Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, entrepreneur, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Articles → More thoughts about people

It takes effort to meet people. So make every one count.

Ask for favors. Be a little bit of a pest. Ask each mag what they’d want to put you on the cover. Take notes on each conversation.

Keep everyone happy. Don’t lose touch. Ask for references. Ask if there’s anyone else they know that can help you. Then contact all those people, and keep in touch with them, too.

That’s a lot of emailing and calling, but it means everything. (As long as you superhumanly balance this with making new music and writing great songs.)

I think keeping in touch is the single most important thing. Here’s why:

Whenever I’m talking to someone in the “industry” or have the opportunity to help promote a musician, I often find myself recommending whoever I spoke with last. (“Oh I was just talking with Scott from the band called the Rosenbergs, you should talk to them - he’s home right now, and just told me how well their tour is going!”)

On the other hand, there are fifty musicians a week or so who send me their music, then I put it in the store, then I email them but they never reply. I send them payments for years but never hear from them. I often wonder who these people are that just let a potential fruitful relationship just disappear into anonymity.

Imagine if you actually stayed “close” with a hundred people in the music business, or a thousand! You’d have people in all corners of the industry everywhere constantly recommending you, referring you, hooking you up with opportunities, promoting you, etc. You’d be very successful, very soon.

Ask everyone’s advice. Hear their thoughts and point of view. Remember it.

Don’t forget the value of the occasional gift. I made a friend for life at the top ranks of BMI because I showed up to his office with a pizza for our meeting. (Luckily he was hungry and never forgot it.)

Radio stations are just people. Promoters are just people. Websites are just people. Record companies are just people.

People like to work with their friends whenever possible. Be a good friend. Be a real person, not a slick schmoozer. If you’re acting too professional in all this “keeping in touch” then it just sounds fake and will be forgotten.

And try to sense when people don’t like you. Sometimes they just don’t like your music, and aren’t willing to help. Don’t take it personally. Mark it in your database and move on to the next.

More thoughts about people