How to Deal with Rejection in the Music Industry

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The music industry can be extremely cut-throat, with thousands of talented individuals vying for the attention of record labels, promoters and bloggers. For that reason, it’s inevitable that at some point in your career — particularly in the early stages — you’ll be faced with rejection. It’s possible that you’ll have multiple doors slammed before the right opportunity presents itself.

Any kind of rejection is unpleasant to experience, but it’s vital that you learn to manage your emotions, so that you can move forward after losing-out, rather than becoming disheartened or giving up.

This article will teach you how to cope with rejection in a healthy way, to view every rebuff as an opportunity to learn and improve your craft.

1. Realise rejection is inevitable

Even the biggest names in the industry will have been confronted with rejection before they found success. It’s because music is so subjective: what one person considers to be a masterpiece, another will find intolerable. So, it’s irrational to expect everyone to like your work- no matter how good it is.

If you’re putting yourself in a world as fickle and competitive as the music business, it’s to be expected that you too will face rejection. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by negative feelings when things don’t seem to be going to plan, just remember that every aspiring musician will have found themselves in the same position at some point- it’s all just part of the process.

2. Allow yourself time to let go

1. Realise rejection is inevitable

No matter many times you experience it, rejection is never easy to swallow. It’s perfectly natural to be disappointed after missing out on a promising opportunity. The more passionate you are about something, and the harder you’ve worked towards it, the more painful it is to lose out on.

Therefore, you do need to give yourself time to process your emotions after a rejection, just don’t let yourself wallow for so long that you miss out on the next opportunity. Identify a coping mechanism that works for you: journaling, taking a walk, or simply talking through your feelings with a loved one- anything that will help you to manage your disappointment in a healthy way.

3. Identify what went wrong and learn from it

A rejection can almost always be converted into a valuable learning experience. If possible, try to get feedback on why you were turned down, and see if this information could help you to adapt and improve your approach next time.

Sometimes, you’ll be rejected simply because your work didn’t fit someone else’s subjective vision for a particular project. In those instances, there’s nothing you can do to affect the outcome, you’ve just got to accept the situation and move on.

However, it’s always productive to look for the lesson in failure: identify things you could have done differently and been flexible with how you approach similar situations in the future. If you’re trying the same tactic again and again and being repeatedly rejected, it’s likely that there is something you need to adapt in order to make yourself more attractive to industry influencers.

4. Don’t burn bridges

coping with rejection as a musician

Just because someone turns you down once, doesn’t mean they won’t be open to working with you on a different project. So, even when confronted with a harsh rejection, maintain a professional manner. Be polite and keep your emotions in check to ensure you retain the potential to work with the same person in the future.

Being successful in the music industry has a lot to do with networking the right contacts, so you really can’t afford to forge negative relationships with influencers, just because you handle rejection rashly. A bad reputation will spread quickly, and nobody will want to work with you, regardless of how talented you are, if you’re considered highly-strung or difficult to manage.

5. Maintain perspective

Missing out on a great an opportunity will always seem like a blow, but it’s important to remember that for every let-down, you’re bound to receive a whole host of other chances to prove yourself. A single rejection is never a reason to despair!

The worst way to deal with a set-back is to let it have a detrimental effect on how you approach future opportunities. If you’re too busy obsessing over a past rejection, you risk missing out on the next chance that comes your way.

So, whenever you experience disappointment, keep it in perspective: give yourself a little time to recover your emotions and reflect on what might have gone wrong.  However, shift your attention to the future as soon as possible.

6. Look for the next opportunity

As an aspiring musician, you should always be looking forwards and preparing yourself for the next stage of your career. Set yourself realistic goals, and continuously be on the lookout for opportunities to move your music forward. Failing to do so will cause your career to stagnate and slow your progress.

While you’re still new to the industry, you should be taking every opportunity to gain experience performing in front of a live audience. Then, once you’ve mastered showmanship at smaller gigs, start reaching out to more ambitious venues for chances to perform.

Do take measured risks and aim beyond your comfort zone. If you worry too much about being turned down, you’ll miss out on serious career-advancing opportunities. An unmanaged fear of rejection can be very damaging for artists hoping to break on to the professional music scene.

Resilience is an essential quality for anyone looking to break into a new field, but especially so in the extremely competitive and turbulent world of professional music. No matter how talented, professional and dedicated you are, at some point in your musical career, you will be confronted with rejection.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to protect yourself from disappointment, however, you can learn to manage negative emotions in a productive way, by learning from your mistakes, rather than being overcome by them. If you’ve been let down, ask for constructive criticism and self-reflect on how you can adapt your approach. Keep looking forward towards the next exciting opportunity to come your way.