Derek Sivers

Music Entrepreneur; Guitarist; Songwriter
Class of 
1990
Alumni

Derek Sivers graduated in 1990 from Berklee, where he majored in professional music. He entered as a guitarist and came out a self-proclaimed “everything guy” after studying voice, composition, piano, songwriting, music synthesis, and production.

Sivers is best known as the founder of CD Baby, the largest online distribution company for independent music. After years of touring, recording, and writing for TV projects, he started CD Baby from his bedroom—almost by accident. When he obtained a merchant account to sell his CDs online (not an easy task in the ’90s), musician friends began asking if he could sell their CDs. Soon he was getting calls from strangers, and the foundation for a business was laid. Sivers launched CD Baby in 1998 with a musician-centric ideology that sought to maximize musicians’ profits rather than minimize them for company gain.

In 2003, Sivers won the World Technology Award and was described by Esquire Magazine as “one of the last music-business folk heroes.” In keeping with his philanthropic ethos, Sivers sold CD Baby in 2008 and gave the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education.

In 2011, Sivers published Anything You Want, a book chronicling his challenges and triumphs founding, building, and selling CD Baby.

In 2013, Sivers launched Wood Egg, which publishes guides about how to build companies in Asia. He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with over 5 million views of his talks.


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