Derek Sivers

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

Articles → Get specific!

One of the most common things I hear my musician friends say is, “We’re looking for a booking agent.” (or manager, label, promoter)

I reply, “Who?

They say, “Uh... what?”

“Which booking agent are you looking for? What’s their name?”

“But... we don’t know!”

How do you expect to find someone if you don’t even know their name!

It’s not hard to find the answer to anything.

What venue do you want to play? Contact them and ask which booking agents they use.

What band do you want to emulate? Contact them and ask who their booking agent is.

Once you find the person’s name, voila - you’re no longer looking for a booking agent. You found them, and it only took a few minutes.

Yes I’m being a smart-ass, but trying to help.

Whenever you find you’re aiming for something you haven’t defined - GET SPECIFIC.

It’s amazing how that one step turns goals from impossible into easy.


“We’re looking for a manager / agent / promoter / person”
Who? Do 10 minutes of research, and turn it into a name. Even one name to start, just to convert it from vague to specific.
“How can I get my music out there?”
Where? Where should it be? Radio? What station? Contact them to ask their favorite promoters. A TV show? Which one? Check the site to find out who chooses the music for that show.
“I need someone to help me.”
Do what? Start by naming just one thing you need help with, and, as if you were hiring an assistant to do it, describe exactly what they would need to do.

This applies to many things. I was working with a programming teacher to be a great Ruby programmer. When I first contacted him he said, “What does great mean to you? How will you know you’re great?” He made me get really specific. (For me it was “I will go through these 4 Ruby books and be able to write programs like the examples. I’ll know how to do anything I need to do off the top of my head, without looking it up first. I’ll be able to code in Ruby as effortlessly as I can in PHP.”) He then made me get even more specific about each of those 3 things, breaking them down into bits (how many chapters in those 4 books? how many per day will you do?).

Once I had named exactly what I wanted, THEN he could help me.

Sound familiar?