Derek Sivers

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

Unlearning

When I would speak on panels at music conferences, I'd always find it funny how all of the panelists' opinions were completely tainted by their own self-interest.

Someone would always ask us, “What's the future of the music business?

The guy whose company sells MP3s would say, “MP3s are the future. No DRM. Unencumbered. The public has spoken and they want MP3s.”

The guy whose company sells subscriptions would say, “Subscription services are the future. Anything, anytime, anywhere. No need to keep a huge music collection.”

The guy whose company sells CDs would say, “People still want something tangible they can hold in their hand. CDs are going to be around a long time.”

I would just say, “Nobody knows the future. Anyone who pretends to is full of shit and not to be trusted.” (Which would of course get a weird look from my fellow panelists, but oh well.)

I still get asked to talk about the future of the music industry, but I just can't. My answer to everything is, “I don't know.

For the last 11 years, I spent most waking hours thinking about how to sell and distribute music. I'm completely unobjective. I don't have fresh eyes about it anymore. I know my opinion is not to be trusted.

You'd be better off to ask a young music fan or musician, unencumbered by too much knowledge of the past.

I love musicians. I love the creative process. I love the art and craft of learning, writing and playing music.

But the “industry” around it? Eh. No interest. Sorry. I'm burnt-out on that subject. I need to spend a couple years unlearning before I can think about it again.


“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”- Alvin Toffler
“I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.” - John Cage
empty head