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« Mobile Marketing for Independent Artists: Reality | Main | What Publicists Need From Musicians – Guest Post by Anne Leighton »

Don't Let Your Past Dictate Your Future

Don’t let the memory of a past experience hold you back or prevent you from trying again.

Everyone experiences failures. It’s a part of life. 

The important thing is to learn from the things that didn’t work out for you. Take a step back from your failed attempts and try to remove your emotions from the situation. I realize how hard this is, but try to look at things analytically.

If the same thing were to happen to someone else, what advice would you give them? When you take a subjective look at the situation, be honest with yourself and ask, 
Why? What was missing? What could have been done differently? 

For a developing artist, failed attempts are often the norm rather than the exception. In Canada, the first thing that jumps to mind is funding and grant application rejections from our government’s cultural organizations 
(FACTOR, BC Music, Alberta Music, SaskMusic, Manitoba Music, etc.). It can be a real drag to find out that your application was rejected. Especially after you spent so much time creating the “perfect” marketing plan… and you even printed it on pretty paper too!

There’s no lack of things to get you down when you live the life of an artist. Heartbreaking and frustrating things surround you 
(if you let  them). Let downs such as your songs being rejected by radio programmers, promoters not accepting your band to play in their venue, being denied a slot on a festival, agents turning you down, managers saying you’re not ready for them, and of course… empty venues.

But… now you’re going to hate me for saying this, but it’s true: 
everything happens for a reason. Seriously. So what can you do about it? Well, here’s an idea, analyze that shit! 

The world isn’t out to get you. 

There’s a reason why each and every one of these things has happened, you owe it to yourself to figure out 

Perhaps, now brace yourself, perhaps someone else’s song is better than yours. Or perhaps another song is more suitable to that radio station’s demographic? Or perhaps the production on your track isn’t up to par with commercial radio standards?
 Perhaps you don’t have enough touring experience to get that opening slot on that tour. Perhaps you haven’t done anything special to set yourself apart from the rest of the bands out there. Perhaps you have no fan base. Perhaps you’ve done zero marketing to grow your audience.

All of these potential reasons for your failed attempts should create an automatic 
Action Plan for you. Once you pinpoint what it is that’s holding you back, attack that shit and fix it! You owe it to your dreams to do everything you can to create the opportunities that await you.

Don’t let your past dictate your future. 

Take control of your future, take control of 
Now. Throw away the tissue box, roll up your sleeves… and let’s get to work!

Need more inspiration on this topic? Here’s some of my favourite quotes on this subject:

“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”
—Tony Robbins

“The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it: so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it.”
—Elbert Hubbard

“Like success, failure is many things to many people. With Positive Mental Attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again.”
—W. Clement Stone

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
—Winston Churchill

Now get out there and kick your past in the ass!

—Brian Thompson

Connect with Brian on Twitter, Facebook, or on his blog at Thorny Bleeder.

Reader Comments (7)

Way to go Brian. Wise words as we transition into 2012. Get a new attitude for Christmas!


Very True Brian,

Though, I feel like in a world inundated with so many artists, via so many portals, and so much "noise" for the basic consumer to navigate, one of the hardest things to get now is a second look. You can put your best foot forward, make the best product you could at the time with new and more affordable and accessible resources, and offer it to the world almost effortlessly.

The problem is now, if you didn't hit that mark, getting them to come back and give you a second chance.

One of the biggest issues I feel artists face now is the nature of development...that they're many times literally growing up on camera (as you know, it wasn't always like this). For some this can be good, maybe they've honed their craft to an extent before using all these resources to get their work out there, maybe they catch a few ears and gain a critical mass that will grow over time.

On the other hand, if perhaps you jump the gun (and this is a very subjective thing) an underwhelming first impression can stick..whether it be a casual listener, critic, or anyone really.

Objectivity and wisdom have always been good for the process, though those things seem to be in shorter supply nowadays, that's just the nature of the times, everything is changing so fast.

I'm not saying anyone should EVER just throw in the towel, but it's always good to search out and learn how to accept, consider and discern criticism..whether it be constructive or not.

December 19 | Unregistered Commentergaetano

"Analyze that shit". Nice. :)
Good post!

December 19 | Unregistered CommenterKim Jarrett

Hi Brian, thanks for the motivational shove into the new year! I have several big plans for my music and social entrepreneurship, so I will remember if any or all of them go down in flames (or even just a smolder).

December 19 | Unregistered CommenterTom Pinit

First of all we should appreciate the climate in which we live, the era of internet inspiration with a quick dot com. and walla! you get to the world media. Thanks for the invention but I must say right here that learning is a life time process. To attempt a connection to a once silent world with limited experience one must first get one's feet wet and ready to absorb the good. Secondly, you must be bold set goals and take action. To be truthful, this virgin act should keep your eyes open and your ears closed to anything that's negative. You are going out there to discover, publish and win. If the clock puts you on hold for a moment, you still have time, time won't fly when you are devoted. Most of all you still have your dream and if you must step back for a while, all you're going to see is an opportunity to move forward. ZM

December 20 | Unregistered CommenterZilla Montoute

Good post Brian. I've always believed that failure teaches much better lessons than success ever does and often the difference between the two is a matter of perseverance, and honing both the art and the craft of music. The other key element as you rightly say is planning as without a plan you can't identify what the successes are.
Another quote i like is:
I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it.
- Jonathon Winters

December 21 | Unregistered CommenterKerry Harvey-Piper

I always say that I wish I'd realized when I was younger that the universe doesn't reward brilliance. It rewards bullheadedness. Seriously -- just KEEP GOING. It sounds terrible, especially to people who want to believe that the industry wants to See Your Artistic Vision or whatnot, bit just sticking it out is 99% of the battle. Why? Easy -- those other people who you were competing against are highly likely to disappear into a box of tissues, too. Stick it out for a few cycles, and your competition will have packed it in in depression ... just like you're contemplating doing.

Also, don't be impatient. We're surrounded by stories of 20-year old millionaires, and we all think we're a failure if we're 30 and haven't struck it rich yet. It's b*llsh*t. Striking it rich takes much, much, much longer than you think. KEEP GOING.

December 27 | Unregistered CommenterJanis

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