top of page

How To Handle Rejection in The Music Industry

Updated: Jun 13, 2022


The music industry is a very tough and hard place to be in. I have been involved in it since 1993 and during the 90's I sent out tons of demo tapes back in the day and only ever received a handful of rejection letters in return. I have possibly had even more unopened emails and unheard tracks that I have sent out to countless labels and publishing companies.

But I have also succeeded aswell.

But in more recent years since the internet has become the only way to promote yourself, unless you are literally out gigging every night which is probably not so. However you can literally perform live every night online so there is some truth to that.

I have had plenty of tracks signed to labels and been recognized in my field of the Nu-Disco & Disco edits scene where my music thrived and where I ended up being asked by labels to submit to them rather then me doing it without being asked, but this took time and patience.

But how do you get over feeling ignored with your music?

How do you keep going when you feel that your music is not being played or receiving any recognition?

You just keep going, that is all there is to it. There is no magic wand or secret formula other than straight up hard work and perseverance. I have lost count of how many tracks I have made and done nothing with. Imagine a spider that spins its web, It doesn't stop, so therefore you must be that spider. Just keep spinning those tracks out and put them online, pass them on to DJ's or radio show hosts.

Remember it is not personal and the record industry usually acts on what return it can receive by an artist. That is the model in the mainstream label business anyway. The major record label business is no different to a bank loan. Believe me I have been there, where they give you an advance amount of money and say you received a 100k advance, that money is simply a loan and the first 100k your music earns the label back.

Guess what? That money goes straight into their bank and not yours. It is only after that 100k has earned more then you start to get a cut of the royalties, minus the cost of promotion, the video, the vinyl & CD pressings etc. The car that picks you up from the airport etc. The meals out with the label executives etc. Guess what? All that cost is in your name.

If you are an underground artist then image is not really the thing you need to focus on. The music and your style is the key which you need to focus on improving all of the time. But if you want to be a pop star then your image is the first thing and the music is secondary.

A sad fact but that is what that commercial world is all about and always was. So if that is your goal then get developing your look and get some decent tunes behind you as this will take years to get right. But not only that it is now the norm for major record labels to sign artists and not allow them to release new music unless their TikTok videos get over one million hits.

Yes this is a true fact which defeats the object of artist development and also stumps the artists growth and has nothing to do with music. So if you want to wait in line and work your ass off on TikTok for a major record label before you even have any songs out then go for it. You might aswell set up your own business and label and run your own show.

But this post is more aimed at those who want others in their particular genre to notice them. So when you are sending tracks out to labels and not getting anything back, the answer is simple. Release them yourself on Bandcamp as this gets them out there straight away rather than wait for 5 weeks as is the usual time on Spotify and Beatport etc.

Build your style and stick to the small details of improving your technique, rather than give up and sit on it for two months. Another way you could beat the rejection blues is if you feel that your tracks are not being heard, then try and turn some of your tracks into remixes by other established artists by getting the acapellas and adding them to your track and releasing them on Youtube or Soundcloud as remixes.

This will then give an added bonus of adding a big name to your music.

This has worked for others over the years so why not try doing that. This could easily get you noticed by fans more than labels and then if a certain remix you do that is your backing music with a well known acapella could cause a few ripples out there.

This way you are keeping the creative flow running and reworking something you already have in a new way. If you cant find an acapella of your chosen track then I suggest using LALA.AI which is a site that extracts vocals pretty well and can used as a resource.

In terms of getting heard, micro manage your short term goals by finding no more than 10 small independent labels and start following them and commenting on there platform posts so they regularly see your name. Then start to message them and ask if they accept demos? usually they are just as keen to build a label roster so they will send you a contact name and address to send tracks to.

Remember you are also trying to network aswell as get your music heard so do try and become familiar with label owners but without harassing them too. Just a friendly comment on their posts and politely inbox them to ask if you can submit any tracks to them.

But do not ever just send out a generic copy and paste email with all of your links on as these usually get ignored as they are not personal to the receiver and they can see that. So build the relationship first and get your name known to them in a positive and non harassing way and you will see that they will respond more than if they sense they are being spammed.

Focus on these small labels and zoom in on your specific genre. If you make a certain type of Techno then try and find a small label that is maybe just starting out, because you never know they could be the next big thing in two years from now on that particular circuit and if you are on their platform from the early days then you will stand a great chance of being noticed in the future.

If you are impatient and want it all now, then I am sorry you need to quit and do something else with a quicker response as the music industry can take years to be noticed. If you are in this for the love of it and you are willing to sweat the rejections and remember to not take things personal then you have a great chance to get noticed.

Every big name had zero followers once and had zero record deals too. The only difference is they started at a different time to you and they had the vision to see that it is a long game business.

My journey over the last several years was I zoomed in on a specific genre and focused on that rather than trying to approach the bigger labels as this was too wide and the amount of traffic they receive is like a drop in the ocean when you submit a track to them. The best way to get them to recognize you is to focus on small labels and more better than that set up your own label.

You can release music on Bandcamp instantly and begin to build your music profile without waiting for the email to return or even if you did get signed, you would have to wait months for it to be released.

The best advice to offer here is to keep telling yourself that you make music for you and anyone else that likes it is a bonus. It took some of the greatest artists literally years and even decades to be noticed and that was through sticking to their guns and remaining on course with their chosen sound.

Sometimes we change genres and find a new direction and that is good also. I have a variety of styles that I have released music under over the years and that can also be something that you may find yourself doing when you can sometimes just naturally tire of a certain genre.

So the moral of the story is never take it personally when you feel you are not reaching the goals you want and to just keep going and try as many different approaches as possible. If you are passionate about it then hang in there as the time will pass anyway.

18 views0 comments


bottom of page