by Cari Cole
Just reading that headline makes my head hurt. I know, I’ve been there many times before. And most likely so have you. It’s par for the course in making records. But learning from experience and an objective perspective can save you from making other unknown mistakes and gain clarity for your next project.
No one sets out to make a record that fails, that’s for sure. And really, what signifies failure is different to each artist. For the sake of today’s article, failure means “failure to connect with people” (beyond friends and family). That translates to units sold or streamed (not given away) and butts in seats at shows.
It’s one thing to have great intentions or even great songs, it’s another to deliver a record that flies the coop. It’s not your fault, it’s just that there are so many details, there’s a large margin for error.
So what’s left in the aftermath of a record or recording experience that didn’t go as hoped? How do you recover, not only fast, but brilliantly?
5 Steps to Recovering From A Failed Album
If you’ve ever put your heart and soul into a project only to find it didn’t resonate with people the way you had hoped, or after the fact you realized it wasn’t your best work, or that you really only dipped your toe in, then you know what I’m talking about. Hindsight is 20/20. But rather than beating yourself up, or blaming yourself for not knowing better then, you can arm yourself with knowledge for your next project and process the past to put it where it belongs, in the past.
The first step is to acknowledge the time and effort that went into it, the good and the bad as well as realize that the process of record making is deeply detailed and not only has many mis-steps, but large margins for error. It’s not your fault or anyone else’s (like your producer), it’s a learning curve (and most artists don’t choose the right producer for their project btw.)
2. Adequate Time for Grieving
A record that you poured your heart and soul into that doesn’t fly the coop can be shattering, especially to your confidence and even more to your soul. A proper time of grieving, complaining and ranting is totally normal, and should be expected.
The next step may take a while to get to, but acceptance is your way out of the pain. Shit happens. No pain, no gain. We all make mistakes, and hey, that’s how we learn and grow, and that’s even how we become extraordinary. Failure equals success if you don’t let it destroy you.
4. Learn the Lessons
The most important part of any failure or disappointment is to learn from them. Extrapolate the lessons. What didn’t work? What did you learn? What was your biggest ah-ha? What can you do better next time?
5. Recharge Your Artistry and Confidence
Now that you’ve gleaned some lessons, make a plan to do it differently or better next time. Beware of swinging too far in the other direction. Like if you produced the past record yourself, hiring a top gun on the next and closing a blind eye.
A failed project can also hurt your confidence, but focus on recharging your artistry, dig deeper to unearth what you really feel and your confidence will kinda magically return (don’t expect miracles, just make steady progress and write about it).
Thankfully, recording artists are reinventing themselves all the time. With each new project comes something new, along with the old. Hey, it’s part of the process, so hunker down. Time for your next creation.
What’s your nightmare recording story and what did you learn? Share in the comments below!