Derek Sivers

Describe your music like a non-musician

2000-07-01

When describing your music, don’t use musician language.

Don’t say, “Wonderful harmonies and intricate arrangements. A tight rhythm section and introspective lyrics!” Real people don’t understand what that means.

For most people, listening to music is like a cat watching cars go by.
“That’s a fast one.”
“That one was blue.”
“Wow that was loud.”
Only an expert or mechanic would be able to describe the technical details of the passing car.

So speak to people in their terms. Think what an office worker would say to a friend about your music: “It’s cute! I love that song with the little ‘hoop-hoop!’ at the beginning, with that baby voice. It’s kinda funky! And he’s got this sexy bedroom voice. Cool video.”

Think what one teenager at the skateboard park would say to another: “Dude, it’s like if Kranetow hadn’t wimped out. It’s like Tweetown went metal, but they’re from Mars or somethin’. It’s slammin. That chick’s voice is insane!”

Real people will compare you to famous artists. Real people talk about the overall vibe or sound of something. Real people don’t talk about “insightful lyrics”, “strong melodies”, or “tight musicianship”.

Use their language.