Book Discussion: Your Music, Your People by Derek Sivers


building an indie business in the center of venture capital. I am Alex Edonds, people on the Internet. Call me supremerumham. And this is the building an indie business podcast. Alright, so today I'm recording in the indie business studio. So, this episode is going to be a book review episode, and I haven't done one of these in such a long time I think the last one was one of the first like 25 episodes, and I'm over 125 30 Yeah, but, uh, so I am in charge of promoting an album. and I. There's some error. There's some holes in my knowledge about music promotion, let's just say, and so I've been reading a lot, reading, reading, reading, and I realized I have this book that I purchased, but never read by Derek Severs, your music, your people. And so, Derek. If you don't know him, he started to CD Baby. And so he knows a lot about the music industry. And so, I bought this book. I don't want to say by accent, but like, just cuz, let's say, and I just started flipping through it. It's a, it's an e book so not. No, with my finger swiping through it, let's say. And yeah, so if you haven't heard my book discussion Episode What I do is I go through the points of the book. And I just talk about them. Right, that's, that's all his book review episode is. Okay, Um, stop talking about the episode and actually get into it. Alright. So the first point that I liked, from on the book, is the way you present your art, and what people know about it completely changes how they perceive it. And what he was talking about here, is that like, artists, they usually, they, they do their art, and then they stop there, and they don't get creative with promoting, and by presenting you're in a creative way, and giving people information that changes how they will see your art. Right. And that goes along with marketing is the final extension of your art. So, Like I said, people create their stuff. And then they stop there and then they have trouble with marketing and getting people to promote it or not, promoting it to people. Right, so he, he says like, you should also be creative with your promotion. He talks about how. In one instance, or use helping someone promote their album, and it was like really, let's say psychedelic, right. And so they came up with a very creative way to promote it, and it was like, they'd send a package. This is how long ago it was apparently to college radio stations. And then the package would be in black, and it said confidential. Do not open, and some college students would then open it, and then a letter would like would be in all with the CD right. Um, and that that note was like, this is from a guy who the homeless guy that watches you through the window. Some guy gave me the CD. Right. And people would come up to him, or come up to that artists and be like, yeah, that was the most creative thing I've ever seen. I've ever got, like, while I was at the radio station. So, things like that, you know, don't just posts on Twitter posts on Facebook. You can do that. But like, make it creative maybe a video of, I don't know, you yelling at a, I don't know at a VC firm in their office like just outside of it just yelling at them, I don't know, something like that I don't know. Um, and then he talks about. This is only a test. How, when I'm like, early, like earlier, in, like decades ago, right, not even decades ago. But like the government would be testing if they can broadcast through by to certain channels, and they would be like this is only a test. That made him think of like, you can do that with marketing, you could test out different marketing channels so if you've never been on Tik Tok, maybe test out Tik Tok and just test it out for a month or two and see if anything happens, test it out. Right. Okay. And then he talks about how people might feel overwhelmed with marketing, and they don't know what to do, because there's too many possibilities right there's tick tock, there's Twitter, there's other social medias, I don't want to mention. And so, if you're feeling stuck with marketing, give yourself restrictions, and I think this is great, because I've actually done this now with marketing, actually yeah with marketing, but uh, I did this with the book. I said I didn't want to spend any money. And so, everything I had to do, had to be free, and that really helped me like, like I went on Indeed, and I tried to hire people and I did hire people to promote the book that helped me, and I got a cell from that. And I wouldn't have thought of that if I didn't have the restriction of everything being free, right. The next point, I liked was make mystery in and around your music. So people like, you know, they like puzzles, they like to. They like mystery basically and so by adding, adding mystery around your music. That'll get more people and treat this way, he said, Okay. So, for people who have never heard your music. It's the start of your art. And this is, this has to do with the marketing as well, like, the way people find your music can be an art, so like, do they discover it from that plaque on package. Do they discover from tick tock, that's just the start of it right. So, being creative in that discovery helps to get them interested and the music will help them stay. Right. It's all part of it. And then he says really marketing is just being considered. So, like, being nice. Don't spam people creating something pleasant to look at and people won't consider it marketing. You know what I mean. Um, touches many senses as you can. He talked about how, like, you know, artists don't like there's hearing and they're seeing, but there's other. There's other senses right there's five of them, hearing, seeing, feeling smelling. I can't remember the other one. But yeah, so like you talked about hot concerts, someone would like they created their own scent, and they would let that flow throughout the venue, and that way when someone smelled that scent. They would think of that music. I, it really bothers me five senses. I'm five human sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, I said seen sounds, seeing, hearing, smelling out, I didn't think tasting because you know the same thing, technically, so. Okay. Um, what's my next point. Don't be afraid to ask for favors. Right, so he talks about how, like people are happy to help you in that Ben Franklin thing where if you want to friend, someone you ask them for a favor. Right. People don't mind, they, they're interested, right, that's how Brendan and I operate, and that's how we started hanging out because like we would do things for people and then we noticed like yeah I do things for people that involve podcasting. He does people. He does things for people that involve like engineering and design, and products. And so we just started talking and we also noticed that we have an interest in, comedians, and that's, that's, that's really how it started. We have an interest in builder. Right, okay. Um, you have to make your own success before you ask the industry for help. Okay. I thought this is very interesting because one of my favorite comedians. Mark Normand. He talks about this. He talks about how his special after lunch, check it out on YouTube, it's free, it's great. Um, is special out to lunch. He, he shopped it around to different studios to produce on their channel, right. So, Netflix, Comedy Central, all the others. Um, and they were like, No, you need to have a following, or. Yeah, they just said, he says that they said, You need to have a following before we can put you on our network, right. So that's immediately made me think of that you need to have your own success before you ask the industry for help, right, and what they mean by success is. Do you have a successful album. Do you have a large following. You need to build that up before they can help, they, they want to help you. Right, because it makes their job easier. Okay. Ask yourself why a certain headline or photo or article caught your attention. Okay, so this, this is another marketing point that he made. And it's, you know, when you're figuring out what to how to catch people's attention. And, like, your fans. Find out what catches your attention and use that. Because that might also catch their attention, because you're similar to your people. Right. I'm okay. They can immediately listen to anything they want, because of this tastes are more spread out than ever. Okay, and this point was about like how, how the Beatles were so popular and the reason they were so popular, was because that's all really people had to listen to, well, like at the time they were so front and center, and they were. They were everywhere. I wasn't there. I'm saying, that's what that's what I hear. Okay. And so, that's not the case anymore. You can put an album on Spotify for 50 bucks like there's a lot more out there. And for that reason, um, tastes are more spread out than ever. So what you can do is you can carve out a niche, right. Get get 1% of 1%. And that, that those people support you and you grow from there. Right. Okay. We admire a strong defined stance. So this was like a chapter that was like, Yeah, tell people, like exclude people because people, people will like that so say, I'm like this is for people who don't like Twitter, or if you like Twitter you'll hate this. And so, people like that you're going against the grain. And they will listen. Because of that, right. Okay, look at the long careers of David Bowie, Miles Davis, Madonna, Prince, or Paul Simon, each went through a sharply defined phase, treating each album as a project with a narrow focus. So he was talking about how you don't have to stick to one, like one sound you can mix it up, right, like the Grateful Dead. They sound really like the first few albums. On the one with Uncle John span. Oh working man's dead. They sound I really like blue grassy and then they did that sound for a couple albums, and then what's the album I always listened to, Um, skolan roses. That sounds very different, right, that doesn't sound very blue grassy. And then another album. I think it's dark star, I don't remember what year though, dark stars either the song, or the album I hear, I'm gonna look this one up too. Dark Star grateful, see I've already looked this up before the album. Darkstar live dead 1969 Nice. Um, yeah. So that one is very dark. Right, so they switch sounds, meaning you don't have to that. That's what the point is you don't have to stick to one sound, you can you can venture, right, and if people don't like it, they don't want to listen to it. I don't know how many albums are gay for that is like, I don't listen to all of them, I listened to, maybe 10 of them, right, because I don't like them but I like the grateful that I like those 10 albums that they have. Right. Okay. Um, the next thing is be an extreme character, you can get away with anything in the name of entertainment. Right, so he talks about how m&m He's created this character, and people understand that it's a character so they don't really mind his words right. And that's the same thing with comedians, right. Um, I knew I know Andrew Dice Clay is playing this greaser character, right, I don't take what he says seriously. And I don't think I'm what the way he talks. In his act, I don't think he takes that home he's not, not like honey. Oh, we need some milk, you need to go get it right, because that's a character that's not who he is. Okay. The most expensive vodka. Okay, so he talks about how vodka companies always advertise as cheap. So, by advertising as the most expensive vodka that stands out, and then it'll catch more people's eye right because you're not. You're not the same. Right, you're standing out. Okay, doing the opposite of everyone is valuable. It's a supply and demand. The more people do something less valuable it is. Everyone's doing Twitter ads. How can you stand out on the internet, you know, what's the opposite of Twitter ads figure that out, And you'll, you'll be different. Okay, selling music by solving a specific need. And he talks about like Christmas music meditation music. Those solve problems you need music for the holidays. So find your problem to solve. So maybe, people want something funny to listen to while they program. Yeah, you can create an album around that, um, put fans to work. So he talks about, you come in contact with your fans. Make a list of things they can do, right, because some of them say, is there anything I can do. Create a list, give it to them. Right. Shed money taboos, so a lot of people have a kind of issue around money. I can't I am too, but if you asked me about my book sales I'll tell you, I just don't shout it to the world. Um, and he says money is nothing more than neutral exchange of value. If you give people money It's proof that you're creating something of value in return. Right. And that is untrue. Businesses is creative. Pour your personality and philosophy and the way you do business, because you'll find people that have those same beliefs and same philosophy, and it'll, it'll work out for you. Right. He didn't say that. I say that whatever you're selling emphasize the meaning of it, not the price. And to that I say, people buy because of the story, not the price, right. Okay. The higher the price, the more people value it less people will buy. But you'll make more money at a higher price. So, I said that. So, what it my experience in that is I used to sell. T shirts stickers. Stickers. This examples for the stickers, and I used to sell. Um, I would make 10 cents on each sticker. Right. And I'd sell three or four of them every day. This is online, I didn't, I didn't know how to work. Um, so yeah, I would make 40 cents per sticker every day 40 cents on stickers every day. And then I was like, you know, I probably could be making more money, I let me test this out. This is a test. Right. And I raised the price to 25 cents, I think. And then I would sell two stickers. Right. But I'm selling less stickers. But that's 50 cents 50 cents is more than 40 Right, so is making more money at the higher price. Right, so that's that's what I think about pricing. He also says, like if you sign a deal with a company, negotiate the biggest upfront advance possible, even if you don't need the money. It's the best strategy, because the higher your advance the harder the company will work to earn it back, it ends up being better for everyone. So, I don't think I've talked about this but, in music, and publishing in advance is just alone, right, and in some cases, these people up, not the publishers, the studios are the labels I mean, That's the first money that they get back right. So, if you negotiate and a million dollar advance. They have to earn that back, right. So, the first million dollars that you make, goes to the record label, so they have to work to get that million dollars back, which is a lot more money compared to 100,000 or $50,000 if you negotiate the smallest amount. So, for them to get back a million dollars. They have to work for it, compared to if it was 50 or $100,000 Right, so you'll, you'll get more airtime on the radio, you'll get more concert opportunities that will raise the price of your concert tickets, they'll make more merchandise for you. Right, they'll focus on you more. Okay, don't promote until people can take action, right, never promote something until people can take action or you might waste the moment you have their attention. And I made a mistake on this with the book, I announced it too early, I announced it in April I said I'm writing a book. But there was no action people could take, right. So, I wasted their attention. One thing I would do differently in the future, with another book is, as soon as I'm ready to take pre orders. That's when I will announce, hey I have a book. And also, it was too long. I didn't. I talked about this before, but like, I, I could have been very concise and consistent and been been more top of mind for people. If I had, say, announced the book, a month. A month before the actual release date. Yeah. Because, my thing is I like to. I like, like one when I announce something, it's mostly almost done. Or it's like 98%, maybe 90% Let's say 90%, like I'm going to do with there's no, I might write a book, you know, I will. And so with the book. The book had been written in April. I still needed to write, mostly the entire thing I maybe had three or four chapters done at that point. And so for me. At that time I wanted to build it in public, which is what I see on the internet. And so that was a mistake. Right, I could have built in public. You know, like everything I would have post, I posted between April, in the end of June. I could have posted that in the month, and just been more top of mind for people. Yeah. Okay. Nobody knows what, nobody knows the future. So focus on what doesn't change. And that's, he talks about like, like people try to predict the future. Right. What will happen from April to June, and that doesn't help, right. So focus on what doesn't change. People love a memorable melody. People want an emotional connection right in a lot of songs increases the chances of writing a hit. Those things don't change, do them right. Okay. And then the final two points are, whatever excites you do it, and whatever drains you stop doing it. And that's basically about decision making, like, do what excites you, whatever, it doesn't excite you, don't do it. Okay, so this is a great book. I would recommend it. Even if you're not in. If you're not in the music industry, to be honest, it's really helpful. It helped me think about some things. Okay, thank you for listening. Have a nice day. Bye. No. Was this the call. Thank you for calling RMS, this is Richard Henry. Oh, I got a call from a summer, who is this. Okay, let me look it up real quick. I call you on the number you're calling in from. Yeah. Try reach Lavonne direct service pronunciation GA you are eg UI. Oh, that's on me. Do you happen to know that person at all possible reach. Okay Hello opener information I can remove your number. Next.