Just think about it, each of us – songwriters – might become one of those kind of big people in one point in our life but that definitely will not happen if we give up when we fail. It happens, learn the lesson and move on.
The best way to learn is to fail. If I look at failure as an opportunity to get better, then it eases the pain of failing. Not only it eases the pain, but it will make us remember what doesn’t work, because we had spent time and energy and possibly money to try out what hadn’t worked and now, we will know it for good. We might not exactly know what actually will work but when we know what doesn’t, it can help us to each to our goal.
Each failure that I learn from gets me closer to my goal. I’ve always heard from the sales experts that for them it takes “100 no’s before you get a yes” or some such saying. In our business we don’t exactly make sales, but it’s pretty similar. Each rejection and each unsuccessful pitch have a lesson for us if we pay enough attention to the details, to learn why this particular pitch didn’t work and what we can do to increase the chances for us for the next times to make it work. As long as these experiences are helping me to make my songs better, and learn how to pitch them in better ways, I don’t count failures as losses. I just look at them as learning lessons. Have to learn how to deal with failures and how to turn any given negative situation into something positive and learn the productivity.
My value and my songs value are not set by someone else. Even if nobody else likes my song, it can still be significant to me. And someone passing on my song does not mean that I’m not a good writer. I won’t let other people’s opinions change the way I feel about myself or my writing. I will learn from their criticism, but I won’t internalize it and let it change how I feel about myself or about writing. This is very different than being arrogant or ignorant. It’s simply about how I am confident in my writing and my songs, and I try to understand how the business works and why my songs didn’t get the cut. For sure the rejections have nothing personal, and no professional judge or value my work, they just check if it works with their requirement at any given time.
I am not my song. In the professional world of music business, criticism of my song is not criticism of me. It’s simply giving me one person’s feedback that I still need to work on that song or how that song is or is not suitable for a certain pitch. Even a lot of times have nothing to do with the song itself and it’s just simply all about the timing. When someone is giving a negative feedback, just keep it professional, take it easy and think about the comments. I don’t take it personally.
Critiques are not always accurate. It’s very good to hear and respect the feedbacks coming from professionals but we also should keep it in mind that they are humans and they might not be perfectly accurate. We need to learn how to hear the criticism and make the most out of it. One famous example of it is when the British band, Queen, presented their most famous song “Bohemian Rhapsody” to EMI, they got badly rejected because of the song’s length. The EMI executive told them this song is way too long for radio play and there is no way in the world people will listen to it. So little did he know that “Bohemian Rhapsody” will turn to become one of the most iconic songs in rock history. As a personal example, one time, a respected publisher told me he “hated” everything about my song. He hated the lyrics, the melody and even the idea. I had it cut by a major artist in two weeks. If I get one person’s critique that I don’t agree with, I evaluate it and may or may not follow their advice. I respect their opinion but it doesn’t mean that I will change my world because of one negative feedback, unless if multiple professionals give me the same critique, I change it.
I love writing. I refuse to let anyone, or anything take that away from me. Writing songs is my identity. It’s who and what I am. I believe people are given passions and gifts for a reason. I’m going to continue using mine regardless of commercial success. I find more satisfaction in writing a song that I love than I do in having a #1 song. And I have songs that I love more than my #1 songs. Writing songs helped me to find myself and find out who I am. I owe almost everything I have and everything I know. Because of writing songs, I learned how to educate myself on various topics. I keep myself updated on what is happening in the world around me, because I need to have that information for sake of the songs I write. Writing songs taught me how to love and how to speared it to as many people as I can. Writing songs helped me to be a better version of me. No one can take that away from me.
I won’t be defeated. I committed early on to keep learning until I got this figured out. Not giving myself an out or a backup plan motivated me to make it happen, no matter how hard it was. I hope some of those thoughts resonate with you! At times when you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel, realize that you aren’t alone. And never give up.
Hangi Tavakoli is our in-house established and professional music producer with 20 years of experience in songwriting, music production, mix and mastering. He has written and produced more than 5,000 published songs to-date, including some major hits in international scale.