Dealing with Rejection as a Musician



The festival programme came out and I wasn’t on it. I was pretty irked by this, because this was a festival I had plugged and at which I had sent students to play. I had included it on my songwriting app. Having gone to a lot of work for these people, I thought it was downright ungrateful that they had rejected my application to play.

As it happened, I got offered a slot at a major international songcamp that would have conflicted with the festival anyway.

Rejection is a huge part of the life of the musician. I’ve talked about it before in my blog on auditioning for TV talent shows, but I felt it was an issue I really needed to address because we’re only human and rejection stings.


Very talented people get rejected all the time. My friend who is a very successful live performer was summarily sacked from one of her contracts with no reason given. The best singer I know didn’t get very far on The Voice (but built a successful singing and songwriting career anyway). I myself have had so many no thankyous, and even worse non responses, I can’t even count them all. Ultimately I don’t spend too much time stewing over those rejections because in the end the right opportunities panned out.


There are some ways of going about things that are just bound to lead to rejection, though, so you might minimise the chances of being rejected if you avoid these.


  • Sending out demos that aren’t of high enough quality to represent your work
  • Contacting companies before you are strong enough in your craft to be taken seriously
  • Sending discourteous, unprofessional emails with no information about yourself or massive WAVs which will crash the recipient’s inbox
  • Not researching the opportunity. I have known country artists who pitched to a metal label!
  • Applying for opportunities that are oversubscribed. That’s not to say don’t go for The Voice or The X Factor, but just be aware that the greater the number of applicants, the greater the effort you will need to put into standing out.


So, if you have studied and refined your craft and gotten professional feedback about whether or not your music is ready to pitch (check out my video on how to tell if your music is industry ready) and you are still getting rejections you may be feeling a little down about it. Here are a few things to bear in mind.


  • The company you submitted to may simply have had very specific needs for their roster and you just weren’t what they are currently looking for. That doesn’t mean you aren’t talented.
  • A&R reps often only listen to the first few seconds of a song due to the volume of demos they receive. Maybe you just need to tweak the material a bit so it starts with a strong hook.
  • Maybe it didn’t work out this time, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a working relationship with these people in the future (so stay polite and don’t lose your cool!)
  • A better opportunity may be just around the corner.
  • Opportunities often come from relationships, so attend music industry conferences and festivals and see whom you can meet.


The most sure fire way not to succeed in any field is not to try. So, if you have been experiencing rejection don’t give up. Seek out honest and professional feedback on your work, join LinkedIn groups and publishers’ mailing lists and keep on making progress.


success story


If you would like to make use of my professional feedback service, please email me some links (preferably not mp3s and definitely not WAVs) to . I’m looking forward to hearing your music.


If you would like to learn the latest industry recognised methods of singing and/or songwriting, or learn about the music industry, you can sign up for my online courses here.

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