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The Power of “No”

The power of ‘No’ – I would like to take a moment to introduce a new regular section which is of particular note and interest to independent musicians.

Chris Van Der Linden from Holland, is the frontman of  Fourteen Twentysix. With over fifteen years experience in the industry as an indie artist, he is working with the Indie Bands Blog to provide some more indie music tips.

Chris Van Der Linden

The Power of No

We all like to hear “dude, your music is fantastic” or a venue calling to have you come play again. Success is the driving force behind much of what we do. Luckily in many cases our hard work actually pays off. However in advancing your music career you will hear a lot of “No” too. While this can be demotivating and hard to swallow at times this article is to show you the actual power of “No”.

Used to hearing your music is awesome?

First you need to realize if you are just starting out recording and releasing music its likely the first people you demo your music to are friends and family. These people are so close to you they will never give an honest opinion. Your mum will say “oh that’s fantastic dear!” and friends will be hesitant to voice their real opinions. While this often gives you the much needed confidence to carry on it also “conditions” you to hear “nice” things about your work.

Once you advance with your music, try doing a few first shows and get some reviews on websites you will be likely get your first negative feedback. Wow! It can certainly be a nasty surprise at first, while maybe subconsciously you know not everyone can like your music, it’s another thing to see it written there for everyone to read “The vocals can’t hold a steady note at all and the bass player sounds as wobbly as a loose floorboard”. It’s the stuff that breaks ego’s down quickly… but in this lies a very strong positive power.

No is the new Yes

Once you’re past the shock of the first negative reviews, angry fans and rejections from venues – listen to this. In every “No” lies the power of a “Yes”. Now I can hear you go “Wow dude you trying to go all buddhist on me?” but – just stick with me for a minute here. The rejection or “No” is because of a reason. It’s this reason that contains a wealth of information that you can use to your advantage.

A few examples:

  • A venue booker, on the phone, says “No thanks, we’re fully booked”
  • Don’t stop there and hang up the phone just yet
  • Try asking – how far in advance they generally book bands?
  • Maybe you are trying to get a show booked to short in advance. Some venues book acts as far as a year ahead
  • Maybe the venue owner will tell you they don’t do metal bands, only funk rock or cover bands
My point is that the actual rejection (which is a shame) is the start of something new.It’s your job to learn more about the reason you got told “No thanks”. Make it your permanent mindset to figure out why your CD didn’t get reviewed, why you don’t get a show booked at a particular venue or why the Newspaper Editor doesn’t return your calls.
Doing so you will gradually learn alot about how the music industry, venues, bookers and media work. Once you know you can use it to your advantage.
By being pro-active and willing to learn you may:


  • Discover your local newspaper only covers 1 local band per month
  • Realize you had been sending your email to the wrong editor all along
  • That review website accepts MP3′s only, not physical CD’s
  • Your local venue pays bands a maximum of 100,- per night and your press kit says 200,-

Knowledge is power (uhuh!) and you better start collecting knowledge! Take every “No” as a treasure, look beyond it and figure out the reason for the rejection. Once you have gotten this down it even becomes fun to get some rejections.In some cases you may find getting “No” is a benefit. What’s worse than chasing a news editor for months only to realize “He does not work for this paper anymore”. Be happy you saved precious time you can spend it on other things.


Not taking No for an answer


It takes a bit of practice and confidence to stay on the phone and ask a few questions after you just been disappointed. But the more you do it the easier it will get. While usually venue owners, bookers, reviewers etc are very busy and can come across as blunt or uninterested they are still real people and most of the time “nice folks”. If you ask, to the point relevant questions and don’t plainly waste their time, usually they will gladly answer your questions.


Remember to always be polite even if the other person is plain blunt or stupid. Don’t let your ego lure you into making a snide remark or show your true feelings. Just thank them kindly for their time and move along. It is incredibly important to not make enemies in the music industry, especially locally. They say “its a small world” and its true. People know each other very well and a furious exchange with a venue owner in one town is likely to get heard by his studio mixer friend in another town. Before you know it you will have a bad reputation going, which is a rapid slope downwards.

With that I leave you for now, but see you again next month for more Indie Music Tips. Let me know if you have questions or suggestions. Leave a comment below!

Thanks Chris and I look forward to your further thoughts.



Related posts:

Indie Music Tips #1 Live Music with Francesca Baker
Indie Music Tips #5 Art and Music with Paul Meagher
Indie Music Tips #11 Touring with Jason Myles

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