If you’ve spent any time in the independent music market, then surely you’ve come across the name Derek Sivers, founder and former owner of CD Baby. I feel Derek is someone who has consistently made the effort to offer the best advice possible to independent artists everywhere.

The following video features a conversation between Ariel Hyatt and Derek Sivers. Take a moment to listen to what Derek has to say about pleasing others and I will offer a few more tips below. I had a laugh-out-loud moment at what he said about becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s very true.

Here are some key points I took away from this discussion:

  • You know what’s best for you and your career.
  • You can gather knowledge from a variety of different sources, but in the end you have to be the one to figure out how to apply it to your situation.
  • If you’ve got a great product, it has the potential to hit it big – you won’t know unless you try.
  • Don’t wait for someone else to give you recognition and validation; market and distribute your works anyway.

The bottom line here is that we don’t always think for ourselves when we should be (though getting absorbed with oneself is also a trap). More than anyone else, we should be aware of our own goals, desires, and objectives for our own career. And yet, every time we encounter an obstacle, we think we have to adapt what we are doing to a particular trend or audience. We think we need outside opinion to validate our actions, which could prove useful, but may not apply.

Like Derek says, I think it’s important to read and consume information and become familiar with the industry and various aspects of the music business (mindset, guerilla marketing, etc.). However, you still have to act on the information that’s right in front of you. You still have to make autonomous decisions. For example, you can’t just assume that your R&B music won’t find an audience because you’re Caucasian.

I think Derek is also saying that nobody – including the staff at CD Baby – can predict what music is going to catch on. You just have to put yourself out there and hope for the best. If something doesn’t work, that’s a good time to consider making some tweaks. Be careful not to defeat your own efforts. Give your idea or project a fair chance. Also beware of beating a dead horse. Know when to try something new.