Ariel Hyatt on Hall & Oates, Qrates, and Her 'Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity'

Plus, her favorite artists and concert venues

Ariel Hyatt runs Cyber PR Music, an artist development, social media and content strategy firm based in New York City. Her agency just celebrated 25 years in business. She and her all-female team run digital PR campaigns and advise on how to create online influence and release impactful projects.

She has spoken in 12 countries to over 100,000 creative entrepreneurs and is the author of five bestselling books on social media, marketing and crowdfunding, including Cyber PR for Musicians, Music Success in 9 Weeks, and Crowdstart. Her newest book, The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity, comes out June 17.

We caught up with Ariel for our Liner Notes series to learn more about her musical tastes and journey through the years, as well as recent work she's proud of and admired.


Ariel, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Now, I live between NYC and the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

Your earliest musical memory.

My parents were huge classical music fans and we used to go to Tanglewood in the Berkshires several times each summer. I remember Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the freedom of running around the huge lawn being careful not to step on the picnic blankets, being shushed by all the serious classical music loving adults, and climbing the famous twisted trees as the music drifted all around the grounds.

Your first concert.

My first concert that I count—after a childhood of being dragged to the shushing in Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall for boring classical programs—was the one I saved up my own money for and bought tickets to: Till Tuesday opening for Hall & Oates in 1985. It was amazing because I had the cassette and could sing along to every song. And at 14 it felt so grown up to go to a concert. Plus it was Hall & Oates and The Method of Modern Love tour.

Your favorite bands/musicians.

David Bowie, because he was so brilliant and the way he kept evolving and creating up until his death was awe inspiring. The Police, because they were just perfection, I love every album and every phase they went through. The Pretenders because Chrissie Hynde is a badass.

How you get your music these days.

My clients turn me onto a lot of new music, as do the same music-obsessed friends who have been suggesting music to me since the '80s. And Spotify, my Google Home voice command and SoundCloud is where I listen.

Your favorite place to see a concert.

For large shows I love outdoor venues—Summerstage in Central Park, Red Rocks and Jones Beach. As an NYC kid, nothing beats an evening at MSG, especially now that it's been beautifully renovated. For medium audience shows I love Radio City Music Hall and The Beacon, and for small gigs I love Rockwood Music Hall, Pete's Candy Store and The Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, where I was the PR director for five glorious years.

Your favorite music video.

I'm gonna go with one that is really personal: "Pick Yourself Up" by the Stubborn All-Stars. This video was shot at the opening show of the NYC Ska Mob tour in the fall of 1997, at TRAMPS in NYC. I was the publicist and the booking agent for practically every ska band in the third wave. It was an amazing and sadly short-lived surge, and I was particularly proud of my work at that time because I grew up watching the Toasters and Bim Skala Bim play at CBGBs and it came full circle for me. If you don't blink you will see me at 1:39 with my two best friends. I love that they included me in the video as a snapshot of a moment in time and it felt nice to be included.

Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.

I love the Classic Albums series on Amazon—it's really cool to see how entire albums are made, especially from a time when not every single moment was captured for social media purposes. I also really love my friend Suz's Music-Preneur Mindset Podcast.

A recent project you're proud of.

My new book, The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity, drops on June 17 and it is already No. 1 on Amazon in the music business category. I particularly loved writing this book because it includes in-depth profiles of 11 independent artists who personify excellent publicity know-how, and golden nuggets of wisdom from more than 50 music publicists, journalists, bloggers, playlisters and podcasters,

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

I have been admiring Qrates' business model lately. I was devastated when Pledge music went under and I had many artist friends and clients who suffered deeply from that debacle. Qrates is cool because it allows artists to crowdfund vinyl—as few as 100 units—with no upfront fees and the interface is clean and easy to navigate. It takes the upfront expense plus the annoyance of researching the record-pressing companies that are available away from the artist so they can focus on the music, and it delivers a clean fan experience. 

How musicians should approach working with brands.

Musicians should think about being micro influencers because that's most likely what they are, if they have a smaller base, and they should approach smaller brands where the collaboration can be both deeply appreciated and really impactful. Explaining to the brand who your fanbase is and how they will deeply resonate with the brand is key in order to be considered for sponsorship.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

The same way, but in reverse. It increases your cool factor to sponsor a musician. And can be a win-win if done the right way. Since artists are naturally creative, coming up with a cool idea to lead with, other than we will give you free stuff, is a great idea.

What music can do that nothing else can.

Everything. Music is a salve, a healing force, nothing evokes emotion like music. It can bring us to an exact moment in time with one note. It's also the best connector. I can think of all of the times I was abroad in strange places where I didn't speak the language or really understand the nuances of the culture … and then Bob Marley or Queen comes on and all of a sudden everyone in the bar is singing or screaming the lyrics together.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world.

This is all I've done my entire adult life. But if I wasn't in music, I suspect I'd be doing something that has to do with communication. Because that's essentially what I've always done on behalf or artists and music companies.

Liner Notes is our weekly interview series, publishing every Monday, where we chat with folks in the music industry about their creative inspirations, their favorite bands and musicians, and generally what music means to them. For more about Liner Notes, and our Clio Music program, please get in touch.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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