Derek Sivers

Describe your music like a non-musician

2000-07-01

When describing your music, don’t talk like a musician.

Don’t say, “Wonderful harmonies and intricate arrangements. A tight rhythm section and introspective lyrics!”

Real people don’t even understand what that means. That’s musician language.

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”.

Play your music for some non-musicians, and ask them what they’d say to a friend about it.

The way you describe your music should be almost as exciting (or touching, or sad, or shocking) as the music itself.