Founder of the podcast The Secrets of Success, Sally Jackson Freeman, interviews Ariel Hyatt, fierce entrepreneur, music publisher, and founder of Cyber PR, on what the secret to success is within music publishing. Ariel Hyatt dishes all her best advice for music publicity by going into detail on important characterization, advice received, how to survive hard times, and advice for younger generations and young aspiring publishers.
Tackling the Age-Old Publicity Myth
For over twenty years, Ariel Hyatt has worked on artist development, content development, and creating and releasing an impactful and innovative online presence for her clients. Her newest book, The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity, is set to release on June 17. This new release will break down all things music publicity to develop new ways to communicate with fans about new music. Getting noticed is more than just reaching out to whoever, no matter what. It is also about building the pyramid from the ground up. In the interview with The Secrets of Success, Ariel tackles the age-old myth “unless you have millions of something, you’re not relevant.” Ariel discusses how this myth is not a recipe for success. She advises that it comes to understanding that you need the right people to listen to your music, not all the people, to turn music into a career with a stable income. In order to become relevant, find 100 super-fans that are willing to spend $100 on you instead of trying to find 100 regular fans that will pay $1 on you. Ariel mentions how your super-fans can become your greatest advocates and colleagues. Don’t rule out the little man; build them up, and they too will return the favor.
When asked about a necessary character trait, the first and most important one that Ariel mentions is integrity. To work from a place of passion, you need to be true to yourself, which means following your moral compass before the job. There are a lot of horrible people in this industry who will use your intelligence and your willingness to work for nothing as a means of getting things done that are unnecessary and not beneficial for your career. You have to learn quickly that you will not always be a fit for everyone, and it is okay to quit. There is an exception to this idea of quitting, as Ariel states in the podcast. Only when you know you have given it your best and you worked to your limit can you agree with yourself to quit. Being in the PR world, your client will never be satisfied, and they will always be asking for more. It is your responsibility to set boundaries and set expectations with your client from the beginning to prevent burnout and disappointment from yourself.
Ariel also believes that in order to succeed, you must be able to adapt to changes within the industry. In the 90s, the internet did not exist, and social media platforms were not a primary marketing method. Within just a few years, all of that changed. You will be taught a very specific way to do things, but you must be able to change with the times. Ariel notes how one person will generate seven different careers throughout their lifetime, which is very different from how things used to be. She gives us this anecdote about her grandfather and how he worked at a hardware store until he gathered enough money to buy his own. After that, he was the owner of his hardware store for fifty years before he passed. Times have certainly changed since then, and most people will have to adapt to having multiple different jobs throughout their lives until they finally land on their long-term careers. Adapting quickly and efficiently will be beneficial for anyone trying to stay in this industry for as long as possible.
Ariel has received some excellent advice from her mother throughout her life. Her mother told her to “do what you love, and the money will follow.” Ariel breaks down this advice from what is true of it and what is a little more complicated. While the core of the advice is true, to do what you love and you will have a fulfilled life, the money aspect is a little more complicated. There is a special dynamic between business and money. You have to push yourself to learn how to balance QuickBooks, create spreadsheets, and do anything that sounds boring. It is not all about the music, and there is more that you have to learn if you want the music to pay the bills. You have to work on the business to make money, not just work in the business.
Follow the Money
Ariel brings up a great visual description that is “you have to follow the money.” What is the value of an hour? As a publicist, you are putting in a lot of time into your clients to ensure they get the most engagement. However, if you put in too many hours, the money might result in only $3 an hour. If you want to receive $20 an hour, you must find a way to cut back on your hours. Find someone dedicated to doing a small part of your job that would free up your time to focus on your business. Although having a passion in your work is essential, following just your passion will never be a successful formula. You have to think about the business talents that pay you, such as strategizing and publicizing, before you think about your musical passion. If the music industry were to cease to exist tomorrow, would you still make a living doing what you are doing?
Don’t Be a Sucker
The second piece of advice is “don’t be a sucker.” Once again, know your limits. Not everyone is going to be nice; there are people out there who will abuse your talents. Do not jeopardize your integrity for someone who is not taking your business or your career as seriously as you are. Don’t be fooled by those who believe they are giving you a big break when exploiting your kindness.
Hard Times and Survival Responses
Part of being human is going through a crisis every 3 to 4 months. When asked this question, Ariel responded with, “you have to separate the hard times from your work if you want to keep earning money, and it’s hard.” Music publicity requires a lot of work. If you’ve chosen this path, you want to please others and bring joy into the world. Personal and professional lives are like walking on a tightrope. You have to find the right balance between the two, but it is hard. Leaning to the left, you can’t give it your all in your professional life because you are too focused on your personal life. If you lean all the way to the right, you’re too focused on work. If something personal happens, you feel like you can’t leave work to tend to it. Sometimes you’re balanced, and sometimes you’re not, but the important thing is that you go across that tightrope anyway. Put yourself first if you need to. That dream can be on hold for a minute to take care of yourself because without putting that oxygen mask on yourself first, you will be useless to others.
Advice for the Next Generation
Ariel closes her interview by giving us some words of advice for those going into music publishing today. You have to be passionate about what you do, and you have to love your clients and the work you do. For those in managerial positions, please stop trying to make people do things they aren’t good at. Putting people where they aren’t going to thrive is not a good plan. Make them feel confident and proud of their work.
Ariel also gives us something to think about when delaying gratification. Did I give it enough this week? Did I shift myself to the right side of the tightrope? There will always be something more fun than work at the moment. We have to ask ourselves, is it worth it? Sometimes you might need to miss out on a new series because you could use that time to do something that can be wildly transformative for your career.
If music publishing is your passion, don’t forget to check out Ariel Hyatt’s most recent book! The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity, out June 17th.