When I first announced I was moving to Nashville there were a lot of opinions, facts, and emotions thrown at me. “If you stay here you’re a big fish in a little pond. If you move there you’ll be a little fish in a big, wide ocean.” “Wait, you do pop music. Doesn’t Nashville just do country music?” “Nashville’s a 5-year city, but most people move back home after 2.”
I took what everyone had to say with a grain of salt, but made a point to remember these things… just in case some things ended up being true. Yes, I am one of many here but I’m exposed to an innumerable amount of opportunities here I would never have had back home. No, Nashville is not just country. But that 2-year statement? Yeah, I can see why most people call it quits after 2 years. It’s hard. It’s draining. There are so many discouraging things you are told and experience every time you put yourself out there. I could write a novel about all the negative feedback I’ve received, but I’ll keep it short:
“You’ve gotta sing like Ariana Grande or Mariah Carey to make it in the pop industry. And you’re just not quite there.” There is so much more to pop than that.
“How long have you been here?” 2 years. “Heh. You’ve got 3 to go.” Go where? Why is that some magical number?
“How old are you? You look so young! Oh, you’re 23? Your time’s running out to make it in the pop industry, you better get there quick.” If I look like I’m 14 I might as well be 14, right? AGE IS JUST A NUMBER AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW GOOD OR BAD SOMEONE IS.
“Your music is good, really catchy and unique, but you’re a woman and there’s just not a market out there for you right now.” There’s not a market because people like you aren’t signing women….why?
“It’s especially hard for you, honey, because you’re an attractive young woman. And women cause drama and nobody wants to work with that.” Oh, so that’s why.
Yes. Yes, that last one really was said – to my face. The hardest part for me when taking criticism, or feedback I don’t agree with in general, is to smile and nod. Half that stuff isn’t true, and if it’s untrue I want to correct and keep correcting until they get it through their heads that they’ve got it wrong. But, if I were to argue or talk back I would become that self-fulfilling prophecy; I’d become that attractive young woman who is just all “drama”.
It’s hard keeping grace and faith in this process. It’s takes a lot to internally be boiling over but keep a cheery and gracious disposition. (Anybody who’s ever worked customer service would understand this feeling.) It’s takes a lot to keep telling yourself to go back out there, to try again, and to keep being knocked down. It takes faith and faith is something that is grown, but growing is so painful. After 2 and a half years of giving it all I’ve got I am tired. Who wouldn’t be? At this point there’s a mixture of “do I really want to prove them right?” and “this is what I was made to do” keeping me going. That and a shit-ton of coffee.
The aforementioned people have been publishers, managers, or people who have clout and are willing to connect unsigned artists to publishers. These are the very people I need to woo in order to take the next step in my music career so I have been taking what they have to say to heart. What I’ve recently come to realize is that I shouldn’t. That sort of advice is toxic, unproductive, and does not help in the growth and development of my career. I sing like Ariel Petrie because I am Ariel Petrie. Things will happen when they happen: it could be 2 years; it could be 10. I’ll get a fake I.D if I have to so people will get off my back about the damn age “issue”. The market changes like the wind, in a couple years maybe there will be a market for women again. And I don’t want to work with a misogynist anyways, so you keep thinking that women are drama, buddy.
I’ve learned a lot in my 2 year of Nashville, but my 3 biggest take-aways are:
- If the advice given is something you cannot change don’t listen to it (age, gender, the natural voice the Lord gave you.) If it’s something you are able to change would you improve if you changed it? Yes – do it! No – then don’t. Maybe – do or don’t. This is probably just an opinion.
- Don’t let them see you down. You can cry when you get home. Then, smile some more.
- Keep going! You’re doing it! You’re here in Nashville writing music, recording music, eating, sleeping, and breathing music. Pace yourself, slow down if you have to, but don’t stop. Keep going.