Derek Sivers

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


People will always and forever ask you, “What kind of music do you do?”

You will always and forever have to answer that question. So take a few minutes now to come up with a good description.

Many musicians avoid answering by saying, “We play all styles.” No you don't. That's like saying, “I speak all languages.”

Many musicians avoid answering by saying, “We are totally unique.” No you're not. If you use notes, instruments, beats, or words, you’re not totally unique.

If you give people a non-answer like this, you lost them. You had the chance to make a fan, and you blew it. They won’t remember you because you gave them nothing to remember. You didn't make them curious.

Imagine if you had said, “It sounds like the smell of fresh baked bread.”

Or “It’s the soundtrack to the final battle to save the earth.”

Or “Island music that conjures palm trees and an ocean breeze wherever it is played, making everyone dance in imaginary sand.”

Anything like this, and you’ve got their interest. A creative description also suggests that your music will be creative, too.

So make up a curious answer to that common question. You don't have to feel limited by it. Notice that any of those three examples I gave could sound like anything. And that’s just the point.

With one interesting phrase to describe your music, you can make total strangers wonder about you.

But whatever you do, stay away from the words “everything”, “nothing”, “all styles”, “totally unique”, and the other non-answer: “a mix of rock, pop, jazz, hip-hop, folk, reggae, blues, techno, and metal.”