The fear of rejection is one of the most crippling traits a person can have as a producer, musician, artist or anyone trying to put themselves out there and better his or her life.
Letting other people’s opinions determine how we live our lives is dangerous, and we shouldn’t base our happiness or self worth on our ‘success’ or ‘failure’ in any given endeavour.
Alas, these things are easier said than done, so here are some tips to overcome the mental hurdles along the way.
#1 – Don’t Expect Anything
No one owes you anything! No matter how many years you’ve spent working on your skills and no matter how good you might have become as an artist, you can’t expect opportunities or attention from anyone.
Whether it’s your followers, record labels, or gig promoters, their attention should be appreciated but not expected. If you lower your expectations when it comes to each upload, submission or email, you should have nothing to fear because rejection won’t matter.
This is separate to your overall goals and self-belief which should always be strong and bold. Big picture – hopeful, small picture – indifferent. Just know there’s a thousand ways to reach your goals so you shouldn’t be disheartened when one of them doesn’t work.
It’s best to rely on yourself wherever possible and not put your future in the hands of anyone else. It’s easy to think that we need this person, or that record label and everything will happen for us. This is rarely the case so you’re better off focusing on yourself.
#2 – It’s Just Business
When it comes to things like record labels, agencies and nightclubs, it’s important to remind yourself these are all businesses.
Even industry friends at the end of the day have a career to look after and a job to do. They can’t always hook their friends up with opportunities. That can feel harsh sometimes.
Just know that most businesses are there to make money, and any good business will make profitable decisions. There are people who go out of their way to support great music and hardworking artists, but a lot of the time opportunities are given to popular artists who can move more units and sell more tickets. That’s why it’s important to take your career into your own hands and always be working to grow your own following.
Yes, some people to have an easier ride but jealousy will get you nowhere.
#3 – It’s a Lottery
Labels receive hundreds (even thousands) of demos every day. There are probably thousands of DJ’s in your state or even your home town trying to get gigs. There are MILLIONS of songs on Soundcloud.
Labels can’t physically sign every demo they’re sent. Clubs can’t book every DJ in their city. Listeners can’t stream every song that is released. Yes skill is a major factor, but once you have that nailed, a lot of it comes down to chance.
How do you increase your chances? Buy more tickets. Make more music. Just keep going, keep working and keep building one day at a time.
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter was turned down by 12 PUBLISHERS before being picked up.
#4 – It’s Usually Just One Person’s Opinion
Rejection in any form generally comes down to just one person’s opinion, so don’t feel like the whole world is against you.
Opinions are subjective and don’t necessarily reflect the quality of your work or your skill as an artist. Note the Harry Potter line above.
How many times have you not liked a TV show, movie, or type of food? You don’t mean any disrespect and there’s plenty of other people who love it. It’s just your personal taste.
This isn’t to say you should just dismiss any feedback that doesn’t align with your own views. It can be healthy to consider it as a different perspective and ask yourself if it’s valid. Sometimes the truth is you need to do more work on your craft and you’re not ready for certain opportunities yet.
#5 – You Can Not Fail From Action
You can’t fail from action, but you can fail from inaction. I stole that from a book somewhere.
If your new single doesn’t get any streams, if your instagram photo gets no likes, if the record labels don’t respond, if you press the wrong cue button in the club – these things aren’t failures, merely lessons. The sun will still rise tomorrow!
Ask yourself why it happened and make some tweaks next time. Post at a different time of the day, work on your music (by finishing more), find a more suitable label (or self release), and pay more attention next time you’re DJing!
Even things like writer’s block, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get any ideas out. We all have dry spells. Try some of my writer’s block tips next time.
Some Extra Points
Everyone experiences rejection
Even the biggest artists in the world are turned down from big shows, festivals, remixes and collaborations. People at every level experience rejection, we just don’t see it.
It can be a blessing
It’s easy to overestimate the quality of our music or our ability as a performer. Sometimes we’re simply not ready for certain platforms and early rejection can save us from further embarrassment, making us go back and improve our craft before trying again.
No one cares
No one cares about your career as much as you. No one is laughing at you or talking about how you ‘took an L’. They’re too worried about themselves. Everything is forgotten in 5 minutes these days and you can change everything in the blink of an eye by following up any failure with a success.
If you’re not being rejected, you’re not trying hard enough
You should always be aiming for the next level and working hard to push through boundaries. You’re going to get rejected along the way, so why not face it head on and take it as confirmation that you’re working hard and aiming higher every day.