Welcome to #WomenCrushWednesday! In this biweekly column, I will be introducing you to a woman in music who might just be your next #WCW. That being said, what better way to start than an interview with Ariel Hyatt! I first started following her because of her company, Cyber PR, when I was pursuing my solo artist career, then referred artists to her when I was EP-release coaching. Now, I just think of her as my fairy godmother - and after reading this interview, I think you will too! This boss-lady has spoken in 12 countries to over 100,000 creative entrepreneurs and has penned four best selling books on social media, marketing, and crowdfunding. In this interview, I had the honor of chatting with her about the future of PR and what she’s up to next!
How did you get into PR? What exactly does Cyber PR do?
During college, I interned and worked at a fashion PR firm. My internship experience taught me that fashion wasn't exactly my path, so after I graduated, I started pursuing opportunities in the music business. That led me to work at a well known music PR firm, as well as a corporate classic rock radio station, and a record store. Years later, I finally landed at an independent record label in the PR department.
Cyber PR is an artist development and education company. The term "Cyber PR" is a process that combines digital PR, email marketing, and social media amplification while emphasizing fan acquisition and growth. These are the things we focus on as a business.
I truly believe that PR on its own does not work for independent musicians, so Cyber PR also combines artist education. I believe that the most powerful thing a musician can do is educate themself to understand the ever-changing industry and how to get ahead in it. That's why I've written many books and hundreds of blog posts on these subjects--to help empower musicians.
How has your job changed in the last 5 years? And what do you think music PR will look like in the next 5 years?
My job has shifted radically in the past five years. PR is no longer just about getting written about in newspapers and magazines, going on television, and getting on well known blogs and podcasts. PR today is also about streaming, playlisting, and social media. This all starts with a strong story and a cohesive brand, which most artists do not have. I believe this will only get more intense in the next five years and any good publicist will not only facilitate blog placement, interviews, and write-ups, but they will also help to guide the overall brand and story for their clients. At this point, there are so many music PR firms available, that paying premiums is no longer necessary for an emerging artist. With systems and tools likes Submithub, artists can do much more than they ever could before without hiring a publicist. This is why we are doing fewer and fewer PR campaigns these days, and focusing on strategy and artist development. It seems that this is a dying art, as artists are now expected to arrive at the record label with millions of followers, a tight brand and everything already done.
Why did you choose to go into working with unsigned artists, versus working for a big label or agency?
I started out interning for a massive music PR firm, working for household names, but I hated the vibe--I hated the people working there and I didn't like the attitudes. Some of the publicists on the team thought they were equally as famous as their clients. They were abusive and mean to the staff and I went home crying more days than I care to talk about. It just wasn't for me.
My second job was at an independent record label called What Are Records? I loved the spirit of the founder, Rob Gordon, who later became my biggest champion and mentor. It was an amazing experience to take a band from zero to over 1 million records sold by working closely and intimately with a team of young passionate people. I also loved collaborating with the artists that we represented. That's how I found my lane. I got really good at understanding the artist development process because that was exactly what we were working on every single day.
For all of the artists reading - can you advise on when to know if they are ready to hire a PR/Marketing professional?
A few years ago the first step after you recorded music was to hire a publicist. Now, I suggest that artists take time to build true, organic audiences. Not fake followers by purchasing Facebook ads and using Instagram boost companies. Take the time to truly start creating real tribes who know, love, and believe in you. To do this, you need a plan. Hire a marketing and PR professional when you actually have that plan underway with goals beginning to come to fruition.
I can't tell you how many artists I speak to who say their goal is: "I just want as many people as possible to hear my music!" That is not a goal. When people ask you where you would like to travel, do you say, "I just want to see all the countries in the world." I hope not. You should have a vision: "I would like to go to Paris, London, or the Galapagos," and you should have a reason for wanting to see those places. Your music career planning should be no different. Pick your first destination, plan how to get there, and learn everything you need to know about it.
You also need to understand what is actually happening in the music industry today. Unless you've been living under a rock, you are probably aware that we are now living in a singles-driven atmosphere. Yet, artists come to me all the time with full albums, 12 to 14 recorded tracks, or full EP's that are ready to go. They have not thought about releasing more than one or two singles. They have not thought about the strategy behind each single and how you can use each one for a different purpose. Instead, they randomly pick a date and say, "I'm releasing my music on this Friday!" Usually, nothing but urgency is driving that decision. Planning is everything. Therefore you want to hire a marketing professional that isn't there to just grab your money, but is there to truly help you make cohesive plans, work on your brand and help you to build a tribe.
Try to do your own PR or have a friend help you for your first release. After you understand the process, have a solid brand and gained at least a thousand true fans, then go for PR.
Do you have any exciting launches coming up? New book? Course? Anything we can help promote to our readers!
Yes! I am halfway through my year-long program called Cyber PR LABS. LABS is a series of courses that cost just $97 each and are designed to help you hyperfocus on the areas that you need to concentrate in. I have asked 11 of the smartest people I know in the business to teach each LAB with me, and it is delivered as a live stream in a private group. There are three sessions of 45 minutes each. So far the most popular LABS are:
LAB 1 Supercharge Your PR is a PR Masterclass that will teach you how to effectively run your own PR.
LAB 3 Release Music With Ease will show you how to think through a release without getting overwhelmed.
LAB 6 Booking Successful Shows/ Tours will help you to prepare to go on tour and not lose money.
You can read all about them here on my site: https://cyberprmusic.com/cyberpr-labs/
We are launching LAB 7 - Musician Brand Mastery in a few weeks
Thank you Ariel and team for doing what you do for DIY artists. The industry needs more people like you!
Want to work with Ariel and her team?
Just fill out this form - http://offers.cyberpr.com/work-with-us and say #WomenCrush Music sent you for a special offer.
The #WCW Series is brought to you by Founder & Executive Directress of #WomenCrush Music, Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov. When she isn't being a creative socialpreneur, she's out penning pop hits with members of the #WCM community or travelling the world with her hubby & chiweenie pup. Follow her on IG at @mrsbossladywcm.
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