This is a very important subject as it pertains to the music business and, of course, life itself, but it certainly can be a sensitive subject when dealing with any art form. Let’s face it, when we are artists, we always put a big part of what is really us into our music, and sometimes, even the slightest bit of rejection can be a bitter pill to swallow. It can occur early in your career especially, but if it occurs when you are an already established veteran such as myself, it has its own kind of bitterness to deal with.
I always try to tell people it’s kind of like baseball. In baseball, we’re considered a really great hitter, if we hit at least .300. Well, that means that to be considered great, we have to succeed 3 out of 10 times at the plate. This means that baseball, most of the time, is about losing, striking out, not making it to base. The same can be said of music and getting breaks in the business. It also proves just how important it really is to “seize the moment” if you’re really given an opportunity to shine…….otherwise known in the biz as “getting a shot.”
To this day, I personally cannot even get a booking agent to book me. Imagine that! Here I am, well-known, 12 albums, countless other tours, endless endorsements etc., and yet the booking agents don’t really seem to understand what I’m about, and how many people I can draw to my gigs! This rejection hurts in a special way, because it’s happening to someone who simply wants what is just after being a sideman as well as a solo artist for nearly 40 years! Still, it doesn’t matter….it’s still rejection, and it makes no sense.
When you’re trying to get your band signed for example, also remember that even The Beatles were turned down several times before they finally hit the right record label, and got their break! Sometimes you just have to meet the right set of ears, who really “get” what it is you’re all about! Still, many times, lurking in this sea of rejection, there can be many times when constructive criticism can help. I love the story Les Paul talked about of when he was playing on a track with Bing Crosby, and Bing stopped and said “aren’t we a bit busy?” This affected Les in a positive way I‘m sure, as he was already a deeply established artist in his own right, but who was playing a session with the biggest singer of his day! How can you not learn from that little moment of criticism? It’s something that only serves to make you a better player, and if you cop an attitude about it, you might as well forget about being in the music business altogether!
So, brace yourself for those rejections, as they sometime can come quite often, but many times, there are lessons to be learned from them, for sure! More on this subject next time, and until then, keep on taking those positive and creative steps forward, no matter what kind of rejection steps in your path!