Friday, August 12, 2011

Don't Stop at No

When you work in the music industry, "no" is a word you have to become pretty comfortable with hearing. The bad news is that for most in the industry, you never really get past the point where you run the risk of hearing it. You're always going to have pitch something to someone, and they may just turn you down, no matter who you are.
So, "no" is part of the deal if you want to work in the music business. The trick to dealing with it is to never leave it with a "no." Now, this doesn't mean that if someone turned down your demo or doesn't want to book your band that you should keep haranguing them until they beg for mercy and give in (or seek a restraining order). Rather, it means that even though you might not get exactly what you had been hoping for from a contact, you don't have to walk away empty handed. Every "no" is a chance to walk away with some valuable information. For instance:
  • Get knocked back from a label? Ask them if they can recommend anyone else who might be more into your music.
  • Get turned down by a promoter? Ask if there are other promoters or venues in the town they would recommend
And so on and so forth. You see, getting a "no" isn't a disaster. When someone turns you down for something music related, it isn't personal. What they are telling you isn't that your music or your project is plain old horrible - they're just telling you that it is not the kind of the thing they would really know what to do with or that they would be able to achieve anything with. That kind of honesty is a GOOD thing. The last thing you need in the music industry - ever - is a lukewarm business relationship with someone who kind of, sort of pays some attention to your project when they have run out of other things to do. When you can say, "I understand - it is not your thing. Can you recommend anyone who might be interested in hearing this?," you've not only been saved from entering a bad business relationship, but you might walk away with some decent leads on a good business relationship. You may also get some invaluable nuggets of advice about why you aren't getting that "yes" you're after. Now, you may follow-up with such a request, and you may get blanked. Such is life, and such is life in the music biz especially. Don't let the fact that you don't get an answer every time stop you from TRYING to get an answer every time. Those who do get back to you - and frankly, even those who don't - will remember the gracious way you accepted their "no" and that you were serious enough about your career to ask for more help. The music industry is a small place, and you shouldn't underestimate the value of developing a good reputation. This kind of good will in the bank could lead to a "yes" on your next project.

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