I’ll admit, I fess up, I come clean. I’ve had this book in my possession for a while now and I’ve become strangely reluctant to let everyone else in on this…for no good reason, but like Kreecher in the Rings films darkly muttering „My precious…“ while casting evil glances at the others who might wrest the gem from my hand.
Odd perhaps, but there you go.
I spent I don’t know how many years as an independent musician writing songs, playing small clubs, selling a handful of CDs, every now and then pulling myself together and putting myself through the act of going to labels, sending out press releases, making timid cold calls to music journalists, all the stuff that all we independent musicians know and love.
But I also have to admit that, looking back, I wasted so much time. And that I didn’t really get anywhere. I wasted time because after I’d worked on some songs, after I’d fiddled around with this or that, after I’d had a good rehearsal, after I’d maybe booked another club gig, I’d head home and kick back on the sofa, time on my hands but thinking that there wasn’t much else I could do to further my musical career on that particular day.
Or I’d head to the bar for a couple of beers with the rest of the musicians and assorted artists that were hanging around just like me, where we’d have a moan to each other about how you couldn’t find any good bookers around, the labels were no good, that the whole system was set against us and some strange and vengeful god (on temporary assignment as head of Universal Records) had decided to see what he could do about all that fun that we’d been having without him.
And all the time, to be honest, like so many others in my situation, I simply didn’t have a clue as to the realities of what I could or should have been doing to propel myself forward through the swamp that is the low end of the music business.
So reading Ariel Hyatt’s book hit me with something like the force of a revelation. And part of me exulted, and part of me wanted to sob for all that time that I’d spent sitting around and not getting anywhere, simply because I didn’t have a list of achievable and effective tasks that I could set myself to do; because I simply didn’t know what I should have been doing; because at that time nobody had written a book like this one, breaking the whole mammoth struggle down into intelligent, effective, achievable tasks.
And ones that had been gone through, tried and tested and proven to work, by a whole long line of musicians who had simply been more sussed than me. Or maybe who had the imagination and the balls to try various tactics, put a time limit on them, and then if they didn’t work to try something else. To move steadily forward. And simultaneously to hook up with others and to compare notes.
A quick introduction to Ariel Hyatt, for those of you who don’t know the lady.
Ariel has been doing public relations and promotion for musicians since the dark ages, ie. the nineties. She had loved music since an early age, for helping her get through some difficult times, and had wanted to put something back for what she’d got from it.
Ariel was also one of the first people who took a look at the fledgling internet and realised the possibilities it presented for the promotion of bands. That’s when she decided to abandon traditional PR and take her business online, and thus was born cyberpr.com, the musicians’ PR and promotion agency that has since grown into one of the biggest and best agencies for independent bands anywhere.
Since then Ariel has proved herself tireless, logging up thousands of hours and air miles in her quest to find the best ways to promote bands – and also to teach them how to promote themselves.
And here’s where we come to her book, Music Success in 9 Weeks. As I’ve outlined above, the first and most important comment about it is that the book is written by someone who has been out in the trenches, and that for a long time. The facts, the observations and the ideas that are presented in the book are not theoretical, they have been tried and tested by hundreds if not thousands of bands, and have been proven to work.
The title of course is bold. To the point perhaps that you could think that it’s just another book that promises much and gives little. But as I said, this one is different.
What Ariel focuses on is of course the promotion side of things. Not how to make music, what kind of songs to write, or anything like that, but it assumes that you’ve got that side of things covered, and concentrates on helping you take what you’ve got and do something with it.
In the nine chapters Ariel breaks down the steps you need to take into clear, understandable, bite sized chunks. From the importance of setting yourself goals to exactly how to make a website that does its job, to how to understand and properly ‘do’ social media – in a way that it brings people back to your website and turns them, over time, into fans that buy your music, and how to make sure you keep those fans once you’ve got them, all the way through to how approach blog sites, once you’ve got to the end of the book, as long as you do what she suggests, there’s no way that you will not see a big leap in results.
Including a section on how to write a press release, an interview with two music journalists who lay bare just what you’ve got to do to get and keep their attention, and an exhaustive list of critical websites for musicians, this book will open your mind to releasing the potential that you are probably keeping locked away out of the sunlight. And no matter how together you think you are, you will see things that you’re doing wrong, things that you could do much more effectively, and things that you never even thought about.
The book sells for around 18€ on amazon, and comes in paperback, Kindle and PDF versions. For that price there’s really no way that you can lose. Now go and buy it and start getting things done.
Review by Noel Maurice. Noel Maurice is an independent musician and writer based in Berlin.