How do you deal with rejection?
A female singer/songwriter, writes:
I move on. I realize my voice and songs may not be for everyone because some of my influences are not for everyone. I also make sure I've got enough seeds planted that one rejection won't make or break me.
A ... well ... um ... words don't properly describe me .... Oh, I agree... *g* - Jodi
There are many levels of rejection, and I deal with them in different ways. There's the "oh, that's nice but shut up now" reaction, to which I usually respond with something loud, annoying, and containing lots of double-meanings or vile puns. There's the "that was horrible, and would you please go kill yourself" reaction, to which I commonly (too commonly for comfort) repress the urge to go on a killing spree and instead file the song away for future shredding. And, of course, there's the "lynch the musician" reaction, which I commonly respond to by running away as fast as my little legs will carry me.
Seriously, though, if someone (individual or group) seems to not like a song (or song idea) that you have, it's often best to just ask them "what don't you like about it?" If they're intelligent and actually have a REASON for their rejection of your most recent masterpiece, chances are you're better off to listen. If all they can say is "Because you suck, that's why," then the chances are that their family tree doesn't fork anyway, so you can feel safe in rejecting their rejection.
And don't necessarily take silence from an audience as a rejection. On more than one occasion, I've stunned or horrified audiences into a long, ohmygodwhatdoIdonow, sort of silence, and only found out later that they loved the song I just played, but it hit home a little TOO hard and they didn't know how to react.
Just remember to watch out for the pitchforks and torches!
I'm the guy whose answers you never post, (Just wanted to prove you wrong, Jonathan... - Jodi),writes,
I try to use it as sparingly as possible.
A writer, musician, poet, lover, & friend from Toronto, Canada, writes:
I understand that my work is not for everyone. My music is for myself, and if other people don't like it, its too bad for them.
A pop writer from Austin, writes:
Rejection I can handle. Hell, I've learned to thrive on it. It's the hope that gets to me. How does one deal with such bottomless, stubborn hope?
A Junion Highschooler from Canton, NY, writes:
I have written a song about rejection called "Rejection." I think that we should embrace rejection, because it isn't as horrible as it seems. I have been rejected many times in many things, and I am much the better for it. Unless you are rejected, acceptance means nothing.
A Walker of memories and alleys, writes:
My songs are product. If someone doesn't like my product, either I need to change my product or find the right customer for my product. If you can divorce yourself from your songs, you will survive. Write them from your heart, but sell them from your head.
Per Regal Decree, I shall answer with more than three lines! (Thanks, Chris. *g* - Jodi) To elucidate on my earlier post; Catching the emotion on paper is only the first part, then you must craft your idea into currently palatable formats. When you have polished it to perfection, it is DONE!!!! Now it is product. Don't try and sell a blind man a map. The A&R guy is your customer, so sell him what he buys or find a guy that's buying what you're selling. If you are trying for a new sound, you will have to sell fans first, then A&R guys and gals will buy your popularity, because your sound is too new for them to judge. Up to now I have been dancing with the question, not answering it.
If they say no way, find out why. Don't ask why, as it puts them on the defensive as to their judgement. Use this sentence instead: Obviosly, you have a reason for feeling that way, may I ask what it is? This way, they feel you care about their feelings. Secondly, if they tell you something, don't defend your song; don't say: But it does have kinda a salsa feel; listen, you can't change their mind, but you can change your tune! If you can't change your song, you are not a professional and you are performing emotional masturbation! If you want to succeed as a songwriter, you must understand that it is your job to produce what sells. Do I mean sell out? Absolutely Not!!! It is hard work to write meaningful songs that also fit a currently hot musical style. We, songwriters, are communicators, if people don't want to listen to what we write, we are not doing our job. Finally, realize you are more than the sum total of your song output. If they don't like your song, it doesn't mean they don't like you. Also, your self worth is not the sum total of their opinion of you; it is what you feel about you. If you are in this business for acceptance, you are in the wrong business! Accept yourself, then sell your product!
I sing,play piano and guitar,but writing is my main focus (from Nova Scotia), writes:
Here's just a few thoughts on handling rejection: "Not good enough" is not the same as "No good at all"; if constructive criticism comes from someone who knows, consider it carefully.Try to please yourself, but if you don't care about your audience,they won't care about you. Patience, practice, confidence, thick skin !
A singer/songwriter/guitar player from North Mankato, MN, writes:
It really doesn't bother me. I try to learn from it. It's really not necessarily a direct reflection on whether the song is good, because the publisher may not be looking for the particular piece that you've submitted. It's all about whether they have a specific type of song in mind when they here it. Keep at it. Take constructive criticism as it is and don't dwell too much on whether a particular person liked your song.
A Nashville refuge in San Francisco, writes:
It depends on what you mean by rejection. I don't blindly send out unsolicited tapes with hopes of winning the lottery. I write for myself first, and then target my pitches to the right artists.
A songwriter/musician from Nova Scotia, writes:
I have been lucky, I guess. I don't have to deal with rejection that often. When or if I do feel as though my music or songs have been rejected (usually by other musicians or peers) I just take it in stride. You see, you can't please everyone. There will always be someone else out there who will appreciate your music. Not everyone you play or show your work to is going to like it. This is why there are so many forms of music. Also sometimes as a songwriter, one can write something that sounds good or means something special to them that really isn't any good to anyone else. I do this occassionally. It's a fact of songwriting. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just one of those obstacles that must be overcome. The work you've done is not a waste either if it's helped tone your songwriting talents. One thing to remember is even if someone tells you that your work isn't good or worthy... it's only not worthy in their eyes(or ears). Many artists have struggled with rejection only to become accepted at a later date. Rejection shouldn't bother someone or discourage them...but should be an incentive for the artist to carry on... in hopes of eventual acceptance. I really haven't had a problem with this because my peers usually like what I'm doing with my music, whether or not it appeals to them. Also, it helps to be able to take critism without being offended. Most times, criticism should improve your work; however, one shouldn't sacrifice ones values to get acceptance from others.
A beginner songwriter looking for hints from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, writes:
In the immediate period I walk away and then gorge myself on whatever is around eg. food, go on a spending spree, listen to music, watch videos - anyway to release my frustration. I tell myself that I AM better than they think I am and the problem is that the person just doesn't know me well enough. I then avoid the person a bit but try and live normally.
A NY Songwriter living in Florida, writes:
When it's accompanied by constructive criticism it's a lot easier to deal with a not interested. When the response is just plain rude I try to chalk it up to the following equation: # of people in the world < the number of A..H...s. (considerably less) It helps when you hear the stories of really great songwriters who pitched a song for years (getting multiple rejections) before having it cut and go to number 1. The so-called experts have good track records at picking winners, but most can tell you about the ones that got away, because they rejected a song that HIT.
A singer/songwriter from Fresno, CA, writes:
Well, first I scream, yell, stamp my feet, kick the dog, (get bit by the dog hehehe), get real depressed, and cry. Then I write another song. The best revenge is writing well!!
Someone crazy enough to move to Tampa in the summer, writes:
It depends on what type of rejection you're talking about. Since I've never tried to sell a song, I don't get the type of rejection I've had when searching for a job. The two types I've experienced are (a) the song just falls flat and it's very apparent why (such as that larynx piercing last week that you thought would look so fetching); and (b) the song doesn't work and you're not sure why (except that the audience member with the pierced larynx was the *most* appreciative).
In the former case, I have scrapped the song, reworked it, or written a song about my own infelicitous writing a few years later.
In the latter cases, I am still in the dark. Maybe I'm too self-conscious to ask people what went wrong. I feel that I need to practice more and become more proficient at performing, qua performing, before I ask, "So, perfect stranger, could you tell me what utterly sucked about that song?" I suspect the answer will be, "Because you can't play (sing) a note without your sounding like a mad cow!"
A singer/songwriter from Denver, Colorado, writes:
It depends on who is doing the rejecting. If it is a pitch, I pull another, different, tune out of my bag and try that one. Eventually, we either find common ground or it becomes clear that the "pitchee" is just not interested in what I do. Remember, the person you are pitching to usually has a very clear idea of what she or he is looking for.
If it is a performance, I usually fire off a quick "thank you" and move on to the next song. Playing in Colorado, one finds many audiences unaccustomed to listening to original music. "Rejection" often is no more than audience shyness. It can take a little extra work, but by trying to build a rapport with the audience, this usually is easily overcome.
It is always disappointing to be rejected, but I have confidence in my songs and I know that many people like them, so I get over it pretty quickly. For those who have trouble with rejection, I strongly recommend seeking out other local songwriters for a songwriters' circle. Try to find objective, critical people whose opinions you trust. It can be hard to accept others' criticism of your work. But it can also make your songs better. Bottom line though...if you like it, it's a good song.
Many years ago, playing in Texas, many clubs were frequented by a volatile mix of "hippies" and "rednecks." It was not at all uncommon for beer bottles to whiz out of the crowd or for fights to break out and spill onto the stage. This has given me a very realistic perspective on the personal consequences of "rejection."
A young, aspiring songwriting from Woodstock, Ontario Canada, writes:
Don't. Get over it, and get on with your life. Don't sit there and ponder over what could have happened, or what did, think about what you're going to do next, and get ready for it...
A minor diety from earth (**Yeah right, Davie. *g* --Jodi **), writes,
Rejection can be a positive learning experience. Learn from it and apply what you've learned to your next work. Try to find out why your song was rejected and use that as a guide for improvement. It's also important to trust your own instincts, however. If you believe in yourself then carry on despite the criticism, for it's your art that's most important. But if you trust and respect the person who rejected your work then you should at least try and look at it from their point of view.
Now that we've gotten that out of our system, the next thing to do is wait, so that no suspicion will fall on you when the phone calls begin. Start with something like "I know where your children are." Don't let up. Make sure this person knows rejecting you was the biggest mistake they ever made. Quit your job. Spend all your money. Now you have a purpose to your life. And when you can finally reveal yourself just before you deliver the final blow, savour the moment. Yes, revenge is sweet.
(>:-) I warned you, Jodi!) (**Yup, you most certainly did... --Jodi **)
*** I take no responsibility for the trouble you get into following this advice ***
A songwriter from Virginia who is about to move to Nashville, writes:
Believe me, I have been rejected quite a lot, but I always believe in the phrase that one man's garbage is another man's treasure. My cowriter and I have a song called "Back To Virginia" that has been rejected so many times, yet we have gotten significant air play and in general excellent response from the country music radio audience. It was even showcased on "Songwriter's Showcase on WANT-FM in Lebanon, TN andf was picked over songs submitted by Nashville songwriters. GO FIGURE!
A professional singer/songwriter from Queensland, Australia, writes:
Its difficult..but you have to, because you'll get more negatives than positives. I think you've got to remember, that everyone has a different opinion about a song..no one is ever going to see your song...from your point of view or emotion. Besides..if you want to make it in this business..you just got to pick yourself up off the floor after the rejection and use it! Write something better...keep up the determination to succeed and you will!! Eventually the negatives will HAVE to be positive!!!
A Tennessee songwriter, writes:
Chocolate. And then I try to be philosophical about it. I externalize it as much as possible, remembering that my song is not me and it is not my "baby" (no matter how much I think the writing process feels like labor pains,sometimes). I don't mean to sound too Pollyanna, but the bottom line is that I just get on with life.
A songwriter from Manitoba, Canada, writes:
How do you deal with rejection?: VERY POORLY!!!!!
1) get angry/annoyed/hurt/etc (you know!)
2) argue with myself over the legitamacy of the comments
3) re-evaluate the song
4) take it "inside myself" and "feel" for correctness of the song
5) make my own decision as to whether the song is good or not
6) write a new song as therapy!
A filker, Certified Hudson River Folk Singer (ie, Walkabout chorus member), writes:
I think everyone's already covered the basics. If a song was rejected, it wasn't right for that audience at that time; it's now up to you to figure out or find out what it was about that combination that didn't work. Sometimes it's just not what folks are in a mood for (putting Tam Lin in the middle of a set of bawdies is NOT likely to fly). Sometimes it's just too similar to something they heard recently. Sometimes you're singing a liberal song to a bunch of Young Republicans. And sometimes you really do have a problem with the song, or your performance of it, that you should be aware of -- folks may not have gotten the point you wanted to make, or they may like the song but not be able to deal with that much vibrato or volume or whatever. I agree with the suggestion that you find a way to say "Hey, your reaction is legitimate, but I'd like to understand it better so I can figure out whether there's a way I can make this song -- or at least my next set -- work for you."
But some thuds should be expected. There isn't a writer out there who hasn't amassed a technicolor portfolio of rejection letters. Advice from Juggling 101: You're GOING to drop the ball sometimes. The trick is to not be embarassed. Learn a few ways to recover semi-elegantly, and go right on to your next Daring Feat.
If there wasn't the risk of rejection, would the applause feel as good?
High Octane Music
Where YOU are the artist- Music and lyrics specialists, writes:
Oh, well, their loss, I am a first rate musician, I am a first rate musician, I am a first rate musician.. Oh sorry, guess I got caught up in self praise! Actually, just move on, it's the easiest way. And I mean come on! Who in their right mind wouldn't like YOUR music!
A songwriter from Minneapolis, writes:
I got used to rejection and indifference as a bandleader for a few years and after switching my focus to songwriting, I was pleasantly surprised by the success I've had. Rejection is easier by mail than in person. It helps to keep an eye on the big picture; songs that got no response in bars are now earning me a small fortune! I also think it pays to listen to any criticism you get and decide for yourself if any of it is worthwhile. Finally, research fully anyone you are pitching to so as to avoid automatic rejections.
A poet in Oslo, Norway writing in English for his band, writes:
1. I think- "to hell with them". It's their loss. I wouldn't have sent it if it wasnt't good enough.
2. Reconcider the song. Since at least I seldom get spesific complaints from the lables, I have wear other glasses when regarding the songs
3a. Scrap the song myself. As I usually like (or possibly) love the tune on beforehand, this does not happen often.
3b. Keep the song in "the good reportoire", but I usually work harder on other songs. This is what I usually do. I seldom try the same song 2 times, unless what I have is gold, and that is only 1 out of 15 I think. Does this mean the song is "dead" when rejected. No. A song dies only by it's own hand. I never sulk when rejected, but rejected topics or themes or might unconciously change or disappear. But I truly do pity the poor people who don't see what they could have had. There is no other way to look at it :-)
A folk satirist from Sacramento CA, writes:
After weeping and gnashing my teeth, I sit down and write another song. As a booker I have to reject other songwriters and this helps me when I am rejected. I realize that there is a lot involved in deciding who to book for what show, and have learned not to take it personally.
A singer/songwriter from Michigan, writes:
I chalk it up to learning and I send it to someone else. For every person that's told me a song isn't good enough, there's someone else who likes it a lot. Also, if you don't like rejection, play your songs only for relatives. If you want to grow, play them for people who don't know you from adam. They're usually a lot more honest.
Debbie Ridpath Ohi
A writer & web addict & songwriter, writes:
Read over the rejection letter carefully. Rejoice if it isn't a form letter. If any of the criticisms seem valid, I consider revising. If they don't, I stuff the letter in the back of my project binder and forget about it. Then I eat some chocolate and go back to what I was working on.
A California Bay Area singer/songwriter, writes:
I pin all of my rejection letters onto a designated "Wall of Shame" in my apartment. I can't help but see these symbols of "failure" every day, and it fuels my desire to succeed.
A songwriter from San Antonio Texas, writes,
I keep going because I know that every one has different taste and influences , what sounds great to one person is trash to another , I've hit on enough acceptance to overcome the rejection and not raise my expectations for one deal, but keep writing , keep plugging , and keep loving.
A budding young singer/songwriter from Northern Ontario, Canada, writes:
I reject it (if there's nothing constructive i can take from it). It gets in the way. And though you think of your songwriting as being such an intensely personal process, the listener often doesn't give it the attention you feel it deserves anyway. And maybe that's a good thing, since a too-personal relationship with your songs is way too volatile and perhaps self-defeating. I recently wrote a very personal love song for my girlfriend as a vehicle for persuading her that we should stay together and work through our fairly insignificant problems. She listened to the song, said "it's nice", then dumped me. Now I could blame the song (because it's not my fault, right?) but everyone else who has heard the song just loves it. What the hell? It's just words and music. It's not magic... unless it falls on the right ear. So, move on and find that ear. What the hell was I talking about again? I really miss my girlfriend....
A trance writer in middle Georgia, writes:
I don't really care to much if anyone lkes it or not. I write for the enjoyment of myself. I am open to suggestions but I find that if I was to care too much what other people felt about my creations, I would only be writing for them. I feel if I did that, I really wouldn't have my heart in my art.
A Singer/Guitarist from Minneapolis, MN, writes:
Badly. I tend to murder those who reject me:) The whole thing is a big learning curve, as I see it. Feedback of any kind is a precious thing to me.