Thursday, March 4, 2010

Adventures in Rejection!

As an artist of any kind, there are many others that compete for the same job, the same attention as you. In one's own eyes, there are often times people that may seem more suited for one thing or another, leaving you to wonder, "am I good enough?"

As a composer, I'm no stranger to criticism or rejection. And as a contributor to iStock Audio, I will get a letter once in while detailing my piece was not accepted. The first time I had a piece that was rejected, I was offended, even crestfallen. However, I have learned that six people's opinion doesn't hinder progress, and I have since learned the humor of rejection.

Sometimes, their reasons are just:
"This composition is too bass heavy, it is to the point where the rest of the music is far overpowered. Please consider remixing this piece, and consider using a properly tuned subwoofer when mixing material such as this."

Okay, fair enough. I don't have a subwoofer or decent speakers, so I must rely on my Bose headphones to give me the best representation of how my audio will sound to others.

Sometimes, it's a bit more in the gray area:
"Wile this may have been intended there are several parts in this composition that are out of time. While odd timings can be used creatively in this case we feel that the result is distracting. In addition this composition is muddled, and cluttered. Please consider revising the mix

This composition has inconsistent musical timings and rhythms. While musical compositions do not need to have perfect timing, it is important that compositions have a constant and natural rhythm.

Practice playing with a metronome or computer generated click track, as this will ensure that your compositions have consistent rhythmic patterns.
Make sure that every instrument, element, and section of your composition has it's own space. This mix is quite muddled where many elements are competing with each other. The result is a composition which lacks in depth and creative impact.

Please re-mix this track ensuring that musical elements are not competing with each other, and that each section has purposeful dynamics. During your mixing process take care to use equalization, compression, and leveling that enables each instrument to have it's own place in the mix. These tools will enable you to create a clean and clear mix that has much more purpose and impact."

I'm a musician. Of course I know what a stinkin' metronome is. This was, by far, one of the more insulting I think. The piece had syncopated parts, and intentional tempo dragging. Methinks that the audio inspector that sent me this comes from more of a music production background, rather than a writing one. And the Canadians spell "while" funny. However, I can see their point of view- the "weird" or "unnatural" aren't always acceptable in a commercial medium- but hey, I'm on iStock because it acts as an online portfolio and some chump change. And if by rejecting a piece, they continue to make me look good, then I am all for it.

The most recent one is hilarious and sad at the same time:
"We're sorry, but we did not find this file suitable as stock. With the rapid growth of the iStock collection, we give valuable consideration to each file but unfortunately cannot accept all submissions.

We hope contributors understand that we are ingesting a lot of material. Files being submitted are aspiring to higher levels of musical understanding. As a result we have to ask more of contributors in terms of creativity and quality.

We want to see you successful with your portfolio and we think that a frank approach is the best way to give you the best position for success against the great tracks we inspect on a daily basis.

We can tell from your application that you are smartly capable of understanding the level of production that will bring you success with your media. It would be unfair of us not to point out that the audio production with this file will need work to compete fully with other contributors working in genre.

All the best, and nothing but success to you and your portfolio."

In short, they said I suck at electronic pieces. I give them props for being ballsy. "Files being submitted are aspiring to higher levels of musical understanding." Oh, good thing I'm working on my higher education then! "[W]e think that a frank approach is the best way to give you the best position for success against the great tracks we inspect on a daily basis." Basically, "for future reference, don't suck."

And while I find it humorous yet appreciate that they were "frank" in their rejection, I also can't help but feel that iStock is becoming more of a machine. The audio inspectors used to give me much more constructive criticism than just say a piece is boring. The last letter is proof that they seem to be getting bigger as a company, and as a result, I get what appears to be an "auto-rejection" letter. I wouldn't hold this against them if it were not for the fact that despite high volume in uploads, I still have to wait two weeks before hearing whether my piece was accepted or not.

Perhaps I have become less interesting as a composer. I lack some inspiration in my life, that's for sure. If that is reflected in my music, then let the real adventure begin.