Music Business

People Can be Ruthless, How to Handle Criticisms


People can be ruthless! Brutal. You put ALL of your heart into your music, hustle real hard. You’ve been working on minimal sleep. The final product is out and published on blogs, online etc. You are waiting for praises and what happens? You get hammered. No mercy. Some say you can’t sing. Others say “no identity rara.” Still more say “e dey copy TI, Lil’ Wayne, Jay-Z, Zara ati gbogbo e.” “u no fit connect with Naija people. He is too elite.”

You hear these things and think, “Jesus, Nigerians MAN! They can be RUTHLESS.” You go into a funk. You are just straight DEpressed! Before you get more worked up than you already are, settle down. It is the nature of the job. When you put yourself in the public eye, expect to be criticized. How you handle criticisms becomes very important.

1. You have the RIGHT to REJECT criticism, so use it: You should be an absolutely fierce protector of who you receive criticisms from. There are people who mean well and those who do not. Do not make yourself psychologically vulnerable to those with ill intent. Those who do not mean well will generally hurl personal attacks at you rather than focus on your work. For example, in response to your song, you may read a comment like, “ignoramus fool. Abeg gerrout jare! he can’t sing. Who dash monkey banana sef?” Needless to say, that is clearly personal and has nothing to do with the substance of your work. Take a line from one of Jay-Z’s hit songs and “you better get that dirt off your shoulder.” The well intentioned will always justify the basis of their criticisms. Even then, sometimes the well intentioned might provide constructive criticisms but in an overly aggressive manner. Separate the two. Focus on the criticism and move on.

2. Don’t be a people pleaser: People pleasing in the entertainment business is a sure way to kill your career. You cannot please everyone. It is critical, therefore, that you have your own STRONG core. Validate yourself. Don’t wait for others to validate your work. Be careful as you do this not to confuse it with ego. A step in the right direction to develop a strong core is to know the answers to these questions: what drives you? Why do you make music? What are your value systems? Answering these questions will make you stand firm and not be so needy or dependent on people’s acceptance of your work.

3. Think before you react to Criticisms: No one likes to be criticized. Naturally, we get defensive and want to lash back or depending on the personality, shut down. It is important not to react quickly. If you receive criticisms, take a chill pill and revisit the issue later when you are calm and can get a sense of where the criticisms are coming from.

4. Don’t sit on it: There is a tendency to want to take the criticism we hear, dwell on it, analyze and over analyze it. DON’T. Focus on the actual criticism, take it for what it is, learn from it if there is something sto learn from and then be about the business of making even better music. Be mature about it and avoid discussing it with everyone, that includes putting it up on your facebook status and so forth.

5. Balance is key: If you are one of those who loves to receive only praises but simply can’t handle any criticisms even constructive ones, then you need to learn the art of balance. Revisit point #2. Learn more about yourself and invest in personal growth so you can learn how to take both praises and criticisms

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law website, livestream and podcast show empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through its brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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