There is a ton written on the web and in print about rejection. I’m writing this blog entry in an attempt to reconcile a rejection I’ve just received. Lately I’ve been breaking my long term goals down into shorter term goals, which then funnel into daily and weekly tasks to further my career as a DJ, Producer, and label boss. One of these big goals is to get my music into media (TV, film, commercials, video games, etc.) I’ve had some success with this in the past via the distributor who handles our label, but I’d definitely like to be doing more.
Since I don’t personally know very many music supervisors, probably the best bet for me to get my music considered is to have what’s known as a music placement house represent me. These are folks who have relationships with a lot of media producers and link them with music that is right for their projects. Since I have a contact at one of such companies, I followed up with him and was asked to submit my 10 best tracks. I did so and got the following response:
“Hey Eric, I had a chance to review your music and though it was close I am not sure that the quality is ample or that the content itself is a fit for our catalog at this time.”
This is never easy to hear, but I realize that this dude probably gets sent massive amounts of music. So even though I was disappointed, I still thanked him for his time in listening and for being frank. He responded by letting me know that my tunes are “not far off, and mostly just need better source sounds.” I’m not quite sure how I feel about this, as I am definitely using pro quality drums and synths. My guess is that what’s actually missing is a greater sophistication in my sound design, layering, and mixing. These are all things I’m actively working on.
In any case, I’ve lived the bulk of my life with a neurotic fear of not being good enough. I can root that back to my childhood and work on my internal issues, which I do, but in the present moment what does this rejection mean and how can I deal with it in a constructive way? Here are some things that come to mind:
1. Accept the fact that rejection is part of the path to success. I worked in sales for quite some time and was very successful at it. On an exceptionally good day, 60 % of the pitches I made were rejected. Sometimes it’s a matter of just weeding through a bunch of no’s until you get to the yes.
2. Realize this is just one person’s opinion. Just because this music placement house isn’t interested in these particular tracks does not mean that every music placement house and media producer would not be interested in them. The song that DJ Fame and I had placed in CSI: Miami (thank you Jeff Straw!) surprised the daylights out of both of us as we didn’t think it was our best work.
3. Take a few minutes to feel awful. Sometimes it’s helpful to just indulge myself for a limited period of time. Rather than try and fight off the tide of negative thoughts, I just allow them to wash over me for 5 or 10 minutes. After a few moments the ideas that “I’m not good enough, I’m never going to amount to anything, I’m a fraud who everyone is now going to find out about, I should just give up now etc etc etc” start to sound just as ridiculous as they are.
4. Take a break. Do something awesome, like make a kickass snack, call someone who is rad, read an inspiring book.
5. Write about it. Hurr durr, here I am.
By this point in writing this I’m feeling a lot better. I’m realizing that I’ve had prior success at the very thing I was just rejected for. The “no” is in better context, and I’ve realized that I haven’t lost anything. Without risk, there is no reward. As an independent artist, it is my job to tastefully pitch myself and my work to people until the point when other people are doing so for me. Rejection builds character, and it makes me appreciate it that much more when I do get a “yes.” It is also a sign that I am putting myself and my work out there, which is very important. I hope to be bold and take a lot more risks as time goes on! How do you deal with rejection?