Canadian Musician - May-June 2022 - Page 29

COLUMNS

for actors – they were high quality and expensive . And still , everything was a failure . When I say it didn ’ t make sense , it didn ’ t . I received an “ F ” on the press photo — that was the same photo I used in XXL magazine ! Isn ’ t that the purpose of a press photo ? To be used in media ? At the time , XXL was the biggest hip-hop magazine in the world . They weren ’ t going to accept an “ F ” photo .
I was furious . So , I picked up the phone . I decided to vent my frustrations by calling FACTOR . God bless the woman who picked up . She listened . Despite my agitated tone , she remained calm . And when I was finally done , she told me that there was nothing that she could do . FACTOR didn ’ t adjudicate the applications . They had nothing to do with my score . The applications were judged by a rotating jury of music professionals across the province . She politely encouraged me to apply again noting that my passion was proof that I could be successful .
Apply again ? I thought . Never . It had taken me so long to do the application . They didn ’ t get it . I felt like 2Pac — it was “ me against the world .”
But yet , a couple of months later I took her advice . I saw the upcoming deadline and decided to apply . I didn ’ t put in as much work this time . I didn ’ t have to . I ’ d done all the hard work . The most time-consuming task was updating my timeline . But even that just meant moving each goal a couple of months ahead . I didn ’ t have as much excitement when I dropped the application in the mail . I was indifferent . I figured I ’ d be turned down again .
A couple more months passed and that ’ s when I received the letter in the mail . I got it .
I couldn ’ t believe it . An album grant meant close to $ 20,000 to record my debut album . It was nearly ten times more than my demo grant . Luckily , I didn ’ t cause ten times the damage to my parents ’ ceiling .
When I received this grant , I didn ’ t think about the time I was turned down . All I cared about was that I got it this time .
I ’ ve told elements of this story dozens of times . Usually , it ’ s to artists that call me venting their frustration when they don ’ t get a grant . I take on the role of that poor woman at FACTOR that endured my scathing phone call . Just like her , I ’ m patient . I listen . But then I respond with what has become a patented response : “ Try again .”
I explain the jury process . I explain that the feedback they receive can be helpful , or it could be incorrect .
Anytime you are unsuccessful with a grant application it is disappointing . Especially if you put a lot of work into it .
As musicians , we take it personal because it ’ s not just our plans that are being judged … it ’ s our art … our baby . It ’ s important to take criticism with a grain of salt . I recently received feedback on a grant I submitted for an artist that is a multiple-time Juno nominee , sold tens of thousands of albums , makes a great living for over 15 years , and just came off a successful international tour .
The feedback read : “ Nothing really special about this project , unfortunately , I really hope this artist can develop it into something more interesting , maybe using good songwriters , producers , and engineers .”
I can respect their opinion . They are entitled to it . Maybe we should have emphasized that the artist has a niche that will support him , though I thought we had done that well enough . To me , it points to the fact that the juror just doesn ’ t like this particular style of hip-hop — underground / backpack . They favour more “ commercial ” -sounding hip-hop . But just because an artist is following current trends in music doesn ’ t mean that they are going to be successful .
In this case , the artist was working with good songwriters , he was working with a combination of some of the hottest young talent and also established vets .
As a beatmaker , the projects he had been featured on have sold hundreds of thousands of copies .
The engineer for the submission is someone that engineered gold and platinum records .
The artist ended up making the album without the support of a grant . It sold tens of thousands of copies , earned critical acclaim , and he toured several countries . Clearly , the juror was wrong .
When receiving criticism , it is important to note who the critic is . What is their expertise ?
With many organizations , the bar isn ’ t set high to become a juror . The juror – and critic – could be an artist or manager that doesn ’ t have a long track record of success . That doesn ’ t disqualify their opinion , but it means that whether good or bad , it is important to take it for what it is — an opinion .
Encourage criticism . Take the good and the bad . Allow it to help train yourself so that you don ’ t get too high or too low .
Use it to your advantage . You don ’ t have to agree with the critics .
Sometimes the negative criticism can strengthen your view of your art . Most of all , don ’ t let it discourage you from trying again . And when you do get that good news … jump as high as you can .
Make that dent . Just like you will do in the game .
CANADIAN MUSICIAN 29