Derek Sivers

People search harder for the obscure

2000-02-17

On CD Baby, there was a great musician who made an amazing progressive heavy metal record.

When we had a “search keywords” section, asking for three artists he sounds like, he just wrote the biggest-selling pop acts of that time (“Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, Backstreet Boys”).

What the hell was he thinking? He just wanted to turn up in people’s search engines, at any cost. But for what? And who?

Did he really want a Britney Spears fan to get tricked into finding his dark progressive metal record? Would that pre-teen actually spend the time to listen to his ten-minute epic called “Confusing Mysteries of Hell”?

I suggested he instead have the confidence to target the real fans of his music.

So he put three obscure progressive metal artists into his search engine description. (“Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery, Angra”)

And guess what? He sold more music than ever! People searching for these obscure artists found only him. He found his true fans.

Fans of the obscure niches search harder for it. Make sure they can find you. You want the passionate fans of your niche, not the casual fans of mainstream.