Derek Sivers: The CD Baby Founder Who Says Read Baby Read!

When you have to be the kind of man that other men aspire to be, you have to do things differently.

Derek Sivers, the man behind CD Baby Inc., the world’s largest online distributor of independent music, reads to read the world to make it a better place.

Sivers is not just your average Joe reader. He likes reading so much that he even got on the other side of reading.


Sivers’ own book ‘Anything You Want: 40 Lessons For A New Kind of Entrepreneur’ is an Amazon #1 all-time bestseller. His book helps you invent a new genius thread so that you could start your own path and make it glorious.

Forbes commented on the quality of his book, “One of the best hours you’ll ever spend reading.”

“Everyone who became great at something has a similar story: For years, they worked on their craft every day, even if they weren’t in the mood. Always pushing, practicing, working, and improving. Yes it takes thousands of hours of practice, but that’s good news! It’s a clear path and it’s under your control.”

Derek Sivers’ Genius Idea

The success story of Derek Sivers has an interesting prelude. He was not born with a silver spoon.

He was a talented musician and a circus clown.

All he wanted was for people to hear his music. The big labels in the music industry refused to hear him.

Sivers was not deterred. Instead, he recorded himself and started selling his CDs on his own website in 1998.

In 2000, Sivers was able to hire the first employee. In 2003, Sivers won the World Technology Award for the success that CD Baby was having. Esquire Magazine even ran a story called, “Derek Sivers is changing the way music is bought and sold… one of the last music-business folk heroes.”

By 2008, CD Baby was generating $100 million in revenue with over 150,000 musician clients worldwide. Sivers firmly believes that customer service is the new marketing.

The Next Chapter For Sivers

Derek Sivers hung his CD Baby boots in 2008 when he sold the business for $22 million. He donated the sale proceeds to a music education charitable organisation.

A frequent TED Conference speaker, his talks have amassed over 5 million views.

Sivers currently resides in Singapore, conceptualizing the next big idea.

Being successful didn’t come easy to Sivers. A shy kid, at 14, Sivers realized that he wanted to be a musician.

That is all that mattered to him.

He knew that being a musician meant an unsteady paycheck. But he was ready for that.

Even though he created CD Baby for his own needs, he was soon able to nurture the needs and dreams of many budding and professional musicians who needed control over their music careers. Sivers is big on freedom — a fundamental filter he used to make his important life decisions.

“In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have.”

Give In To Your Inner Child

Sivers finds his best ideas in solitude.

He likes to read bold, unconventional nonfiction that helps him to understand the world better.

His personal favourite is ‘Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.’

For self-reflection, Sivers recommends Cal Newport’s ‘Deep Work’

Since Sivers is big on long-term ideas and less on trends, he likes to focus on ideas that are here to stay.

But how do we assess what is a good idea and what is a bad idea? To do this, Sivers points at ‘Ignore Everybody’ by Hugh MacLeod.

Another great book that helps Sivers on self-reflection is Daniel Gilbert’s ‘Stumbling on Happiness.’

“If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others how to follow. And when you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in.”

What Makes Sivers Lead The Herd

Sivers gets his best ideas when he is offline. It is very hard today to stay offline. Our whole life is online. How do we stay focused and channelise our inner voice so that it can be heard loud and clear? You can use Daylitude, a guide that puts you on the rightful path of self-realization.

It helps you stay tuned to your goals by keeping you on track.

Daylitude’s comprehensive self-realization increases positivity in your life and allows you to understand yourself better than ever before.

Sivers is not a one-hit wonder. He is a serial entrepreneur. He likes to keep moving, keep thinking.

The moment you retire your mind and get deviated from your true plot, you will be truly lost in life.

Sivers is not big on making money.

To Sivers, customer experience and satisfaction is sanctum sanctorum.

Perfection and satisfaction cannot be achieved overnight. It takes an incredible amount of effort every day from your side.

You need to track and monitor your progress to be able to be compassionate with yourself, so that you can open up and unlock your true potential.

Only when you are in touch with yourself, can you make a difference to the world you live in.


Interested in other self reflection and gratitude practices?