Derek Sivers

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

Articles → Hillbilly Flamenco

Two words, to describe your music, can change your career.

David Feder and his band had always wanted to perform at big music festivals. They had been performing for years, and doing OK, but the agents that book music festivals would never give them a chance.

One night, at a show, a drunk fan shouted inbetween songs, “You know what? You guys are hillbilly flamenco!” The crowd laughed, and so did the band. They joked about it on stage that night, and again on the drive home.

The next day they started to notice that they all still remembered those two words, “hillbilly flamenco”. It was funny, and the crowd liked it, and it also described their music well. So they decided to use it more often.

They started telling the audience, each time they played, “If you are wondering what kind of music this is, this is hillbilly flamenco!” And the end of the show, they’d ask the audience, “When you tell your friends what kind of music you heard tonight, what will you say?” The crowd would shout, “hillbilly flamenco!”

And believe it or not, it worked! People started telling their friends about this band, because it was so easy (and fun) to describe.

And then, one day, they were talking to one of those booking agents who books festivals, and told him, “This music is perfect for your festivals. This is hillbilly flamenco!” The booking agent laughed and said, “Ok - I’ve got to hear this!” For the first time, he actually listened to their music, and loved it.

Now David Feder and his band are playing the festivals they always dreamed of. He told me his career took a definite turn the day they started using those two words to describe their music.