Does an artist want to hear a song they've done in the past?
There is no real yes or no answer to this question, but there are a lot of things to consider. It depends on so many factors, from the artist to the songwriter, to the length of time that passed since recording the project.
As an artist, you would want to hear your music if you're not too hard on yourself about how the project turned out.
Listening to your old songs helps you to hear what you did really well with and what you can improve on, especially if a lot of time has passed since you've heard them.
Hearing your own music can also boost your confidence when you're in a creative rut. If you feel like you can't sing well or write well in a moment, you may want to refer back to previously completed songs to boost your motivation.
Sometimes an artist would want to hear their own music because they just so happened to be able to create music that is on par with current musical tastes, and it would just appear on their regular playlists without them giving it too much thought.
Not many people are on this level, but you can imagine a lot of famous musicians are.
Famous singer Charli XCX has a lot of confidence in her portfolio, claiming to only not like listening to one song. In an October 2020 interview with Red Bull, she confessed that the one song she regrets is from her 2014 album "Sucker" called "Break the Rules."
"There's only one song in my life that I didn't feel good about when I was making it. All other songs? Love. Feel great about them," she said.
Your old completed songs can also be a big source of embarrassment or anxiety for a variety of different reasons.
The most obvious reason an artist wouldn't want to hear their old material is that it is of much lower quality than they believe they are able to create in the present.
A famous artist wouldn't want to hear a song they've recorded because they never really liked the song. Many signed artists in contracts don't have much creative say when it comes to the recording process and record tracks that they just don't vibe with at all.
In 2015, during his first major interview after leaving One Direction, Zayn Malik told Fader magazine that he never really liked One Direction's style of music.
"If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as f---, so they could use that version," he stated.
"I wasn't 100% behind the music. It wasn't me. It was music that was already given to us, and we were told this is what is going to sell to these people."
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Artists can also just get really sick of hearing a certain song over and over. If you have a hit song that you're often singing every time you're performing, especially over a short period of time, you're likely going to start getting annoyed with it.
Take Madonna, for example. During an interview with New York's Z100 FM radio station in 2008, she confessed to not wanting to perform "Like A Virgin" or hear "Material Girl" ever again.
I have mixed emotions when it comes to listening to my completed songs. To me, it largely depends on the amount of time that has passed since I completed the song.
Most of the time, I'm the type of artist who won't want to hear a song soon after I release it because I'll start to nitpick every little thing I could have done better.
Once a year or so goes by, I won't be so negative about the track, even if I still feel like it could have been done better. I'll likely only pick out the good things from the track and enjoy the thought of being able to make something even better in the future.
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If it's music from way, way back, I'm talking five years or older, I'll be even more intrigued to hear it, but I probably wouldn't want to put it on repeat or incorporate it into my regular playlists.
The quality of my old stuff does not match up to any current playlists I have, so it would throw my whole mood off.
On somewhat rare occasions, I'll have a song that I really think is up to par with the songs I have from famous singers, and it'll immediately make my listening experience much better knowing I was able to make a great song.
I can only think of 10 or so songs out of the hundreds I've finished that I wouldn't mind playing through if they popped up on a playlist.
Your experience with liking your own music will probably be as complex as mine. Please don't limit yourself, and don't be afraid to feel what you genuinely feel when it comes to your own art. Whatever you feel about your songs will be okay.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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