Derek Sivers

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

Articles → If you don’t say what you sound like, you won’t make any fans

A person asks a musician, “What kind of music do you do?”

The musician says, “All styles. Everything.”

That person then asks, “So who do you sound like?”

The musician says, “Nobody. We’re totally unique. Like nothing you’ve ever heard before.”

Then what does that person do? Nothing! They might make a vague promise to check you out sometime. Then they walk on and forget about you. Why? Becuase you didn’t arouse their curiosity! You violated a huge rule of self-promotion! Bad bad bad!

What if you had said, “It’s 70’s porno-funk music being played by men from Mars.”

Or “It’s like a delicate little kiss on your earlobe from a pink-winged pixie.”

Or “It’s deep-dancing reggae that magically creates palm trees and an ocean breeze wherever it is played, with grooves so deep it makes all non-dancers get drunk on the island vibe, and dance in the sand.”

Any one of these, and you’ve got their interest.

Get yourself a magic key phrase that describes what you sound like. Try out a few different ones, until you see which one always gets the best reaction from strangers. Use it. Have it ready at a moment’s notice.

It doesn’t have to narrow what you do at all. Any of those three examples I use above could sound like anything.

And that’s just the point. If you have a magic phrase that describes your music in curious but vague terms, you can make total strangers start wondering about you.

But whatever you do, stay away from the words “everything”, “nothing”, “all styles”, and “totally unique”.

Say something!