Derek Sivers

A curious answer to the most common question

2000-01-30

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 have a good description prepared in advance.

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 lose 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, “We sound like the smell of fresh baked bread.”

Or “We’re the soundtrack to the final battle to save the earth.”

Or “Bob Marley with a Turkish pipe smoking Japanese candy.”

Then 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 those three examples I gave could sound like anything. And that’s 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.”