Persistence is one of the most valuable qualities to have as a musician. The “I won’t take no for an answer” attitude is an amazing quality to possess when you can’t seem to move a song idea forward or get anywhere in your local music scene. But what about the times that you should really take no for an answer? Persistence is a gift in an industry as competitive and soul-crushing as music, but without a flexible mindset and a willingness to learn, adapt, and grow, it could be holding you back.
Why persistence alone isn’t enough to succeed
If you’ve just written a phenomenal album that you are 100% sure will receive rave reviews, rack up millions of streams, and earn you or your band lots of money, then persistence will be a priceless asset for convincing the music industry of your music’s worth. But is that truly how you feel about your music? No, of course not. Even artists with proven commercial success can’t predict how well their new music will perform before it’s released. Tenacity and resilience will help you get your music out there, whether it’s submitting it for playlist and blog coverage or looking for performance opportunities. But if you simply just press on ahead without learning from your experiences by asking why someone is saying no to you, you may be destined to fail.
Your music won’t fit every audience
Your music can always be better, and even if you have great songs, they won’t be a great fit for every audience. Persistence paired with an awareness of why you and your songs are being rejected is a combination of traits that will help you get to where you want to go in music whether you want to build it into a career or just a serious hobby. Persistence without this awareness and a willingness to learn from your experiences will simply keep you stuck on the same path doing the same things over and over again.
This awareness happens when you try to make something happen in music, fail, and have the bravery to ask why and learn from the answers you get. Maybe you wanted to open for a national band at your favorite venue and got turned down or ignored. Or, maybe you released an album you worked on for a couple of years and no one listened. There are times when the answers come easy, like in the case of the venue, who might say your band simply doesn’t have a big enough following to be trusted with an important opening slot. But other times, the answers might not be as easy to come by, like if your album fell flat with listeners, for instance. The important thing to focus on here is the process of asking, of being willing to learn and change course, and your own awareness as an artist. Is your music truly so amazing that it simply can’t be improved upon, and your only job now is to convince the world of its greatness? Of course not. Most of the time, a persistent, flexible music-making approach will lead you back to the creation process over and over again so that you can work towards making the absolute best music you can.