When you first getting going down any road, there are going to be some stumbles along the way. When that road is as subjective, competitive, and lean as being a professional musician, you can count on stumbling, if not falling down completely. If the potholes and ruts in the road to music famedom have let the air out of your dreams, don’t despair. Rather than fight or flee from these challenges, embrace the struggle.
Most who hear “no” enough times will simply take that as the final word on the matter. But for musicians who are trying to break into the business, get record contract, get gigs, and find fans, “no” has to be their “modified yes.” Question the person who said it; ask why you were told “no”, find out what they found off-putting, ask for advice or feedback, and see if you can change their mind.
If you have sent your query to a music blog, artist rep, or agency ten times and you have never heard back from them, you might wonder if you have the right information. Maybe you are a hip hop group sending out your queries to a classical music reviewer, or maybe you used someone’s Hotmail address when they’ve switched to Gmail. Double check that your sources are a good fit for you and accurate.
Again, one of the biggest challenges for a new artist trying to get gigs, get representation, or get reviews is that they didn’t follow the submission guidelines. If a venue sees that its submission guidelines have not been followed, why should they look at your submissions at all? If you can’t find the submission guidelines, send along a query and ask.
We all think that what we’re doing is amazing. But compare yourself to the work of one of your favorite musicians, objectively, and see what you think. How good are you, really? How much more practice do you need? Even if your performance is solid, try changing things up to see if you can be even better. That missing spark might be a missing member, or a member too many.
As you can see, this flipped-around attitude can lead to growth, to maturity as an artist, to increased opportunity, and—hopefully—to “yes”.
Have you faced rejection in your music career? Were you able to turn that “no” into a “yes”? What did you learn from rejection?
See also: 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs.