You’re Only as Good as Your Latest Piece of Content

You’re Only as Good as Your Latest Piece of Content

You did a lot of great work yesterday.

With each new post, your body of work grows. And it represents a great opportunity. If not now, then in six to 12 months, when SEO kicks in. Of course, there’s always the chance that some of the content will do nothing for you.

But the world, unfortunately, doesn’t care that much about what you created yesterday. The archive can continue to benefit you and your audience, sure, but there are no guarantees that whatever reputation or authority you’ve built up will hold up tomorrow based on what you’ve created yesterday.

Even if you’ve got it, and you know you’ve got it, people want to know that you’ve still got it.

A creator needs to keep creating. They need to take their eyes off the stats and instead focus on finding their voice, developing their message, becoming better communicators, understanding human psychology and copywriting, telling better stories, and enhancing their leadership.

Don’t give too much thought to what has already been done. Surrender your thoughts to what’s next.

Unleash the Power of Copywriting in Your Music Career

Unleash the Power of Copywriting in Your Music Career

The words you use do make a difference.

And in this case, we’re going to be talking about the words you use to describe your product or the words you use to sell to your audience. But bear in mind that you are what you create yourself as. Meaning – the words you use in all areas of your career and life are key.

Anyway, the technical term for what we’re talking about here is copy. Copy is any text that’s been crafted to sell.

It’s a deep topic, and I don’t expect to be able to cover everything there is to know in a few paragraphs. There are entire books, courses, and online memberships dedicated to the topic, and even the best copywriters tend to remain students of the craft.

But to give you an example, I’d like to call your attention to my book, The Music Entrepreneur Code for a second. I don’t bring it up for self-promotional reasons, I bring it up so we can see copy at work.

The Music Entrepreneur Code

Prior to the book’s release, I didn’t have a subtitle for the book, and its description was a little lackluster. I got some help from my mastermind group and wouldn’t you know it, I ended up with another best-seller.

The Music Entrepreneur Code is a great title, and it does get your attention, but it doesn’t tell you what the book is about. Great for generating curiosity, but not great for specificity.

The subtitle we settled on, although a little long, captures the essence of the book impeccably – How to Get Paid for Your Passion and Impact More Fans Without Wasting Years of Your Life and Thousands of Dollars.

And where the book description originally spoke of shills and charlatans and was more focused on the story going on in my head, it was reformulated to call out the target audience (the first two words in the description are “Most musicians…”), described their pain points (overwhelmed, fed up), identified with their emotions (bitter, angry, and defeated), and pointed to a solution (“…follow a proven roadmap…”).

What you need to take away from this is that when you’re selling anything, the words you use matter.

We all say we don’t like to be sold to, but how many times have you been sucked into reading long sales letters from top to bottom?

Well, prior to this, you may not have known that these were even called sales letters, but now that you do, I would suggest studying the ones you come across. Explore:

  • What stands out to you?
  • What words capture your attention?
  • What emotions does the copy evoke?
  • What makes you want to buy?

We’re not here to reinvent the wheel, so my suggestion would be to model what you see working. Don’t copy – that’s called plagiarism, and it gets even the most notorious YouTubers in trouble. But you should be modeling what works in all areas of your career, not just copy.

Understand – products that don’t sell sometimes start selling when you brush up on the copy.

As author Dan Kennedy says, the greatest sin in marketing is being boring. And copy represents a huge opportunity to spice up your marketing.

14 Ways I’ve Created an Independent Income Writing

14 Ways I’ve Created an Independent Income Writing

As of late, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about making money as a writer, becoming a better writer, keeping up motivation as a writer and so forth.

I even saw someone who shared a story saying, “there are only three ways you can make money in writing.”

Really? That’s interesting because I’m certain I’ve been able to create an independent income from writing in more than just three ways.

Broadly speaking, he might be right. But on a granular level, there are more opportunities than you might even realize.

1. Revenue Sharing

Revenue share sites like InfoBarrel don’t get talked about as much anymore. Medium and News Break are far more in vogue.

But these types of sites are still out there. Hubpages is the perfect example.

I wrote 71 some odd articles on InfoBarrel. I never made much on the site – you would need a lot of eyeballs on your articles to make anything (how’s that any different than Medium?). Still, I got something from my effort.

2. Ghostwriting

I started ghostwriting in 2013. At first, it was just short form blog posts for architecture firms and merchandise suppliers. It didn’t amount to much.

Before I knew it, I was ghostwriting for Entrepreneur and HuffPost contributors. I even got requests to write long form Neil Patel style digital marketing guides.

As I write this, I have a contract shaping up for a 70,000+ word book.

No, you don’t get credit for your ghostwriting efforts, you can’t reveal your working relationships, and it doesn’t help you build your own stature, authority, or following. But ghostwriting can be quite lucrative.

3. Staff Writing

I have been a staff writer of Music Industry How To since 2015 (you can even see my face on the homepage).

It’s funny, because Music Industry How To ranks for a ton of broad keywords, so when musicians are searching for something online, there’s a good chance they’re reading one of my articles.

My own business, Music Entrepreneur HQ, ranks for a lot of long-tail keywords, so if they aren’t reading my works on Music Industry How To, there’s still a good chance they’re reading my works on Music Entrepreneur HQ.

I was also recently added as a writer on MIDINation.

4. Guest Posting

Writing for various entrepreneurs and companies was reasonably lucrative. That is, until I found out just how much they were willing to pay for ghostwritten or staff-written guest posts.

One of the reasons I was able to start working completely from home in 2016 was because I had so many guest posting assignments lined up.

Backlinks are still quite important as applied to SEO, and the reality is entrepreneurs or businesses can either spend countless hours on outreach or pay good money to have someone write a quality guest post and pitch it for them.

There have also been times when I’ve literally been paid for writing guest posts for other musician service providers. That was a nice surprise.

5. Copywriting

I have seen other Medium writers say copywriting is where the money is at, and they aren’t wrong.

When I have made an income from copywriting, though, it has usually been part of a bundle deal (e.g., setting up a landing page along with relevant copy).

I still think there’s quite a bit of opportunity in copywriting, though I suspect GPT-3 powered sites and apps could make human copywriters obsolete soon.

6. Emails

At times, I have also written emails for clients (again, usually as part of a bundle deal for web design or something along those lines).

You’ve got to keep in mind, a lot of people don’t want to get too technically involved in building landing pages or sales funnels, let alone writing the emails to go along with it. There’s a significant opportunity here.

If you’re lazy, you could even use a tool like Funnel Scripts to generate the copy and edit at your leisure.

7. Advertising

At times, I have experimented with placing ads on my own blogs, and this has generated some revenue over the years.

This has the potential to be higher reward than revenue sharing sites but getting traffic to your own blogs can be a challenge. So, you’ve got to weigh your options.

8. Affiliate Marketing

Writing about products, reviewing them, comparing them, and so on, all offer valuable opportunities for you to create an income as an affiliate.

I wouldn’t say I’ve made it as an affiliate marketer over the years, but I have easily made four-figures from my efforts, with potential for significantly more.

9. eBooks

My first online product was an audio course I published in 2014, but I have also been writing and publishing eBooks since around the same time.

My most recent eBook is The Renegade Musician, and it contains an important and timely message on artist empowerment (I wrote it in three days).

These days, I mostly make eBooks for Twitter money. Sounds crazy, but there is an entire Twitter subculture that generates solid revenue from eBooks.

10. Kindles & Paperbacks

I put Kindles and paperbacks as their own category.

An eBook should be concise and value-packed – helping the reader get quick wins and not forcing them through walls of text just to find the information they’re looking for.

A book, on the other hand? Well, that’s another story. Because someone who takes the time to read walls of text and is willing to sit with ideas for longer, ultimately becomes your best clients.

I have five books. My latest is The Music Entrepreneur Code.

11. Courses

“Hold the phone – are you talking about text-based courses?”

Nope. I‘m talking about video courses. But how does that work?

Well, although I have not done this for every course I’ve ever made, there are courses I scripted out in their entirety before ever presenting them.

So far as I’m concerned, that’s another source of income from writing.

12. Medium

Obviously, I have made some money on Medium, and over the years, it has added up to at least three figures.

Currently, I make enough money for three fancy fruity iced teas per month. But hey, I like iced tea.

Yeah, Medium hasn’t been a big source of income for me so far. That’s okay – I’m writing more and enjoying the journey. See where it takes me.

13. News Break

Where others are growing bearish, I’ve been growing more bullish of News Break by the day, and I’m looking to increase my output because of the potential I see.

If you’re a new writer, it’s going to be far easier to make a bit of an income on News Break compared to Medium.

That said, if you’re looking to get more exposure for your articles, Medium is the better place to be.

14. Songwriting

This is outside the box thinking.

But over the years, my songs have earned me thousands of dollars – from streaming, sales, royalties, live performances, and more.

There’s the technical, musical, and performance aspect of music, obviously, but you can’t forget the writing aspect.

Is the Music Industry a Lucrative One?

Having read this story, you may have come to the end of it wondering to yourself, “should I get into the music industry?”

The reality is that I’m probably one of the lucky few who makes a steady income in the music business as an independent writer, educator, coach, producer, composer, and artist.

It’s not a big industry and I have either personally met or have interviewed most of the personalities in the same space.

Don’t get into it unless you have an undying, fiery passion for it. You could get paid much more as a medical, political, or legal writer.

I’m Sorry – What is it That You do, Again?

So, you might have seen mention of sales funnels, websites, email marketing and so forth and wondered to yourself, “what does this guy do anyway?”

I think of myself as a multimedia or new media designer.

I create content, make websites, design graphics, produce music and podcasts, edit videos, coach and train musicians and creatives, build communities, and more.

Final Thoughts

I’ve shared 14 ways here, but honestly, I’ve probably forgotten some of the other ways I’ve created an income as a writer.

All you need to do to come up with new ways of creating an income is to think a little outside the box. There’s more opportunity out there than you’d even think.

And just writing pieces like this can sometimes catch someone’s attention (I almost ended up as a whitepaper writer for a well-known content management system because of a piece I had written on the topic).

Have fun exploring the possibilities.

Be empowered in your music career and separate yourself from the pack. Pick up a copy of The Renegade Musician eBook.

The Renegade Musician

180 – The IMDb of the Music Industry – with Vasja Veber of Viberate

180 – The IMDb of the Music Industry – with Vasja Veber of Viberate

Do you wish there was a comprehensive online database of artists, venues, events and festivals? Are you looking for a forward-looking, technologically driven platform to help you grow your career as an artist?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, Vasja Veber of Viberate shares what the platform is all about, how it was developed and what they plan to achieve with it.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:34 – What is Viberate?
  • 05:17 – What’s new with Viberate?
  • 06:55 – How can an independent artist take advantage of the platform?
  • 10:44 – Is blockchain the answer to the music industry?
  • 14:39 – The music industry – an endless field of business opportunities?
  • 18:22 – Copywriting and creative processes
  • 19:44 – What are the greatest challenges you’ve overcome?
  • 25:22 – What are the greatest victories you’ve experienced?
  • 28:23 – Are there any books that have helped you on your journey?
  • 29:59 – Is there anything else I should have asked?

Transcription:

David Andrew Wiebe: Today I’m chatting with co-founder and business development director at Viberate, Vasja Veber. How are you today Vasja?

Vasja Veber: Good. How are you?

D.A.: I’m great. Thanks so much for joining me.

Vasja: Awesome.

D.A.: I think we’re going to have a good conversation today about the IMDb for the music industry. You know, it seems like people are only just beginning to understand the value of data in the industry. It’s a foregone conclusion in some of the other sectors out there, but I think its value isn’t properly understood in music. So, tell us about Viberate and why it was created.

Vasja: So, it was first created as a band project because our background is in music management. So, myself and my other co founder, we’ve been managing a world-famous techno DJ, UMEK, for years.

It’s when it was still in the times of Myspace and Google+ so it was quite a long time ago. We were advertising a lot. We’re investing a lot of money into his presence.

Back then, Facebook was still a very effective place to be and to invest money in. But we couldn’t figure out how those investments are actually reflecting in the DJ’s career.

Was he more popular because we invested money into advertising? That’s why we started a simple social media managing website. It was called topdjs.com back then.

We were measuring just simple social media metrics – how many followers a certain DJ is getting in a day, or a week, or a month. We did this for a thousand DJs that we entered manually into the data.

So, we’re measuring Facebook, Twitter. Like I said, back then it was still MySpace and Google+ and Instagram. And, it just took off. So, we opened up the database.

In a matter of over a year, we got 30,000 user-generated profiles. So, people were adding new DJs into the database because they wanted to see how they’re performing in terms of popularity. And then, we saw an opportunity. We followed the market and we raised some money.

At the beginning, our angel round was $1 million. We went away from just measuring popularity of DJs. We said, “Okay. Let’s go to all genres.” That’s why we created Viberate. The name is actually derived from rating the vibe. That’s why the extra “e” in the middle.

Yeah. And the years go by, we again raised some more money. Today, Viberate employs 65 people full time. And our office is in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Plus, around 60 more all across the world.

Those are mostly contributors around the world, because the database is crowdsourcing curated. And today we have nearly half a million profiles of musicians, about 160,000 venues, and we have around half a million events at any given moment in the database.

So, the easiest way to describe it is we’re doing what IMDb is doing for the music industry. So like IMDb is for the movies and Viberate is for the music industry. We’re creating profiles and collecting profiles of musicians.

Right now, when I say we have half a million musicians in the database, some will say, “Yeah, but I know services that have more than that.” That’s true but we have unique artists.

Our rule is one artist, one profile. That’s why we rely on crowdsourcing and curating because we have by far the cleanest data set in the world. Other services usually scrape all the data sources they could get a hand on.

If you look, let’s say for Tiësto who is a world-famous DJ, you will get like five, six, even 15 profiles for the same DJ because everything is done with machines.

And, that’s why we said, “Okay. We need human touch.” We curate everything. It takes a lot of effort. It costs a lot of money, but at the end, it makes the service relevant and cool.

D.A.: Yeah, I love that explanation. So, is it fair to say that you’re building it into a fairly comprehensive database in time?

Vasja: Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly. That’s our first focus is that we want to be as relevant as possible.

D.A.: So, is there anything new with Viberate that we should know about? Any new features or something that’s changed?

Vasja: Well, we just launched our map view for venues. Let’s say you travel to London for business and you take an additional weekend to go check the scene there, you can just open the map of London and venues are going to pop up, plus events that are taking place in London that we can do there.

And you can just browse through the map. You can click through the venue. You can check what’s going on there. You can even buy tickets. It’s a really cool feature.

Plus, we just recently launched a festival app platform. Right now, we have around 4,000 festival profiles in the database. Festivals can claim their profiles. And then, they can create their own mobile app without any coding knowledge. They just need a few clicks, and we do the rest. They can offer iOS and Android app to their festival goers. It’s a really cool feature. It’s a subscription-based service. So, there’s no starting cost for festivals.

People love it. We did a pilot launch with five festivals, and 80% of all festival goers downloaded the app and were using it like crazy. All of a sudden it becomes the festival’s main communication channel with their clients. It’s a really cool feature.

D.A.: Yeah, sounds like there’s a lot of practical ways to use it. Whether you’re a fan or a venue owner or event organizer or what have you. I’m sure something that my listeners are going to be curious to know is how does an independent artist take advantage of the platform?

Vasja: So independent artists are actually our main target group here, aside from promoters, because they probably already have their profile on Viberate, but they don’t know it yet. They can go to the server. They can search their name. I’m pretty sure that 90% of them are going to find their profile already in the database. And then they can claim it. Once they claim it, they take complete control over it, and they can use it instead of their website because it contains all the information that actually would be necessary on their official website.

We collect gig dates that we get from tapping into APIs of ticket providers. We highlight the hottest content that they put on their official channels. We have a recommendation engine so we will let people know who are similar artists.

And then, we analyze how artists are following each other on social media. So, if you go to, let’s say Metallica’s profile, you’ll be surprised to see that they’re following Lady Gaga on Instagram. And this is the feature that only we have.

It’s an interesting thing to see how bands and musicians are following each other. It’s a huge recognition if you’re a small garage band, and you just all of a sudden get followed by huge superstar. That means something. And people usually brag about it.

It's a huge recognition if you're a small garage band, and you just all of a sudden get followed by huge superstar. Click To Tweet

But yeah, independent artists can use their profiles instead of their official websites. They can send the link to their profile to promoters and say, “Hey, this is me. This is my stuff here. Check me out. Why don’t you book me?”

One of our co-founders, the DJ I manage. He’s really a high-profile techno DJ. We deleted his official website. And now, if you type in UMEK.si, which is his name, it’s going to redirect you directly to his profile.

Right now, that’s the biggest advantage. You can have your website, it’s already done. So, you don’t have to do it yourself. You just have to register a domain and redirect it to your Viberate profile and you’re done.

And you don’t have to update it. You just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep uploading stuff to your YouTube channel. Keep updating your Twitter or your Instagram. We’re going to filter out the hottest content. So, the content that your fans are most engaged with is going to pop up on your Vibrate profile.

D.A.: Maybe I’m reading into this a little bit but certainly seems reminiscent of Myspace, right? Like one thing I remember talking to venue owners and event organizers, they liked that artists were able to kind of have everything on one page, which made it easy for them to decide whether or not to book this artist.

Yeah, this kind of seems a little bit like a throwback to that. Except much cleaner and nicer.

Vasja: Yeah, Myspace had a horrible user experience.

D.A.: It really did, yeah. But it had its advantages in terms of like growing your fan base and so forth, right, which is why artists kind of tended towards it.

So, I think, you know, it’s high time that we should have some kind of platform that replaces it because Facebook is a powerful marketing platform, but it’s just not doing the job that Myspace used to do for artists.

Vasja: Yeah. Yeah, I agree.

D.A.: So, before we got into recording today’s conversation, we talked a little bit about blockchain technology. As you mentioned, Viberate platform is not fully blockchain yet, but you are taking advantage of cryptocurrency.

You know, this is a discussion that is certainly growing in the music industry now. Some are even kind of holding up blockchain as the answer within the music industry, but what are your thoughts on that?

Vasja: So yeah, blockchain can solve a lot of problems on both sides of the music industry. There have been a lot of takes of solving the whole royalty distribution problem using cryptocurrencies, but a lot of projects kind of just died out along with the arrival of bare markets in early 2018.

We’re still alive and kicking, so we did raise a significant amount of money at the end of 2017, through the release of our token, it’s called VIB, VIB token.

The first role of the token was that if you were adding profiles into our database or curating the information, existing ones, you could earn our tokens. And a lot of people took advantage of it so a lot of people just… Some quit their day jobs to become full time curators and contributors for Viberate. There still are.

We have a lot of contributors from Venezuela, because they have a horrible economic situation there and they saw the opportunity to earn money by helping us grow and grow the database and listen at the whole global live music ecosystem. So, we have a lot of people that know a lot about music in Venezuela.

And this is how we started using cryptocurrencies, but now, we have really interesting plans for the future in terms of privacy and taking control of your own data as an artist.

We’re testing out a feature that will allow musicians to claim their Viberate profiles and to move them on the blockchain so they will control what kind of information they want to share with whom they want to share it and for how long.

For example, if you’re a rock bank, you have your Viberate profile, you upload your official photo, you have your content on a profile, and then you want to share it with a streaming service or with a ticket provider that sells tickets for a gig.

So, you say, “Okay. I will allow Ticketmaster to use my profile photo and my gig history and some of my videos that I put online for until next Saturday when my gig takes place. And after that, I don’t want to share this with them anymore.”

So, this is something that we’re going to start testing late this year. It’s going to be quite a nice feature that will give full control of their data back to artists. Because in our experience with music management, we know how hard it is to keep control of what kind of stuff people and websites and services are publishing to present about you as an artist.

D.A.: Yeah, I think it’s great that there are people going through tough economic situations that are able to take advantage of something like this. And it’s actually a lot of fun, I would imagine, being able to contribute to a project like this.

Now, you mentioned, you talked a little bit about the trajectory that you followed. You started kind of promoting a DJ and then that kind of turned into an opportunity that you saw to leverage data in the music industry.

But in your bio on LinkedIn, you talk about the fact that the music industry turned out to be an endless field of business opportunities, which I’m sure like some people looking in don’t necessarily feel that way. But what do you think you were seeing that that others weren’t?

The music industry turned out to be an endless field of business opportunities. Click To Tweet

Vasja: Well, the music industry is probably one of the hardest fields to be in as a startup. Mark Cuban said in one of the episodes of Shark Tank that he invests into a lot of fields, but he avoids music as the plague. That really caught my attention.

The music industry is probably one of the hardest fields to be in as a startup. Click To Tweet

I completely get where he’s coming from. It’s a really tough industry to make money in. It’s tough making an exit as a startup in the music industry.

We all know Spotify is by far the biggest music company right now. I read somewhere that they get 20% of all of the recorded music revenue. So, 20% of everything in the world goes to Spotify. And they still failed to make profit.

Yeah, this is losing money. This is a good example of how tough it is here. But we see ourselves not necessarily as a music startup, but as a data start-up, so our main business is data. We analyze about a billion data points per month for all our entities.

If you’re a data company, you can be a data company in medicine and healthcare, or in education and automotive industry. It doesn’t matter. It’s data.

So, this is where we found our opportunity because we see that especially the live, the excitement, and the professional part of the music industry – it kind of got stuck in the 90s. So, it’s really low tech, and it’s a lot of wasted space here to improve services to give data to promoters to improve their decision making.

Most of the promoters are just going to book artists based on gut feeling. They’re going to book artists that they like. And, if you want to make money as a promoter, you have to book artists that are popular for people. Even if you don’t like the music that they do. If you’re a professional, then you’re out there about the money.

Of course, you’re going to give priority to artists that you like, but you have to spread your horizons and just ask people what they like. And this is something that we’re actually offering, the popularity metrics.

Promoters can use Viberate to find out who’s popular, who’s getting traction on social media and streaming sites, and then contact them and negotiate a booking.

D.A.: Yeah. I love that, you know. Here I am, toughing it out in the music industry, right? Coaching and helping musicians and sharing new insights into what’s going on and helping them keep up to date and all that.

But I guess my attitude is, hey, if it is the toughest industry, if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. But I’m a smart guy. I’m sure I could, you know, be in some other niche if I wanted to be.

Another thing your bio mentions is that you’re a copywriting and creative processes guy. I would love for you to touch on that side of things as well so we can get a better sense of you.

Vasja: So yeah, my background is actually… I have a master’s in marketing. But I kind of found myself in the music industry right after I finished my studies. I joined an event management company that later morphed into a music management company because one of the co-founders of the agency is a world-famous DJ, UMEK.

He played ultra mainstage EDC, Las Vegas. He was a resident in Ibiza for a couple of years. So, he’s all over the world. He has up to 120 gigs per year. And so, we went from being marketing guys to be music managers, and we had to learn everything from scratch.

It was fun. It was a fun ride. We learned especially a lot about the pains of the industry. Viberate actually was brought to life because we try to solve the pains that no other services were solving. We said, “Okay. If no one’s going to do it, let’s try and do it ourselves.” This is how we came here.

D.A.: We’re always looking for insights into how a musician or music entrepreneur listening to this show can take their business, move forward with it, and create better results.

And so, I’m always curious to find any insights we can find. So, next few questions will kind of pertain to that. But what are the greatest challenges you’ve overcome as an entrepreneur?

Vasja: If you’re an Eastern European company, if you’re a European start-up, we don’t have a really live startup scene here. Not a lot of startups coming from Slovenia.

The first major obstacle we had to overcome was raising money because unlike in Silicon Valley, there’s not a lot of capital going around here. So, we had to hustle a lot to first get our seed round. We still do. I mean we’re currently in the middle of raising our Series A round. Of course, we have to go outside of our country to get capital, but it’s a big challenge.

And second of all, coming from a small country, if you have to build a relatively large team, 65 people that are working in our offices, it is a large team. And if you come from a small country, it’s hard to find people that are going to work for you.

So, you have to hire engineers. And there’s not a lot of engineers in the country that only has two million people. So, what we did is we invest a lot of money in our offices. So, we have really cool startup, like offices. We have foosball. We have pool tables. We have a 3D driving simulator. We even have a shooting range for a couple of months, and now we had to throw it out because we need room for a new conference room.

So, yeah, we do all kinds of startup stuff that’s usually Silicon Valley companies do to attract people to come and work for us.

And yeah, raising money was always tough. My wife and I moved to Silicon Valley for four months. And when we came there, we realized that we don’t have any contacts. So, no one was going to pick up our calls or return our emails. We didn’t know what to do.

So, what we did then is we rented a car. We went on Crunchbase. We printed out a list of all the VCs that ever invested in the music company and we just knocked on the door. We just paid them a visit. Unannounced!

In the beginning it was scary, but then we noticed that each and everyone was really positively surprised that there are still people that are going to hustle the old school way without an intro, who’s just going to break into their office to say, “Hi! This is our pitch.” It was nice. It was an interesting story.

We actually got quite a few leads. People accepted us. They did intros for us. It was a nice thing, but it’s a really hard business, the music industry. VCs aren’t really happy to just throw money at you if you’re in the startup.

D.A.: No. And even just getting people to understand something so high tech, at least, you know, that’s the point on which I relate or sympathize a little bit is because in Calgary, really the oil and gas industries is the biggest. If you want to be in Calgary, most people are all about the oil and gas jobs and what they can accomplish there.

So, there’s not a whole lot happening in tech and entertainment and music. I mean, there’s some incredibly talented musicians out there just like there are anywhere else but that was such a challenge to try to explain to people what it is that I even do. I’d be like, “Well, I work completely from home.” And they’re like, “What does that look like?” You have these online businesses and websites and they’re like, “I don’t get it.” Yeah, okay.

Vasja: It’s not that tough here.

D.A.: Yeah, but there’s just not a startup culture like you’re saying.

Vasja: Yeah. The startup culture started developing in Slovenia. Especially in 2017 during the ICO hype and the crypto hype. Everybody was talking about it. We even got the whole government of Slovenia along with the Prime Minister to visit our offices, because they asked this workshop for the whole cabinet of the Prime Minister about blockchain, about startup culture, what we need from the government to boost the whole culture. It was really nice.

I mean, Prime Minister in Slovenia is like the president of US. So, he’s the head of the country. It’s not the president who leads the country. So, it was a huge honor for us. And it was quite an unusual thing to have the head of the state in our office.

D.A.: No doubt.

Vasja: But it was a nice thing. We educated the government of how we think they should help us get the attention of the world. Because if you come from such a small country, you have to struggle so much more than if you’re just a Silicon Valley company.

D.A.: Well, I love the hustle. I love the fact that you recognized those challenges and sought ways to navigate through them. Such a great story. And maybe you already aired this, but what are the greatest victories you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur?

Vasja: Well, I think that it was when big acts started claiming their profile. So, the first superstar act was Linkin Park. They claimed their profile in Viberate. It was a huge recognition for the whole team. So, the whole team was really fueled by that. And then, others started coming. So, Robbie Williams, the Chainsmokers, a bunch of big DJs.

Every time we get a high-profile claim, the whole office is really psyched about it. It’s just that that started rolling. So right now, we’re getting up to 100 claims per day. That means a lot for us. That means that we’re getting traction, we’re getting recognition.

Sooner or later we will become a standard for the music industry. So, yeah. High profile recognitions definitely mean a lot to us right now.

D.A.: Yeah, that’s awesome. There are certain artists who are embracing tech instead of trying to knock it down. Kind of like the Metallica-Napster days, right, which some people might remember.

Vasja: Yeah, but still. I mean we kind of got what they were trying to do because they were investing a lot of effort into recording albums, and they just didn’t want to have people just downloading them for free.

Funny thing is that actually Napster was one of the first streaming services that approached us because they’re really interested in the data that we have. So, we’re talking with them right now of integrating couple of our services because a lot of people don’t know Napster still exists. The brand Napster still exists. It’s a streaming service.

We have the whole team here in Ljubljana. I picked him up from the airport and I intentionally was playing “Master of Puppets” from Metallica when we’re driving for the airport, so we’re all laughing and it was a nice one.

I mean they don’t have anything in common with the old Napster. So, the whole management is changed.

D.A.: Yeah, no, you’re absolutely right. You know, Metallica at the time was just trying to save what was quickly becoming an outdated and no longer sustainable industry.

Vasja: It takes a lot of guts to do that.  It takes a lot of guts to do that because they didn’t know if they are going to lose a lot of fans, but someone had to do it.

D.A.: You can’t blame them for trying based on how the industry is right now, but we’re looking forward to a much better overall industry and maybe tech may hold the answers to that. So, are there any books that have helped you on your journey?

Vasja: Yeah, we have a small library in the office. We’re mostly focusing on selling tactics. I’m subscribed to MasterClass. So, I have an annual pass for, I don’t know if you know the MasterClass series.

D.A.: Yes.

Vasja: It’s a service that have big names lecturing about all kinds of management or selling or copywrite. So yeah, we try to educate ourselves as much as possible.

When we were raising money, we’re part of the local accelerator that taught us how to pitch your project, how to create an interesting deck, how to approach investors. So, we have to learn all the time.

D.A.: I read my share of sales books as well whether it was SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham, or The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy. At one point, I just tried to learn everything I possibly could about it. I’m not necessarily directly in sales. I guess, you know, as a CEO of a company, you’re always marketing and sales, and that’s your focus.

But you know, we do such soft sells in the music industry, just because, you know, the less direct is almost better in a way for musicians that are looking for something specific.

Even though you know, you apply all the same stuff psychologically, whether it’s urgency or, you know, polarizing them one way or the other, but the message itself is often less direct than you probably would place it in other industries.

Well, thanks for your time and generosity Vasja. Is there anything else I should have asked?

Vasja: I don’t know. You tell me. You’re the one asking.

D.A.: I mean I feel like we covered everything that I wanted to in this episode. We got a good idea of who you are and your expertise as well as a sense of what Viberate is and how it benefits artists. So, to me that rounds things out pretty well.

Vasja: Yeah, I think we have it fully covered.

D.A.: Awesome. Well, thanks so much.

Vasja: Thank you.

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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