Hello to all and welcome back! Before we start, I just want to note that the NY Times had this headline last week “Music Industry Records First Revenue Increase Since 1999.” That is some great news for all of us. I personally believe that digital media is here to stay and it’s only going to get better. This in turn will be even better for download purchases and streaming! Now lets get to my guest today, James Moore, who is not a musician by trade but he is good to have on your team. James is the writer of the popular series, ‘Your Band Is A Virus’ and he runs independentmusicpromotions.com. It is amazing how much this man does and how passionate he is about it. Join us as James speaks on how he got started, challenges to indie musicians, using social media, and much more! You will learn something!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and are you ready for spring and warm weather?
Hi! I’m talking from Hilo at the moment, and there’s been quite a lot of rain on the Big Island recently. I think the many lizards here would love to have more sun/warm weather, so how can I argue with that?
Stoli: Offer readers a brief history about you and how you ended up in the music business?
I came into it out of a love for music, and that, I think, is how we all stumble into music. Music is zen. Since I was very young, I took refuge in music. It was my whole life. I played in various bands and realized I had a knack for promotion, not so much because I was interested in the business side of things, but because I was excited about advancing the music and helping it reach new ears.
I began working freelance for artists and found that I typically delivered way more reviews than they were getting through traditional PR companies. So I researched as much as I could, and started experimenting with a lot of tactics, keeping what worked and dropping what didn’t. My findings are in my book “Your Band Is A Virus – Expanded Edition”.
Once I established Independent Music Promotions in 2010, I wanted to be true to the real in music, in other words, music with depth. I have no interest in manufactured pop music or soulless commercial output. I also have no interest in the industry for the sake of itself. I only care about putting something worthwhile and honest into the world, so that’s where the niche came about. I.M.P became a way to spend my days working with what I love.
Stoli: What drew your attention to the independent musician and your desire to help get their music out there?
I think there are a lot of smokescreens in the music industry and it’s important for there to be clear communication so that people can positively work together and cooperate. Many independent musicians are lying to themselves about their true intentions and where they’re at, but many others are neutral and positive, with strong music and honest output, ready to reach a wider audience. For those artists, my services are available, and a productive exchange happens.
So, in my work, I’m quite selective, as I only want to promote the best art. My book, though, can be used as a tool by any independent artist who has a quality product to promote. Hopefully, by covering both the direct and educational sides I can be of help to the most people.
Stoli: Would you say that technology such as digital media and social media have been a major breakthrough for the independent musician?
Yes, they certainly have, but the conversation really gets muddied up and it’s easy to get confused. There are so many articles out there analyzing digital technologies and social media and their many benefits. It’s important for artists to educate themselves on them, choose the most potent ones, invest some funds and maintain them properly.
However, they’re not a be-all and end-all. You can tweet, Facebook and reddit until your face turns blue, but you’ll need amazing, innovative material and a very busy, hard working band/artist in order to make any significant headway. If there’s no conversations or relationship building, there’s nothing to stand on.
Stoli: You have the popular book out ‘Your Band Is A Virus.’ Please speak on the book and who should give that book a read?
Any musicians, labels, managers, PR people or other industry folks should read the book. I’ve had people from all areas of the industry tell me they found ideas in this book that they’ve never seen before. I think it’s because I started as an outsider in the industry and use a lot of DIY principles. I would look at what I call “the fortress” and think “How can I get my artists in there?”
So many of the tactics came from a fresh and creative thinking process, and not from the passed down ideas currently being circulated. The language is very straight forward and easy to follow, and I made sure to include lots of actionable links, meaning you can promote your band as you read the book. I talk about outsourcing your band, presenting the right face to the world, promoting an album properly, promoting music videos, distributing music, crowd funding, remix and video contests, hiring freelancers and street teams, and how to get more press than other bands.
Stoli: What would you say are two major challenges facing the independent musician and can they be overcome?
The major challenge is obscurity and it can be overcome through powerful music and hard, targeted work. The other major challenge is negativity and it can be overcome through seeing the falseness of that mindset. I’m not saying to switch to positive thinking, but to try to see things clearly, as they are. You can only move forward from where you actually are, not where you imagine yourself.
Stoli: Where do you turn to listen to new music and find new musicians/bands?
Some of my favorite sites to find new artists to work with include Bandcamp and Reverbnation. For new music to listen to, Popmatters.com is one of my favorite sites. They have excellent reviewers and for some reason seem to pick out the best range of material. Consequence of Sound is another very good publication that I respect. They’re one of the few places that still cover new Public Enemy albums!
Stoli: You have a new promo for 10-12+ guaranteed high quality album reviews on your site. How does that work and why do bands foolishly expect every review to be a positive one?
Yes, I set this up specifically to change the broken PR model. Most PR companies will take an artists money and then throw a press release at the wall, claiming to send the music to (insert however many thousand) journalists. Really, it doesn’t matter if you send the music to 20,000 journalists. What matters is the results.
So, from the beginning, I spent a lot of time talking to the publications I work with, building relationships and forming trust in my music picks. They know I don’t take everyone on. There is quality control, which helps me offer guarantees. If one editor passes on an artist, I can reach out to someone else who may connect with it. I don’t work with demo artists so I always have success delivering.
I think it’s a small percentage of artists who expect every review to be positive. In fact, if they were to look up any big act…Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, the Black Keys…they’d see that these bands get a lot of negative feedback. If you have no negative feedback it means you’re unknown. If people despise you, you’re making progress. Take both as meaningless.
Stoli: Would you say that the days of record deals are pretty much over and how should bands/musicians use this to their advantage?
No, I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules at all. Usually when a blanket claim is made it’s strictly for SEO. Magazines need more traffic all the time, so headlines are important, but the reality is that the industry is constantly changing. There are no rules, and it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.
Artists do have a lot of room these days to self-manage and self-promote. They can do the Black Flag/DIY thing, but with much more potential to reach people online. If artists took the right perspective on this, they’d be quite excited about sharing their art.
Stoli: Do you feel like shows like American Idol and X Factor are legit or has their time passed?
I’m probably the wrong person to ask about that! I’ve always seen those shows as kind of tired. There are so many original artists writing material that would shake you to your core, that I’ve just never gotten excited about watching teenagers do karaoke/cover songs. Sure, there’s a lot of talent on those shows but I’ve always been into musicians who wrote their own songs and didn’t try to just appeal to a mass market or demographic.
Stoli: If you could offer 1 piece of advice to those trying to break through, what is that?
Either do the work yourself or outsource. If you don’t do either of those, you’re a sitting duck! More importantly, why do you want to “break through”? Is spirit speaking through you? Do you simply want to get famous? Why is that so important? Could you do what you do from a selfless place?
Stoli: What is coming up for James Moore and where you at online?
I’m currently working with some excellent artists through Independent Music Promotions (www.independentmusicpromotions.com) as well as continuing with my writing at the same site. I’m sure another book will be on the way in 2013, too. As far as the current release, anyone interested in learning how to promote themselves should read “Your Band Is A Virus” at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ADPGIXK.
Thanks for having me!
“Your Band Is A Virus – Behind-the-Scenes & Viral Marketing for the