I feel it’s important to remind ourselves as songwriters that a song’s quality – like any art – is subjective. Ultimately, time and the long view will provide a clearer perspective on whether your work is solid. Even the most successful songwriters face a lot of rejection and an almost endless supply of others’ opinions. The reality is that if you’re going to sustain a career as a songwriter, you can’t rely on anyone else’s point of view as to the level of your songs. Here are a few ways to help you to decide if your song is “good” or not.
This one is much easier said than done when you’re starting out as a songwriter. We’re so easily discouraged if our songs aren’t met with unqualified praise that even the slightest comment or criticism can convince us we’ve written a sub par song. Part of developing a thick skin is knowing when to tune out all other opinions in favor of your own positive one.
Songs, at their best, are written to make people feel something. The very worst response to one of our songs is a non-response. It’s infinitely better to have someone actively dislike something you’ve written because at the very least it means your song has a strong enough statement to elicit a reaction. That being said, it always feels better when your song is loved instead of hated but either response means you’re on the right track.
If, in reviewing your finished song, you’re confident it communicates the message – both musically and lyrically – that you hoped to communicate, then you’ve written a good song. It doesn’t hurt to remind yourself once your song is finished why you sat down to write it in the first place. If the end result stays true to your original vision for what you’d hoped to do, then, by definition what you’ve written is good.
While it feels wonderful to have others tell you your songs are great, relying on outside opinions is, at best, risky and, at worst, dangerously discouraging. In order to find the motivation to get up every day and write songs, you’ll need to know in your own heart and mind that the work you are doing is quality and deserves to be heard.