Search the Blog

Get Feed via Email

Creating the Perfect Pitch ~ Guest Blog by Ariel Hyatt

Posted in Guest Bloggers, Recession Proof Musician | 5 Comments »


Creating the Perfect Pitch
by Ariel Hyatt

Branding yourself both online and offline will really set up this coming year to be a break through one for your musical career.

To do this you must start with the most fundamental aspect of you as an artist: Your Pitch!

Two things happened recently to inspire this article.

Scenario #1: I was out at the Mercury Lounge seeing music and between bands I was standing at the bar talking to some friends and someone handed me a show flyer. I was taken with him immediately, I always appreciate anyone who is self -promoting because its not easy to do and it’s especially not easy to do at a crowded bar on a Wednesday night in downtown Manhattan. So, I looked down at the flyer and my heart sank. It said the following:

Name of artist (name is not mentioned to protect the innocent)
Venue (which was the Mercury, where I was)
Date & showtime

There I was, a perfectly primed potential fan, a customer, standing at a bar, out at a live music show, and he lost me forever. Why?

Because not one sentence was included about what genre of music this artist played much less what his music sounded like, who he was compared to (sound alike). In other words what I could expect by coming out to his show. In short I had no idea what this artist sounded like.

That was an opportunity totally LOST. Unbeknown to him he also handed his flyer to one of the most successful entertainment attorneys I know who was in the middle of signing 6 artists to record deals, an A&R executive and one of the best booking agents in the business.

We all looked down at the flyers in our hands, shrugged and carried on with the conversation we were having. He had totally BLOWN it.

Scenario #2: The second thing that happened was an artist called my PR firm to talk about hiring us for a Cyber PR campaign, and two minutes into the conversation started, my blood was beginning to boil. It went something like this:

Me: What do you sound like?

Artist: I sound like absolutely nothing you’ve ever heard before.

Me: (annoyed and now understanding why he’s not where he wants to be as an artist) Really? So you have invented a new genre of music, and you don’t sound like anyone else in the history of music?

Artist: Yes

Me: Can you at least tell me what type of music you play?

Artist: It’s old school Hip-Hop

OK finally we were getting somewhere and, I totally understood his point, but here’s the problem with having an approach like his:

People are constantly looking for a context to put things into. And if you don’t provide them with one, they will move on to the next thing that their little pea brains actually can grasp.

The critical that was missing in both scenarios was: The Pitch

So, you need a pitch or as marketers call it a USP (unique selling point), or, as my friend Bob Baker calls it a BIS (brand identity statement) or as my fellow mastermind group member Laura Allen calls it, a 15-second pitch. Call it what you want, this thing, my friend, will change the way you market yourself and your music and give everyone a context. It is critical that you have a concise and easy to understand pitch that will help you shape your brand. The rest of this article will help you focus on creating the perfet pitch.

It does not have to be lengthy to be effective, it just has to explain your sound in a few words or sentences.

Here are some of my clients’ pitches to help jump start your brain:

Leftover Salmon – Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass

John Taglieri – If Vertical Horizon and Third Eye Blind got hit by Train!

FIGO – Influenced by groups like Primal Scream, NIN, The Misfits, The Chemical Brothers, and The Ramones, the band fuses intense raw live energy with pounding beats and samples.

Devil Doll – Jessica Rabbit meets Joan Jett.

Girls Don’t Cry – An all girl rock band featuring edgy guitars polished with five-part vocals, retro synth sounds and danceable grooves.

Creating Your Pitch

First, take a deep breath, clear your head, and tell yourself that what you are about to do is exactly like writing a song. You do not record the first thing that comes out (or at least I hope you don’t but that’s a different conversation) it takes some honing and some tweaking and possibly some collaboration.

Take out a clean piece of paper, and write down the following:

(I suggest writing this by hand with a pen and paper instead of using a computer because the ideas flow differently through a pen)

1. Write out the type of genres you play. Roots, rock, reggae, folk, punk, jazz, AltCountry, Chillout etc. No more than two or three should actually be selected in the end.

2. Write down all the artists that other people say you sound like.

3. Write down a list of all artists (or authors or famous people) that influenced you.

4. Write down all of the feelings and vibes that you want to create or convey with your music

Use these elements as a guideline to help come up with a few words or sentences that sum you up.

Now, go to this fabulous website:

This will help you structure and hone your pitch and it will TIME you too! (This site is more of a personal pitch site but the structure that it provides is very helpful)

Now write out on a blank note card or a small piece of paper your mission statement. Read it out loud standing in front of the mirror. Do you love it? If you don’t, then don’t use it. I once worked with a band that chose the term “Soul Rock” to describe their sound and after it was published countless times, they were hating it, so make sure it’s something that you can deal with in print over and over again, and something that you won’t get sick of. Now stand in front of the mirror and practice saying it. Does it feel comfortable saying it, or do you feel like a dork? If you feel like you’re speaking your truth, you will absolutely know, and then it is the perfect pitch for you.

Still not sure?

Read it to a bunch of friends and fans and ask them to work on it with you!

Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple and as concise as you can.

Where You Must Place Your Pitch

Online Branding:

1 On your website’s homepage (yes on the HOMEPAGE not buried in the site).
2 On your MySpace.
3 On your Facebook.
4 On all social networking sites that you use and anywhere else you have an online presence.

Offline Branding:

1 On your postcards.
2 On your show flyers.
3 On your posters, and anything else you have in print.

So now when you’re out somewhere and you hand someone a flyer announcing your show, you’re handing someone your brand. People will know exactly what you do, and it will be effectively marketing instead of just spinning your wheels.

Not sure if you hit the nail on the head? E-mail me your pitch and I’ll give you my honest feedback.

Good luck!



Ariel Publicity
was founded 12 years ago, and has since represented over 1,400 artists. The publicity game has changed radically over the last few years, so the company went 100% digital to accommodate the new landscape in January of 2007. Cyber PR is currently handling campaigns for artists of all genres and at all levels of their careers.

“This is just about the perfect service. It is really thought through to be easy for the podcaster to use. Oh boy, is that necessary in some cases! Good work and really, really cool.” – Peter Clitheroe, Suffolk and Cool Podcast

Teaching and educating musicians is Ariel’s passion and a major part of the Cyber PR platform is to empower artists to take charge and get into action around their own online marketing. Several times a year, she leads sold-out workshops to musicians and music industry professionals looking to learn about community building and online promotion in the “new” music business.

Her bi-weekly ezine “Sound Advice” has over 6,000 musicians and music professional subscribers. Her first book, Music Success in 9 Weeks, came out in June 2008 and is selling swiftly. She is a contributing blogger to New Music Ideas and Music Think Tank and her articles have been featured in the Discmakers and ASCAP online newsletters. Ariel Publicity also offers Band Letter, a musician’s newsletter service to handle fan outreach.

Ariel has spoken at dozens of music conferences including SXSW, The Philly Music Conference, NEMO, The East Coast Music Awards, OCFF, & Les Rencontres (Canada), A2A (Amsterdam), CMJ, BMI Music Panel Series, and The Connective Panel Series.

Ariel’s Blog
Ariel Publicity on Twitter
Ariel Publicity on MySpace
Ariel Publicity on Facebook

5 Responses to “Creating the Perfect Pitch ~ Guest Blog by Ariel Hyatt”

  1. Andrew Goodrich - Artists House Says:

    Regarding the mission statements and vision, I really love Guy Kawasaki’s advice.

    “Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant. No one can ever remember them-much less implement them. Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it.”

    Basically, the mantra is the thing that guides everything you do. It’s different than a mission statement in that a mantra is almost something you can live by. It strikes a chord with your ideals and values. I’ve found its also incredibly helpful as a quick test to see whether what you are working on is really relevant to your goals.

    Some examples of mantras Kawasaki gives are:
    Nike – “Authentic athletic performance”
    Disney – “Fun family entertainment”
    Starbucks – “Rewarding everyday moments”
    IBM – “Think”

    For my father’s photography business, we came up with “picture perfect.”
    Mantra’s are open to interpretation, but will always make sure you are aligning with your values.

  2. Carla Says:

    In Ariel’s article, the pitch is used as a way for a band to paint a picture into the mind of someone who’s not familiar with their music.

    Your mantra suggestion speaks to values, which I admit, are not visible in our musical pitch. However, I do agree that a mantra (like the examples you provided) is important to have, as it acts as a lighthouse to keep our values on track.

  3. Noa Jones Says:

    You Rock Carla Hall! Your light is shining brightly! You are leading the way to success for us all.Can’t turn back now! Miss u…224-1999
    Luv Nonye

  4. Noa Jones Says:

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating a viable exit plan from your day job to full time artist/writer, etc.

  5. Carla Says:

    Hi Noa!
    Just for you, I’ve updated my article about leaving your day job. Also – I will call you asap!

Leave a Reply