Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

5 tips for musicians

A guy writing a book asked me for 5 tips for musicians, today. Here are the 5 I gave off the top of my head:
  1. Turn off your computer. Improve that unfinished song, without distractions. We're drowning in a world of mouse-clickers. Stand apart from the pack by doing the focused work of improving your skills. The key that unlocks the door to success is not online, it's in you.
  2. Whatever excites you, go do it. Whatever scares you, go do it. Whatever drains you or bores you, stop doing it immediately! Find someone else who loves it, instead.
  3. Meet 3 new people each week who might help you. “Do It Yourself” doesn't mean do it ALL yourself. You need help. There are people who love booking gigs, love promoting, love building websites. Put a few hours a week into finding them. Let them help you. Email strangers, and suggest a phone call or lunch. Almost everyone says yes.
  4. Keep in touch with people. The best connections always happen right after a recent contact. It's always the person you talked to yesterday who will get you a gig or introduce you to a key contact, because you're at the forefront of their mind. Just put aside 30 minutes every few days to call people who matter to you, and say hello. Send them something you think they'd like, whether a link, an article, a trinket, or a pizza.
  5. Bring out your weird side. What's great about the long tail is that there can be infinite niches. Be (and trumpet yourself as) the best at your tiny sharply-defined niche. Better to be the world's leading songwriter of songs about seaweed, than yet-another normal-but-good rock band or folksinger.
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