How Rejections Can Help
Rejections are not the end of the world, but they are a part of maintaining the quality of content on the marketplace.
So how can rejections help?
The first thing you need to think about before submitting is: What is it you want to submit?
- What is it?
- Who is it for?
- Why are you submitting it in the first place?
- And, what’s the ideal result you want to get out of this experience?
As much as you can you need to think like a customer. Try and think through how they’re going to find your music, and what they’re going to get once they find it.
Art vs Commerce
This is a stock audio library and while there is a place for art, there are also specific needs customers have: to find particular types of tracks that match with their specific project.
You want to build a bridge between these two that will ultimately lead to you having a stronger portfolio and hopefully, therefore, you getting better results.
The Experience Of Rejection
Rejection isn’t just experienced by Authors, but also by the Reviewers who ultimately have to make a decision.
On one side of the equation we have our Authors who have to meet technical submission requirements, but we also have to understand the media target. If a particular track doesn’t fit the AudioJungle mould and will be completely out of place on the market then that can lead to rejection.
We also look for objective self-appraisal. And then finally, Rome wasn’t build in a day, some Authors have to go through multiple rejections to get where they’re going. Patience and persistence will always be your friend, it’s important to keep that in mind as you can.
Let’s look at things from the Reviewers’ point of view.
Reviewers have to be mindful of the many degrees of standards they have to uphold to maintain the quality of the library.
Reviewers have go through literally thousands of submissions, listening to each track to see if it matches what customers are most needing.
Which brings us to the requirement of general commercial viability: The ability for a piece of music to suit a wider variety of customers’ needs, without being too broad or too narrow.
It shouldn’t be a song written with the aim of using ukelele for instance, but the thinking should be about the types of media it could be used for. A commercial, or YouTube video or TV segment. Not too broad but not too narrow.
Hard vs Soft Rejection
If you’ve been around long enough you may well have seen a hard rejection or two. But, all things considered, it’s a relatively rare thing on most of our markets. Envato Market has always made it a priority to try and help Authors learn.
However due to the sheer volume of submissions the review teams get these days, in order to continue to allow for Authors to upload, we’ve had to simplify the review process in some ways.
For a hard rejection there need to be problems with either the:
- The words, the idea
- The writing, the storytelling
- The sentences, paragraphs
- How those words are arranged into sentences and paragraphs
- Production: the penmanship, the fonts
- How you are delivering it
Soft rejection – Content Issue
Content issues are the harder of the two soft rejection categories. As Reviewers we have to maintain our authority on what the library needs.
Soft rejection can be caused by issues like a clash with something in the marketplace, dissonance or your item freezing.
They’re issues that aren’t problematic enough to be hard rejected and can be fixed and resubmitted.
Soft Rejection – Technical Issues
Technical issues are things like leaving a watermark on your track in the zip. No watermark in the previews. Just little things that we’re all prone to miss upon the excitement of uploading. These rejections are really there to improve your chances to do better in the marketplace.
Music Rejections… The Nitty Gritty
Composition + Arrangement
General phrasing and spacing conflicts. Sometimes we get submissions with just the one musical phrase repeated over and over. That’s generally not acceptable.
You can create some great chord progressions, but phrasing it properly goes into melody theory, one of the hardest things to learn and improve upon as a composer. General phrasing and melody will always be something musicians are improving on. That’s kind of your life’s work.
Instrumentals included? Good
It’s good to provide multiple versions of your track if it features something like vocals or sound effects on top of the instrumental. For instance, if you have a track with vocals, you should provide an instrumental track without them. It improves the viability of your track.
Intros? Get to the point
Reviewers have heard a lot of intros that go for 30 seconds to a minute. A commercial might be 30 seconds long, so it’s better for you to get to the point quicker rather than later.
Think like your customer. How are you going to capture their attention in the first few seconds? They’re likely previewing tens to hundreds of tracks waiting for one to pop out at them. Help them to pick yours. Show them why it’s special.
It’s also good to keep in mind that the average buyer will listen to tracks for 15 – 20 seconds.
Coming to an end
Endings are also very important. You want to keep your tracks rounded up.
Button endings are sometimes great because they can be sliced and pasted wherever the customer eventually wants to place it. Fade outs can be okay – but they don’t work for everything. Sometimes tracks can be rejected because they stop suddenly and there’s no ending.
Solos and virtuosity
There’s a time and place for everything. The vast majority of stock audio is to support a visual. The visual is usually going to be the main focus of a viewer’s attention, therefore having solos and too much virtuosic work is going to draw too much focus away from the main focus. A lot of the time your work will be used to compliment something else.
At the same time it’s not a black and white rule, it’s more about balance.
It’s really up to you to put these elements together. You don’t want to detract from what you’re supporting. Think about the type of content you want to compliment when you’re creating a new track.
Repetition and variation
Repeating themes and ideas is certainly important. But, when it’s a short phrase repeated non-stop, especially with percussion, then it’s going to require some variation.
Libraries vs default samples
Sometimes it’s really worth looking at other sample libraries to see how you can improve your projects. Some Authors put money they earn back into their work consistently by updating their libraries every now and then. If you don’t you may run the risk of your work sounding out of date, or below the big leagues.
Live recording issues
Occasionally tracks are submitted where things sound out of place. Perhaps the room they recorded in wasn’t quiet enough. This can lead to rejection.
Sounds & vocal effects
Sometimes we receive submissions that include wolves howling, and creatures screaming. If you’re going to include sound effects let the customer choose whether they hear these additions or not. Ultimately if they want sound effects they’ll probably just go find them themselves.
By all means include a version with sound effects as long as you include an instrumental version with it. Think about the broadest possible customer base you can cater for.
Quantization vs Articulation
Very rarely will customers want something quantized 100%.
Some Authors apply quantization on programs like Logic Studio Pro but only to 80% to create more of a human effect.
By today’s standards we simply can’t accept tracks where – for instance- the piano is played at the exact same level on each note.
Try and take precautions to humanize your tracks.
The Middle of the Road
- Improving with inconsistency?
- Reviewer exposure bias?
- Is this Borderline?
Sometimes reviews are really dependent on what Reviewers have been listening to all day. If your track sits in the middle of the road you run the risk of being run over.
If you get rejected take it as a sign to make some improvements and get on the right side of the road.
Why most sounds get rejected?
- They’re not quite ready to use
- Poor recording quality
- Strong similarity to existing work
A sound will not be rejected specifically because it’s too similar to something that already exists in the library. However, you will get rejected if you send in several sounds that are similar or even identical
A lot of this information is this Help Center article.
Factors that help acceptance
- Trimmed edges, no excess silence
- Consistent field recordings
- No identifiable speech
- Avoid randomness artefacts
- Minimize edits
- Watermark volumes & frequencies
- Separating files in the zip
Listen to your track
Test it on different speakers like a laptop, headphones and stereo.
A good way to see the effectiveness of your track is to play it over a video of the style you anticipate pairing it with.
Ask some honest friends and colleagues for feedback. Everything can be critiqued and improved in some way.
Pacing your uploads
We’ve seen our fair share of very enthusiastic new Authors upload a large portion of their portfolio in quick succession, but without enough attention paid to them, resulting in rejection. Pace out your uploads and focus more on the quality no the quantity, as you don’t want to waste your time re-submitting tracks because you rushed to submit them.
Drawing the Line
Finally, rejections aren’t personal
When you get rejected you can either go and try and make changes or you can choose to clear your canvas and start a new project from scratch. This often happens after multiple rejections in quick succession.
Decide what’s best for you in the moment. Try not to dwell on rejections and find a way to move on. If an item gets rejected a few times in a row, maybe it’s more productive in the long run to clean your slate and start fresh.