We must give our industry some credit, it is very hard to be an A&R at a record label. From day-to-day you are swimming in artist demos, Emails, Soundcloud links, and an endless amount of concert invites. Amidst the hours of listening to unknown artists, it can be easy to overlook a musician that may have something extra special going on.  

Over the years, a few artist rejection stories have resurfaced and they serve as inspiration to us all. 

We dove into the stories of 3 iconic female artists who were initially dropped/rejected by labels, and who later on became an international success. Their perseverance shows that believing in yourself pays off in the long haul.

#1 Madonna

Even “The Queen of Pop” had a rocky start before taking over the throne. The iconic singer was originally in a band known as the Breakfast Club, which was later dropped by their record label. Afterwards, Madonna went on to pursue a solo career which lead to the famous rejection letter from Jimmy Ienner of Millennium Records.

In the letter, Ienner says he “enjoyed listening” to the tracks, but believed Madonna wasn’t ready and decided to pass on signing her.

Shortly after receiving this letter,  Madonna signed with Sire Records in 1982 and released her first solo album, which went on to sell more than 10-million copies worldwide.

#2 Lady Gaga

LA Reid had signed Lady Gaga to Def Jam years prior to her international success. Gaga was dropped by the label before releasing any music, which Reid quotes as his “biggest mistake” of his professional career.

#3 Alanis Morissette

Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette was originally signed in Canada in the early 1990s, which lead to the release of two mildly successful dance-pop records. Dropped by her label afterwards, the singer moved to Holmby Hills, Los Angeles which was where the more rock-oriented  Jagged Little Pill was born.

The album went on to sell over  33 million copies globally, and now when looking back at her teen years and rejection, Alanis describes the moment as maybe “10 minutes of grief.”