Derek Sivers

Shed your money taboos


Everyone has weird mental associations with money.

They think the only way to make money is to take it away from others. They think that charging for your art means it was insincere, and only for profit.

But after being around the music business for 20 years, and knowing thousands of musicians, I’ve learned this:

The unhappiest musicians I’ve met are the ones who avoided the subject of money, and now are desperately broke or need a draining day job. It may sound cool to say money doesn’t matter — to say “don’t worry about it” in that negotiation moment — but it leads to a really hard life. Then ultimately your music suffers, because you can’t give it the time it needs, and you haven’t found an audience that values it.

The happiest musicians I know are the ones who developed a valuable aspect of their skill, and confidently charge a high price. There’s a deep satisfaction when you know how valuable you are, and the world agrees. Then it reinforces itself as you can focus on being the best artist you can be, since you’ve found an audience that rewards you well for it.

So never underestimate the importance of making money. Let go of any taboos you have about it.

Money is nothing more than a neutral exchange of value. If people give you money, it’s proof that you’re giving them something valuable in return.

So by focusing on making money with your music, you’re making sure it’s valuable to others, not only to you.