OnceThe first time that I saw the movie Once (affiliate link), it was via a less-than-perfect DVD copy in a conference room with two dozen music industry executives, assistants and interns. It was sometime in 2006 when I was still employed by a major record company, and we were watching the film to determine if both the movie and soundtrack justified a release in the U.S., and, if so, through which of our distribution channels.

As the film ended and several of us wiped tears from our eyes, one of the top executives (actually, the top executive) claimed that it would not sell more than a few thousand copies at most and said that, if we were to release it, it should go through our indie distributor, assuming the film even did anything at the box office.  Needless to say, I had some choice comments for this executive, though I can’t remember anything more specific from that conversation other than the word “heartless” and the phrase, “Did we just watch the same move?”

Of course, the film went on to earn more than $10 Million in the US alone, garnering an Oscar and various other awards along the way, not to mention the many soundtrack album sales, as well as Swell Season tour dates, increased sales from albums by The Frames and more.


I watched this movie again over the weekend, and found myself just as impressed as I had been way-back-when in that sterile conference room (and my wife was similarly moved, especially as she was actually seeing it for the first time).  The delicate song arrangements, the honest performances and the subdued conclusion get me every time.

My point?

This is just one of many examples of how some of the most impressive and most successful music has been rejected by the music industry’s gate-keepers time and time again.  If you believe in what you do–if you believe in the music that you create–then trust that others will as well.

You’re audience is out there–don’t let a clueless gatekeeper tell you otherwise.

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(full disclosure: all Amazon links in this post are affiliate links)

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