If you’re a musician in a band doing original music, Rejection might as well be your new middle name, with Ignore as a second middle name, because you’ll be ignored much more than rejected.
When I started in music a quarter of a century ago, only some bands were able to release records. You had to have a record deal. There was an element of exclusivity being in that club. Someone had to have actually liked your music enough to want to make records with you. If you got them released it meant that people at the record label believed in them enough to want to spend money on pressing them. If they actually paid for promo and marketing, it was because they thought you would sell records.
If promo and marketing got retailers excited enough to want to stock your record in a record store, you were officially cool. Being cool didn’t sell any records, however. Someone had to walk into the store and buy your record. For that to happen, someone would had to have written about it in a magazine or played it on the radio.
There were many opportunities for rejection in that value chain. The first review I ever got was “Fuck, what a load of shit” in the Finnish version of the NME.
I wonder what the reviewer does for a living these days… 😉
For 26 years my life has been a battle between an irresistible urge to create and rejection in between moments of sweet success. Ask anyone who’s been in the game and they’ll tell you more or less the same story.
Now, in 2016, with so many artists offering their music to even more outlets, more artists face more rejection. This is just simple maths.
When stuff succeeds life is sweet. Failure looks for scapegoats. The manager, the producer, the label, the promoter and the audience all get their share.
However, lack of success isn’t anyone’s fault, really.
The manager is a messenger, the artist the message. A producer provides technical and artistic guidance on how to make a good record. If the artist plays and performs well, the record will be good. The label is a system designed to sell records, which they will do if people like the music. Promoters take a financial risk in putting on a night, and anyone who sells tickets is going to be popular with them. Audiences like good music played by skilled musicians.
At the end of a campaign, even if people didn’t like the music a lot, they still might have liked it a little bit. While it’s perhaps not everything, it’s still something. You can build on it. Hell, even I managed to build on “Fuck, what a load of shit.”
The arts business thrives on new ideas. Develop yours. Innovate and evolve. Push popular culture forward.
Making music is an artisan thing where you use your hands to play in a way that makes people go nuts. Work on those skills. Practice every day, write every day, rehearse many times a week.
With good ideas and enough skill you can aim to raise the bar high.
Most careers happen because of two vital qualities: patience and perseverance.
Bands who do just that get to come with us to The Great Escape in May.