5 artists who didn’t take ‘No’ for an answer

You’re ambitious, you know your music is amazing and going to change the world. Unfortunately not everyone you meet might share that view and may in fact decline to help turn you into a global superstar.

But fear not, everyone hears an unmistakeable ‘No’ along the way at some point. Just look at these now super famous artists who felt the cold hand of rejection only to emerge much better off later:

1. Destiny’s Child
Multi-million selling mega-band was not how the judges on US TV talent show Star Search saw six piece all female band Girls Tyme in 1992. They lost. Undeterred, Matthew Knowles, father of one of the group, a certain Beyoncé Knowles, gave up his job to manage them full time. Three years later everything paid off when the band, now a quartet called Destiny’s Child, signed to Elektra Records. Until the label dropped them a few months later feeling they were “Too young and undeveloped”. It wasn’t until the following year that they signed another record deal and the future entry of ‘Bootylicious’ into the dictionary was secure.

2. Sex Pistols
In the 1970s the Sex Pistols blew away established stars and breathed new life into the UK music scene. When they actually managed to stop getting dropped by labels and release music that was. In 1976 the band signed to EMI and released ‘Anarchy In The UK’. One swearing filled TV appearance and a scandalised nation later and EMI backed out of the contract. A few months afterwards, now with Sid Vicious on board, the band signed to A&M Records. Before they too decided to part ways with the band. Finally, in May 1977, the band joined Virgin Records and a punk legend was assured.

3. Katy Perry
The Sex Pistols with their three-record-company run have nothing on the all-conquering Katy Perry who didn’t ascend to global superstardom until her fourth label, Capitol Records, signed up to support the Californian Gurl. As the pop queen herself explains: “There was a lot of the word ‘No’ being thrown my way and I just never accepted that.” It seems that lots of people were of the opinion that Ms Perry should try to emulate other female artists who were successful at the time. Katy Perry however was determined to be Katy Perry and was sure that she knew best how that worked. And boy was she right.

4. Elvis Presley
It’s pretty much impossible now to imagine that anyone could have heard or seen Elvis Presley and not instantly realised that this was probably the most amazing and charismatic rock star of all time. But they did. Lots of them. In 1954 Elvis failed an audition for local Tennessee band The Songfellows because they felt he couldn’t sing well enough. Soon afterwards he tried out for another band who also rejected him, telling him in all seriousness: “You’re never going to make it as a singer”. And then even once he’d released a few singles on Sun Records, after his first (and as it turned out, only) performance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the venue’s manager told him: “You ain’t going nowhere son. You ought to go back to driving a truck”. Elvis was not in fact his son and thankfully did not go back to driving a truck. Two years later he released ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and nothing has been the same since.

5. The Beatles
Yes The Beatles. The history defining, sold-more-records-than-any-other-band-ever Beatles. Everyone knows The Beatles now but even they had to deal with people who didn’t see how utterly amazing they were. In 1962 they auditioned for Dick Rowe, A&R manager of UK label Decca. He passed, famously remarking that “Guitar music is on the way out.” Fortunately George Martin at EMI was not of the same opinion and signed the band a few months later, became their producer and a crucial member of team Beatles which changed history forever. Things didn’t end too badly for Rowe though, he quickly realised the error of his ways. When Beatle George Harrison recommended he check out another new guitar music band he sure did that. And signed them. They did alright as well, in fact still are – The Rolling Stones.

Want some more to read? The Digital Music Business – Decoded


Get Started