Cyber PR’s Hyatt Pulls A NY/NO For Sync Up Seminar
Ariel Hyatt helps musicians reach their high notes by teaching them how to hook their fans with cutting edge social media, hone their chops in online marketing and get the gig with powerful publicity.
From Cyber PR, Hyatt’s New York City-based artist development, social media and content strategy agency, Hyatt encourages musicians to tune in to their creative process. But, no matter how mind-blowing their licks and riffs, Hyatt said talented musicians without cyber-savvy often can’t sell their catalog and end up performing in front of empty houses.
Last night, entrepreneur, international speaker and author Hyatt took the stage at The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, 1225 N. Rampart St., for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s free Sync Up music business workshop “Making the Most of Your Record Release.”
Hyatt, who is hailed as a pioneer in digital strategy and fan engagement for independent artists and music-related brands, flew in from New York to New Orleans (NY/NO), as she often does for multiple music events and 23 past Jazz Fests, to provide a medley of cyber strategies that resonated with a room full of full-time musicians and weekend warriors, including hip-hop and jazz artists, a musician who specializes in a niche Romanian music genre and even a member of a heavy metal chamber orchestra.
She outlined one of her most popular posts on her website that takes you through everything you need to know about creating a rockin’ marketing plan for your next music release.
After a crescendo of Q&A at the end of her Sync Up music business workshop, hosted by New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.’s director of programs, marketing and communications Scott Aiges, Hyatt performed her finale with Biz.
Leslie Snadowsky: Your father, New York Emmy Award-winning Gordon Hyatt, enjoyed a prolific career from the 1960s through the 1980s writing and directing documentaries and films for television on CBS, PBS and WNET. But you have said he had a career-long struggle trying to keep up with the fast-paced technological advances of the medium. How did his plight strike a chord and inspire you to do what you do today?
Ariel Hyatt: My Dad was a starving artist. I grew up watching the reality of what happens when you don’t have an advocate, so it’s very personal to me. I see it so clearly for artists. When you get stuck in the old way of doing things, those who can’t adapt really suffer. It’s a very similar story for my Dad. When film went to video, he wasn’t very fast to adapt and he suffered tremendously. That’s where the root of a lot of this advocacy comes from, plus I love music. Music saved my life, and this is my way to give back. If you want to succeed over the long haul as a startup or an entrepreneur, it is vital to be adaptable. The adaptable entrepreneur stays relevant.
L.S.: Why do you come to New Orleans so often, and why do you enjoy speaking to and helping local musicians?
A.H.: This is the birthplace of jazz. This is the birthplace of music in our country, and historically the most important place in the country. As someone who loves this town, who loves Jazz Fest, loves music from the New Orleans tradition, what an honor it is to come here and help your music community.
L.S.: What’s the biggest obstacle facing musician entrepreneurs today?
A.H.: You’re either a marketer and a salesperson or a musician. It is so rare to be both. And that’s the obstacle you need to overcome so you can get out there and spark a fire for yourself. Once you start moving the ball, people will come to help you. But it’s that Sisyphean moment of, ‘I’m just an artist’ and having to do all that stuff by yourself. That’s the biggest obstacle. Not understanding all the things you need to know to get up that ladder. You need to climb up those initial rungs.
L.S.: You have this gift to be able to lay out all the things you need to do, and make it sound so doable, when orchestrating your next release. Yet, the list is huge. Is it still possible to really succeed in the music industry as an independent musician? Can you get to that point where you can finally say, ‘I’ve arrived?’
A.H.: The biggest lesson that we’re all learning, any of us that have a career in the music industry, is that there’s never that point. If you’re sustaining a career as a full time working musician, you’ve arrived. For many people that means earning the equivalent to a teacher’s salary. You’re not going to get wildly wealthy in most cases off of making music. Now, a career is made up of so many little, tiny moments, and you look back and realize that. There’s never an ‘arrived.’ The new reality is you have a moment, and a moment, and a moment, and a moment and you thread them all together and you have a career.
L.S.: Back in the day, you couldn’t break through without a record label behind you and its stable of marketing and PR execs pitching in, making sure the world was listening to your music. Social media really seemed to level the playing field. But, do you think social media is actually making it easier for artists to succeed, or harder?
A.H.: As someone who pioneered in this space, who was early to the game, I think what we’ve all discovered about social media is how easily you can get burned out and exhausted, and it’s sort of this never-ending reality where you have to keep posting and you have to keep feeding the beast and it fights creativity. You’re supposed to spend those precious minutes creating art, writing music, rehearsing, connected with people in the real world. Instead, you have to sit there and post. So it’s not great news for artists, but its good news for connecting with your fans. It’s necessary, but it’s really hard to endlessly have to constantly keep up with it, and you’re really not allowed to take a break. Because if you take a break, someone else’s butt is going to take your seat. It’s a horrible game of musical chairs. Back in the day, no musician could get to the public without a proper publicist. Now musicians can go on Twitter and go on Facebook. There are fewer gatekeepers, but it’s still a lot of work.
L.S.: I’ve always been impressed by how accessible you are to musicians and how much you seem to give away. Why do you travel around the globe participating in so many lectures and seminars and panels wanting to help independent musicians succeed, and why give away so much valuable information for free on your website? As a super successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, how can you continue to do that?
A.H.: There are so many of us out here. We’re not in an age of ‘covet your information’ anymore. If you go online there are hundreds of articles out there on how to do almost anything that I’ve written about and others have written about. If you’re going to choose a life serving creatives, you’re choosing to serve a community not loaded with money. I’m not serving Wall Street bankers, and you have to be willing to give your time away if you want to be part of a community. There’s no showing up and thinking you’re going to profit off a community without being generous. I don't know a single person that’s succeeding without giving back in some way. A lot of it is educating musicians at panels and workshops and giving back, and that’s where our community comes together.
L.S.: Biz readers can read through your Music Marketing Plans online on your website and learn so much, but is there one quick tip you can share with independent musicians right now?
A.H.: The thing you really do need, no matter what genre you’re in, is a working understanding of Spotify. Like it, hate it, you have to know how it works because you have to bring yourself onto that audio streaming platform. It’s the future.
The Sync Up series of music business workshops is produced and presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. The Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other raised funds, for year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment.
Ariel Hyatt is the author of four bestselling books on social media, marketing and crowdfunding including “Cyber PR for Musicians” and “Music Success in 9 Weeks.” Her newest book, “Crowdstart: The Ultimate Guide to a Powerful and Profitable Crowdfunding Campaign,” reached No. 1 on Amazon in the music, investing and entrepreneurship categories.