Derek Sivers
from the book “Your Music and People”:

Hillbilly Flamenco


This is a story about how two words can change your career.

David and his band had always wanted to play at the big music festivals.

They had been performing at clubs for years, and doing pretty well, but he could never get the attention of the agents that book the festivals. He’d call them and submit his music, but those agents would never reply.

One night at a show, in between songs, a drunk fan shouted, “You know what you guys sound like? Hillbilly flamenco!” The crowd laughed, and so did the band. They joked about it on stage that night, and again on the drive home.

A week later, the band still remembered those two words: “hillbilly flamenco”. It was funny, and the crowd liked it, and it actually described their music well. So they decided to use it more often.

Each time they played, they started telling the audience, “If you’re wondering what kind of music this is, it’s hillbilly flamenco!”

At the end of the show, they’d ask the audience, “When you tell your friends what kind of music you heard tonight, what will you say?” The crowd would shout, “hillbilly flamenco!”

And believe it or not, it worked! People started telling their friends about this band, because it was so easy and fun to describe. Attendance at their shows started going up and up.

Then one day, David once again called one of those agents who book the big festivals. But this time David said, “Our music style is hillbilly flamenco!”

The agent laughed and said, “Ok — I’ve got to hear this! I’m going to give you my personal address this time.”

The agent finally listened to their music, and loved it. Now David and his band are playing the festivals they always wanted.

When he told me this story, he finished by saying, “Our career had a clear turning point. The day we started using those two words to describe our music, it made all the difference in the world.”