Derek Sivers

Listen to my music, and let me know what I should do


I answered 847 emails in 12 hours today. That’s an average of 51 seconds each. But the single most common request I got was this: “Take a listen to my music and let me know what I should do.”

Those emails took the longest. I never know what to do with that request.

Most of the time, the music is good. Not the best or worst thing you’ve ever heard, but good.

So I could critique someone’s songwriting, vocals, or production, but then what? Would they actually go change their music just to meet my tastes? That’d be unwise. I’m just a musician that listens mostly to traditional Persian music and trip-hop. I built a website that musicians use, but I was never known for my taste in music.

The music itself usually doesn’t make it clear what someone should do.

What if I was in a different industry and people said:

“I’m trying to find a spouse. Look at my photo and tell me what I should do.”


“I want to be a millionaire. Look at my bank account and tell me what I should do.”

The real answer is “it depends...

It’d take many hours of conversation to get enough information to responsibly tell someone what to do. But since I only have a few minutes, I point people to the advice I’ve already written and the books that have inspired me, then hope they know how it will apply to their unique situation.

I always feel a little disappointed that I can’t be more helpful.

If this interests you, see a related article: “Let me know what you think”.