The last note has faded away and the audition is over. Now, you now face two potential outcomes: if you’re lucky enough to get the job, you’ll have to work hard to keep it. If you aren’t, you’ll need to process your feelings in a healthy way to ensure your confidence isn’t worn down over time.
Learning from unsuccessful auditions
In the music business, occasional rejection is inevitable. It’s impossible to get everything you audition for. For some, you might be the right candidate; for others, there will simply be someone better. Perhaps your playing technique isn’t right for the project, the personal chemistry doesn’t quite tick or you simply weren’t sufficiently prepared. Whatever the case, the trick is to learn from the experience and do better next time. I’ve always found it fascinating to see how some musicians refuse to engage with the possible reasons – despite receiving rejections on a regular basis.
It’s possible that rejection may sometimes be more of a business decision than a question of talent. That said, you should always ask yourself honestly whether you may have lacked a key quality or skill. Increasing your chances of success means acknowledging your weaknesses and working on them openly. If you take a head-burying approach, you’ll never be in a position to know how you could improve.
My tip: keep an audition journal
After each audition, I look back and briefly appraise my own performance. Then, I write down what I need to work on. Over time, this gives rise to something like an “audition journal” – which has led me, among other things, to discover how to relax better when performing under pressure. It enables me to put aside the things I want to work on and focus on the things that most urgently require my attention. As such, I recommend you see every audition as an opportunity – to identify the areas of your playing that most need your attention and focus. You can then practise the things that will allow you to get better most quickly.
If you invest the necessary time in improving your less-developed skills, you’ll be more likely to deliver a better performance. There are many passionate musicians, but only a few who are passionate workers. They all want to land their dream job, but few are willing to do the work it takes to get there. Your dreams must be underpinned by diligence and realistic self-assessment if you want to achieve your goals in the long term.
The human factor
Perhaps, from one perspective, you would have been the best choice, but another applicant was eventually chosen. Human connection, flawless artistry, excellent preparation and reliability are just some of the factors involved in the decision. Never forget that the selection of musicians is not and never has been an exact science – which means that even for the deciding artist, it can be quite the ordeal! There is no one hundred percent guaranteed system. Ultimately, the hiring of a new musician is always – to some extent – a matter of luck.
More than once, I’ve seen a management or band regretting their decision. I’ve heard them say things like, “Oh, man, we should have gone for the other guy.” But even then, it’s not possible just to swap one for the other.
There’ll always be a next time
There have been times when I was sure I’d got the job, but was eventually disappointed. On these occasions, I had to learn to deal with the situation and carry on. Never take the outcome of an audition personally, and don’t let it shake your conviction in pursuing your dreams. While auditions can indicate something about your current abilities, personality and interpersonal relationship skills, they are certainly no determiner of your future potential. An audition is not the end of the story; it’s simply a spotlight on the present. The future is yet to be written, and you have every opportunity to become successful.
Let your negative feelings pass and concentrate on the next audition. There are countless historical examples of notable people who received rejections and went on to do something truly amazing. No-one ever achieved greatness without facing obstacles along the way – so how can you expect your story to be any different?
Use auditions for networking
Let’s imagine you meet the requirements of the audition, are perfectly prepared and have refined some key skills in advance. You’ve read up about the project, turned up on time – and yet you still haven’t got the job. Don’t be discouraged! Every audition is a way to learn about the music business and about yourself, to gain important experience, to meet other musicians and to establish new contacts with confidence.
Now, I want to know what strategies you use to deal with rejection. Is there any point turning up to auditions nowadays, or are the good jobs simply passed around behind the scenes? Let me know in the comments – I’m looking forward to hearing from you!