Aim for the edges.

Aim for the edges(ej).

By Derek Sivers

An amazing shift has happened in the last few decades.

You used to get successful by being normal and mainstream(ˈmānˌstrēm). But now you have a better chance of getting successful by being remarkably(rəˈmärkəblē) unusual(ˌənˈyo͞oZH(o͞o)əl).

Songwriters try to write a timeless standard that will resonate(ˈreznˌāt) with everyone. But what good is that if nobody hears it because your music is too normal?

Our culture is split(split) into niches(niCH, nēSH). In 1948, Milton Berle’s(bərl) TV show had 80% of all viewers, because it was one of only three choices! When the Beatles(ˈbēd(ə)lz) played on Ed Sullivan(ˈsələvən) in 1964, they had 60% of all TV viewers. But now the biggest hit shows only get 1% of all viewers, because there are so many choices.

There won’t be another blockbuster(ˈbläkˌbəstər) album like “Thriller(ˈTHrilər)” by Michael Jackson. With unlimited(ˌənˈlimidəd) options now, music fans don’t wait for mainstream media to tell them what to like. They can immediately listen to anything they want. Because of this, tastes(tāst) are more spread-out than ever.

So reach the people who have headed to the edges. They’re the ones who are looking for something new, and more likely to rave(rāv) about it if you impress them.

Think of the metaphor(ˈmedəˌfôr) of shooting an arrow(ˈerō) at a bull’s(bo͝ol)-eye target:

In the old blockbuster music business, you had a hit single or nothing. The only way you could be successful was to hit the exact center of a tiny distant(ˈdistənt) target. If you missed the middle, you got nothing.

Now it’s like the target is closer and bigger, but there’s a catch: Someone cut out the middle.

You can aim for the edge and hit something pretty easily. But if you’re still aiming for the middle, there’s nothing there.

So be remarkably unusual, and aim for those people who have headed to the edges.