Netdiver magazine

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Web stars speak

/ Interview with Tor Hyams

Tor Hyams, editor of Fierce Magazine (offline)

Tor is a pop artist, jazz musician, R&B songwriter, rock producer and film and television composer. He has written and recorded over one hundred songs, including music featured in network primetime television shows, in theatrical film releases, on compilation albums, and on his own CDs. He has also helped develop other artists as an A&R executive and producer.

He began his internet career in 1993 launching a profitable online marketing company which helped shape the web and music strategies for companies like Sonicnet, Miller Freeman, Hearst New Media, Maverick Records, EMI and Buzz Magazine. 

He has been a segment producer and on-air personality for the Wild Web Show on CBS and has been a regular guest host on popular national and international television shows. 

He has been a segment producer and on-air personality for the Wild Web Show on CBS and has been a regular guest host on popular national and international television shows. 

He is co-founder of Fierce.com, the co-author of three books on internet business and culture and recently accepted an honorary position as a founding member of the New Media Peer Group of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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/ How were you first introduced to the internet?

Well, I needed a job because I was an out-of-work musician in New York City. Expensive town. I finally resolved I would have to work in an office again if I wanted to support my music career (that is unless career implies making money). So I looked through the Village Voice and saw an ad that read "Seeking Editor/Publicist." I answered it. The "IT" was Sonicnet. I became their online marketing consultant. In fact, I became the only or at least, one of the first online marketing consultants ever.

/ Do you remember your first impression of the internet?

It was remarkable. For the first time in my life, I realized how big the world was and, at the same time, how much smaller it was about to become. I had this epiphany only a few hours in to my first time signing on.

/ You are an *internet pioneer*, what exactly does it mean?

Nothing really, though it was not I who professed it. It seemed that everyone else put that on me. It sounds great, but it literally means I was one of the first. Being first doesn't always mean best. In fact, it's usually the second or third guy who gets all the credit.

Can you actually name who really discovered America? See what I mean?

/ Looking at your track record, you have a *dual* career. Was it always so?

No. Adulthood kind of brought that around. Somehow the need to make money made it impossible to truly be me, to only live and breath music. I know that sounds sad, but it's actually fantastic. 

I have had a great time morphing myself into different characters throughout my adulthood (so far). Dual career was early nineties. Now we're on about 5 careers (musician, composer, TV host, internet guy radio host and, the big one, father.

/ Tell us about your experience of becoming a father...

I became a dad on December 13th, 1999. Sydnie is her name. She made everything clear. It's like pure light shakes itself through you and all your priorities get straight. I was faced and still am with a constant choice. "So I do THAT or do I spend time with my daughter?" I measure everything now in that way. 

So something that takes away time from her better be pretty damn important. I suppose this is what is keeping me doing creative work now only. Why do business when you could be dancing with Sydnie?

/ You are a musician. When did your love of music start?

I can't remember when it wasn't there. Since I could hear, I've heard music.

/ You have been on many TV shows. Can you tell us why?

I thought it would be fun to get out there like that and it just seemed to fall in my lap. If it didn't come easy, I wouldn't do it. I have to keep focus on my music, but it does pay really well so I don't turn it down (see how traumatized I was from that needing to make money thing). 

Wow, now that I think about it, that could have been most surely the quintessential turning point of childhood to adulthood. In my case, it was traumatic. Aha! But now I have a chance to turn it around and I will.

/ Why did you get involved in online marketing?

Just to make money. Period.

/ Is branding an important issue online?

Of course. Is branding yourself an important issue in the world? It must be. Everyone does it. Then we all worry about what everyone thinks of our brand...me, me, me. So all these years I've been professing branding and people say, "yes, Tor, I know what you mean. Very interesting." 

Guess what, Carl, you're not usin' your noggin' Think man. Wake up. I'm just lucky to have common sense. That's all it is.

/ What was the catalytic thought that gave birth to Fierce?

Myself and David really needed to find a way to vent our angst. It was a joke. The web was just starting and we would surf around very late at night, him from Tudor City and me from 73rd street. We'd talk on the phone about Big Dave's Cow Page. That may be my favorite page to this day. It's perfect because it's ridiculous. That's what I have found to be the most prolific and coolest factor about the web. It's ridiculous.

/ Describe what the internet means to you.

Though I would love to get all neo-dead-head on your ass and say something about flowers and independence and warm and fuzzy things of that nature, for me, it's a fantastic part of our evolution as a species. I am in love with the science of it all, the big cultural experiment it's playing with all of us.

/ Describe 3 qualities necessary to succeed online.

Great design. Great programming. Inner peace.

/ What is the single achievement that makes you most proud?

I feel like saying becoming a father, but somehow that sounds like more of my wife's achievement (mother, of course). The single thing for me would have to be when I allowed myself to open my heart enough to see the truth. It lasted about 15 seconds, but I'll never forget it and I hope it happens again soon.

/ If there were no budget limitations - which single dream project would you launch?

Great question. It would probably be something political. I know sometime in my life I have to do something political. Hey, how about an international game show called Smell the Truth. We would have categories like in Jeopardy. The final question category would be "existential questions without answers" or "Name that Kenny G Tune." If you get it right, you lose. 

/ What is your opinion of the present situation in the dotcom industry?

I think we're seeing what everyone say we are. It's a leveling off, an expunging effort to rid the kingdom of unpleasantries, market reality, blah, blah. I do know, though that content will come back towards the end of the year with a vengeance. Gather your little content nuts now my little web squirrels for you will prosper in the fall. 

/ In your view, explain what is convergence?

Mind, body and soul. It's so funny how everyone is talking about some box that will be the all-in-one. What does everyone think? In 50 years, you'll go down to the Wallmart to get your Converge Box? Not really. 

Though I know I'm going a bit far south of fairyland with this theory, I maintain it's all about how we, as a race, deal and interact with the world around us. Maybe I'm wrong, but I know it's more about that than being able to touch your TV screen and buy Jennifer Aniston's sweater on Friends.

/ Is the www an international network?

It should be by now. Soon though. We still need to learn how to like each other a bit more first.

/ Tell us what the future (net) looks like.

I think it will be the first media to actually imitate life instead of life imitating it. As I read that back, I realized it sounds good, but I'm not sure what I mean by that...