How to Leverage Rejection and Disappointment as a Musician

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, as long as you get back up… but sometimes it’s a little hard. So here are some ways to help you bounce back every time.

by Patrick McGuire from the Reverbnation blog

Rejection and disappointment are inevitable for those who are serious about music, so why not put those experiences to use and benefit from them? You can think of life as a song recording. We can try, and fail, to ignore or eliminate unwanted noise and errors, or we can seamlessly integrate them into the production and let them add character and nuance to the music. Setbacks and pain are going to meet you at many times in your musical pursuits, and much of what you will experience will be beyond your control. However, how you respond to challenges is something entirely in your hands.

Why music creators are uniquely placed to experience rejection and disappointment

Doing anything creative puts you at risk of disappointment, but there’s a particularly high amount of pain and rejection in the music industry. Music has always been a brutal industry in which to succeed, but it’s never been as competitive as it is today. Add to the fact that streaming revenue usually translates into low payouts for musicians, and you can see why many musicians feel jaded, frustrated, and even hopeless. A lot has changed in music lately, mainly how easy and cheap it has become to create music from anywhere and share it. But what hasn’t changed is that there are always more artists than professional opportunities to accommodate them, whether it’s finding a house on a label’s list or get on a popular playlist.

Turning pain into something positive starts with your perspective

All of this means that if you’re making music and you want the world to hear it, you’re going to be disappointed at some point. Almost everything is beyond your control as a music creator. You can’t get people to listen to your music or like it. You can’t make a label want to sign you and support you. And you cannot guarantee that you will earn a certain amount of money with a single or an album. However, there is so much under your control, and this agency starts with your perspective. You can allow setbacks and rejection to demolish your confidence, or you can learn from them. You can let streaming stats and negative reviews determine your worth as a human being, or you can choose to see this type of feedback as something completely different that has nothing to do with your personal worth. You can give up the minute something bad happens, or you can stay the course and make music for as long as you love doing what you’re doing. These are all choices you can make.

Get unbiased fan feedback on your writing, production and more with all-new crowd reviews

Since rejection and disappointment come your way as a musician, whether you like it or not, you can make the conscious decision to allow hardship to develop your character and resilience. The music industry loves overnight success stories, but most successful people in music have endured years and sometimes decades of uncertainty and rejection to find their audience and succeed creatively. and commercial. You can do your best to avoid pain and discomfort, or you can learn from each experience and keep creating. Instead of dreading every setback, it’s entirely within your power to be able to learn and grow from every predicament in music, whether it’s your band breaking up or waking up one morning and reading a terrible review of your music.

Painful experiences can make us wiser, more resilient, and more creative. Since audiences seek to feel intimately connected and understood by the music they hear, songs written from the perspective of someone who has endured difficult times can often resonate much more than those written by someone who has never encountered anything difficult. As a songwriter, your life experiences are among the most valuable tools at your disposal to create new music, so there’s plenty of good to be found in difficult times.

Leveraging rejection and disappointment in music takes a lot of work, and it’s important to remember that doing this is a choice you’ll have to make over and over again. But doing this dramatically increases your chances of succeeding in music, even if your only criteria for success is whether you’ll be creating for the rest of your life or not.

Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human being. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and puts his hands in his pockets.