Just when you think you’ll never find another festival that’ll love you again…
Have you ever been flat-out rejected?
I was on my first cross-country tour with Alyse Black. Months earlier I had royally fucked up a relationship with an amazing guy, and now I was traveling from town to town, gushing to strangers in coffee shops that I was headed to The Big Apple to see the man I loved. We were en route to NYC for CMJ Music Marathon, and I had a grand plan to win him back.
I emailed him, made plans to meet for dinner, and got to scheming.
Those long drives in the days leading up to our arrival were absolute torture. My mind drifted off into the world of our possibilities together amidst the thick reds and browns smeared across the Northeastern landscape. I would tell him I loved him. No! I would play it cool. Yes! We’d be on a little bench in Central Park. No! I wasn’t ready to settle down. Yes! I could totally move to New York City. I started telling all of my friends I was moving to New York City.
The day before I got to town, he emailed and said he didn’t want to see me. I unloaded a grand-ass love letter in a last ditch effort, clicked “send” and nearly threw up.
He was shocked! Flattered! Thought about it. Nope. Still didn’t want to see me.
I woke up this morning to a missed call from him. Now he’s married with an adorable son, I’ve got a life packed with experience, and our relationship has morphed into this beautiful, funny friendship. We’re closer than I ever imagined we would be again. Both of our egos took some hits along the way, but eventually we recovered. I think we’re better for it.
Rejection never stops feeling like getting picked last on the playground. Three years in a row, I’ve been rejected by CMJ. I’ll tell you what though - that shit pales in comparison.
I worked through that, too. Then I found a way in. Here’s how:
Year 1 (rejected) HOW I GOT IN ANYWAY: Learned guitar parts to Alyse’s songs, and in exchange she let me play a song during her showcase.
Year 2 (rejected) HOW I GOT IN ANYWAY: Invited to fill last minute slot by EIPR, my old PR company.
Year 3 (rejected) HOW I GOT IN ANYWAY: Asked by Monarch Artists, my agency, to showcase at Rockwood Music Hall.
I applied to CMJ by submitting a standard form which was swallowed up by the internet and spit back out onto some intern’s desk. The Anonymous Intern would then stamp a big fat “NO” on my application, and I’d open up the rejection letter to unleash a shit-storm of rage and resentment: my music sucks, the industry sucks, i’ll never find another festival that will love me again.
My brain will do funny things to try and hold me back.
But then I’d dust myself off and go back to answering e-mails and writing songs. It’s all I know how to do. Inevitably, an opportunity would pop up for me to showcase. It always comes as a result of a genuine relationship I’d cultivated over time, not some shiny press package.
Sometimes you get rejected. I’ve gotten a hell of a lot more “No’s” than “Yes’s” out in the ring, but I just keep on asking. When I get turned down, I try to remember every time I didn’t get what I wanted - just to find something even better. If I spent my time moping, I’d miss out on that.
See, I know a thing or two about rejection. I know it is every bit worth going through once you look back and realize just how far you’ve come.
Well, I was a bonafide Official CMJ Showcasing Artist this year (take that, Intern). Here’s a photo from the performance at Rockwood Music Hall!