Derek Sivers is our boy-next-door marketing genius, renaissance boy. He juggles music, marketing, and internet into a blur so that you can't see the individual ingredients, and uses it to show musicians how they can take advantages of all the changes going on in the music-internet explosion.
Derek Sivers graduated at the top of his class at Berklee College of Music, then moved to New York City and was a staff producer/engineer/taperoom-boy at Warner Brothers for three years. In his three years at Warners, he used his vacation days to tour the world as the guitarist for Japan's most famous composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto. All the while, working weekends as the featured performer/musician of The Touring Mime Circus.
He quit Warner Brothers in 1992 when it "got too comfortable" and chose the challenge of being a full-time musician/entrepreneur ever since. After putting together his band called Hit Me, Derek decided to start touring the college market, and was soon hired by over 400 colleges in three years. When the Hit Me CD was released in 1995, it was put into rotation on over 300 college radio stations around the country, and Hit Me soon toured not only the northeast USA, but a successful European tour as well. His music was used on a handful of TV shows and even a feature film. Although Hit Me sold 3000 CDs at shows, none of the online record stores (cdnow, etc.) would sell it without a major distribution deal.
So Derek started selling it online through his own website and asked a dozen musician friends if they wanted him to take care of their online orders, too. Soon friends told friends, and CD Baby was born. In only 2 years, CD Baby became the 2nd largest seller of independent CDs on the web, 2nd only to Amazon. Yet CD Baby still stays fiercely independent, refusing all advertising and investors, and selling only independent artists' CDs.
Derek Sivers has taken the role of music marketing mentor, asked to speak on panels at most major music business conferences. (Even Napster asked him to go to court on their behalf in their big trial against the major labels.) His website, MarketingYourMusic.com will be turned into a book for independent musicians soon.
Photo Credits: T Honles