Derek Sivers

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

Articles → Big catalog = infinite specialty shops

Here’s an idea I built but never launched at CD Baby. Maybe you can take it and use it somehow.

How do you call attention to over 200,000 musicians, so that each has a chance of being noticed by someone who might like them?

They’re categorized into 850 different musical genres, and the artists are from 300 different countries and states.

You break it down into categories, right?

But then people still have to start at a big generic front door, listing every possible genre or location. Not exciting.

If you’re a huge fan of Brazilian funk music, wouldn’t you be more excited to find a shop that specialized in Brazilian funk?

If you only love Gospel, wouldn’t you feel better browsing a site that only carries Gospel from around the world?

If you live in Italy, wouldn’t it be cool to explore a music store of independent musicians from Italy?

Finding a kindred specialist in your niche is way more exciting than another generalist.

So what if you could break down this big catalog of 200,000 musicians into a thousand little specialty shops?

It’s difficult and expensive in the physical world, but easy and cheap in the digital world.

It’s cheap and easy to register a thousand domain names like,, and

Point them all at the same storefront, which then limits the catalog to artists in that genre and location. Each has a unique CSS style, so they look visually different, too.

From the customer’s point of view, it’s much easier to discover new music in a specialty shop like this. All “New Arrivals” and “Editor’s Picks” and “Top Sellers” charts only show albums in that niche.

From a marketing point of view, it opens up all kinds of avenues to reach niche music organizations like Folk Alliance or the Japanese Music Exporters’ league or whatever. In fact it’d be easy to make a specialty shop for each of them, featuring only their members.

Now imagine you’re a jazz musician in Sweden, and you come across a store called It’s filled with a hundred jazz musicians from Sweden but your album is not there. You’d have to get on it.

Whereas you wouldn’t have been so inspired to get your album selling in a big generic store, you do go to the trouble to sell your music through this niche store, which of course adds your music into the main central database that powers them all, including the original big store that carries everything, for those that are not niche shoppers.

If you get inspired by this, or make something like this, please let me know.