Derek Sivers

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

Think like a person or poet, not a musician

When describing your music, PLEASE don't be a musician.

Don't say, “Wonderful harmonies and intricate arrangements. A tight rhythm section and introspective lyrics!”

Real people don't even understand what that means. That's musician speak.

Think what an office-worker would say to a friend about your music: “It's cute! They have this song that has a little ”hoop-hoop!“ at the beginning, with that baby voice. It's kinda funky! And he's got this sexy bedroom voice. Cool video.”

Think what one teenager down at the mall would say to another, when describing what they love about your CD: “Dude - it's like if Korn hadn't wimped out. It's like Busta Rhymes went metal, but they're from Mars or somethin. It's slammin. And you gotta see that picture on the inside cover!”

Real people often compare an artist to other famous artists. Real people talk about the overall “vibe” or sound of something.

Real people DON'T talk about “insightful lyrics” and “wonderful harmonies” and “tight musicianship”. That's musician-speak.

Play your music for some non-musicians, and ask them what they'd say to a friend about it.

Avoid musician-terms, and learn to describe your music in ways that reach normal people's emotion and imagination, and your music itself will be that much more likely to reach and touch people.

Your descriptions of your music should be almost as exciting (or touching, or sad, or shocking) as the music itself.

Think like a person or poet, not a musician