Handling Rejection

Chin up, chest out

A reaction to music happens faster than a speed date. As you start to sweat and stare nervously at the person sitting directly across from you on your five-minute date, you may have an instant reaction. You may “love” or “hate” the person.

Hearing the first few seconds of a song can affect you the same way. You may instantly love it or hate it — or not give a crap. Whether on a date or listening to music, people’s opinions are subjective, and a number of factors can contribute to what ultimately becomes a gut reaction.

Broken heartYet according to Furhaad Shah, Spotify, Shazam and other music subscription services use data to predict the next big music hit, and record companies are clamoring for apps that foretell which artist will be hot in the near future. So even though individuals may have an affinity for a certain song, “group think” can shift opinions.

Want to become one of the Billboard Hot 100? Want to be loved? I hate to break it to you, but one of the first principles of success is handling rejection, as Shawn states in his blog about becoming a millionaire.

Your wake-up call

If your band gets rejected often — small crowds, no bites from labels, limited followers on social media — rather than take it personally and doubt your talent, think of it as a wake-up call. Perhaps there’s something you can do better to improve your odds — to get more love.

For example, you may have more success getting radio play if you work through a promotional company that has established relationships with stations or get radio play on Internet stations like Pandora Internet Radio rather than just randomly sending your demos to stations in hope they will play them.

Not getting any label interest? Maybe it’s not the right time for a label, and you’re better off doing your own promotion and distribution. Be creative. Shoot a jaw-dropping YouTube vid. Get your band on a local cable TV show. Stand on the corner tipping one of those signs for your band (like the restaurant and home developers do). Or do something no one’s ever thought of before …

To have more success in booking shows, partner with a popular band and offer to open its shows. Or make a trade. If some bands are lining up a tour, offer to split travel or promotional costs — whatever you think will entice other bands to invite you to play in the same show.

Motivation to become great

Actor Liam Neeson says, “The name of the game is rejection.” This applies to acting, dating, music.

So it’s up to you to grow some cojones and stay in the game. Rather than let a poorly attended show or negative comments on your Facebook page get you down, channel that energy into becoming an even better band.

Perform every show like it’s your last. Replace self-doubt with sheer confidence in your music and in the movement it represents. Most important, rather than pay attention to naysayers, focus on your songwriting, your instrument, your stage presence. Be the best you can be.

Then go out and play like mad.

Chin up, chest out.

Tamara Halbritteris a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer and editor who develops content for music, transportation and green industries.

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