Before we start, this isn’t going to be a post about how to convince the judges to accept you after you bombed. Unfortunately, there are so many factors that impact who gets accepted that you’re unlikely to change any minds at this stage. However, there are ways to be kind to yourself after a fail that will help you to rebound, recover and get ready for your next audition, where you’ll knock it out of the park.
What to Do After a Failed Audition
I’ve had many fails in my music career. I was the only one who was not accepted into my 8th grade talent show (you can read that here), and I failed two music school auditions (here). You can trust me when I say I’ve failed hard and I have recovered. It might feel like you’ll never get over it, but here are a few tips that have helped me through.
Here is a video where I describe and act out my 3 worst fails. Hopefully they’ll help you feel better about your own!
1). Practice Self Care
I know “self care” is a buzzword right now and it means many things to many people, so I’m going to let you decide what it means for you. Just be kind to yourself. One of my favorite self care methods is to spend a day in bed. I’m such an active workaholic that forcing myself to watch YouTube in bed with my dogs and really let my body and mind fully rest is wonderful. That might seem awful to you, so do whatever works for you.
2). Write Your Failure in 3rd Person
This seems weird but it works. Write every detail of what happened, but write it as if it was someone else. For example:
Mella tore the envelope open and scanned the letter. Hands trembling, heart pounding, she read the words, “We regret to inform you” and didn’t need to read further. She did anyway. “We will not be accepting you into our program.” Black and white, the letter plainly and without emotion told her the course of her future. The letter fell to the floor. It felt unreal. Her vision came in and out of focus, both from tears and the panic setting in. What now?
When I read this and make it third person, it becomes a lot easier to feel for her. It’s easy to beat yourself up and write, “I really sucked and now my life is over.” Taking the time to examine it as if it was someone else will help you analyze the feelings more rationally and will also allow you to show yourself more kindness.
3). Read About or Watch Other Failures
There are literally SO MANY successful people who had epic failures. There is also this interesting video of failed American Idol hopefuls who went on to find success:
It’s helpful to see that this happens all the time and to everyone. You might feel alone and singled out, but I promise you’re not.
Look at this girl who once performed what is known as the worst National Anthem of all time:
First of all, who are the monsters who would attack a little girl like this? What is wrong with people? Secondly, if she can get through that and continue with music, so can you. FYI, she auditioned for American Idol (video here) and launched her own music video here.
4). Write About It From The Future
This is something you can do after you’ve read other fails from #3. Write about this as if you’ve achieved success (and you will). For example:
After being the only student in 8th grade who was not accepted into the talent show, and publicly shamed by the teacher, Mella went on to form Mella Music. She is now a full-time session singer and songwriter and that teacher can suck it.
Now, if I was to audition and fail today, I could say something like:
Mella fell on her ass in front of everyone and none of the chairs spun around. Adam Levine said she was ugly and John Legend told her she should learn sign language and never sing again. However, she did not give up and today she owns the record label that both judges are on.
Doing this will help you see that there is a future and you will get there. This failure will not hold you back.
5). Examine Your Options
Now, if this was just a talent show or something, your only option is to basically move on and try again in the future. However, if you failed a school audition like I did, you’ll now have to regroup and focus on your next move. I don’t recommend doing this until you’ve had time to accept what happened, though. When you’re upset and frustrated you might make a hasty or poor decision. Give yourself some time to grieve before thinking of your next move.
If you have a funny audition fail, you can use that as a great story later. I have one from my modeling days I’ll tell you:
I had an audition for a Vidal Sassoon commercial in New York City. My agency flew me out there and back in a day. I had to sit on a stool, stand up, shake my hair out and say some dumb line I don’t remember. As I got up from the stool, something happened. I don’t know if my heel got caught on the stool, my leg fell asleep or what, but suddenly I was on my face on the floor in front of 20 ad executives. I got up and saw my lipstick and foundation smashed into a print on the tile.
No one really said anything, but the woman behind the camera just whispered “Oh my god” as if she had just seen a car crash. I stood up and looked around the room, unsure of my next move.
“Do…do you want to try it again?” someone asked. I nodded, knowing it was pointless. There was no way I was getting the job now. Not surprisingly, I didn’t.
At the time, it was a mortifying story. Now, I love telling this story and even re-enacting it. If you had a major fail, trust me that you’ll someday laugh about it with friends.
If your fail wasn’t funny, I recommend watching a funny show you love. I highly recommend Key and Peele, and they have a funny audition skit here:
I hope this helps you if you’re dealing with rejection right now. It sucks but we all go through it, I promise! All you need is time, a little humor and a plan.
If you want to share your fail story, please do! I’d love to know how it went and how you overcame it.