Derek Sivers

Make a dream come true

Selling my friends’ CDs was starting to take up a lot of my time. I realized I had accidentally started a business. But I didn’t want to start a business! I was already living my dream life as a fulltime musician. I didn’t want anything to distract me from that.

So, I thought that by taking an unrealistically utopian approach, I could keep the business from growing too much. Instead of trying to make it big, I was going to make it small. It was the opposite of ambition, so I had to think in a way that was the opposite of ambitious.

I wrote down my utopian dream-come-true distribution deal from my musician’s point of view. In a perfect world, my distributor would...

  1. Pay me every week.
  2. Show me the full name and address of everyone who bought my CD. (Because those are my fans, not the distributor’s.)
  3. Never kick me out for not selling enough. (Even if I sell only one CD every five years, it’ll be there for someone to buy.)
  4. Never allow paid placement. (Because it’s not fair to those who can’t afford it.)

That’s it! That was my mission. I liked it. It was a worthy hobby. I named it CD Baby, and put my friends’ CDs there.

Those four points were like a mission statement. I wrote them on the site, talked about them at every conference, and made sure everyone I worked with knew them.

The key point is that I wasn’t trying to make a big business. I was just daydreaming about how one little thing would look in a perfect world.

When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.

When you make it a dream come true for yourself, it’ll be a dream come true for someone else, too.

Anything You Want - book cover