There's lots of us critics critiquing artists' performances these days. From American Idol and other talent show judges and audiences, choir directors, school teachers, industry insiders, family and friends, TV talking heads, radio DJ's, bloggers, mag news reporters and other media mavens as well as the random man/woman-on-the-street, there is no lack of opinion out there. So many opinions... sometimes diametrically opposed! Just think of the love/hate differences of opinion on a performing artist like Taylor Swift for goodness sake!
So how do you know if your performance works?
The answer is: If it gets you a favorable response from YOUR audience. Period.
Whether it's a recorded vocal or live performance, the best goal you can reach for is to do it in such a way as to reach the heart of your specific audience. You have to define that audience in order to achieve this. It could be...
- The live audience observing your onstage performance
- The internet audience by whom you're seeking to be found
- The booking agent in the audience who YOU want to book you for his/her venue because you feel their venues' audience would be into who you are as an artist
- The label rep in the audience who YOU want to sign you because they market to the audience who would be into who you are as an artist
- The listeners to the specific type of radio show on which YOU want to be played because they reach the audience who would be into who you are as an artist.
- the crowd that is not into who you are as an artist. (What does Taylor Swift care that diva lovers don't have a favorable response to her performances? What does Andrea Bocelli care that classical critics think he isn't legit enough? What does Bob Dylan care that... well, you get the picture:)
- industry insiders who want to change the essence of your artistry. That doesn't mean you can't work towards a more commercial application of your work, but if your insides churn and wave the red flag, disregard their 'wisdom' and commit to your own calling.
- a drunk audience or frantically worked up crowd. They might love or hate anything... but they won't remember you in the morning!
- talent show judges. Make them feel something just as if they were your ideal audience... but don't try to please them because they are looking for magic that people-pleasing won't bring... or they have already chosen the winner anyway!
- your producer, engineer or anyone in the recording control room to whom your lyric is not directed.