Is constant rejection and criticism getting you down? Does it seem like others go out of their way to offend you?
That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.
- 00:26 – Sensitivity and offense
- 01:16 – Don’t take it so personally!
- 02:32 – Get a second, third, and fourth opinion
- 04:11 – Use negative feedback to improve
- 06:31 – You can only feel offended inside
- 07:41 – Episode summary
Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe.
Today I wanted to share about sensitivity and offense. Because as artists we always seem to base our value or outlook on what someone else thinks or says.
At the outset, let me tell you that you’ll never know what anyone else is thinking unless you ask them. It’s impossible. So, everything you’re thinking is probably based on a story you’ve constructed in your head, and you’ve either got to a) ask that person what they’re thinking, or b) let go and be complete with it to move forward.
But being butthurt over everything is so common and so counterproductive that it can end up wasting a lot of precious time. It can easily ruin your life and your career.
So, let’s talk about this.
Interpreting the Comments of Others
The first thing I want to get into is how we interpret the comments of others. Because we would never feel rejected or criticized if not for things others have said.
1. Ask Yourself Whether the Comment was About You
So, it’s been my observation that as creatives we’ll often enter conversations not informing others of our intention. But we’ll steer the conversation in such a way that we’ll get the answer we think we want. We do this without establishing any context, so the person we’re talking to isn’t even sure of our intentions.
It’s like a girl asking a guy “is there anyone in your life you think is worth fighting for right now?”
What she’s really asking is whether she’s worth fighting for. But that’s not what she asked. So, she will interpret the answer “no” as meaning she’s not worthwhile, or she will interpret the answer “yes” as meaning he has a girlfriend already.
Either way, she’ll take it negatively.
By the way, I’m using the pronoun “she” here, but guys are just as likely to ask ambiguous, leading questions like this, so don’t take this in a sexist direction.
So, the first thing to understand is that in a conversation like this, whatever response you get, it was not about you. Because you did not ask about you, you asked generally.
It takes courage to ask what another honestly thinks about you, but it’s not worth the offense if you haven’t done the hard work of asking about yourself specifically.
Before you take anything personally, first ask yourself whether it was said about you.
2. Don’t Take What One Person Says as Final
You’ve probably heard stories of people who got a diagnosis from a doctor. But they were compelled to get a second, and a third, and a fourth opinion, because either they did not trust what they were being told or thought there might be another way to combat their illness.
Yet, what I see all the time is artists taking one person’s opinion as final.
They’ll hear “you’re too young, you’re too old, you’re too fat, you’re too skinny, you’re not experienced enough, you’re too experienced, your music’s not good enough, you’re not marketable, you’re not our style” or some variation thereof and take it personally.
First, just as I said in point one, we’ve got to check to ensure this comment was said specifically about us, right?
But beyond that, no matter the authority of the individual, if it’s just one opinion, it’s just one opinion.
So, one booking agent or publicist or promoter rejected you. What does that mean?
It means you were rejected by one agent, one publicist, or one promoter. And it doesn’t even mean that, because if you create something better and come back to them later, they might still give you a “yes.”
And as already suggested, you’d be better off getting a second, and third, and fourth opinion. Because who knows? The right opportunity might be with Jessica rather than Mike. Mike may not have taken a liking to you, but maybe your music floats Jessica’s boat.
And remember. You’re not talking to labels or agents or managers. You’re talking to real people just like you. If what you’ve got is compelling enough, it’s bound to be for somebody. If you’ve got fans, then you already know your music is for somebody, and it’s all about finding more people like that!
3. Turn Negative Comments into Fuel to Improve
Okay, so there are basically three possibilities here. One is that a someone said something relatively general that you took offense to. Two is that someone gave you a general expert opinion but wasn’t necessarily addressing you specifically. The last possibility is you receive a direct comment from someone influential.
I see a lot of artists butthurt over this because they were told one thing by someone, like “you’re not going to make it” or “you’re too old” or “you’re the wrong sex, so you’re going to be mistreated” or whatever.
And the first problem is we often interpret things incorrectly. Neuroscience expert Dr. Joe Dispenza often says we don’t even remember 50% of our pasts correctly. And as artists, we tend to remember the feeling of events rather than the contents of them.
So, even when a negative comment is aimed at us directly, there’s still the chance that we’ll take it the wrong way and make something out of it that was never intended.
The next thing is we don’t confirm the state of the person saying these things. So, we just examine the content of what’s being said, rather than getting a sense of whether that person was having a bad day, whether they were having troubles at home, if they’d just received some bad news of their own, or whatever.
Hurting people hurt people, and if you were to reflect on your own past, you’d probably see that you’ve said things that were hurtful to another, intentional or not. And quite likely, you weren’t in the best space when you did it.
Finally, the problem is we end up taking whatever was said as gospel, which is connected to an earlier point. We think because one person told us it was going to go badly for us, that this is the inevitable outcome.
Supposedly, there are nearly eight billion people on earth. I have not confirmed it for myself, but I cannot even fathom that number. The sentiment here is that your opportunities are basically unlimited.
So, even if it’s Max Martin, or Dr. Luke, or Diddy, or Timbaland telling you “this is the way it is,” it’s premature.
Even if they do tell you “you’re not going to make it,” they’re just waiting for you to use that as fuel to prove them wrong. Because they’re never going to work with anyone that doesn’t get up after being knocked down. And trust me, they’ve probably been knocked down more than anyone else. It’s how they got to where they are.
So, you can give up, or you can use what was said as fuel to better yourself and your music.
Your Offense is Your Own to Deal with
Another important point is that your offense is your own to deal with. Meaning even if someone else intended for their comments to be hurtful or offensive, how you take it is entirely up to you.
Artists get so butthurt over what someone else says that they let one comment ruin their day, or week, or month.
What’s interesting is that whoever said those things to you is probably over it, doesn’t remember it, and is busy working on themselves and their project.
So, it seems foolish to let something like that hold you back. Because you could be doing the same thing – getting over it, forgetting it, and getting busy working on your own projects.
Remember. Someone else can control what they say. But they cannot control how you feel about it. Ever. And it’s up to you to do the investigative work necessary to know what their intention was if you want to find out.
Couples who want to stay together need to do this all the time. You can say, “when you said X, it made me feel Y.” And that can open a meaningful discussion about the intention behind the message.
Try not to make your offense someone else’s responsibility. Because it isn’t. Whatever you’re feeling is inside you, and it can’t be found within someone else. So, only you have the power to do something about it.
Alright, to summarize today’s episode:
- Don’t worry about generalized comments and advice. Generalized advice might apply to 60 to 80% of people, but it might not apply to you. If you want to know how someone really feels about you, ask them directly. Don’t beat around the bush.
- Don’t take anything as final. Assuming your heart is still beating in your chest, there are always opportunities. Yes, you may need to pivot. You may need to adjust your goals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve success on your own terms. Shift your paradigm and keep going.
- Use it all as fuel. Sometimes offense is intentional. Or, at the very least, you may be tested by others in the industry. Use it all as fuel to improve, to get better, to become the best version of yourself. My friend Chris Naish did exactly that when he got a scathing review from a journalist, but years later got a positive review from the same journalist who admitted defeat.
- Don’t blame anyone else for your feelings. Victim mentality is unproductive. Recognize that whatever you’re feeling is within you and that’s only because you gave your own power over to it.
Remember – you can be butthurt, or you can keep making progress in your music career. The choice is yours. You can be butthurt if you want, but the only thing it can do is stop you dead in your tracks and rob you of time, joy, and fulfillment. Better to reframe, use it as fuel, and begin moving in a productive direction, even if you have to pivot and adjust course slightly.
If you’re ready to stop being butthurt over everything and want to grow your music career and fan base, head on over to davidandrewwiebe.com/join to grab your free guide from our eBook library. You’re sure to find something of interest to you there, and if this episode resonated with you, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Music Career Success Checklist.
This has been episode 216 of The New Music Industry Podcast. I’m David Andrew Wiebe, and I look forward to seeing you on the stages of the world.