TPM 35 | Music Publicity

 

Publicity and PR have become interchangeable these days because of the increase in networking and social media. As a musician, you need to learn why it is important to have good publicity. You need to find that golden nugget that lets you stand out from the crowd of artists out there. Here to help you find it is Ariel Hyatt. Ariel is the founder of Cyber PR where she helps entrepreneurs and musicians find their footing in the online space. She is also an author, with her newest book being The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity. Join your host, Bree Noble as she sits down with Ariel Hyatt to talk about her newest book. Learn the difference between publicity and PR. Also, get a glimpse of some inspiring stories from artists in her newest book.

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Music Publicity: The Ultimate Guide To Get Heard Online With Ariel Hyatt

I am here with my friend, Ariel Hyatt from Cyber PR and I’m excited to have her here. She’s been on my show a few times, but this is an exciting one because she’s got a new book that is coming out. I’ve seen all of her emails leading up to it and she’s got some pretty cool things that she’s giving away to people that are jumping on board on this launch and helping her get it out in the world. I remember what that was like with my book, too. You got to get people excited. You got to get them like helping you and pushing it up the charts and all that stuff. For you guys that are reading right as this is happening in the launch, give her some love.

We’ll talk about how you can do that in a bit, but if you’re seeing this later, this book will be available forever on Amazon. I think it’s a valuable resource for artists. I know you will too, once we talk about it on the show. Her book is called The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity. First, before we get into the book, I want her to give you a short background on her experience in the music industry. I know she’s been on the show before, but it’s always good to get context before we get into the book.

TPM 35 | Music Publicity

Music Publicity: Things are beginning to open up and artists are beginning to get back on the road. Many of them got kicked in the teeth because of the pandemic.

 

Thank you so much for having me, Bree. My name is Ariel Hyatt and for the last several years, I have been at the helm of Cyber PR. Before it was called Cyber PR, it was called Ariel Publicity because I am the least creative namer of things alive. We started as a traditional PR firm. We adapted very early days. We became a digital PR firm. For a moment, we had a street team marketing company. We had a booking agency for a minute there. We also managed an artist. I gave that up like a bad drug habit. Now, we do digital marketing, social media management. We write long-term marketing plans for our artists and we are still a digital PR campaign running company. That’s what we do at Cyber PR.

First of all, I can’t believe you’ve been doing this for many years. That’s pretty amazing. I think I still remember when you were Ariel PR. When did you change the name?

I think it was around 2010.

It was right when I became aware of you when I first started women of substance.

You don’t have to do the things that you hate. Click To Tweet

You were one of the first all-women shows that we ever even became aware of. I think you might’ve been the only one at the time. It was so amazing. You’ve been supporting our artists for all of these years.

I know you’ve had a lot of other books in the past. Maybe you want to let them know the evolution of your book writing over the years and why this book now?

My first book was in 2007 and it was it’s a tongue-in-cheek title to this day. It’s called Music Success In 9 Weeks. That book was a step-by-step primer for how as a musician, to get up to speed on the digital trends that were happening. Twitter, thinking about your newsletter, all of these things that now aren’t even a thing. There was a whole chapter where we deeply encouraged artists to blog for SEO, which I think when I look now many years later, some artists took that path. Many did not. The book was self-published by me with a spelling mistake on every page. It was named by Derek Sivers. He came up with that name and that was the book that launched me off into loving, writing and publishing books. I got smart and fixed all the spelling mistakes that book has had three iterations.

Since then, I’ve written the Musician’s Roadmap to Facebook and Twitter, which is now out of print because everything in it no longer applies. I wrote Cyber PR For Musicians, which was a digital marketing overview. It did include Twitter and Facebook, but it had a lot of other tools and tricks and website things. About a year after that, there was Cyber PR Teacher’s Guide, which I was happy about. Two music industry professors wrote that as a companion guide. It ended up in a lot of schools and universities that music industry programs, which is something I’m passionate about.

I wrote Crowdstart, which is a book that was not only for musicians. It was for anyone looking to launch a crowdfunding campaign and how to do it effectively. It is still a top seller. It’s still rocking and rolling and it’s out there. It’s a 30-day roadmap for how to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign and that was a few years ago. It was time to put out another book and I came back to the music industry. I took a look around and I asked my email list. What is the area where they wanted to focus? I realized two things. One, there is no book that only focuses on music publicity. There are many books that have a chapter that talks about music PR that are out, but there’s not one that gives a full deep dive. There hasn’t been one available to the public.

There are some textbooks since The Billboard Guide to Music Publicity, which was published in 1994. I thought it would be nice to fill a hole in the music book world and why now? I think we’re all hopefully coming out of this pandemic and things are beginning to open up and artists are beginning to get back on the road. I know so many artists got kicked in the teeth with what’s gone on with losing income. I know many are not going to have an extra budget when they start bringing money back in from live shows to hire publicists. That should be the last thing or at least one of the things further down on the list. I thought, “Let me make a guidebook for artists that are coming back after this crazy year so that they could follow a step-by-step guide to do it themselves.”

I think that’s right. We are all ramping up again. I love that you’re teaching artists to do this even though you have a firm that does this for artists. I think that it’s a path for artists and I don’t think that they should be investing in even awesome campaigns like yours when they first start out when. When do you recommend that artists do their own PR and follow what’s in your book versus actually going out and hiring someone like you?

It’s an entire section in the book about how to hire a publicist because that’s a whole other bag of worms. That’s a tricky question to answer because, first of all, you have to ask yourself, “Can I tolerate doing PR?” If PR is something that you’re interested in doing, it’s a good question. I think that if you look at any business mastery, which I know you teach. One of the most regulatory things for me, when I was trying to get a handle on mastering my own business was, you don’t have to do the things that you hate. Even if you don’t have an enormous budget, you can figure it out. I remember I went to this big business growth marketing conference because I like conferences. I like being in a community with people when I learn things.

TPM 35 | Music Publicity

Music Publicity: Publicity is the practice of creating something and putting it out in front of the media. PR is public relations – public, your fans, everyone out there, not the media. And relations, how you are relating to them.

 

The teacher said something that hit home for me. He said, “The minute you have money, there are two things you should outsource. Getting your toilet and your house cleaned and your accounting.” He said, “If you’re into QuickBooks and that’s your jam, don’t outsource the accounting. If you love filling your own taxes, cool.” For most people, he said, “The 4 hours or the 3 hours that it takes to clean your toilets, scrub your sinks and get on your hands and knees, that is your thinking time. Imagine what you could do if you could have four hours to focus on your business. You could probably come up with something that will generate $150, which would be the amount of money that you would take to pay the said person to clean.” Also, I had put myself into a QuickBooks class and I was schlepping on Saturday mornings down to this adult learning center and forcing myself to learn how to use QuickBooks.

I hated it, I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to do it, but I felt like, “A responsible business owner has to do it.” It gave me permission to hire a bookkeeper. If bookkeeping and toilet cleaning feel the same to you as publicity, forcing yourself to do it, if it feels confronting, if you don’t like it, if you’re not into that kind of aggressive follow-up and all of that, definitely try to figure out a way to outsource it if it’s on your desire list, for sure.

I’m curious, though, because there’s this line of like, “I’m scared of it and I don’t understand it. I also hate promoting myself because so many artists feel super weird about promoting themselves versus like if I learned it, I could like it.” Also, how do you get over that hump of not wanting to promote yourself in general as an artist because we do have to get over that? Whether we’re going to do our own publicity or not.

I think that’s where the inner work comes. If you’re having some crazy reaction to self-promotion, there’s something there about being seen that’s freaking you out. There’s something there. It’s interesting to me that so many artists have no problem recording and releasing music. They have no problem being on stage. Being on stage is the number one fear. Most people would rather die than be on stage, literally. It’s interesting that musicians have no problem getting on stage, but a huge problem doing these other types of things that are putting yourself out in front of people.

We’re willing to write a song about our innermost thoughts and share it on stage, but we can’t approach someone and say, “I have this story idea.”

I think that part of that is we look at a lot of other people doing things and we sometimes don’t like what we see. Don’t look at people’s bad promotions because then you’re going to make a story about, “The promotion sucks.” No, that person sucks. The other thing about this book is I’m trying to demystify the whole process. I’m so honored that you and about 60 other people made contributions to this book, music publicists, playlisters, music journalists, music bloggers, music freelancers, and other musicians. There are eleven musicians that tell their journey of how they became masters at their own publicity and their own PR because there is a bit of a distinction between PR and publicity.

The minute you have money, outsource two things: getting your house cleaned and accounting. Click To Tweet

This book took a village I think that if you read it and you read all those quotes and golden nuggets of information that everybody shared, the demystification light should go on and I hope that it will feel less stressful and daunting when you realize like I tried to do with Crowdstart. If you have a system that you’re following and you take the story of how scary it is out of the system and follow the system, you might get much further than when you’re trying to figure it all out then you get doubly confronted because you’re trying to figure something out that you don’t know how to do. You’re adding that element of self-promotion, which even for people who are excellent at self-promotion. They also hit walls. They don’t show it in the way that you might think they would.

I want to get into the contributions to the book because I think they’re valuable but first, I wanted to ask because I’ve not known this. What is the difference between publicity and PR?

These are words that get collapsed often. I think in the modern marketing world, they are somewhat interchangeable. Publicity is the practice of creating something like a pitch or a press release and putting it out in front of the media. Now what has changed radically since I’ve been doing publicity and it’s even changed radically in the last couple of years is the media has gone from the more traditional things that we think of newspapers, magazines, television, radio, to playlisters, podcasters, bloggers and tastemakers could even be considered media.

If there’s someone that has a tremendous amount of followers and they’re going to do a post for you on their socials, this is where the PR and publicity lines begin to blur. PR is public relations. It’s public, your fans, people in the music industry, everyone else out there, not the media, that’s your public and relations how you are relating and communicating to them. There are all kinds of things that are PR-ish like throwing events. Social media is PR and writing your newsletter. All of these things fall into the PR bucket. That’s the distinction.

Thant’s makes a lot of sense now that you say that because as soon as you said that, I was like, “Yes, social media. That is PR.”

Here’s another blur. You might be trying to get the attention of someone in the media using Twitter, Facebook, or using an IG direct message but that’s where it gets blurry. That’s where I think publicists back in the day when I started a digital PR firm, every publicist that I talked to was horrified, “You’re going to talk to bloggers. They’re not journalists.” There was this ridiculous attitude. I also didn’t understand the difference. I was trained at some of the top music and fashion PR firms in the world. I mean rigid and structured. I didn’t know what I was doing when I first heard of podcasts, so I wrote a very formal press release, “This is what you’re going to get.”

I remember sending it out to some of the earliest podcasters and people lambasted me. They were like, “What are you doing? This is not how,” and I realized fast like, “Podcasting is completely different. It doesn’t require that you’re formerly pitching a journalist.” I got big append comments from a bunch of people in the podcasting community, most of whom don’t podcast anymore, but they were the tastemakers in 2006 and 2007. I learned, in order to pitch a podcaster, you have to have a whole other approach.

This book also talks about that. How do you approach a playlister that’s different from how you approach a podcaster? It’s different from how you approach someone you know. For example, I’m now on your show. In a few weeks you, me, and Katie will be on my show. I don’t need to write you a formal thing. I’ve known you for forever. There are all different levels of how you’re going to communicate. That’s important to understand when you’re trying to get publicity.

I love that the quotes that you got from people like me who are podcasters and have their platform. That helps people understand that because that was part of one of my quotes. You asked me like, “What do you look for? What is a good pitch to you for your show?” I’m like, “Here are all the things that you should not do.” First of all, my system won’t even pass it on to me because I get multiples per day and my show is not any huge. I can’t even imagine people that are on the iTunes top 50 or whatever are getting if I’m getting that many pitches.

I love that you are getting directly from the tastemakers, the podcasters, the bloggers, the digital media owners, how they like to be approached. That’s something that I don’t see any other book doing and you’re getting it right directly from us. You’re not assuming or whatever. You got us to say what we love, what we hate. I think that’s going to make people feel way more comfortable starting to do PR if you’ve never done it before because you already have been told directly what these people want.

TPM 35 | Music Publicity

Music Publicity: You have to find your hook. Find what hooks people in and what keeps them interested.

 

I have to say, it felt vindicating when the quotes came back because they were in alignment with what I was writing about in the text, but it was so nice to have a backup. It was so nice and people generously gave the secret sauce. It was amazing, especially for the music publicists. They can tend to be a little bit territorial sometimes about what they do and what they know. Many of them have always wondered how the hell I stay in business because I give away everything but it’s called an education platform. It’s not how most publicists think. I did love all of those contributions from everyone and many people I knew and the fun part was a lot of the people that sent quotes, I didn’t know them. I got to know them as I was including them in my book that was fun too.

That’s what happens when you have a platform like a book. You can reach out to people you don’t know yet and they’re going to want to get involved because you have a platform and then you get to know people. That’s what’s great about a platform. I’ve met so many people because I have shows that I would never have met before. You’ve got the industry side and the media side, and then you’ve also got the artist side. You said you had eleven artists’ journeys in there. Are there a few that you’d like to highlight that you think would excite people to pick the book?

There are eleven full-featured sections. There are many other artists where we have examples of their bios and their pitches. It’s maybe more than eleven, but two that stand out for me. One is a woman who I know has been on your show in the past. Her name is Maya Azucena. Maya has been someone I’ve known for many years. She sang on the album of the artists that I managed all those years ago, Pete Miser who is an amazing hip-hop artist from Brooklyn. I watched my, go from the type of artists who looked a lot like every artist we know, grinding it out, playing gigs, releasing stuff and she found a niche. The niche that she found was social justice and especially for women and women’s equality.

She began to show up and play at all kinds of dinners, parties, marches and events where people were talking about equality for women. She became an ambassador in that world so that whenever anyone was having a gala dinner, she would get invited to sing. Whenever anyone was having a fundraiser, she would get invited to be the host. She found that niche and out of that her music was always on blunt. It wasn’t like that didn’t fit in perfectly with who she was, but she then began to create songs for specific charities and create songs that were about women being empowered. Then because of who she is, and because of her generosity with giving of her time and playing these galas and benefits, she started getting paid to play, things like that.

She started getting invited and she got invited by the United Nations to go travel, to do women’s events and girls initiatives globally. She got invited by all kinds of people. She spends most of her time not in the United States but touring globally, connecting to people of the world. Her story is regulatory because she had this moment where she went, “I don’t have to worry about people in Brooklyn. The world can be my market and the world is concerned about women because women make up more than 50% of the world.” That is a market. It’s a brilliant market. It’s not that she only plays for women, but pretty much anywhere you go, you can find initiatives where people are helping women. I love that about her.

The other artist I will talk about is an artist by the name of Ilyana Kadushin. She’s a very good friend of mine since she and her husband, James Harrell hired me. Their band is called Lythion. I publicized them in 2001, that was their debut album. They are a husband and wife duo. He does a lot of film scoring. Her gig is she’s a voiceover actress when they’re not making music. Ilyana has a great voice. She became the voice of the Twilight Series. She’s also the voice of Dune. She’s created a lot of amazing voiceover work. She’s also very interested in giving back to social justice in charities and where she resonates is with older people. When hurricane Sandy hit, I and my husband, she and her husband volunteered right in our neighborhood in Brooklyn. There was a local armory that filled to the brim with people whose nursing homes had been flooded.

They were flooded out of their homes and they were lined up on cots in the armory under these horrible fluorescent lights. We went in and my husband was helping people on and off toilets. I was making coffee in the break room for the Red Cross workers. James and Ilyana came and they realized that all these people were agitated. They were freaked out and Ilyana and James brought their guitar. They sang for people and they watch people’s energy change and shift. That helped her birth something called Stories Love Music, which is now a charity that helps people with Alzheimer’s as well as caretakers connect to music. They also created a show called No, I Know. It’s a husband and wife podcast. They are interviewing interesting people that are making changes all over the country. They’re on NPR in their home State of Maryland.

Ilyana’s entire contribution to the book is about having a hyphenated career. I’m sorry this is such a long answer, but I wanted to give you a sense of how to make your music career work. It maybe doesn’t look like I play a gig, I promote it. I put out a record. I promote it. I kill myself. I’m hustling. Maybe there are other areas of interest where you can do what Ilyana says, which is hyphenate. Her story is so inspirational to me. You’ve done that Bree. You have the same journey of a hyphenated music career, so I’m sure you can resonate with Ilyana.

The world can be your market. Anywhere you go, you can find initiatives. Click To Tweet

I can and it’s interesting because I didn’t do it on purpose, to begin with, like a lot of these people that you mentioned. I feel women aren’t represented enough on the radio and that was my whole goal. I naturally fell into, “I have this huge audience of women,” and I started working with them. I’ve become known as that person. It’s opened a lot of doors for me that probably wouldn’t have been opened before as you said, I become known as that person if someone wants to talk about women in the industry, they call me even though I’m like, “I’m not an expert on this.”

When you focus on one thing and you hone in on that and do a lot of publicity around that thing, then it’s a continuous cycle. Because you become known as that person like you are known as the music PR person. When someone says, “We need someone to talk about PR.” You’re the first person that they call because you’ve been in it for a long time. You always talk about a lot of the same things. Any way we can do that as musicians, I love these ideas of particular causes or particular groups of people that we want to support. I heard somebody talking. I think it was Cristina Cano. She was talking about how she talks about baths all the time because her album is about baths. I was like, “That is interesting.” Whatever your thing is, if you talk about it enough, you get it out into the media enough, then you’re going to be the person that people call when they want to talk about that thing.

In my mind, I thought of like, “She could market bath salts or those pillows or candles.” If you do have a thing that you’re passionate about, that you’re talking about, that you’re doing, all other opportunities come into the picture. I don’t know. People might think of her constantly about we’re talking about mental health. Let’s interview her about how that could be helpful in your canon of tools.

Something is odd. When I heard those, I was like, “That is interesting,” but then my mind starts spinning. What are the tangential things that you can relate to that?

Talk about a niche.

That was what PR is or publicity. It’s finding those connections.

The book also does do a deep dive about that. You have to find those connections, or you’re not going to be interesting to the media having a record coming out and having a genre and talking about the producer. That’s like what the other 50,000 people that went up on Spotify just did. You have to find that nugget that hooks. We talked about in the bio section of what hooks people in and what keeps them interesting. Your hook can change over time. It’s not about come up with a thing and stick with it. For many years, you can be parents. You can be flowing between hooks for your whole career and change it up like IIyana has or like you have. You keep building as you go.

Let’s talk about the launch of this book. I’m curious. I know you’re willing to be transparent, so I’d love to know. Musicians go through this stuff all the time when they’re launching their music like glitches happen. The thing doesn’t come out when you wanted it to come out and there are issues with whatever. They’re not putting it out on the website on time. What is this journey been like?

Can I curse? It’s been a shit show. That’s what this launch has been like, “Oh my gosh.”

It’s not just musicians, this stuff happens to everyone.

It’s funny because we work with so many musicians and we write marketing plans for them and we help them roll out their album and they call hysterical on that Friday when their album didn’t hit Spotify and CD Baby doesn’t know why. It happens all the time. It’s upsetting when it happens because you’re planning and it’s your baby and he works so hard. I’ve been having a crazy show on Amazon. Somehow, I have not 1, not 2 but 3 author accounts and no one at Amazon can help me. I have spoken to the Philippines. I have spoken to India. I have spoken to a lovely woman in South Africa. I’ve spoken to a woman who works from home. I heard her kids screaming in the background and dogs. I think she was in Kentucky and no one can help. It’s like a joke then I went on Women In Music and I was like, “I’m asking for a miracle here. I need a miracle,” and 25 people who work at Amazon responded to me. Not one of them can help.

TPM 35 | Music Publicity

The Ultimate Guide To Music Publicity By Ariel Hyatt

One woman from the Women In Music list, which by the way, if you’re a woman and you’re not in music and you definitely need to join it is one of the most supportive and amazing communities. One woman said, “Please don’t think I’m insane but here is Jeff Bezos’ personal email address.” She gave me his email address. She said, “I have emailed him over the years when crazy stuff has happened to me and he doesn’t write back, but there’s a team of people they write back.” I did it. The team of people wrote back and it was so surreal to read an email that said, “Jeff Bezos has passed your email onto me,” which is not true, but felt true and felt cool and we are looking into the problem it came from the Amazon Executive Team.

I have been up-leveled, Bree. I’m an executive and my problem still exists. I haven’t heard from her since. We lumber on. I think the best way to handle this crazy show when it happens to you if it happens to you in the middle of your album release or tour. Think about all the people that when the pandemic hit, they had to cancel everything, pull the plug, and change lanes. Honesty is your best policy. If anyone’s on my mailing list, I’m sending emails going.

Now, I knew. You didn’t even tell me because I read it in your email.

I don’t know why when you click on this link, it sucks. I don’t know why it was supposed to come out on this date and it’s not. I’m sorry, it sucks. What you hope for is that you can be transparent with your fans, your community, your list, your people and it’s been nice. People have written me back and said, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I bought the book anyway. I bought the old book because the old book was connected to the new book.” It was such a mess. I think there’s a lesson in having a messy launch and the lesson is to calm down. This book will be out for a long time, years. I tried to write it in an evergreen way so that if you read it in a year, it still feels fresh. There’s nothing I can do about this. Amazon, Spotify, and Apple Music are a behemoth. This is our reality as creators in the marketplace. The lesson is to try to roll with it as much as you can.

For all those people that have had similar problems, Spotify has multiple artists accounts for you. Your account has been deleted by them for no reason. These things happen and it sucks. I hope this makes you guys realize that none of us are immune to it because we don’t control the digital world. We just have to do the best we can and honesty is the best policy. Your students will respect you so much when you come out and say, “This is what’s happening and it sucks.” All of that being said, how can people get ahold of this book? Also, I know you’ve got a few cool things coming up. Whether they’re reading this later, obviously they can’t be involved in that, but I know you’ve got a cool launch party going on and all the things that we would do as musicians if we were launching a release.

Here’s what you can do. I’m going to create a landing page for you and your readers where you can buy the book, the digital book for $7. It’s like $9 or something on Amazon, but I’m so tired and exhausted from the drama. You’ll be able to get it directly there once you get it. I’ll see that you bought it from me. Unlike when you buy at Amazon, then you have to like send me a proof of purchase, then you forget to do that, then I don’t know you have it, then it gets worse. It will be by the book for $7 or you can buy it on Amazon. If you do that, send me an email and let me know.

I will cordially invite you to my zoom book launch party, which will be on the 17th of June 2021. For everyone that buys the book, it’s a raffle, so when you buy it, you get entered into the raffle to get a free deluxe PR campaign. The value of that is $3,000. I wanted to sweeten the deal so if you have a release coming out or if you have a release that’s already out, but you feel like you didn’t get the append comments that you deserved in the media world, we will publicize your music with joy.

You guys want to win this thing. Buy the book. It will be worth it just for the media member quotes that are in there, if not everything else that’s in there. Thank you so much, Ariel. I appreciate you sharing all of this with everybody. I’m excited about this book coming out. I do feel like I get a ton of questions about PR and I’m certainly no expert at all. I’ve done it for myself. I have my own experiences. I’ve talked to plenty of people like you, but it’s not the same as somebody that’s doing it in the trenches all the time. I know this book is going to be helpful for everybody, so you guys go out and get it.

Thank you for having me and for always supporting women and for always supporting me.

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About Ariel Hyatt

TPM 35 | Music PublicityAriel Hyatt runs Cyber PR Music, an artist development, social media & content strategy firm based in New York City. Her agency just celebrated 25 years in business and she and her all-female team of women who get sh-t done run digital PR campaigns and advise on how to create online influence and release impactful projects.

She has spoken in 12 countries to over 100,000 creative entrepreneurs and is the author of five bestselling books on social media, marketing, and crowdfunding including Cyber PR for Musicians, Music Success in 9 Weeks, and Crowdstart. Her newest book The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity comes out June 2, 2021.