Derek Sivers

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

They know nothing about you. Don't assume anything.

People will always and forever ask you, “What kind of music do you do?”

Musicians often say, “All styles, really.”

If the stranger you said that to happens to be a fan of African music, watch out! You better combine the polyrhythmic drumming of West Africa with the rich vocal harmonies of South Africa, with the microtonal reeds of Northeast Africa. And if they have any awareness of the rest of the world, then your CD better combine rage-rap, country linedancing, Chinese opera, ambient techno trance, Hungarian folk songs, and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman. (Hey - you said “all styles” didn't you?)

This example is extreme, but constantly remember: people know nothing about you, or your background, or where you're coming from. If you say you sound “totally unique” - then you better not have any chords, drums, guitars, words, or any sounds that have ever been made in the history of music.

When you speak to the world, you are speaking to strangers from all kinds of backgrounds and tastes.

Open your mind. Realize you don't sound like all styles, and you're not totally 100% unique.

Do them a favor. Don't assume anything. Say what it is you sound like. Narrow it down a bit.

If you do this in a creative way, (“We sound like the Incredible Hulk having sex.”) - you can intrigue people and make them want your CD, or want to come to your next show. Whereas if you had said, “Everything” - then you didn't make a fan.

They know nothing about you. Don't assume anything.