Some contests are decided by popular vote. Some are scored according to measurable criteria. Some are judged. Now, judging might be tempered by set criteria, but in the end it is a purely subjective matter. I'm a firm believer that for those contests that are judged, a judge should never have to explain a decision. In this unnecessarily long and rambly post, I'm about to demonstrate why.

Now, before I begin let me make it perfectly clear that I very much approve of the judging method used in SpinTunes. The theory here is that by having each judge rank the contestants and then taking the aggregate, what you wind up with is as close to a perfect compromise as you can get. Differences of opinion should average out, and general consensus should be magnified. By this I mean that entries that are generally acknowledged to be good should move to the top, while entries that are of the "you either love it or hate it" (LIoHI) variety should wind up somewhere in the middle of the pack with more consistently average entries. Below-par entries should wind up at the bottom.

SpinTunes is a little unusual in that the judges have chosen (correction: they were told) to critique each and every entry. This gives us some insight into what they're thinking (or what they think they're thinking). What we've seen in the first round of SpinTunes is that, just as the competitors move into the "undefined space" for expression of their creativity; so do judges move into that same space for the expression of their criteria. They carry with them criteria that aren't published in the challenge, and these vary from judge to judge.

I'm not implying that's a bad thing... it's just a fact of judging that it's a matter of personal taste. Contestants simply need to understand that and not take any decision personally. The reason I don't think a judge should have to explain a decision is because it then pressures them to think of justifications for those decisions, and those justifications aren't necessarily consistent, nor do they necessarily make sense; and in some cases they expose where flaws exist in the judges' thinking rather than the entry. Better to simply say, "this one didn't impress me," and leave it at that.

Let's take an example of how the SpinTunes judging system works in practice. I've said often that Edric Haleen has been under-rated in prior contests. In this round, he placed first, and not by a small margin. Yet, he was ranked at the top by only a single judge, Heather Zink. How can that happen? Well, each of the other judges' top picks were ranked significantly lower by the other judges, either because of the "LIoHI factor" or because of some apparent differences of opinion regarding whether the song met the criteria. For instance, Niveous' top pick was Jenny Katz's song, "Blofeld's Beginnings". While this a very good song, was not written in the first person, and wound up near the bottom on 3 out of five judges' lists.

For what it's worth, had I been judging, it wouldn't have mattered how good the song is if it simply didn't meet the challenge; it would have wound up at or near the bottom. In Song Fu, however, Ken Plume would put out the challenge and it didn't really matter if you even attempted to meet it... even when people submitted instrumentals in response to lyrical challenges, he would put it out for votes anyway and let the audience deal with it. I saw that as a weakness of Song Fu. These are completely different approaches to judging the results. Niveous is evidently very forgiving when it comes to meeting the challenges... he deducts for not meeting the challenge (though not much, to be sure) and then ranks the songs according to remaining merit. I won't even begin to say that either approach is "wrong" because a judge shouldn't ever have to explain himself. In fact, I could possibly re-evaluate my own stand on "disqualify vs deduct" as the rounds progress. My opinion's not frozen in stone.

Now, if you chart the judges' scores and sort by aggregate rank (as I've done, so you don't have to), you notice immediately that consistently high-scorers float to the top, consistently low-scorers sink to the bottom, and the middle is dominated by the controversial and middle-of-the-road entries. Not to pick on anybody, but I'll offer JoAnn Abbott's "Why" as an example of the middle-of-the-road, and Kevin Savino-Riker's "Tough Jobs vs. Iron Gates" as an example of LIoHI. So what we see in practice is what we predict, which I'd say is a pretty good system, which works whether you explain yourself or not.

I'm a bit intrigued by some of the comments, though... and keep in mind that the judges approaches are what they are, and are really should be immune to criticism, and that I don't necessarily disagree with everything that ANY of the judges said. There are five judges, each reviewing 20 competitors. There's no way I'm going to take each in detail. I'm simply cherry-picking some notable statements.

First, I was surprised that the judges critiqued the shadows, as they didn't have to. But it was cool that they did so and the comments were generally on point. I mostly mention this because of something I first noticed when I read Heather's comment on "Firestorm": Heather wasn't familiar with the characters. BUT... she obviously used a search engine and found out a thing or two about Firestorm and Multiplex, including the fact that Multiplex is unique in that his "first person" is PLURAL... which made this shadow spot on the challenge, even if it sounds odd at first. I found this to be generally true of all of Heather's comments; she takes a very studious approach to her reviews, doing her best to understand the characters as intended by the composer. As a result, you find that Heather's rankings are very different from everyone else's. It seems to me that Heather scored based on production values she could imagine applied to each song rather than what was actually delivered.

Jules, OTOH, didn't understand understand "Firestorm" because she didn't know the characters and didn't look it up. No biggie... this is a shadow and she didn't need to. But it DOES highlight a disagreement we have regarding how a song of this sort needs to be structured. I'm commenting about this here because Jules stated so forcefully and directly (and repeatedly) that a song needs to stand alone, without a guide.

I disagree... largely (but not solely) because this is inconsistently applied. For instance, a song mentions Superman. That's OK, because we all know about Superman. But is that "standing alone"? HELL no, because we know about Superman from 72 years of pop-culture... comic books, movies, television shows, lunchboxes, cartoons, and even novels. That's the complete antithesis of "standing alone". I think that to be consistent, you simply have to allow some leeway for the lesser-known or brand-new characters that are allowed under the published rules, especially since the published rules allow you to identify that character in an accompanying email. I don't agree with marking down someone for doing exactly what they were told they could do in the challenge announcement.

If you read Jules' review, I think it's evident that "Superman Sneezed" scored the full 20 points from Jules' as much because of what she brought into it from that wealth of external lore as is was because of what the song itself contained. None of the other judges gave it more than 13 points.

The "no-guide" rule presumes that we're listening to pop songs that would theoretically be heard for the first time in isolation on the radio, devoid of context, but I see no stipulation in the contest rules to support that presumption, and feel absolutely no need to impose it on the songwriter. For instance, I love the music in "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog", even though every last song would fail the "no-guide" criterion, if it were applied. Still, it won an Emmy.

Personally, I think it's OK for a song to make some assumptions about what the audience should know about the character, and then bring something new and interesting to that character within the song. For instance, take a song about 'Beamcaster', whom you don't know from Adam's housecat (because I just made him up). In isolation, you don't know anything about him except that he's some kind of hero (or villain), and that he's got some kind of emotional issues that he's working through. So superficially, if you bring in some imagined rule that the song should stand alone, this would score horribly. But drop it into a musical play where that backstory has just played out, and the exact same song delivered in exactly the same way may blow your socks off. I would personally allow the songwriter the small bit of leeway it takes to compete creatively in even a tiny way with an established character like Superman; and... as a matter of fact, that's exactly what Edric Haleen did. He provided no more background than I just did for 'Beamcaster'. Edric's character doesn't even have a name, which was a stipulation (an unnecessary one, IMHO, as it's artistically important for him not to have one here). Yet "A Letter To Humanity" wound up at the top of the list because he ranked high on every judge's list.

If it appears that I'm picking on Jules, I do it only because I know that she knows how to disagree without being disagreeable, and because she knows that no matter how forcefully I express MY opinion, I don't think less of hers. Many of her remarks are spot-on and have my full agreement. Besides, judges don't need to explain.

The comments about Bram Tant's "Kebab Shop" were fascinating, on everybody's part. To put it in perspective, the points awarded to this song were 13 (Heather), 1 (Niveous), 15 (Jules), 2 (Joe), and 4 (Sammy). Clearly it's close to the LIoHI category, just as Bram predicted when he submitted it, with Heather and Jules in the "love it" (or at least, the "appreciated it") camp, and Niveous and Joe in the "hate it" camp. Niveous, Joe, and Sammy all commented that it's not a song. Sammy's comments were probably the most intriguing, as he's in the "LOVE IT!" camp, but scored it at the bottom for failing to meet the challenge by not having a super-enough villain, and not being a song. The song-vs-rant bit perked my ears up in memory of Song Fu 6, Round 2, in which Inverse Clown entered a completely spoken rant (without even the benefit of a sung "Allah akhbar") which received similar criticism. As I supported Inverse then, I'll maintain the trend and support Bram now. It's a song. Did it meet the challenge? Well, that's completely dependent on how villainous you have to be to be a "supervillain". the Joker has no powers, nor does most of Batman's rogue's gallery. Lex Luthor has no powers, but he's pretty damned evil. That said, I don't ever recall him deliberately poisoning people and following them to their homes to finish them off personally. That's a whole different class of evil. Is a super-villain defined by the quality of hero that hunts him down? Or is he simply defined someone who is above the level of evil normally encountered in the world we know? I'm not sure I'm ready to close the door on the Kebab Shop.

I quite like Joe's method of commenting. Very short, with a minimum of explanation and just a few stand out features (good or bad) about each song. Joe knows that he doesn't have to explain, because a) he's a judge; and b) he's Joe 'Covenant' Lamb. Double whammy. Like Niveous, Joe seems to deduct, but not disqualify, if a song fails to completely meet the challenge. Joe seems to put more emphasis on the production quality than the other judges. I know this is a songwriting competition, so the quality of the song should theoretically trump the production, but you still do have to at least get the idea across to the judges. To that extent, production does and should matter.

Despite anything I've said here, I disagree with none of the judges' opinions. They're opinions, and final, and not arguable. I also have no problem with the final rankings. I'm jazzed to be hearing a lot of great new music from friends old and new, and hope it goes on like this for the remaining rounds, and for future competitions.

So what does all this mean to competitors? Well, if everybody's telling you the same thing, then you'd probably better listen. But judging is subjective, and you're unlikely to please everyone at once. So don't put too much emphasis on any one judge's opinion or review.

You already know that just as you all interpret these challenges differently, the judges also interpret them in their own ways. Please, please, please, people, assess these challenges as you see them. Do what makes you feel happy. Keep taking chances, trying new things, and sticking your necks out. If you're happy with it, that's what matters.

Now, here's a question I have for Travis Langworthy... JoAnn Abbot and Kevin Savino-Riker have the same number of points from the judges. They also have the same number of popular votes. So it falls to YOU, sir... what's the proper order for these two entries?

UPDATE: The answer to the question for Travis is that it's JoAnn, then Kevin, as announced here. Also, I jokingly mentioned that I toyed with the idea of ranking the judges. I was told I should... and I started to... but after thinking about it I decided against it. Judges' decisions are final, and none should even apparently carry more weight than another. There are no "good" judges and no "bad" judges. That's my final ranking.


MiLo said...

Thanks for sharing, Dave.
If I may add my $.02 to the mix-
Whether you intend it or not, people will ALWAYS bring their own assumptions to the table as a listener. To carry the Superman references further, "Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five for Fighting - without the word Superman in the title, it's still a good song, but once we understand it's about Superman who is depressed and imperfect, the impact is heightened.

But this doesn't apply lyrically, only. Line cliches or chord progressions can cause your listeners to bring other things to the table as well. Paul and Storm spoke about this when they were nice enough to be on the TMA podcast (episode 2 I believe). I dislike "Caroline" because of the pleasantries I experienced while writing it. I've spoken to people who associate positive memories with the imagery in the song, and like it for that reason.
So people will make associations with your music, whether you like it or not. You can choose to harness that and encourage it, or you write from a stand-alone position. Both are equally valid, however, what your listener pieces together in their head is out of your control.

Hastily written; I apologize for sentence fragments / generally nonsensicalness. Thanks for blogging, Dave.

Spin said...

Great review Dave, but that question to me is already answered on the SpinTunes blog. Both votes tied, and I picked JoAnn's song over Kevins.

"JoAnn wins the tie breaker based on my opinions of the songs." - SpinTunes

Since I already had the round reviewed, I just referred to my review & rankings.

Spin said...

btw: I want my reveiw reviewed. The life of an alternate is no fun. :p

Dave Leigh said...

@Spin, since you asked... I thought your comments were thoughtful and to the point. You certainly didn't disappoint me with your comments re:Kebab Shop. (I'm adopting that one, just because it was such an inspired act of desperation on Bram's part)

And since both you and Joe mentioned it, I might as well say this... My recording is purposely bad. I'm not competing, so I felt no pressure to put my best production foot forward. Basically, I'm enjoying my time off. So, while I may shadow future rounds, they'll also probably sound like I recorded them over the telephone. Besides, this is about THEM. The competitors.

Readers can catch up on your review here:

Jules said...

Let me try this again a second time:

Re Guide (because I think you may have misunderstood what I meant by guide. And I hope this makes sense, but for some reason I doubt it will as I am having a really bad brain day):

Superman Sneezes could have been about any Superhero. The writer was able to get across what the character was thinking/feeling without the use of a guide. It stood on its own.

Other songs, did not. They handed in a guide stating: this is what I was wanted my character to convey etc etc, these were my intentions with the song. Edric accomplished that without a guide. I believe he has one somewhere, but I have not read it. The music and lyrics did what it was suppose to do. So of course it will get more points than a song where the artist did not get their point across.

By guide, I don't mean a guide into the Lore or deeds of the character. I mean the intent of what the musician was trying to do with their character.

The intent/feelings/thoughts/etc need to be in the song, not in a guide.

As for Bryce's song, as I told him, I only listened to it once and write before I wrote the review. I didn't give it any real time like I did the others because I only became aware of it when I started on my review. It wasn't the fact I didn't know the characters that confused me, I couldn't figure out if he had actually done the challenge or not and I didn't have time or energy to look into like I did with two other "real" songs when I thought they missed the challenge for not writing from 1st person.

I plan on revisiting Bryce's song as I told him. Musically, I loved it! Even lyrically I loved it even if I was confused after first and only listen. But as it was a shadow, I did not find it necessary to give it the same mental effort I afforded the contestants (and they deserve it). Especially as I had already put in over 15 hours listening to and reviewing songs. May not be fair, but he isn't competing so I don't think fair applies here.

And yes, I do know you are not picking on me :) I appreciate the fact you did choose to single me out for the reasons you states. You know I am always up for a good dialogue about such things.

I had other thoughts, but I am foggy. I'm sure I will come up with them as more comments come in or I have more time to think.

Spin said...

I feel better now. :p Thanks.

Jules said...

And I want to clarify one more thing, not because I feel I have to justify myself but because I don't want misunderstand and that is re: radio play and pop music.

I made that comment to those whom that may be one of their ambitions. If that isn't what you are seeking, then write how you want. But if it is a goal, it is something to keep in mind.

Dave Leigh said...

@Jules, perhaps "Superman Sneezed" COULD have been about any superhero, but it wasn't. I disagree that it could have been anyway. Lyrics such as "it's a bird, it's a plane..." pretty much preclude confusion, as does the title. You referenced "Superman" by name 8 times in your one-paragraph critique, never raising that possiblity. And you clearly brought a lot of yourself into your appreciation, as is evidenced by your use of the pronoun "I" 16 times in the same paragraph. And you've brought some understanding of the character's lore as well, otherwise lyrics like "what if this whole world is kryptonite" would be nonsense. And the pathos of Superman getting sick would likewise be nonsense unless you already knew that he was invulnerable, which is never even referenced in the song. These things are all filled in by the listeners' prior knowledge.

And I'm not saying there's anything bad about that at all. And I don't want to in any way diminish what you thought of this song or any other. My point isn't even ABOUT this song. What I'm saying is that I - that's me personally - believe that OTHER entrants should be able to make similar assumptions about their characters. ESPECIALLY those who selected pre-existing characters. Just because *I* don't know about 'Beamcaster', that doesn't mean a song about him is any less meaningful in context as 'Superman Sneezed' (for which I already have context). So I would judge it by learning something about Beamcaster. But that's me.

While I understand what you mean about the intent, etc. not requiring a guide, I submit that the pathos doesn't really carry weight without the backstory, as I demonstrate above. For that reason I don't see it as unreasonable to read that short exposition when it's submitted as per the challenge request.

Regarding the radio comment, I quote: "Just think about it, does the person who is listening to your song for the first time on the radio get the benefit of a guide?" I would submit that it depends on the song, and pop-cultural references ARE a guide. I can such songs until you're tired of hearing them. But no, they don't have an explicit, "here's what the song is about" explanation. However, as I mention in my review above, theatre-goers DO.

IOW, I stand by what I wrote, and respect your opinion.

Jules said...

I see your point of view, Dave :) And I respect it even if I don't agree :)

I like our disagreements!

Caleb said...

Interesting topic. FWIW, here's my take on it. Basically I agree with both of you. Pop culture can definitely a guide, and it's one that I often find myself deprived in. It can sometimes be awkward when a song depends on a cultural reference that I don't understand, and the song should have enough merit, without a guide, that it makes you want to dig deeper.

For instance, I didn't recognize Ernst Blofeld as an established Bond villain (until I Googled his name), however, I did recognize the Bond chord progression in the music (which I've also used, in Secret Recipe Ninja) and the villain-with-a-cat trope (what tvtropes calls the "Right Hand Cat"). In this case, the story is compelling enough that I'm willing to Google the name, and discover that he was a Bond villain who actually established the Right Hand Cat trope. But I haven't read a summary/spoiler on what his evil plot was. From the chorus, I gather it was something about a missile, the moon, and a reactor meltdown. It doesn't matter. The rest of the song still works incredibly well. It's not one of my top picks, but it's certainly not at the bottom either.

Another case is the Poodlz' Human Bomb. I Googled after the fact and discovered that he was also an actual comic book character, but I didn't need to know that to enjoy the song. After all, the song tells us everything we need to know: "What I touch explodes with a burst." In both cases, I'm willing to Google to make up for my lack of cultural knowledge that others might actually have, as long I can glean the basic facts at a glance. I don't consider that a guide, I consider it making up for a cultural deficiency.

Compare this with Gorb's song, which sounds to me like a "retirement home" for unsung heroes that I've never heard of. When he revealed the character's name, I went "Ua-who?" OK, I Googled it. He's some alien villain from the Fantastic Four, I think. Great. That tells me nothing about what's happening in the song. No way am I looking up all those other names.

I had a similar reaction to Parson's beautifully nostalgic song. Only problem is that I have absolutely no clue what she's singing about. Sure, I Googled, and discovered that its about a cartoon horse with rainbow-colored hair. Um... OK? The song is about remembering something that I have no memories of, so its hard for me to do anything with, no matter how purty it is. This may be my fault for not being familiar with the topic, but the whole song depends on actually knowing the reference, much more so than, say, Ernst Blofeld.

But I still see this cultural knowledge, whether pre-existing or Googled afterward, as different than someone sitting down and writing a separate guide to their song explaining "here's what's happening in the song". Especially if they made up a new character like I did. In that case, they'd better make sure that they can sell the character without the extra cultural knowledge. In a sense, that means putting the guide into the music.

That's one reason that I kept the intro to my song, even though it's a bit "campy" -- there isn't much that can transport your mind into a fictional world faster than a movie trailer: "In a world where...". Other songs I thought did this really well were Gamma Man and Origin. A counter-example of a song that created a new character and, IMHO, didn't provide as much of a guide as it should have was Faster Than Superman.

JoeCovenant said...

Just discussing the *takes*, I have to say I was a little ocnfused about some of the decisions made as per what *is* and *isn;t* a superhero song. As an example, (Jules again!) ;' ) I didn;t understand the comments re Denise's song that it "I am not quite sure about your song. I can see it as a superhero song and how she feels in her role as a hero and I also see it as just a song about an ordinary girl who feels invisible in a relationship. It isn't a good type of ambiguous."

I don;t understand that at all.
It';s called invisible girl.
Its about an invisible girl who also feels invisible.
Where is the ambiguity?
Also for a song to *reach* its audience it *Should* give the impression that it speaks to the listener.
And if you read comics you will know that much of their tale is how lonesome their lives are.
Jules herself mentions that they are mostly pathetic.
Invisible Girl is the *epitome* of that pathetic life so Jules' comments seemed inconsistent to me.
The same could be said about the comments on JoAnne's song.
This is precisely the reason that I wasn't overly concerned about the PRECISE meeting of The Challenge. if it was *about* a superhero in any way that was good enough for me.
And one man's superhero/villain is another man's Kebab Shop Owner.
Challange didn't say they had to be a *known* hero/villain.

Niveous said...

Wow. I shake my head.

At first, I looked at this and said- How meta, a review of the reviewers and then something started to smolder inside me. And I shook my head. I've been one of the judges on the Nur Ein for 5 years now, so I'm the veteran of this process. So, I'm thinking I see things a bit differently from Dr. Lindyke.

The theme of this blog seems to be don't take what the judges say personally and keep doing whatever the hell it is that you are doing. That only half right.

Why does someone want to join up in a musical competition such as this one? There's the chance to musically push yourself. These things kick you into another gear. But then there are also these 5 people, the judges. They give you something you don't get everyday... a captive audience. 5 people who are going to listen to your song- no matter what crap you put in front of them, they are going to willingly give you their opinion. They are going to tell you if the song made them laugh, cry, sing along, whatever.

Don't take what they say personally? Isn't that why you're here? As a musician who is out there, putting music online for free, isn't the objective to get the music to somebody, somewhere out there and hope that it affects them in someway? Don't you wanna know how that song made someone feel? If not, then why the hell did you put it out there. Leave it on your iPod if you don't want others to hear.

These competitions are more than just competitions. They are a chance for a bunch of musicians to get heard, do something different and get to find out how someone felt about their music. And the fact that it's not unaminous is a glorious thing. I've run Nur Ein for 5 years and we've only had ONE round with a unanimous win (year 2, round 5) and I bet people would still dispute that to this day. In fact, in hindsight I've grown to like the 2nd place song that round more than the winner.

Speaking of hindsight, the Jenny Katz vote. For the first time in 5 years, I voted with my heart over my head. I really should've voted Katz lower because she didn't fulfill the challenge. At that moment in time when I was compiling that ordinal ranking in which the game aspect of this revolves, I kinda forgot that she miffed the p.o.v. and gave her a good ranking simply because her song was damn good and i was willing to listen to it again and again. Did I make a mistake there. Yes? Do I regret it, nope. It's because a large part of me just wants a song that I can enjoy once this competition is over. Edric Haleen's song is well done. But am I going to listen to it often when the dust settles and SpinTunes is over? Probably not. But I will listen to Blofeld's Beginnings.

The game part of it, the eliminations and whatnot... well, they're just a game. And games are fun things. That's why we play them. There, Dr. Lindyke is right. No one should change their musical style just to appease the 5 judges. That's foolish and impossible. If you can mix a little Made Out of Babies or Jute Gyte into your style, you'll make me happy but probably scare off at least 1 of the judges. Instead, do what you do and have fun... (more in next post)

Niveous said...

..BUT you know this is a game, so play it. Do as the game asks and play to win. If you're just going to do the challenges any way you wanna or you're not gonna play to win- might as well just shadow it, right? But you signed up to play a game. Get in there, kick the challenge's ass, kick the other competitors' asses that much harder and like Al Davis said, "Just Win, Baby".

Don't totally disregard what the judges say. There is some constructive criticism there. In the end, we all wanna hear great songs and maybe a judge might have an idea that could make that song better.

So take it personally. Take it all personally. Know that 5 people out there listened to your songs. Some loved them. Some hated them. But we listened and told you how we felt and you got that just because we wanted to.

Lastly, if you ever want to know more about why I like or dislike a song or why I rated it where I did...I'm an easy person to find and always up for a good conversation. Like I said, half the fun of this is knowing that someone is willing to listen to your song.

JoeCovenant said...

I get what Niveous is saying.
But the whole experience proves that "You cant please all the people..."
My take is.
You can take on board what the judges may say regarding your songs. But dont live by that advice... unless you can see the truth in some of the comments.
As an example, one of MY reviewers during song fu stated that they thought my use of multi vocals was *good* but I over used it. I looked at that and thought, you know.. you're right. I still multi vocal, but not all the time.

To me, the challenge is secondary to the song, the song is *all* and the song involves three parts.
The Music, The Lyric, The Mix.
Get that balance right and I'll have a hard time selecting one over the other.

I obviously care that the challenge is *entered into* in the right spirit. But I'm not going to mark someone down because they wrote *about* a superhero rather than *I am a superhero*, not unless I have NO OTHER criteria to separate two equally good *songs*.

Isn't this fun !!!

(Its also good to see someone else saying... "Its about the winning !" ;' )

Rusty said...

Wow! I'm listening to Zoe Keating's new album on bandcamp. She performs cello solos using live, digital looping. It's crazy. Neil Gaiman told me about it on twitter.

And I'm reading the comments by the reviewers of SpinTunes on a review of SpinTunes, written by a SpinTunes shaddow. Yeah, it's all very meta. But it's also really well thought out discussion, debate, dialog about a subject that I love: music. Even better, in a small way, Godz Poodlz music!

I really have nothing to add to this, other than something I saw @wilw say (again on twitter), "I love living in the future!"

Dave, thanks for the blog. Judges, thanks for the judging and your comments here too. @SpinTunes, thanks for the contest. I'm having fun.

Dave Leigh said...

@Niveous, I'm certainly not meaning to ignore the judges, and don't want to be misunderstood with regards to "don't take it personally".

So to put it in a neat package, what I AM saying is (in order of precedence)

1. Meet the challenge. This is where you stretch yourself. If I were judging, I would not give you a pass no matter how good your song is. Crashing and burning in style is still crashing and burning.

2. Do what makes you happy while meeting the challenge. You're the most important person you need to please. If you're not having fun, ask yourself why you're here.

3. Listen to consensus. Everybody else can't be wrong. Use it for self improvement, but while you're doing that,

4. Don't overrate any one person's opinion. You're one person, too, and tastes vary.

There will be one winner. Anybody can go in with the will to win, and give it their best, and that's great. But there will be ONE winner. And that winner will go home with a pat on the back and an hearty, "Well done!" and will be... well... the winner.

In the meantime I'll wind up with a passel great new songs on my MP3 player from this competition, from 20+ people, all but one of which was NOT the winner. You can be sure I won't care in the slightest where they were in the final rankings while I'm listening. I'm happy for the winner, yeah, but I'm most happy for anybody who goes out there and puts their heart in it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but nobody should think that because I don't like their song, I think less of them.

That's what I mean by don't take it personally. I'm not saying, "don't heed constructive criticism." I mean don't take personal offense. The judges don't mean it that way, and I seriously hope no one here ever runs into a judge in any competition who is such a monumental douchebag as to say to mean, "your work sucks, and you as a human being, suck because of it." Whether you win or you lose, you're learning something and making friends and getting your music in front of people, and not just the five people who had to listen.

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