The Transformative Power of Rejection
Take the most sensitive and creative people, and put them in the most critical profession. Welcome to the Music Business. 60000 songs are uploaded to Spotify daily. More than 58000 of them will never stream even 1000 times. That’s what songwriters and creators deal with every single day of their lives. We write songs and wait for feedback like little baby birdies awaiting a worm from the mothers. We are hoping to get a positive reaction. The truth is that most of the time, the feedback we get is not positive and it is not reassuring. Rather it forces us to be self critical, self doubt and question every decision that we’ve ever made to choose to follow this path. The negativity of rejection, however, does not have to be crippling. You can actually take that rejection, spin it on its head, and turn it into your creative super power. Here are 5 ways to flip the script on rejection and harness it for good.
By: Justin Gray Founder/Chairman MDIIO 1. Opinions are just opinions. Not fact! - Part of making art is that it is open to criticism. As a creator you do that. You expose yourself willingly to someone else’s opinion. Oftentimes strangers sitting behind a keyboard, typing away without any consequences that their "opinion" can be extremely damaging. Rick Rubin famously said that (and I am paraphrasing)…If you create something that everybody likes, you have actually failed. If you create something that half the people LOVE and half the people HATE, you have actually made a statement of your artistic expression. Not everyone LOVES the Beatles, or Beethoven or Van Gogh. Even Mozart had his haters (Antonio Salieri). 2. Bad Feedback > No Feedback - Consider the fact that someone taking the time to comment or criticize your work should make a statement that your work was worth commenting on. Take it as a complement. Someone is paying attention. 3. Who can you trust? - Be aware of who and how that rejection is presenting itself. If you trust the source, listen, if you don’t, reject the rejection. What is super important, is having trustworthy people in your life that can give you that unbiased and unvarnished critique we all so desperately need and crave. Listen, and apply some or all of their opinions. Even the most successful songwriters and artists consistently face rejection on a daily basis. IN WRITING SESSIONS! "I don’t like that lyric." "That melody could be better." "Switch that kick drum." "What if we said this instead?" Great writers accept that rejection and readjust their creative sights until the target is within their vision. You’re not special. 4. Beyonce, Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys all got dropped - Three of the most iconic pop stars of the modern era were all famously rejected by their first record labels. Using that rejection to pivot and recalibrate what you are doing is a gift, not a curse. If you are a top liner, try and reimagine how you approach lyrics. If you are a producer, do your beats knock hard enough? Are your mixes telling the story? If you are a singer, are your performances as good as they can be? Break down what works, and what doesn't. Use the good, reject the bad. 5. Accept reality - The hardest thing is being self-aware. Creatives are famously self-loathing. Don’t overwhelm yourself with negativity, but rather find the truth in the rejection and use it to improve. All Star baseball players only hit the ball 30% of the time. If you manage to do that, you will probably go to the hall of fame. Michael Jordan missed more game winning shots than he sank. 95% of "professional" actors are unemployed. Listening, ingesting, metabolizing and using rejection, negativity and feedback to improve is what it’s all about. Learning to harness criticism and failure will transform you for the better. Bonus Story: I was once on a writing trip to Nashville. One particular day, I co-wrote the best song to date that I had ever been a part of. I turned to my collaborator later that day and proudly said… "Wow. What a song! Did we write a hit or what?!?" He promptly replied "We sure did! And so did about 300 other people…today." Ouch. Wasn't expecting that. That was one of the more than a 1000 "hits" I have written, that have never been (and likely never will be) cut. Came close. Faith Hill almost recorded it. But didn’t. I can’t even remember the name of the song anymore. But the ones that did get cut, and then the ones that ultimately made an impact made all the difference. Looking inwardly, I used that rejection to guide how I would ultimately improve my writing. I also realized…I don’t really write particularly great country songs. My mom might disagree. (See point #3). One of my closest friends (and hit songwriter) Evan Bogart over breakfast once said to me …"Going back and listening to old demos now, I realize why those songs never got cut." I didn’t get it at the time. I do now. He also said "Sometimes a song that hasn’t been cut, just hasn’t been cut…yet." It’s good to have smart friends. Have an amazing week and keep writing hits!! Justin