April 3, 2020
MeetHook Founder and President Shed Light on How to Thrive in the Modern Music Industry
The MeetHook app: musicSource: MeetHook
MeetHook connects the creators with the creatives, giving stars and their audiences a much-needed space to form deep, personal connections. It’s a comprehensive, user-friendly platform where musicians and other professionals can schedule and receive payments for video call sessions by the minute.
Recently, we spoke to MeetHook CEO and founder Anthony Citrinite along with MeetHook president Michael Moorin to learn more about the platform works and how users can get the most out of their sessions.
Tell us a little about MeetHook
Anthony: MeetHook is an app that allows anyone with a skill set and/or a fanbase to make extra money by offering them their time through a video call.
The app takes care of everything. It allows the host to make themselves available, and with very little work involved, to be paid by the minute for their expertise.
A lot of our hosts offer lessons, some people offer advice, a discussion. It’s all done within the app, it’s very quick and easy, and you get the undivided attention of someone you admire or that has walked the path before you so you can learn from them and get guidance on whatever you’re working on.
What was your inspiration for creating the app? Did the idea dawn on you out of the blue, or had it been something you were thinking about for a long time?
Anthony: I was in music education for 25 years. I was also a musician as early as nine-years-old.
My dad’s a booking agent, so I’ve had the idea for a long time, well before the technology was actually in place to make it a reality.
Being in music education and being a professional musician myself, I communicate with a lot of music professionals. I can see what’s happening – what’s been happening for years – is the musicians are being paid less and less, they’re getting to asked more and more things that are outside of the box.
For example, a drummer is now faced with all of this technology when it comes to playing and performing. There are a lot of new things you have to learn to keep up with the industry and be a viable musician out there.
There’s a lot of demand for learning new things to stay relevant and there are a lot of musicians out there not making a lot of money, so I connected those two. That’s where I came up with the initial idea to put this platform together and it’s launched from there in how it could work with other industries.
It brings value to the people who are seeking information, and it also brings a lot of value to the musicians and the professionals outside of music that have the skills and the know-how to offer that to other people.
[MeetHook] makes for a really great marketplace where everyone has something to gain and something to offer.
You’re not making money from music anymore, but we don’t want your music to fade away because we love you. To enable you to continue to do what we love you for, this is a new avenue for you to make revenue.
Now your music could be a marketing tool to help your fans realize who you are, what you do, and that you’re available to teach them, or talk to them, or do a meet and greet on MeetHook.
Michael: And it certainly creates a much closer, personal bond that really strengthens those ties between the artist and their fans.
What would you say are three qualities that sets MeetHook apart from any other app in the industry?
Anthony: Right now as we live through the pandemic, you see the entire world shifting because of needing to be able to communicate – whether it be teachers with classrooms of students, people having a meeting they’d normally do in person.
The entire world is shifting through platforms and apps out there that allow them to communicate in a video chat world, so to speak.
What sets MeetHook apart is we have it built so you can go on and offer your availability per minute. That doesn’t really change the way someone would use Zoom or FaceTime if they’re not using it to teach or offer their expertise. If they’re just using it to socialize or attend a meeting, that’s the difference.
One big thing that we add is the ability for them to go in and almost turn key, once they quickly fill out their profile, add availability, and promote themselves, they have the ability to make money.
I have not seen another app out there that allows you to do that on your own, knowing the expertise that you have.
Michael: It’s scheduling video-live payment all in one place. That really sets the MeetHook app apart.
Could you paint a picture of what a MeetHook music session looks like for us?
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Michael: In addition to being involved with MeetHook, I’m a musician and a drummer, so I’ve conducted a number of sessions with my drum heroes; people that I never would’ve been able to connect with one-on-one.
What I find is a lot of these sessions are mostly conversation. Every session that I have with a different drummer, I get a bit of information and a different perspective.
It’s really interesting. Even though they might all be jazz drummers or funk drummers, they all have a little different way of looking at it. Some of the principles stay the same, though, which is also interesting.
I hear the same principles coming from each person, but the way they attack it and integrate it into their practice is different. It’s really fascinating for me.
I also find the sessions can then verge into a lesson. We’re sitting there talking and I say, “Hey, y’know that section through this song, how did they do it?” And they’ll play something, they’ll listen to me play something. They can send me a chart, or maybe a link to their book and I can buy their book.
The hosts that I’ve worked with have almost uniformly been great. Very gracious, very friendly. They love doing it, they love talking to people who are interested in what they’re offering. It’s great.
MeetHook also provides sessions for other categories, including entertainment, business, and sports. What would some of those sessions look like? (i.e. Are business professions providing lessons or consultations to users? Do sports professions provide demonstrations or help the user practice remotely?)
Anthony: It’s actually all of the above. It depends on the host.
With all of our hosts, there’s a section on their profile to explain, in a few words as possible, what a session with them could offer. They can teach you how to do this, they can demonstrate how to do this, they could offer advice.
I do have to say the music category is the one we launched with over two years ago. Entertainment, business, and sports are all very new, and therefore we don’t have a lot of hosts that have signed on to do that, but we are working on that. Everyday we get new sign ups.
It remains to be seen how they use it. When we launched, we learned a lot about how the musicians used it. I’m sure as time goes on and MeetHook becomes more popular for those other categories we’re going to see people use it in ways we didn’t even imagine.
All of the above is possible. If you can see the other person, communicate with them, and share files back and forth, it really opens it up for whatever the host and user want to turn it into.
Do you see the platform expanding to include other professions/industries in the future?
Anthony: Yes. We’ve been discussing launching a food/culinary category so people can learn how to cook certain types of cuisines with professional chefs.
Also wellness. We’ve had people inquire about wanting to teach yoga through the app, talk about meditation and many other topics that fall under health and wellness.
Michael: The health industry is just ripe for a transition to this type of platform. Every doctor who has patients, their office is closed and they can only talk to them on the phone or they have some kind of rigged video set up.
If we were to get “HIPAA Compliant,” this would be a platform virtually every doctor in the country could use. It just fits right hand-in-glove with how they operate now and what they would need as a tool to work.
Anthony: Now is the time for a cooking category and a health category. If now isn’t the time, I don’t know when is.
What are some of the most touching success stories you’ve heard from hosts or users on MeetHook?
Michael: I just had a session with a drummer by the name of Pete Cater and he’s in London, England. He posted availability, I saw it, I was intrigued. He has a specialty in big band drumming.
My session with him the other day was exactly what we had described before: it was a conversation, then it was a demonstration, and I could record the entire thing, which is important. You tend to forget things when you’re in the flow, but now I have a recording of it. So when he explains something, I just go right back to the recording if I’ve forgotten something to clarify it.
[Pete] told me he has three students in the U.S. that come to him – literally fly to London – to take a lesson with him maybe once a year, twice a year at the most.
Now on MeetHook, he can get those people on there as users, and maybe they’ll take six lessons a year each. That’s not only more money, it’s more lessons, but the interaction he’s able to get on a more consistent basis is better for both of them.
I was really happy to hear that and that’s another aspect of the app. It works worldwide. You can talk to a percussionist in South America, a sax player in Norway.
That’s a really nice aspect for me.
Another great aspect of being global is you can get different cultural perspectives on an instrument.
Michael: Yes, the authenticity. I was talking to a drummer the other day about the samba beat and he was downplaying the American take on it.
He said, “Man, you’ve got to talk to Paulinho Braga,” who is an expert, Brazilian percussionist.
Number one, I might not have known that. Number two, I couldn’t get to this person otherwise through something like MeetHook.
Now, I can get an authentic rendition of what the samba beat is, what the feel is, what the permutations are. It’s like the commercial – priceless.
In your own professional opinions, what do you think it takes for a host to truly impact their clients? What are some tips you would give to instructors?
Anthony: What we try to get our instructors to understand is it’s great they’re on the app, but they need to make themselves available. That’s number one.
It’s a very simple idea, but believe it or not there are a lot of people who forget. Maybe it’s in their head a little more now that they’re home.
Offering different segments of time [is another one]. Give a lot of variety. It’s like you have a store, so you want to offer a lot of different options to people. Some people might not have an hour’s worth of stuff they want to ask you.
And go on your social media to promote yourself. That’s the best they can do. If you have an email list, send a link to your profile list out in there. Do your best in spreading the word about what you offer, when you’re available for them, and what people need to do to log on and get that.
When you’re in a session, make sure the lighting is good, speak clear, make sure there’s not a lot of background noise. All those things make for a better experience on MeetHook and just in general.
If MeetHook didn’t exist and they were sitting in the same room, many of the same things would apply. It’s about applying normal teacher-student etiquette and trying to be as organized as possible.
Make sure you can be seen and heard clearly, and find out what the student is looking for and try to deliver that to them in the best way possible.
On the other hand, what do you think it takes to make for a truly good student? How can users make sure they’re getting the most out of their MeetHook sessions?
Anthony: Prior to the session, make sure you get your notes in order, maybe write some things down so you don’t forget. A lot of people get starstruck, I’ve heard that.
Many times they have a million things they want to ask – honestly, I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me. I wanted to say this earlier: I developed MeetHook first and foremost for myself [laughs].
I’m a very inquisitive person and there are so many people that I’ve wanted to be able to reach out to. I work very closely on a professional level with a lot of these people, but I don’t want to be that guy who’s like, “Hey now that I’ve got you on the phone and we’ve just booked this thing, can I bend your ear for 20 minutes to ask you a bunch of questions I’m curious about?”
I got them on [MeetHook] and now I pay them for their time.
Y’know, but it’s all about making sure you have your thoughts in order and write your things down so you don’t forget.
Michael: There’s no question the student should value this time. They should be prepared. Like Anthony said, write down a list of questions – more than you think you’ll even need because you don’t know what way the discussion might go.
That’s sort of my second point: be open. Be open to what’s happening, be lead by the discussion. The two of them play hand-in-hand. Have a lot more [questions] than you’d think and be open to those parameters.
What advice would you give to professions that are impacted by social distancing? How else can they continue pursuing their passions?
Anthony: Everyone is on social media for many portions of the day. I think the fact that Facebook and Instagram allow you to do live streams so you can reach large portions of your audience at once. Both platforms want you to do live streams, therefore they spread the link around and let people know you’ve just gone live or are about to.
I think the best thing you can do is if you’re a musician, have your instrument in hand. If you’re an entertainer or someone behind the scenes, just be ready. Offer a live stream on a regular basis, whether it be once a day, once a week. Whatever you feel comfortable with. Do it at a time of day where you know a lot of people will be able to jump online.
Offer free value – not a lot, but a little bit. Go delve into what you do, where your expertise lies. Where you can help people, how you can help people, offer to help people. Do this on the live stream.
Before you end your live stream, when you have most of your audience watching, let them know you’re available for one on one. If they’d like to get a private session with you to get a little deeper or be able to ask the questions they want to ask, that’s the perfect opportunity to tell people because a fraction of those people will actually go on MeetHook and book you.
Prior to making that live session on Facebook or Instagram, put your link in a very easy to find place so you can reference that. You should also have availability on MeetHook prior to doing that live session.
I’ve seen that work very well for our hosts that have actually done it. Not enough of them are doing this and it’s the best way that I’ve found hosts be successful on MeetHook.
Anthony, you have a wide variety of experience within the music industry, from playing at the Fiesta Bowl in 2002 to the MTV Music Awards. Your drum sticks are even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! How has your background in music influenced the development of MeetHook?
Anthony: The fact that I’ve been around professional musicians my entire life and seeing the struggles they have. If you’re a hired gun, for example, your day-to-day hand-to-mouth you’re not the artists who’s booking the gigs and getting the majority of the bread.
What happens is you have to hustle and struggle because the music industry is not an easy industry to be able to butter your bread completely with. Most hired guns have a number of things they do and teaching is very natural for most of them.
Just being around musicians and seeing that struggle. And knowing that not only does that struggle for most of them to make enough money to survive in this industry, but also that a lot of people wish that they were in their shoes. They saw them perform at Madison Square Garden, they saw them on TV, they watch their videos, they listen to their music. They want to either be them or follow in the footsteps of what they’re doing, so they want a piece of them.
This is the perfect place to solve both of those problems. I saw that a long time ago, I wrote it down in my idea notebook, and my brain kept going to it. I kept going over it in my head, trying to figure out different ways of making that a reality for these musicians.
That’s been a big part of the development: just being a musician myself and seeing how these other musicians are able to make ends meet. In my mind, this was the perfect way to connect those two.
Michael, your bio on the website says you’re a “real estate veteran and drummer.” Could you tell us a little more about your experiences in the field and how its influenced your role as president of MeetHook?
Michael: I’m still in real estate. I’ve spent over thirty years in New York City commercial real estate. So I’m really here to do business development.
As a broker in New York, you can imagine it’s a really competitive environment. You have to be tenacious and persistent to survive.
Along the way, I’ve developed contacts and gained a tremendous amount of business experience – all wrapped up in my love for music.
For me, it’s really a hand-in-glove type relationship and passion that melts into the business role that I have. I leverage both sides: I can talk business and I can talk deals, and then I can talk music.
What advice would both of you give to aspiring musicians who are looking to turn their craft into a career?
Michael: Musicians, they need to have a serious side, an economic side. I’ll give an icon’s experience: Mick Jagger went to the London School of Economics [laughs].
Musicians want to be cool, they want to be hip, but it helps to pay attention to that side. That’s something we’re trying to foster with the hosts and certainly with my interactions and Anthony’s interactions. We do all we can on that end.
Anthony: I think the most important is to keep doing it.
Don’t stop and you’ll find your way.
Michael: I agree with Anthony. You don’t realize your getting better; it accumulates over time and then you go up another level.
If you persist, and you keep making those connections, you’re going to get those opportunities and go from there.
Do you have any additional comments or final thoughts to share?
Anthony: I do want to mention we very recently started a MeetHook text hotline that people can text and get more information about the app, who’s available, or how to do this or that.
If anyone wants to text that, our number is 646-846-0226. You can text that number and get a lot more information about MeetHook.
We hope that you sign up, start using it and get hooked!
Visit MeetHook’s website to learn more about the platform and book your first session!
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