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In the Music Industry, the Best Form of Revenge is Success

Rejection. It can sting. Whether it is a promoter or a record label who doesn’t want to give you the opportunity to shine or it is a critic who writes a bad review of your music, the reality is that sooner or later, you’re going to face rejection. How you deal with that rejection can ultimately determine your success.

I once heard that the best form of revenge is success. In other words, prove the naysayers wrong by not only succeeding, but doing something so well that they regret not giving you the chance in the first place. There are countless examples of people who’ve succeeded despite heavy rejection:

  • J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected by twelve different publishers and told that there was no money in children’s books. Rowling became the world’s first and only billionaire author.
  • Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, tried selling his “secret recipe”  to restaurant owners for a percentage of sales. He was rejected 1,009 times before he got a single sale.
  • Walt Disney was turned down over 300 times before he got the financing for Disney World.
  • Albert Einstein was thought to be mentally challenged because he didn’t start talking until he was four and didn’t start reading until he was seven.

Some people argue that you shouldn’t take no for an answer. I disagree. I think you should take no as a learning lesson so that you can find areas of improvement. What good is it if people keep telling you no and you don’t make any changes that will persuade them to say yes? They say that the definition of crazy is to do something over and over again expecting different results.

So the next time that you receive a rejection from a promoter, don’t waste your time being bitter about not being able to get a show. Instead, thank them for their time and begin thinking about how you can strengthen your ask: can you play smaller opportunities to build up a following? Does your email or press kit need some revisions? What are the things under your control that you can change in regards to your success? Then, think about the sweet moment where you can make everyone who told you no wish that they had said yes.


Simon Tam is the President and Founder of Last Stop Booking, author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements, and performs in dance rock band The Slants. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam 

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