Playing for others vs. Playing for yourself

So I have a Youtube channel where I post all the tunes I learn. (My goal is about 4 or 5 tunes a week, sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't.)

There's a place on youtube where you can see a list of all of your videos with their statistics. I notice that my eyes are always drawn to the column of "dislikes" or Thumbs Down ratings that my videos get. It always hurts my feelings to see that some viewers don't like some of my videos, but why should it? And I why are humans always drawn to negative news, while positive news seems to matter less? I don't get a feeling of happiness to the same level each time I get a Thumbs Up.

When I started my New Tune a Day project, it was for my own benefit and education. I posted the videos publicly only to add a component of accountability. (I probably would have given up the project months ago if it weren't for the many people I knew who looked at my blog and learned the tunes along with me.)

But once I started getting feedback, I noticed that I started placing even more importance on the feedback I got. A few months ago, I got my first "dislike." Someone went through all 60 or so of my tunes at the time and disliked every single one. It's silly, but this really affected me. Intellectually I knew I should just shrug it off; so what if some (probably trollish) anonymous youtube person somewhere on this planet didn't like them? Who is that person to have any opinion worth my attention? No one. But still it hurt. I disabled rating on my videos for a while because I was afraid of the feedback.

Eventually I returned the rating function to my videos and continue to get mostly good ratings, and best of all, friendly and helpful comments. But I still can't help feeling hurt, or at least annoyed, every time someone thumbs me down. If someone thinks I could have done something better, for heaven's sake give me some constructive feedback, but a thumbs down seems like a stranger walking by, sticking his tongue out and saying "You're Dumb!" before scurrying back into anonymity. Totally useless.

Anyway. That's my rant about youtube, human psychology, ratings, and Irish tunes. How do you deal with mean people/negative feedback/tendency to pay too much attention to the "bad"?

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Comment by Tim Kennedy on August 30, 2012 at 13:37

Hi Katie,

Well I just spent the morning listening to every one of your videos and I loved them all. What a great way to spend a morning!  It was really nice to hear the mix of fiddle styles. Irish Trad, Quebecois, Cajun, Old Time...Venezuela! And the duets were a hoot. 

And, just to offset the SOB who hit dislike, I just hit like for all of them, well the first 70 that would accept ratings anyway. 

This is truly inspiring. Keep up the good work. 

Comment by Paul Ivory on May 3, 2012 at 8:29

Hi Katie,

Mike and Tony have said it all and I couldn't agree more with them.  You have a wonderful ability so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  I've only been playing since October 2011 and the thoughts of playing in public fill me with dread!!  As for appearing  on Youtube, well It's not even on my radar!  I have however, received my fair share of criticism in other areas of life and whenever it happens I remember this quote from Aristotle -

 "Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing”. 


 As for the  fool who 'disliked' your 60 tunes, good old Aristotle has something to say about that too -  

"Anyone can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way - that is not within everyone's power and that is not easy". 

In other words, maybe just let that one go!!   Keep up the good work.  It's inspiring.


Comment by Katie Davis Henderson on May 2, 2012 at 23:55

Mike you've made my day! Thanks for the encouragement. You're right, re #3, the positive feedback far outweighs the negative and matters more. :) 

Comment by Mike "Ormepipes" Orme on May 2, 2012 at 23:30

Katie, I need to talk you out of this negativity thing right now!! - so where do I start?

1/ Your fiddle playing is truly excellent and therefore anyone who is thumbing you down is a complete and utter eejut that knows absolutely nothing about anything. You only need 1/2 a brain to work out that your playing is something very special indeed so your "thumber" can't even have that much.

2/ Your tune a day project is absolutely amazing. It makes my output of 1/2 a tune every month look somewhat shabby (note to self, must try harder!!)

3/ Look at all the positive comments you get - and all the channel subsciptions. You are doing something to brighten the days of all these people - and that matters a whole lot and makes a difference to people's lives for the better, even if it is only for a duration of 1.25 !!!! 

4/ If I lived on your side of the pond, I would actually pay good money to come and listen to you - and I'm a tight fisted git (the wife will be only too happy to confim that for you).

Well, I hope the above has at least raised a smile - it will have made my day if it has.

Seriously, you've made me think about my own channel on utube.  I would be somewhat concerned if it started drawing high volumes of negativity but I think you just have to accept that, if your going to stick your head above the parapet, you may attract snipers. The complete strangers, from all over the globe, who take the time out to actually say that they have enjoyed something I've done more than make up for it. At the end of the day, I play for myself. The main reason I persist with utube is because I find it brings a focus to my practice that would be hard to get any other way. The awareness that I am "on show" makes me redouble my efforts to get stuff right. I never succeed in being perfect, but it makes me try. In that sense, and to address the question posed by the title of your thread, by posting on Utube I'm actually playing for myself and other people at the same time.


Comment by Tradconnect Reviews on May 1, 2012 at 20:42

Sadly Katie dealing with negative opinion and comment is part of the day to day job of living. When you are paid as part of a day job you have to deal with it a lot, and in that environment it is bearable. When you go home and put effort into your music or other hobby and then have to deal with negativity it is even harder. Like your kids saying "Dad, when are you gonna finish strangling that cat?" This is ok cause they are more often than not right. However posting stuff online to be viewed by all is a brave undertaking and your work on NTAD is fantastic. So to answer your question, just get on with doing what you do and brush those few negative comments aside. With time you will realise they don't matter. Now here is a tune for you. The Road To Cashel, one of my favourite reels. Check it out. T

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