The Sound of Feedback

The Sound of Feedback

By day, Ellie Dunn taps out copy at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne. By night, she taps out beats in the rock band Dark Fair. Now Ellie shares the differences between the feedback you get playing live and the kind you get from clients.

I’ll never forget my first feedback experience. I was 16 and playing a gig with my band called Rocustic (we played a mix of rock and acoustic, get it?!?). We’d been invited to play a community event – a lucrative offer at the time.

As we began to play (a set of Jewel and Hole covers I suspect), an elderly woman in the front row lifted her frail little fingers and drove them into her ears – pushing them in as far as humanly possible. A pained expression swept over her sweet face. Her feedback was obvious: she hated us.

And while her feedback crushed my emo teenage heart, it was also direct, honest and jargon-free. Which is how I like my feedback to be.

(Side note: We were paid $60 for the gig, which is more than I’ve made from a lot of gigs since.)

 

Playing in a band and working in advertising are pretty similar really. There are late nights. Lots of booze. People tend to try and screw you. There’s always an abundance of beards and tattoos. You meet rock stars (some a lot more legit than others). Outsiders think what you do is cool. You learn to deal with egos. Your creativity gets judged by complete strangers. And for me, both involve wearing expensive noise-cancelling devices. (I like to write when it’s quiet, ya know?)

When you play live, punters make their feedback loud and clear – literally. The more they like you, the louder they cheer. And their body language speaks volumes:

Tapping a foot = yeah not bad
Nodding in time with the music = better
Head down, hair swinging side to side = totalling feelin’ it baby
The full body swing = loving it sick
Fist pumping the air = congratulations, you’ve killed it

These days, punters tend to give feedback in the digital form. They’ll snap you, tag you and upload you with an adoring emoji to boot. And if they reeeeeeeally like you, they’ll heckle you (nicely) and demand an encore. #dreamy

 An encore is great on-stage, but it's not quite the same when a client asks you to do it again .

An encore is great on-stage, but it's not quite the same when a client asks you to do it again .

In ad land when a client asks for more, it’s rarely a good thing. Some clients like to heckle too. You know the kind, they interject mid-sentence with the old “I’ll stop you there for a minute” manoeuvre. But unlike rock shows, you can’t have them removed by security.

Your only is hope for a good suit who knows when it’s time to step in (and is good at selling the merchandise.)

Compared with punters, client feedback in a presentation is a little more subtle:
Looking confused = not good
Looking at each other = definitely not good
Looking at their phones = code red
Staying completely mute = brace yourself
“You’ll have to leave it with me’” = God help you

Or sometimes they’ll wait to deliver their feedback. Days, weeks, sometimes months. They’ll leave you there in limbo land; fearing the worst, hoping for the best, questioning your entire creative ability. Fun!

Whatever kind of feedback you’re facing—the good, bad or deeply confusing—try take it with a grain of sustainable salt. We live in a subjective world, and you know and I know that you’re all kinds of amazing. In the wise words of Unique II…

Ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no
I got to keep on movin'
Ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride
I'm running and I won't touch ground
Oh no, I got to keep on movin'


Keen to give some live feedback of your own? Catch my band’s album launch Sep 1 at The Tote. Thank you for reading, you’ve been a wonderful audience.

Exposed: Australia's Shame

Exposed: Australia's Shame

Wheel of Feedback

Wheel of Feedback