releasing-music-is-an-act-of-bravery

Releasing Music Is Terrifying

artist, music, self-love

I haven’t been very good at announcing this so far, but I have a single coming out on 5 March, called ‘River Water’. It’s about getting over a breakup, having casual sex, falling in love, and wondering if love and sex are mutually exclusive. With the way artists are expected to promote themselves: posting five stories a day on Instagram, following the adagio of ‘a consumer has to see something seven times before they take action’, bombarding followers with self-promotion, some non-musicians start thinking that releasing music is an ego trip.

Gearing up for my release, I talked to a tutor at my university, who said: “How come you haven’t started promoting anything yet? Where is your pre-save link? Why are you not posting on Instagram?” I made up some lame excuse about how I didn’t realise it was already time to start the promotion, but really, it’s because I hate it. I hate self-promoting because it makes me feel uncomfortable, imposing, egotistical. “We’ve talked about this, Erika,” my tutor said. “The release cycle is three months. You’ve got to really get in gear.”

Few artists are comfortable with sharing the pre-save links to their songs three times a day. Few artists think their music will blow your mind. But we’re still expected to do it and do it regularly because in those early stages, if we don’t do it, no one will. And it’s a thin line between doing enough and doing too much, pushing friends to unfollow you on Instagram because you’ve posted the same ten seconds of your music video ten times in your stories. But it’s also a learning curve and something that’s a part of being a musician.

There are other sides to releasing music that require you to have thick skin. I got on SubmitHub a week ago to start sending out my single to blogs and radio stations. When I went to my account, I saw all the rejections I ever got for previous releases collected in my feed. It was disheartening reading all the feedback I ever got, although none of it was particularly harsh, and I’ve heard from friends that SubmitHub can be outright brutal (so maybe I’m even lucky?). I submitted the song to a few blogs and then watched the rejections stream in over the 48 hours the portal sets as the deadline, without a single affirmative. When I joined Musosoup, the offers I got were paid, and I wondered if it was now a standard thing for musicians to pay for reviews and how ethical was this, really? (Thoughts?)

As the week progressed, I started feeling increasingly more incompetent, uncomfortable, and overwhelmed, wondering if my shaky relationship with social media was a reflection of whether I was a good musician, and if those SubmitHub bloggers had a point, calling my melodies anonymous. Then it was my birthday (I turned 22), and one of my friends said: “Billie Eilish was 16 when she became famous.”

“Releasing music should be fun. You should be excited!” my university tutor said, and I wondered when releasing music had ever been fun. Sharing music was fun – playing it live and seeing people’s reactions, feeling a part of a community, and playing a part in creating one. But releasing music digitally – the promotion, the endless emails, and the following rejections – had never quite carried the same appeal. So, why do we even bother?

I release music so I don’t feel like a fraud when I call myself a musician. I also hope some people will recognise themselves in my lyrics and feel less alone. I release music because maybe someone will care enough to let me know they want me to keep going. There are a lot of small reasons for why I keep doing it, and big ones, like wanting music to be a full-time career. And they make all the other stuff that scares the shit out of me worth it. But for everyone else who’s struggling with their music releases now: releasing music is not an ego trip. If anything, it destroys your self-esteem. But it is an act of bravery, and if it doesn’t go the way you want it to go… Well, at least you tried and you created something. And that’s what we live for, isn’t it?




For those of you who are interested in the new song, you can pre-save it here. I appreciate it so, so, so, so much.

i-still-struggle-to-be-everything

I Still Struggle with Rejection

artist, self-love

I had a shitty day today, and I figured that if I’m not gonna talk about it, there’s no point to this blog. I’ve spent a long time trying to be everything people wanted a perfect person to be, only to realise a couple years ago that no one likes a perfect person. But I still don’t deal well with rejections of any kind and every time I get one, I feel like I’m not enough. 

It’s still hard to unlearn the compulsion to please, and from a conversation with a friend the other day, I’ve realised that my self-worth is still very much dependent on other people. Even on compliments I get from random guys on Tinder, which is a precarious position to find myself in. I’m not a psychotherapist, so I don’t always know how to deal with this shit. I’m not depressed. I just have off days when all I want to do is watch Netflix and cry.

Sometimes, it’s only a day. Sometimes, it’s a week. It’s happened that it’s lasted for months, too, though. I don’t deal well with rejections, but all artists get plenty of them. After releasing a new EP, apart from compliments from friends and family, I also got emails from blogs that didn’t want to write about it because my voice was not folky enough or my guitar sounded too harsh in the recording. I regularly get emails from promoters who don’t think I will be able to draw a sufficiently big crowd. Sometimes, I don’t get any replies at all. It can get tough, especially because often, I’m too embarrassed by the barrage of rejections to even talk about it with my friends. Here’s what I do instead:


1. I write

When I keep everything inside, I inevitably crash. I overthink everything, and if I don’t write stuff down, my thoughts spin out of control. When I sit down and write – lyrics, diary, essay, whatever – it helps me to put my thoughts in perspective. Another thing that I do is affirmations. When I feel really low, I try to write down thoughts that are the opposite of what I’m actually thinking, like “I am a good musician”, “I’m proud of myself for putting myself out there”, “I’m brave”. Even if I don’t always believe it, it puts my mind in a better place.


2. I clean my room

When I feel like shit, it’s usually because I’m not in control. Cleaning the space around me makes me feel like I still own my narrative and like I care about myself enough to make an effort. It also prepares me for a better day tomorrow, when I’ll wake up in a clean room, ready to start a new day. Besides, cleaning itself is pretty therapeutic (maybe that’s just me).


3. I hold a pity-party for myself

Some songs always put me in a good mood. ‘Dancing with Myself‘ by Billy Idol, ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople)’ by They Might Be Giants, ‘Paper Planes‘ by M.I.A. make me want to dance. So, I put them on and sing along and dance awkwardly, as you do. Sometimes, it doesn’t work and I return to bed. But sometimes, listening to those songs makes me want to get out of the house and get a drink with friends, and I stop feeling like I’m a sad vegetable and go have some fun.


4. I do something I’ve been putting off for a while

I have this Spotify playlist that I’m really proud and only slightly embarrassed of. It’s called the Bad Bitch Playlist. When I get rejected for some – according to me – unjust reason, I don’t always feel like shit. Sometimes, I feel angry. So, I put on this playlist and go to work. I go through my to-do list, do something I had been planning to do for a while (like recording a song, writing a blog post, learning a guitar lick), and it leaves me feeling better about myself.


5. I go easy on myself

It’s hard to remember, but I can’t be everything people want me to be. I’m only myself, with all my weaknesses and limitations. But then again, no one expects me to be perfect except for myself. I try to remember that when I feel like a useless, emotional wreck. I try not to judge and I try to listen to my body. If I’m tired, I take a day off – maybe go for a walk, maybe take a shower, maybe watch some Netflix. I give myself a break, so that I feel better when a new day comes around.