Posts Tagged ‘Derek Sivers’

One of the best hours you’ll ever spend

July 3, 2011

Derek Sivers has written a book called Anything You Want. If you’ve ever read his blog or heard him speak in person, you know what a sharp thinker he is. And you know how supporting independent musicians has been his main gig, starting with his founding of CD Baby.

So it should be no surprise to see that his book is full of useful, practical (even if sometimes philosophical) info for musicians. What surprised me is how much of his advice would work for other startup businesses, not just indie musicians.

I also liked learning more of the CD Baby back story, including how it was sold for $22 million, but Derek didn’t get the money. Who did? I won’t give away the answer here.

Read this book review by Michael Ellsberg of Forbes magazine.


Sell single song downloads

May 13, 2010

I am a recording artist, and if you’re reading this you are too, most likely, or aspiring to be one.

When we released our first EP way back when, we wanted to sell it online, but the internet was new (insert joke here about how dinosaurs still roamed the earth) and there weren’t many options. So I did my homework and learned that CD Baby was the best, by far, and certainly the best fit for me. They had a great reputation then and they still do.

With each subsequent CD we’ve released, I’ve done the legwork again to make sure that there wasn’t a new upstart doing a better job than CD Baby. There wasn’t.

Now CD Baby has introduced a new capability. Artists can sell single song downloads on CD Baby, not just the physical CDs and full CD downloads (as in the past). Read the CD Baby DIY Musician blog to see how this small shift can help you promote your music more easily and more consistently and generate some revenue in the process.

See Soulpajamas, my band’s CD Baby page.

PS. Required reading – free advice for musicians from Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby. Here’s a sample:

Proudly exclude some people

Proudly say what you’re NOT: “If you like Celine Dion, you’ll hate us.” …and people who hate Celine Dion will love you, or at least give you a chance.

You can’t please everyone in this world. Recklessly exclude people.

Almost like you’re the doorman at an exclusive club that plays only your music. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone wearing a suit. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone without a suit!

But know who you are, and have the confidence that somewhere out there, there’s a little niche of people that would like your kind of music. They may only be 1% of the population. But 1% of the world is 65 million people!

Loudly leave out 99% of the world. When someone in your target 1% hears you excluding the part of the population they already feel alienated from, they’ll be drawn to you.

Write down a list of artists who you don’t like, and whose fans probably wouldn’t like you. Use that.

25 Tips to Overcome Creative Block

April 28, 2010

Thanks to Derek Sivers‘s Twitter post for sharing this blog from artist/musician Scott Hansen, called Overcoming Creative Block.

Excerpt from the blog post:

I do not know what to write. I am sitting here staring at the screen, running sentences in my head, and turning my music on and off. Earlier I went foraging for food (in hopes of sparking some magical words), but ended up getting distracted by Arrested Development for 20 minutes. This happens just about every time I sit down to do anything. I’ll probably go play the guitar between this paragraph and the next.

Of course this is a familiar situation. Often referred to as “writer’s block”, the concept of an inspiration rut is unfortunately very familiar to every creative in any field. Sometimes ideas just don’t show up to work. Given this, we all develop strategies to combat such a scenario. Not all are foolproof, but it’s safe to say that most creative people have some battle plan for dealing with the dreaded “blank page”.

Knowing this I decided to ask some of today’s most exciting artists and creators what they do when the ideas aren’t flowing. I left the question fairly open ended and asked, What do you do to inspire your creativity when you find yourself in a rut? As expected, I was presented with an array of strategies, ranging from listening to Boards of Canada in a forest alone, to cooking up a storm (recipe provided) and waiting for the mind to clear.

What follows are 25 strategies from these creatives to spark your inspiration; hopefully you’ll find something helpful in there.

Click here to read the blog post Overcoming Creative Block.

Spending too much time entering data online

August 28, 2009

Derek Sivers latest blog post is like a dream come true. Well, it hasn’t come to fruition yet, but he lays out a plan for a more efficient, effective paradigm for musicians’ online presence. Let’s hope his old company, Host Baby, follows through with his plan.

His main contention is that indie musicians should not have to enter the same data over and over again into multiple web sites (their own site, MySpace, Facebook, etc). For one thing, it’s way too time intensive. I’m talking about uploading photos and mp3 files, entering upcoming venues and dates, etc.

Instead, he asserts that we should enter the data once in our own .com homepage website. Ultimately we have no control over MySpace and the others; including whether or not they even stay in business.

The exciting part of his vision is that the company that hosts your band’s web site should take care of copying all your updates from your web site to the various other online places you want to be (MySpace, Facebook, iTunes, etc.) The next step would be to make it so that any site (with your permission) can automatically pull the information.

Read more here.


August 6, 2009

Laskow Sivers

I received this email from Taxi president, Michael Laskow. It contains a plug for Taxi, of course, but more importantly, it is a message for songwriters that I think many of us need to hear. It’s been a few years, but the message it just as true today as it was in 2004.

Full disclosure: I am a paying member of Taxi and I get no compensation or benefits from reprinting this email.

Dear Passengers,

I had dinner last night with Derek Sivers from CDBaby. We’ve been friends for years, and get together one or twice a year to just hang out and talk about our companies, our lives, and musicians in general. It’s always refreshing…for lack of a better word.

Derek and I are part of a very small group of people on the planet who deal with large numbers of indie artists and songwriters. Therefore we understand what very few others on Earth would even be aware of.

I think I monopolized the conversation for a while, speaking about my deeply felt frustration that every musician/writer/artist that I’m in contact with isn’t “successful,” when the majority of them could be. Of course, it depends on how each of you defines success.

One thing I’ve come to learn over the years is that most people really don’t have the expectation that they can be a multi-platinum rock star. Some of you do, but not the majority.

Just by staying in touch with you, I’ve come to understand that most of you want some sort of validation that your music is as good as you think it is. That “validation” might be in the form of TV placement, a cut on an album, an indie label deal, and for others, the elusive major label deal.

All those options are wide open, and as you’ve come to know from my letters, Film and TV placements are the easiest. So, why don’t more of you just go for it? We’ve got a fair number of members who’ve belonged to TAXI for years and never submit a single song.

We’ve got huge numbers of people on our “not-yet-members” list who keep thinking about taking the plunge, but they don’t.

We’ve all joined a gym at least once and petered out quickly, but this is MUSIC. You love to make music. Recording music shouldn’t make you sweat, and it won’t give you sore muscles!

I know it’s easier to just do nothing, but in the back of your mind you’re always going to wonder “what if?”

It’s a new year, and it’s becoming a new music industry. Don’t be a brick! Do something. Make forward movement. Take a chance. Take several.

If not TAXI, then form a band, play a gig, or write a song. Don’t be a spectator. Life is SO short. Please don’t spend yours just existing day to day. Accomplish something. Leave some sort of legacy. Feel good about yourself.

I’ve finally gotten this off my chest — whew. Welcome to 2005 kids!

Talk to you soon,


Reprinted with permission from TAXI: the world’s leading independent A&R company helping unsigned bands, artists and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placement in films and TV shows.

© 2004 TAXI. All rights reserved.

Derek Sivers

November 4, 2008

I’m looking forward to the Taxi Road Rally in LA this weekend. It’s a convention for serious songwriters and when I’m there I feel like I’m with my tribe, my people. It’s always surprising, stimulating, educational and fun, not necessarily in that order. I’ll be taking notes and reporting back, so check back or better yet, subscribe.

That reminds me, I’ll probably get to see one of my favorite ‘new music business’ thinkers there – Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby. I swear by CD Baby and over the years I have discovered Derek is on top of more than just online music distribution. He’s a musician, entrepreneur and visionary who thinks big. Now I read everything of his I can get my hands on.

Here’s an example, a free ebook called How to Call Attention to Your Music. What’s it got to do with a mouse or a frog? Nothing. That photo is from one of his blog posts.

Derek Sivers

September 23, 2008

Songwriting advice from Derek Sivers, from a talk given to incoming first-year students at Berklee College of Music (September 5, 2008).

If you are a writer, you should not only write a song a week, but spend twice as long improving it as you do writing it.

See the entire talk on YouTube:

Derek Sivers interviews Tim Ferriss

August 13, 2008

If you are an indie artist, you know that Derek Sivers is the founder of CD Baby. I have always found his advice for indie songwriters and musicians to be insightful and extremely helpful.

Check him out in the role of moderator/interviewer with author Tim Ferriss at San Fran MusicTech Summit.