On Dealing with Critics and Trolls
Here's a fact that very few musicians admit openly.
Unless you're majorly famous, odds are your work is freelance, and to that extent, success vs. failure have less to do with talent and more with SOCIAL SKILLS.
Consider most Jazz towns...
"Jazz scenes" usually center around a handful of clubs that represent different "levels" (as well as styles) of musicianship. Usually, a handful of musicians will rule each town, and the "head honcho" will be a guy who has a bandstand which he's had for years, and where people have a sense that in order to be legit, they must be seen sitting in with him.
Getting on such a gig does require talent (as well as an ability to get along with bandleaders and peers), but starting such a bandstand requires little more than having a good relationship with the owner of the club... and of course, over time, being entertaining and promotionally effective enough to bring him the customers he needs to keep the club open. That in itself is about having the skills of a master politician.
Musicians, of course, will develop their own gigs, but only the ones with adequate social skills will really be able to keep them going and become staple
This is where an important lesson is learnt. On the internet there are all sorts of characters and critics, many who are quite masterful at expressing themselves, often in stingingly sarcastic ways... The catch (usually) is...
Think of it like this: If job #1 of the professional musician is to promote themselves and their endeavors, can a person who shows a lack of willingness to reveal their true identity, and who seems severely lacking in social skills really be that serious a musician?
Although it is true that there are legendary players known for their poor off stage personalities (fairly as well as unfairly), the truth is, most established players you meet are usually wonderfully warm people. In my life, I've met few "legends" who aren't also master raconteurs with an ability to talk to anybody about anything. --This is why any time you meet anybody who ever met anybody who was somebody in Jazz and other forms of music that may groove, but be less mainstream, will have loads of stories to tell about the time they met them.
In my own case, I'll never forget how kind so many of my idols were to me the few times I met them. James Brown's trombonist Fred Wesley (then touring with Maceo), used to even freak me out by remembering my name every time. --Get in a room with Lou Donaldson, and be prepared for endless anecdotes about everything, including Golf and Professional Baseball -- something I know little about. Anyone will tell you, Chuck Brown was, and Bootsy is the nicest guy in the world... And even in the case of musicians who are famous for having tempers and attitudes, people who got within there realm can also tell incredible stories about the warm hearts they had beneath the famous tantrums and confrontations. I'd take it one step further... hang out at the type of club where old school legends hand... but be advice, you won't find them on the bandstand most the time... They'll be at the bar telling stories. --I've met few really legit old school players who aren't master raconteurs.
In the end, realize, most likely if a person is going out of his or way to insult rather than encourage and connect with you or other players, he or she probably wants attention bad, but doesn't know how to get it in a way that the energy turns into a base of support... Ultimately, it makes such a person a nobody who's sole reality most likely is nothing more than a mix of fantasy and virtual existence. -- Such people can really piss off those who've encountered them, but the truth is, once you realize they're trolls, you learn to deal with them like you'd deal with any nutball you'd encounter on the street: ignore them and stay far away.
And here is where the story ends... its tempting to counter negativity with negativity -- we live in the post "COUNTERPOINT", current cable news debate era, but the truth is, its a dead end road if your aim is to get product out. Big smiles, warm handshakes, and the ability to connect and present the talents you have is what its all about... that and nothing more. --Being able to play a musical instrument, ultimately speaking is about three types of connections: chords, notes and people. A true musicians knows that, and knows you don't waste your time on people who don't have "connections".
There is nothing more to it than that...
As for dealing with trolls, I'd end up by pointing out one thing: Most seems to be bored, angry, need to vent, want attention (all due to a lack of ability to make substantive human and professional connections) and added to this mix, have obsessive type personalities. --Its that final annoying factor that makes it possible to deal with them. If ignored, many get bored, lacking the attention they want and need, and simply move on. In the worst case, even if they talk about you behind your back, its not always such a big thing, as a golden rule of the entertainment biz you need to embrace if you're going to play the game: Any publicity is good. The more people who know your name, the more relevant you are. --If, in the end, your product is substantive, it will sell itself. If you can't deal with criticism, but fair and unfair, fact is, the music biz most likely isn't the field for you.
I'll close with one example.
I normally don't listen to popular music, but was curious about who this Amy Winehouse was being bored and clicking a headline telling of one of her (at the time) drug related antics were... --Her image, most certainly didn't appeal to me, but I went so far as to click a link and I heard her music, and was very impressed realizing I was seeing a highly successful popular singer who clearly was very influenced by Dinah Washington, and had a very Jazzy and Groovy sound going in the mix. --BACK TO BLACK became one of the only pop CDs I'd bought in years, and to this day, have no doubt, despite the bad press and her tragic demise, that she was one of the greatest vocal talents of our generation. --In the case of Amy Winehouse, it was the horrible publicity that put her on the radar for me, yet, that publicity lead me to discover that (IMHO) she was indeed an artist well worth listening to, if not revealing. I'm sure that her music will be long stay in my collection for years to come... and the end result is, I definitely owe a tip of the hat to the "h8ters".
Rock on with your bad selves, dudes...
Eddie Landsberg (2012)