010 – Practicing Rigor in Giving Credit Where It’s Due

010 – Practicing Rigor in Giving Credit Where It’s Due

We are all building on the work others have done in some capacity. The question is – do we notice when this is happening? Do we thank or acknowledge others when we’ve modeled or iterated on their work?

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David prompts us to think about giving credit where it’s due.

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Highlights:

00:17 – There’s no growth in unicorns farting rainbows
00:44 – Giving without expecting anything in return
01:22 – Acknowledgement as a practice
02:53 – Co-opting the work of the trailblazers who’ve gone before you

Transcript:

Today I wanted to talk about something that may not be entirely comfortable. And if we want to grow, we can’t always be talking about unicorns farting rainbows. It’s great to envision a future that you want to create and then to be as enthusiastic as you possibly can about it. But that’s not necessarily where the growth is.

The growth is usually in the breakdowns and the resulting breakthroughs. And you can find those breakthroughs rapidly if you get good at it.

The thing that I’ve noticed is this – there’s a lot of things I do without ever expecting anything in return. I give to charitable organizations. I support certain creators that I like, as I’m sure you do. I give people in my life a lot of time and space to talk and work out their problems and share with me what’s going on in their lives.

And I practice conversational generosity, something Dale Carnegie talks about in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

There are many things I do from a generous spirit, and I’m not looking for anything in return.

But then there are also situations where I am expecting something. Maybe not a lot, but I’m still expecting some kind of courtesy or favor to be returned. And the interesting part is… if you go into any of my books, in the back, you will inevitably see a long list of people that I thank.

I may not be personally connected to them. I may not have ever met them in real life and shaken their hand. And yet, I’ve learned a lot from these people.

Even in The New Music Industry, you can see me thanking people like Bob Baker, Tom Hess, Ariel Hyatt, and Derek Sivers. These are people that I looked up to, and still do, in many ways.

I learned so much from them, and I find they’ve added a lot of value to my life. And they’ve added a lot of value to me in my career pursuits, and my business pursuits. Everything that I’ve done to this point.

And yet, What I’m seeing out there is… I’m in touch with pretty much every podcast that I’ve ever been mentioned on, which is not many.

And I could even recall a circumstance where, it’s not the guy’s fault, but he was sitting there going like, “Yeah, dang, I can’t remember his name.”

Look, we’re all human. That happens to me, too. I’ve given as much credit as I possibly can to all the people that I could possibly remember or think of that contributed to me. And yet I probably have still forgotten. And, and I think that’s where we got to let bygones be bygones, right?

But there are people who’ve literally built on the things that I’ve done, whether it’s my books, my blog posts, or my podcast, and some have built on it without knowing it, right? If they don’t know it there’s nothing, we can do about it.

But others have very knowingly built on something that I created. And it’s good. I want to see iterations on what else people come up with. Better music books for musicians, better coaching programs, better podcasts, or better business models. I’d love to see all that, right?

And yet this is where I give thanks to every single author, speaker, coach, mentor, blogger, podcaster, YouTuber that I can think of that’s contributed to me.

And those people don’t so much as thank anyone, let alone me, for building upon something that I worked my butt off to do.

It’s not like I got started yesterday. Some people get that confused, like, “Oh, you started your podcast in 2016, that must feel like a while.” No, no, no. I started podcasting in 2009. And I started doing interviews in 2004. Even before that, I was already starting to serve musicians in a local community capacity. Okay? So, it’s not like this just emerged out of nowhere.

This has been a passion and an interest, something that I’ve pursued over the long haul. I’ve really invested myself into this. So, I didn’t just spring up yesterday.

And yet I think some people have built on what I’ve done without ever sending so much as a thank you note. That would be unimaginable to me. Just saying. For me, that would be unimaginable.

I would even suspect people are owing me royalties. I’m not asking for any money. Right? That’s not why we’re in this conversation. If you feel led in that direction, if then I would ask for a generous contribution. Absolutely.

But if that’s something you’re not moved to do, then forget it. Bye.

Do you owe me at least a “Thank you,” though, for the hard work I’ve put into laying the groundwork for you to exist? That’s the question. Because I do it. I demonstrate it every single day in my work. I give thanks to the people who taught me what they taught me – the concepts, everything they gave me. The life I now have is because of what they did.

And for some people, the life they now have is because of what I did. And they don’t see it. Do you see?

Who’s helped you on your journey, and do you thank them? And if not, why not?

You Can Now Subscribe to Members Only Audios

You Can Now Subscribe to Members Only Audios

When my team and I set up Elite Players: All Access Pass a few months ago, it was with the idea of creating the best online academy available to DIY musicians interested in growing their careers. And we believe we accomplished exactly that.

With the creation of the online academy also came the opportunity to offer some of its modules as standalone products.

We knew we didn’t want to do this with everything, because the idea behind an All Access Pass premium membership is that you get access to more content, more interactivity, more community, more perks, and better service overall. And that’s still the case.

But one opportunity that seemed to make a lot of sense to us was to turn Members Only Audios into its own low-cost subscription program.

Members Only Audios is updated weekly with new content, and in addition to yours truly, features tips and interviews with leading music biz experts and DIY artists like John Oszajca, Bree Noble, Ariel Hyatt, Nick Sadler, and more.

This removes the need for you to hunt around for free content that’s supposed to work, but generally doesn’t, either because it sucks, or because you’re not fully invested in it (because you have no skin in the game). And that’s one of the problems Members Only Audios solves.

When you join, you also get access to the entire archive of audios published to this point. And all this is available for a low monthly fee that will never change.

If you’re ready to access the best music career tips, DIY artist strategies, independent musician techniques, and deep insights into growing yourself and your music, head on over to Members Only Audios NOW.

Musicians: Why Your PR Campaigns Are Failing

Musicians: Why Your PR Campaigns Are Failing

Isn’t it frustrating when you put a lot of money into a marketing endeavor that totally bombs?

As someone who’s wasted quite a bit of money on Facebook ads, I know the pain of throwing away hard-earned moola on marketing that doesn’t work all too well.

At the outset, I can tell you that it’s best not to depend on any one thing for your success, even if that one thing is publicity, which can achieve killer outcomes.

PR is awesome. But unfortunately, most music PR campaigns fail.

If you stopped yourself to ask why, and examined what failing campaigns had in common, you would probably start to see the patterns emerge.

But I’ll save you the time and effort. Here’s why most music PR campaigns yield nothing.

The Top Reason Music PR Campaigns Fail

Before I start, care to take a guess why most musicians don’t have successful PR campaigns?

Is it because they aren’t spending enough?

No. Although budget is a consideration here, these days you can get excellent PR work done for a little bit of money. You can even buy some digital PR courses on a site like Udemy for less than $20 and learn how to do it yourself, even though that is a long-term prospect.

Either way, some musicians save thousands of dollars to spend on a PR campaign, and if that describes you, it’s unlikely that you’re not investing enough money.

Is it because they aren’t using the right service?

In most cases, no. I would be wary of any publicist promising you the world and more but generally most PR people are competent, and you can easily find reviews, testimonials and the like if you’re in any doubt about their service.

Even properly executed PR campaigns can sometimes yield little by way of measurable results, though if your service provider tells you that, you should always ask them to show their work – they should be able to report on exactly what they did and how they spent your money.

Is it because their publicists aren’t reaching the right outlets?

Again, generally no. A skilled PR person should know what outlets to target, and further, musicians often have conversations with their publicists around where they’d like to score coverage. A musician can certainly choose wrong or aim too high, but a good PR person should be able to help steer them in the right direction.

And, you must carefully consider what “right outlets” means to you. If you’ve never released an album and only have a small fan base, you should expect to see your news on small PR and article sites, relatively unknown blogs and the like. That’s normal.

So, it depends a lot on where you are in your career right now.

Now, I’m not saying that none of these things could be contributing factors as to why so many music PR campaigns fail. But none of them are the top reason.

Do you give up yet?

The number one reason PR campaigns fail is because of a lack of story.

The number one reason music PR campaigns fail is because of the absence of a compelling story. Click To Tweet

Why Not Having a Compelling Story Hurts You

It’s sad.

Musicians spend a lot of time crafting their music. They pour themselves into it.

But when it comes time to market their art, they’ve put their blood, sweat and tears into, their creativity suddenly goes out the window.

By the way, if you’d like to develop a solid strategy around marketing your work, have a read through my Amazon bestseller, The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship.

The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship: Making and Selling Your Neon Yellow Tiger

As Bob Baker shared with us in episode one of The New Music Industry Podcast:

Marketing should be an extension of the creative process.

Think about it. Your music tells a story, doesn’t it?

I get that it may not always be a rich, detailed, surprising, controversial, emotionally evocative or otherwise substantial story. But there’s a story to the music. And, there’s a story behind the music too. Can we agree on that?

Well, while that may not be the exact story to use in your marketing (i.e. the story your music tells), you should nevertheless have a story that sets the tone for your branding and promotional efforts.

Musicians must have a story that sets the tone for their branding and promotional efforts. Click To Tweet

Not having a story hurts you most when it comes to getting coverage. Of any kind.

It’s been a while, but I’ve talked about the cut and paste bio before.

The idea is this – your bio should be so compelling that when a PR person, reviewer, event organizer or another looks at it, they’d be willing to run it (in some cases as is) in their press release, review, promo or other piece.

If you get that, you’ve also gotten the essence of PR. It’s not just about the details (e.g. who, what, when, where, why and how). The details are secondary to the emotional reaction your story begs and elicits from readers, listeners and viewers.

But What About Duplicate Content?

As it applies to republishing a band bio, I’ve been asked whether duplicate content is an issue. But trust me when I say it generally isn’t.

There’s a little something called syndication. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Syndication is when an article you’ve written gets picked up by a newspaper, magazine, blog or otherwise.

It’s your article and you’re free to do with it as you please – even negotiate fees and rights depending on who’s asking to publish it. Of course, if your work is being used without your permission, you might want to stick them with a cease and desist letter.

The onus is on the other party to ensure they’ve taken the right steps (e.g. use a canonical link), so they don’t get penalized for duplicate content.

But they shouldn’t be penalized in the first place. You see, duplicate content applies to content on the same website.

So there, SEOs. You should know better than to throw around a term without understanding what it means. They don’t call me music industry’s master wordsmith for nothing.

If another site publishes your bio and links to your website, technically it can only help you. I say “technically” because there are always exceptions to the rule, but it’s pointless to focus on what hasn’t happened yet.

As you can imagine, syndication is a powerful concept and if you understand and utilize it, it can benefit your music career big time. Remind me to talk more about this in the future (i.e. leave a comment).

Tell Your Story

Sure, there are plenty of artists and bands without a compelling story getting covered in the media every single day. But you must ask yourself whether they’re getting any benefit from it (see my earlier point on reaching the right outlets).

Journalists and media people are trained in quickly spotting and evaluating the newsworthiness of a story.

If there is no story, they will likely pass. If the story is boring or ordinary, they will likely pass. And, there are plenty of other situations in which they will likely pass, such as when the story isn’t in alignment with their core values.

Good headlines sell. You can’t ignore this fact just because you’re an artist. If you want to do PR the right way, the smart way, you’ve got to consider what your story’s headline might be.

A headline is another powerful element often not discussed in the music industry. If you’d like to get a crash course in writing better headlines, read about copywriting basics in my first book, The New Music Industry: Adapting, Growing, and Thriving in The Information Age.

The New Music Industry: Adapting, Growing, and Thriving in The Information Age

Rest assured your publicist is going to be looking for a grabbing headline, and if they can’t find it, they will dig and dig and dig until you’ve got nothing left to offer. If they still can’t come up with anything, you shouldn’t expect your PR campaign to drive stellar results.

And, as Ariel Hyatt shared with us on the podcast, it’s okay if the story is a little made up. Guaranteed your campaigns will do better if you have a strong headline and a powerful accompanying story.

PR Campaigns Aren’t Everything

Getting media coverage is exceptionally useful when it comes to promoting your music. But it’s not a panacea.

Just because you spend a lot of money on it doesn’t mean your face is going to end up on Pitchfork. There truly are no guarantees with PR campaigns.

But if you’re working with the right publicist, and you remain consistent, you will see some positive results. You must pay attention to those results and dig deeper into why your story connected with certain publications.

If you can pinpoint what resonated, you can enhance and amplify it. You can find other outlets that might want to cover your story. You can keep working your way up the chain. You can plan for more successful PR campaigns moving forward.

If you can pinpoint why your story resonated with specific people, you can enhance and amplify it. Click To Tweet

Just don’t pour all your money into PR. There are plenty of other great things you can do with that money, whether it’s funding Facebook ads, investing into traffic generating content (e.g. from yours truly), planning a podcast tour or otherwise.

Ensure your promotional strategy includes more than just publicity.

148 – How to Get Media Coverage as a Musician – with Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR

148 – How to Get Media Coverage as a Musician – with Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR

Ariel Hyatt is in the house!

Are you looking to get more publicity for your music or band? Do you wish a major media outlet would cover your story?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, we learn from the best. Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR sheds light on the current state of publicity in the music industry as well as what she’s excited about creating.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 01:30 – What brought you to this point of helping musicians and music related brands?
  • 03:51 – Dyslexia
  • 04:50 – How long did it take for you and your company to get established in your space?
  • 08:39 – Creative projects are closed loops
  • 09:41 – The dangers of comparison
  • 12:29 – How important is publicity for musicians and what is PR?
  • 14:13 – FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
  • 15:40 – The media will cover you if you have something newsworthy to share
  • 19:11 – The grind
  • 23:05 – How effective are press releases?
  • 25:53 – Copywriting skills
  • 26:57 – Why write books?
  • 35:39 – Is there a project you’re fired up about working on right now?
  • 37:58 – Am I on track? – An assessment of The Music Entrepreneur HQ business
  • 45:35 – Concluding thoughts

Transcription:

David Andrew Wiebe: Today I’m chatting with founder of Cyber PR. Ariel Hyatt. How are you today, Ariel?

Ariel Hyatt: I’m fantastic.

David Andrew Wiebe: Great. Glad we could finally talk and have you on the show. Now, I’ve been blogging about the music industry since 2007. But in 2012, I invested in music industry startup and ended up creating a position for myself as a blogger and digital marketer for the company. And that’s when I started taking it more seriously. And in those days, it was people like you and Derek Severs, and Tom Hess, and Andrew Dover, that provided me with a lot of inspiration. So, thank you for being one of the giants whose shoulders, I could stand on.

Ariel Hyatt: My pleasure. Those are all names that just brought me so much warm and fuzzy. That was amazing.

David Andrew Wiebe: Oh, I know. I mean, Derek Severs I’m sure is many people’s favourite human being. He’s just smart and knowledgeable. What an incredible guy. Can’t really say enough about him.

So, you have a tremendous amount of experience in marketing and PR. What brought you to this point of helping musicians and music-related brands?

Ariel Hyatt: I guess the real honest answer is my mother who is an amazing career coach. That’s what she did my whole life and continues to do. She pointed out when I was pretty young that I had a knack for communication. I started really young interning at a PR firm and realised that that was actually true, I did have a knack for communication. Although even though that was my knack, I had a passion for art. That was my interest. And so, I guess my whole career is a combination of the thing that I’m really passionate about, which is art, not only music but I love visual art and all types of art. And then, you know, getting to support artists with what I’m really good at, which is communication and simplifying things, I think is something that as a dyslexic, which is something that I have, you look at the world really differently because everything feels confusing, especially when you’re young and you can’t read and everybody else can. You don’t see the world the way other people see it. You start filtering things in a way to make it easier for yourself to understand. And so, I think part of why I’m good at what I do is, I understand that artists don’t see the world, especially the business world, the way that most people do. And so, I’ve kind of made it my journey. Like, if I could break down the world so that I could understand it when it didn’t make sense, I certainly could help other people do that.

David Andrew Wiebe: Wow, that’s really cool. And a couple of things by way of comment. When I first got started, or really, after I was born, the first thing I got into was not music but rather art. And so, I did a lot of arts and crafts, and a lot of drawing and painting. That was sort of my first expression of creativity, which later evolved into music and writing. But I think it’s so common that people in this space also have a huge appreciation for other types of art. The other thing was what you said about dyslexia. I had a backing singer in my group who is also dyslexic, without revealing too many details, but it was just one of many things she seemed to be afflicted by and struggling with at times. But you know, she’s still a great singer, which is why I work with her.

Ariel Hyatt: Yeah, it’s a lot of people that have dyslexia have an excellent year. Most a lot of really famous artists like Carly Simon, James Taylor, they’re dyslexic. They have this like, perfect pitch. And it’s like, “Well, why is that?” Well, it’s because they can’t read so it comes out in other ways.

David Andrew Wiebe: Right. It’s almost like you’re just compensating for what doesn’t come to you naturally, right? And then instead, using your ear or using your other senses to really fine tune what it is you’re doing. So, I could see that. They would be better pitch than probably most amateurs.

I’m not sure who originally came up with this but in the entrepreneurial space, we often say everything takes five years. So, how long did it take for you and your company to get established in your space? What was your experience like along the way?

Ariel Hyatt: I had a really interesting and very cool thing happen. So, I guess if we counted the painful journey from getting out of university and getting into the music industry, where you realise that you’re just young and one of many, many people trying to get your foot in the door, if we counted that as year one, I think this is actually going to make a lot of sense. Let’s see.

So, my journey was struggled a lot trying to find work. I found some really small unpaid internships. And then, parlayed those into a job at a small record label. Worked at the record label for a year. So, that would be two years out of school. And then the third year, I worked. I got a job at a concert promotions company. I worked there for probably about two years, year and a half, two years. And then, I started my own business.

I had some luck in that I was living in a small town at the time, I was living in Boulder, Colorado, which is a place that at the time, I mean, the music scene is rich there, but the music industry is not. There was not a lot of people. There was like two record labels, and you know, a couple of music venues. That was it. So, there wasn’t a lot happening in the town. It was very easy to get known pretty quickly. That was a huge benefit.

So, I was working at the only record label there, one of the only concert promoters there. And then when I started my own business, very early on, I got a very amazing gig, which was I became the PR director for the Fox Theatre, which is this fabulous music venue that’s still there. And so, I would say that, in a way, my curve was a little shorter because I had this incredible venue. But you know, I don’t have that story where all of a sudden, I was working with one band that had a meteoric rise. I’ve had much more of a slow burn in my career, which has been interesting. And a lot of major label record industry types have said to me over and over, “Well, you really just need a big star to attach your name to.” which is one way that you can look at success. And there are many people that have that. They worked with one particular person that is massively huge. That’s a great thing to rest your laurels on. I don’t have that same experience. Although I have worked with a lot of people, some very famous, many are not. That’s not how I viewed my career.

Let’s see. I started my business in ’96. ’97, ’98, ’99, 2000, 2001. Five years as an entrepreneur, I was, you know, I was in a groove. I would say I was in a groove. I didn’t write my first book until 2007 though. So, you know, it’s been a journey just like you. It’s been… Although I was blogging. I don’t feel like there was. I guess when I look back, 2020 hindsight everything, isn’t it, I can see that there was like a really… there was a time where things were really accelerating. But I didn’t realise it until much later in the game.

David Andrew Wiebe: It’s very relatable. I love that. I think I heard somewhere recently that creative projects are almost always like closed loops. Whereas we think, you know, if we were to look at a bar graph, it just continually goes up over time. But that’s not always the case when you’re in the creative industry. It’s like you take on one project and you complete it. And then, you start a new project. And the process looks much the same as the last.

Ariel Hyatt: Yeah. And especially in our industry. And I think this goes for artists as well as people that are supporting artists in any way. It there’s no white-hot moment. I mean, there are once in a while these crazy outliers like Maggie Rogers, where Burrell heard her song, and then now she’s playing Coachella. And it’s a year later. I mean, you see that and you’re like, “Oh, wow.” But that’s really not how it happens for most mere mortals, as we know. It’s always astounding when I do see an artist like that, it’s a Marvel to look at but it’s not realistic.

David Andrew Wiebe: I’ve been in this seminar since January where every participant starts a community project, which has been really cool. But the other temptation there is to compare your project and how it’s taking off to other people’s projects, because inevitably there’s a few peoples whose project is just exploding. You might still be sitting here with 27 likes on your Facebook page or something like that, going like, “Huh, I wonder if I’m going about this the wrong way.” But everybody chooses a project that’s a reflection of them. And of course, depending on the niche and industry, or just how you’ve framed the project. There’s a lot of factors there. And I guess comparison is just not how you want to go about things.

Ariel Hyatt: No. No comparison is the root of all evil, I’m pretty sure of it. Social media certainly is not helping us in this domain, is it?

David Andrew Wiebe: It isn’t. It’s all too easy to look at somebody else who’s really blowing up in a significant way, and you kind of end up analysing it’s like, “I thought I was doing all the right things. And based on the podcasts I’m listening to, there’s nothing I’m missing.” But you just don’t know. You don’t know what got them to where they are and you also don’t know the toil or the effort behind the scenes.

Ariel Hyatt: And you know, all those photos they’re posting from EBITDA or wherever they are, you know, I mean, that’s… My favourite, and it’s not really a favourite story, because it’s actually sad. But I think about one of my closest friends who at age 40 found out she had breast cancer. She battled it and she got through it, but and you know, of course, her inner circle knew and her best friends knew, but the world didn’t know. And if you looked at her Instagram, there she was on holiday with her kids. And, you know, doing her family and her career was taking off and she was going on TV. She’s a lawyer. She’s not in the music industry. But from an outsider’s perspective, you know, it looked like absolutely nothing was wrong. But if you really knew what was going on, you would know that she was fighting cancer, which is obviously a very intense, horrible thing to do. So, there you have it. You never know what you’re not seeing.

David Andrew Wiebe: So true. And I would be torn about that, too. I’m not sure I would share that kind of thing with the world. Like you say, my inner circle or my friends might know but I’m not sure that’s the kind of thing I would reveal on social media.

Ariel Hyatt: Exactly. And that’s another, you know, that’s a major choice that people make. How much they’d like to reveal versus what feels appropriate for them. So, you just never know what’s going on.

David Andrew Wiebe: Nope. Yeah, you really don’t know. Now, to ask a more generic question although I really like that trail we’ve been going down. How important is publicity for musicians? And for those who don’t know what it is, what is PR?

Ariel Hyatt: PR has changed dramatically in the many, many years since I’ve been doing it. But basically, the simplest definition is PR is getting attention for yourself from others, getting attention in the media. Now that word media is the tricky part. Because back in the day, like 30 years ago, media meant newspapers and television, and magazines and radio. That was media. Then of course social media came and disrupted all of that. And now, media could be getting a tastemaker to tag you on Instagram. A media could be your own Twitter feed. Media could be what you create on your Facebook page. Media could be your own blog that you write.

PR has had a bit of a shift in that still standard traditional PR, however, is getting covered. And so, in the world that I live in, that for an independent musician, that would mean getting your music reviewed or paid attention to on music blogs, on podcasts, on Spotify or other playlists. Those would be the three areas that I think are the most modern definition. And then of course, we still do have newspapers. Newspapers also have online aspects. So, your newspaper might also have a website. So, that could also be coverage. But that would be how I would define PR right now.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yeah, exactly. It has evolved a lot. It has changed a lot since social media has been a disrupter in a huge way. What came to mind was a documentary I watched recently on Netflix, which is Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

Ariel Hyatt: Oh, gosh. I couldn’t look away. It’s like watching a train wreck.

David Andrew Wiebe: Exactly. That’s what I was going to say. It’s so captivating that you can’t actually turn it off once you get watching it, but yeah. I mean, it is a good example of what sort of PR or coverage you could get in the sense that you know, they had social media influencers and that was a key part of their strategy in getting the word out about that. So, there were some genius behind it. It just didn’t extend into execution in that situation.

Ariel Hyatt: No. No, it certainly didn’t. And if there is a great companion movie, also on Netflix to watch called American Meme. If you haven’t seen that, it’s fantastic. It’s a lot of huge digital celebrities telling their stories. It covers everyone from Paris Hilton, the fat Jewish, to some other people who you may or may not have heard of or seen but it all goes to show you that what you see and what’s real are two very, very different things. It’s a very important documentary to watch.

David Andrew Wiebe: I’ll have to check that out, too. And then another thing about PR or just getting media coverage, you know, that’s something I’ve been thinking more intentionally about since starting this community project because that’s kind of part of the project parameters. I think I just had it in the back of my head that it’s so hard to get media coverage, but then when I see the kind of projects that ultimately end up on TV, I go, “Oh, well.” Like it may not necessarily be that it requires a lot. It’s just that, I guess, on some level, I mean, the media has to find it interesting or fascinating for it to be newsworthy.

Ariel Hyatt: Exactly. And so, back to your original question, which was when is an artist ready for PR, which we didn’t get to is, this is really the best question to ask because I think there’s been some bad information that’s been given out, which is, you know, the minute you record something, get PR. Well, not necessarily and not yet. So, I think that was a party line that used to be very, very popular back in the day. Like, the minute that you had recorded something, the first thing that you’re supposed to do was hire a publicist. The publicist was supposed to go and get you coverage on that new thing.

Well, now that 40,000, new things are going up on Spotify each and every single day, not all of them are going to be newsworthy and publicizable because some are going to be massive artists but most are going to be from small independent artists that don’t have a following yet, which doesn’t merit getting publicity. So, this idea that everybody just deserves PR because they’ve recorded something is unfortunately, where I see a lot of artists just like have… It’s just bad news. It’s bad advice. It’s not the order of things.

Once you do have some things out in the market, once you’ve got a following, once you’ve got people coming to your shows, once you’ve got fans, that’s when you can start getting publicity. But I often see artists put the cart before the horse. I mean, I had a young woman call me yesterday and she’s ready for PR. I looked and she has no bio on Spotify. She has 58 plays a month. She doesn’t have any photo on her Spotify page. She has less than 200 fans on Facebook. I was like, “Well, I think maybe what we should do is work on getting your foundation a bit stronger.” And she just wasn’t interested in that. She’s hell bent. She wants to hire a publicist right now. She wants to put out her new track. And that’s it. And so, she’s going to waste thousands of dollars. She’ll probably get a little bit of PR from some small blogs but unfortunately, it’s not going to get her what she wants, which is exactly what she needs to work on, which is getting more fans first. That’s the part that I think artists don’t understand so well in many cases. And they don’t really know like, a lot of this is about having to take the time to connect to people and build your fan base before you go and try to get a PR team.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yeah, and what you’re talking about is kind of the grind. And it’s a matter of whether you’re willing to do it or not. It might take time to build that foundation, your social media following, your website, your email list, but once you have that, you can definitely leverage it for a lot more.

Ariel Hyatt: Totally. And it is a grind. I mean, it’s a grind. There’s no question. It’s the hardest part of the work. And I know a lot of artists get into this because they want to just make music. That’s fine. Derek Severs, back to him. He said something years ago. He wrote this fabulous blog post, which I hope you can put in the show notes. I’ll go back and find it. But it basically says that when he started CD Baby, he went around the country. He was talking to all these artists about marketing and promotion. And now that your CDs are ready at CD Baby and we’re distributing it for you, it’s time to like really marketed and get fans and get people to buy it. And he realised for half or more of the artists that he was jumping up and down on the tables with and like going to all these conferences and exhausting himself on a global scale. For them, it was enough that they just got the CD to CD Baby. They were done. They weren’t interested in marketing and promoting and getting fans and building a mailing list and playing shows and getting a clipboard and like all the things that he was talking about. They were done.

And he said some really profound things in the blog post that he wrote about, where he was like, “You know, for some of you, just having the music is enough. And that’s it, you’re done with your journey and just be a hobbyist, just play a show once in a blue moon for your best friends and your family in your house. Or just rehearse with your best friends in your basement. And don’t try to make a career out of this. Just do it because you love to do it.” The way that I’ve boiled that down is some men play golf and some men play guitar. Like, just because you play golf doesn’t mean you’re going to have to go and be a competitive golfer. It means that you can like go and enjoy yourself and go to a new golf course with friends once a year. I don’t know spend money on great golf equipment. You can do the same thing with your music career, and you don’t have to kill yourself with all the marketing and promotions and crazy if you don’t like it.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yeah, that’s so interesting. And I think it still is that way to an extent. There are definitely artists that just want to make music and keep it at a hobby level. I always say that’s fine if that’s how you want to do it. Maybe at some point, you’ll feel like pursuing more, maybe not. And it doesn’t matter. Nobody should belittle you for what it is that you’re wanting to accomplish, whether that’s big or small or somewhere in between.

It’s interesting because like, with what I do, oftentimes my friends don’t get me because I spent a lot of time playing the local scene and getting into festival and going all around with my music wherever they would have me. And now I still play lots of guitar, I still go to rehearsals, I still play live. But a huge, more significant part of my focus is creating this content that helps other musicians. They don’t get it. There’s just no way to kind of explain to them what this entrepreneurial journey is like, why I’m doing it. Even sharing in the vision, they often kind of go like, “I don’t get you.” I just try to let them know, “Hey, I’m here to help you. If you don’t need my help, that’s okay too.”

Ariel Hyatt: Totally.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yeah. Another thing that I think maybe just people are confused about or at least something that I’ve observed is this whole thing about press releases. I think, you know, 10-15 years ago, they were incredible tools for getting media attention, for getting backlinks to your website, for generating traffic. Press releases still have their place. But they’re definitely not a catch all solution. And they don’t do all that or generate quite as much attention for you like they used to.

Ariel Hyatt: No. No, they don’t. The reason for that is there’s a misunderstanding about what a press release is. You said it earlier in our talk. You said you’re watching these projects getting on television and you think it’s so hard to get on television but then you realise if you have what that television station or news program is looking for, and I’m just going to make this up. But like, let’s say specifically the television show is looking for something that is community based, that happens within a certain radius of where the community is and lives that has an angle that’s appealing, like let’s say a charity angle or an angle where they’re doing something good for the community, they’re giving back in a way, they’re doing something heartwarming, they’re doing something helpful. I mean, that is a recipe to get on the five o’clock news, no question.

So, compare that to releasing a record and writing a general press release about so and so sophomore album just released and they’re from Toronto. Like, okay. That’s not news that is going to be appealing for most news outlets. Now, however, if it is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is coming up in May, and you are an artist that wrote a song that was inspired by your friend who committed suicide or attempted suicide or something that is deeply related to mental health and the song is about helping people who are suffering with mental health. And you’re from a specific town and you’re throwing a concert to raise awareness. Now, you’ve got a press release. Now you can write something that is very specific, that is timely, that affects the community. And that is absolutely perfect for local news.

It’s funny because so many artists still call me today. And they say, “Well, we just want you to write a press release and blast it.” which is was very much a thing that we used to do. But it is very much not a thing with music blogs. I mean, unless of course, you have a local angle.

David Andrew Wiebe: And basic copywriting is something that I’ve been teaching for quite a while now. I often just ask artists, which of these two is more powerful to you? Atomic Penguins releases new album or Atomic Penguins, new metal mayhem release leaves your drums bleeding. Which one would you click on?

Ariel Hyatt: Right. I mean, definitely, when you’re surfing around the internet, even when I go to read the news in the morning, sometimes you’re reading news, like legit real news, and then all of a sudden, something shiny down at the bottom of the page, like, you won’t believe what these 10 celebrities look like today, and you almost can’t resist going there.

David Andrew Wiebe: Exactly. Exactly.

Ariel Hyatt: You know, you’re in that world. So, if you can make exciting and interesting catchy titles, that is some of the most important stuff that you can do for sure.

David Andrew Wiebe: Agreed. I can tell you’re super passionate about PR. And I would love to spend the entire half hour just talking about that but some other questions to get to. So, in this space of helping independent musicians, I’ve noticed there seems to be quite a few authors and you’re certainly one of them. But a book is no small undertaking. And in many cases, it’s not a profit generating machine. So, to prove a little bit below the surface, why write books?

Ariel Hyatt: You know, why record albums? I mean, I feel like, because you can’t help it is really my answer.

David Andrew Wiebe: I love that.

Ariel Hyatt: It’s because it’s what you’re called to do. I really feel that way. I never thought about writing a book. You know, my mother was an author. That was her thing. I watched her and she was a New York Times bestselling author so she was the kind of the opposite author of what I am, which is like a self publishing, talk your books at your next talk author, which is a totally different type of author. But I was at a seminar. I was at a great, wonderful seminar. I had spent a lot of money going to the seminar. It was in Palm Springs, California. I’ll never forget this. This is probably 2005-2006 and Brian Tracy… Do you know who Brian Tracy is? Of course, you do.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yeah. I think it was The Science of Self Confidence. Like that was one of the first personal development audios I got into and it was so vital.

Ariel Hyatt: Oh, my God. So, for those of you who don’t know who Brian Tracy is, you just Google him and you’ll get a sense. He looks like your grandfather if you are a daughter of the Mayflower. He’s like this white older… He always has a suit and tie. He’s very fit. He talks very fast. He talks like this. He talks very, very fast. And he’s going to tell you how to change your life. And he’s going to tell you to change your life very rarely. He’s really fast. And he’s like, “We’re going to talk about your mindset. If you have problems with your parents, just stop. You don’t need to have those problems anymore. Those are problems in the past.” Like he’s just like this. He’s got all these like really cutting-edge ideas but they’re coming out of this older, white haired dude that looks like he should be the CEO of a Fortune 100 company. It’s so confusing. But he’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And he’s incredibly motivating. And he’s been doing it a very, very long time. And you just said one of your favourite books. One of my favourite books that he ever wrote was a time management book called eat the frog.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yes.

Ariel Hyatt: Which is incredible. But you know, he wrote, Earn What You’re Really Worth and The Psychology of Achievement. He’s just a genius guy. However, what he did that day was he stood up on the stage and he did his whole talk. And I don’t even remember what the talk was about. I’m sure it was about success and how to manage your time and all the things you need. But at the very, very end of his talk, he said, “You all have to write your book. Every single one of you has a book inside of you.”

David Andrew Wiebe: Guaranteed.

Ariel Hyatt: And I sat in my seat, you know, in one of these big conferences. You’re like one of a thousand people in a giant room in a hotel in Palm Springs. It is what it is, fluorescent lighting and all. I just started sobbing. Part of the sobbing was a complete resistance to go, “No, I don’t want to write a book.” But then part of it was a knowing that I really do.

So, you know, people that write books, when they’re forcing themselves to do it, like I get up at six in the morning and I write my pages. I’m not quite sure that that’s how a really good book gets written. I think, you know, I don’t know. My book… I don’t want to say it was channelled because that’s a little too woowoo. But when I was finally ready to write my book, my book just came out of me. It just… It was a really big undertaking, for sure. But it’s also just like I hope it feels to record music. It’s natural. I don’t think you get up at five in the morning and like, “I’m going to record.” You know, like, I don’t think that that’s the… I don’t know many musicians. I mean, I do a lot of songwriters that do have that discipline, especially the Nashville type of songwriters that are like doing a lot of collaboration, and they need to come up with a lot of different writing ideas and lyric ideas. Okay, get up early and do your morning papers, I get it. But I don’t know that that’s how you write an album, or that’s how you write a book. That’s a different type of discipline.

So yeah, the first book I wrote just kind of flowed right out of me. I printed it myself. Bob Baker, one of our other early, early, early men in the industry that helped point everyone in the right direction, he advised me how to publish my book. I did it. There was a spelling mistake on every page, which an independent musician who is also an English teacher called me and he said, “I’ve just corrected your book. Would you like me to send it to you?” And it was basically like getting my homework when I was a kid. There was like a red mark on every page. So, you know, I corrected and continued and kept going. And here we are so many books later. I love writing books. I think books are a bigger expression. Yes, blogging is one thing but writing books is something else. It’s a much… It’s just like, you know, do you put out singles or do you put out albums? You know, one thing is a bigger concept.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yeah, I think it’s just coming from a place of inspiration. And I totally know what you mean. It’s like, sometimes you don’t even know what you’re writing but it just comes out of you anyway. And I have a few drafts like that that I still don’t know if I’m ever going to use them but they were still really cool when they were coming from somewhere when I wrote them. Bob Baker was actually on Episode One of the podcast. So, I still follow along with a little bit of what he’s up to. And it’s always… You’re right, he really did point the way for many of us. It’s cool.

And this year, I’m looking to publish 10 to 12 books. I’ve launched two to this point. So, I’m wondering if you enjoy the writing process and if there’s any tricks or hacks you’ve come across that allow you to be more efficient with the process.

Ariel Hyatt: I’m not much of a hacker but I really do… And it’s funny because I didn’t write my last book this way but I have in the past. I do love dictation. You know, it’s pretty amazing. You can just make a voice memo and talk and it writes for you.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yes.

Ariel Hyatt: So, I find that to be really helpful, especially if you’re trying to do like some free association or just have some ideas that aren’t sussed out.  It can be much easier to do that than bang away at a typewriter. I also still do the old school pen to paper. I love to write in cursive because I learned how to write cursive as many people my age did. Back in the day I heard they don’t even really teach that anymore, which is so sad but I write cursive in a typical cop notebook, you know the black and white marble notebook with the lines. I tend to love to write pieces of the book that way. And then, you can dictate them or type them up. And so, things end up in many different forms but pen to paper I like to sit in inspiring places. I have a really beautiful garden in my house. I could sit outside when it starts getting warm in the spring and write in the sunshine or write at a coffee shop or you know just write in a place that isn’t your desk or your home office or work. It’s much better to write also when I go away on vacation. I love to sit on the beach, sit with the ocean. I tend to do a lot of writing when I’m not in my workdays.

David Andrew Wiebe: Yeah, I think pen to paper is exactly how John Maxwell has been writing his many, many books. So, I can see that being effective, too. I think there’s just something about pen to paper. I was looking up a stat as well because I think what Brian Tracy says makes so much sense. There are various stats out there but one of them is 90% of Americans want to write a book. And how many of those will not be published? Many. I’m sure the majority will never be published because we don’t put the pen to paper.

Ariel Hyatt: Right.

David Andrew Wiebe: Is there a course, a book, or some other project you’re fired about creating right now? And if so, what is it?

Ariel Hyatt: I’m in the middle of creating labs, which is my new education series. It’s been really fun because it’s a collaborative effort. And so, it’s one a month. It’s a different topic that I think is helpful for people in the music business. Some of them I teach on my own but most of them I have a guest that is my co-teacher. The labs are designed to not be… They’re supposed to be incredibly focused. So, the idea is like, there’s plenty of courses where you can get on board and take like, you know, 12 months of coaching or like 57,000 videos. I’m trying to make it so you get in, you get out and you get exactly what you need in a very short amount of time.

The labs are three classes. The first class is 45 minutes, so is the second class. And the third class is 90 minutes. They drill down very efficiently into specific areas. Lab ne was all about how to get your own PR. Lab Two is about Facebook advertising. Lab Three is about how to release your music with ease. Lab Four is level up your email game. Lab Five taught by one of my clients who went from brand new to 100% self-made, self-sustaining independent musician in 18 months called Mobilise Your Fan Army. Lab Six is booking successful shows and tours. And it goes on and on like that.

I’m just finishing up Lab Nine this month. It’s crowd start, which is finally I brought my book of how to do crowdfunding to life. And that’s been amazing. That’s one, just me. But next month, I’ve got Randy and Jason who wrote making money with music, and the indie band Survival Guide. They’re going to teach three weeks on making money, just how to look at different income streams around your music. So, I’m really excited for Lab 10.

David Andrew Wiebe: All very important topics for sure. I think we’ve had a great chat. And so, I’m going to skip the boilerplate questions. I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what some of your challenges have been, what some of your victories have been, as well as some of the books that you’ve delved into. So, what I’m going to do is this. I’m going to ask for a little bit of feedback. I mean, you’re only going to be able to give me the feedback to the extent that I’m able to give you information. But with my current business, I’m just always open to hearing what others have to say about what I’m up to because it helps me see what I’m doing from a different perspective. And currently, I get about 15,000 views per month on my website. I’m getting 110-220 people signing up for my email list monthly. That results in a little under 20 sales per month, although relatively small sales. I’ve had people share with me that the only thing missing now is a demonstrated impact in the lives of musicians. From your perspective, do you see that my business is on track? Is there anything missing to make it more powerful?

Ariel Hyatt: I do think you’re on track. I mean, half of the people I talked to have no idea how to even look at statistics. It’s tremendous that you know this is how it’s building. It sounds like in your case, slow and steady wins the race. Again, it’s so tempting. Like, take my course and I’ll teach you how to get 10,000 people on your mailing list in five minutes. You hear these things and you’re like really, okay. I don’t know that that’s necessarily a thing. So yeah, it sounds like you are doing that. And that is interesting. It is true that unless you are having an impact, unless there are people who can come back to you and say, “You taught me how to do this and because I did this, something really shifted for me.” I mean, I think that is something that if you could begin to get some data from the people that you’re touching and moving and inspiring, you could really begin to show a shift.

But I think there’s always an interesting issue with helping people. And, you know, Brian Tracy thinks 90% of all people want to write a book. Well, what percentage of people actually do write a book? I had an artist that we wrote a plan for and our plans, unlike your plans of really thinking that plan should be one page, our plans are 150 pages that we write for artists. So, they’re like brutally long and painful and involved. And, you know, I sent her a plan in December and now it’s April, and she’s hysterical on the phone with me going crazy screaming that, you know, the plan was too long and there was too much in it. And, you know, her album is coming out. She just she read it once. It was so overwhelming. She just made up this whole story that she just wants to be overwhelmed. And, you know, she’s screaming at me. I’m like, “Girl, this is not my problem. I spelled out exactly what it is you need to do in December. That was four months ago, and you’ve done none of it. Now your album is coming out and you’re flipping out.” If you had just read 20 pages per month, that’s less than a page a day. You might not be hysterical and overwhelmed right now. So, you know, half of that is on her but half of that is on me. If you deliver someone something and they can’t figure out how to get it into play and how to make it work, part of our job as the educator, as the person that’s providing the solution… Well, it’s not part of your job. But the question is, do you want to make it part of your job? Is it part of your job, David, to call that artists to check in with them to find out are you putting the pedal to the metal? What has resonated with you? And why? And how can I help you get it to resonate a little bit more.

But, you know, I think that’s where you might have some success is like when you can drill down with people. It always amazes me like, some people come and they coach with me and they spend a lot of money with me holding their hands and we do their PR, and we do their marketing, we do their branding, and we do their social media. And yes, we move the needle and things move well, and they spend a lot of money in order for that to happen. That’s Plan A. I mean, that’s Client A right. But I’ve also had Client B, who comes up to me at a conference and I’ve literally never met them. And I don’t even know their name. And they say something like, I’ve never even purchased one of your books. I just read your blogs. And I did three things that you said. I mean, I once met an artist who said, “You once said on one of your earlier blogs. Be a shark in a sea of tuna.” And I think I got that from T. Harv Eker, who was a huge mentor to me back in the day. And this artist heard me say that, realise that he was just another hip-hop artist in New York and whatever. He went to Japan. He literally became a shark in a sea of tuna. And his whole career opened up like he was the only rapper. He was the only black man half the people that ever seen. He started learning Japanese. He really got into the culture there and created an amazing career for himself. I meet him four years later and he’s like, “Thank you. That was all because of you.”

So, you know, you don’t even know how much you’re affecting people. And even when you like send an email out to your newsletter and be like, “Hey, can you all send me a testimonial?” People don’t even sometimes realise how much you’ve helped them until, like I said, you know, like you said about your career until the loops are closed. And those loops can take a long time to close. But my advice for you and your journey is… and I think the most powerful thing that any of us can do. And when this goes for artists, ask your people how… You know when you’re driving on the highway, and you see the little sign on the truck, it says how’s my driving. It’s that. It’s like, if you can ask people how am I doing? Talk to me. Give me a sign. Tell me how it’s going for you. And yes, some of it might be what you’re teaching them but you might learn something completely different that you didn’t even know you’re going to learn about them that might inspire you for your next book. I’ll put a whole other section in that you didn’t even think to do because you started asking for feedback that wasn’t necessarily just feedback about you.

That would be my one piece of advice. It sounds to me like everything is going really well. Slow and steady does win the race. I know this because I’ve been in business for 23 years. And no, I don’t have one big giant artist that I can wave in front of you and brag about. I do that for one person. I did a little thing for thousands.

David Andrew Wiebe: I love that. Yeah. And I think there probably is no magic bullet to the whole thing. It’s just sticking with the process. So, thank you so much. That’s fantastic and well thought out answer. Thank you so much for your time and generosity, Ariel. Is there anything else I should have asked?

Ariel Hyatt: No, this has been a great chat. I love… I mean, I listen to your podcast so I knew what was coming. And, you know, unlike tell how you came up with… you know, you don’t do that. And I love that. I think that’s what’s great about listening to you is you get in the crevices where other people don’t.

David Andrew Wiebe: I’m glad you noticed that. That’s very intentional. I try not to ask too many straightforward questions. I’m more interested in the story. If you use that as your metric, you can probably go back into my archives and figure out which is the least favourite interview I’ve done. There was one with no story, but it’s still worth doing. It’s not like it’s not worth doing. So, great.

Ariel Hyatt: Excellent.

David Andrew Wiebe: Thank you so much.

Ariel Hyatt: Pleasure.

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Why You Need to Stop Pleasing Others as a Musician

If you’ve spent any time in the independent music market, then surely you’ve come across the name Derek Sivers, founder and former owner of CD Baby. I feel Derek is someone who has consistently made the effort to offer the best advice possible to independent artists everywhere.

The following video features a conversation between Ariel Hyatt and Derek Sivers. Take a moment to listen to what Derek has to say about pleasing others and I will offer a few more tips below. I had a laugh-out-loud moment at what he said about becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s very true.

Here are some key points I took away from this discussion:

  • You know what’s best for you and your career.
  • You can gather knowledge from a variety of different sources, but in the end you have to be the one to figure out how to apply it to your situation.
  • If you’ve got a great product, it has the potential to hit it big – you won’t know unless you try.
  • Don’t wait for someone else to give you recognition and validation; market and distribute your works anyway.

The bottom line here is that we don’t always think for ourselves when we should be (though getting absorbed with oneself is also a trap). More than anyone else, we should be aware of our own goals, desires, and objectives for our own career. And yet, every time we encounter an obstacle, we think we have to adapt what we are doing to a particular trend or audience. We think we need outside opinion to validate our actions, which could prove useful, but may not apply.

Like Derek says, I think it’s important to read and consume information and become familiar with the industry and various aspects of the music business (mindset, guerilla marketing, etc.). However, you still have to act on the information that’s right in front of you. You still have to make autonomous decisions. For example, you can’t just assume that your R&B music won’t find an audience because you’re Caucasian.

I think Derek is also saying that nobody – including the staff at CD Baby – can predict what music is going to catch on. You just have to put yourself out there and hope for the best. If something doesn’t work, that’s a good time to consider making some tweaks. Be careful not to defeat your own efforts. Give your idea or project a fair chance. Also beware of beating a dead horse. Know when to try something new.