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Exploring the world of independent artists and promotions with James Moore

CEO and founder of IMP James Moore
Photo from Ryan Donnelly

Thanks to the internet, it's so easy to find and share music with others, but many unsigned/indie artists may have difficulty getting their music heard since there's so much out there. James Moore is here to help. CEO and founder of Independent Music Promotions and the author of “Your Band is a Virus,” Moore wants to help unsigned bands that have “depth” to their music and take their work seriously. Sharing his thoughts on artists going independent, file sharing, and goals for his company Moore is full of sound advice for up and coming bands.

How did Independent Music Promotions get started?

James Moore: Independent Music Promotions got started in 2011 after the release of "Your Band Is A Virus". I saw the necessity of the DIY/music first mentality as well as some accountability in the music PR industry. It was also an opportunity to work through the company as an extension of my own musical passions; growing up on underground rock, hip hop, and crossover music inspired it. As the popularity of the book grew, I could see a demand for I.M.P so I took the leap.

What is the goal for Independent Music Promotions? Is it to get the artists you work with in the mainstream or something else?

JM: My goals are simple, because I think that mountain thinking (the "get big" mentality) usually ignores the whole building process involved, leading to failure and inaction. When I started in PR, I heard from bands directly that their number [one] gripe with PR is companies who talk a big game but don't deliver...little to no press and review. So my goal initially was to build enough of a contact base that I could remove that problem. We've done that from the beginning and I call it guaranteed PR. My goal is to get every single artist we choose to work with a major resume boost by securing quality press for them. In my eyes, getting the music covered publicly shows respect to the hard work put into the art, and it also provides valuable social proof which helps the artist land opportunities going forward. We want to do press better than anyone else.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a promoter in today's music industry when taking downloading, Mp3's, and streaming services into account?

JM: Personally, I think that these things are helpful when looked at through the right lens. All provide massive exposure, and it's exposure that builds popularity. Popularity is required to make your business powerful, and that's when you can sell. You can't sell at the front door when you're not established. This is a major mistake most artists make...waiting around for those 99 cent download sales. Torrents/downloading, for example, are an extension of bootlegs and mixtapes, which played a major role in building the popularity of artists from Public Enemy to Metallica. Many people distributed their music to friends without their permission....for free. This helped those bands reach a legendary status, play to bigger crowds, generate a much bigger buzz, etc. Nowadays I'm always surprised when independent artists get upset when their music is put on a torrent site. This may not be a
popular viewpoint, but to me, that isn't enough. Artists should be actively promoting their work on torrent sites. Downloaders build popularity and they often buy more. Plus, there are other currencies
besides money. Music fans writing and blogging about you, sharing and distributing your music to friends, talking about you on forums, injecting you into the culture basically. It's an untapped goldmine.

With the internet exposing music to people on a daily basis, how do you make sure artists you promote get their music heard?

JM: I establish connections with both tastemaker publications and blogs as well as talented freelance writers and website/business owners who want to support "music with depth". Relationships are critical. If you haven't established them, you won't get press.

So many bands both mainstream and unsigned, are going independent to get their music out there. Keeping that in mind do you feel big record labels have any clout when it comes to new bands?

JM: They absolutely do because they still have a lot of marketing muscle. Whether their musical intuition is on track is another issue altogether though. Often major labels try to play it safe and follow trends, so much of the material they release is unoriginal and boring...that's one of the reasons, profit sharing being another, why more and more artists are going independent and direct-to-fan.

Independent Music Promotions deals a lot with unsigned bands. If an artist wants to work with you is it as simple as going to the site and picking a package deal and then they're in or is there a more rigorous

JM: It's a simple process, but we only say yes to artists we believe fit our "music with depth" ethos. I feel it's important to build our reputation by being one of the few PR's to exert quality control. That way, our contacts know they're not going to receive demo level material, unoriginal club music, or Idol pop from us. So, any artists interested in working with us, the information on our site is completely transparent. Once you've researched us and found a campaign that you feel will suit your needs, just get in touch with a link to your music. I personally take a close listen to every inquiry.

While there are a lot of great advantages of being an independent artists, what do you think are the biggest disadvantages and how are you confronting them?

JM: The biggest disadvantage is a negative attitude or ego. They get in the way of your progress, create perceptual pitfalls, and cause you to ruin relationships with weighted expectations and micro-managing. If I sense that there is an ego issue or an overly negative attitude, I don't work with the artist. Positive, neutral and professional wins every time, and those are the type of people I want to promote to the world.

What inspired you to write the book “Your Band is a Virus” and share some tactics? Most labels aren't so willing to do so.

JM: Even though DIY marketing is very time-consuming, I wanted to share everything I knew in a single book so that musicians, label owners, managers, PR people, etc would all be able to use to their advantage. I wasn't really worried about giving too much away, but more concerned with providing a valuable resource that didn't have the same filler often associated with music marketing books. I'm happy with the result and I've received a lot of great feedback from musicians, so it's been a very good thing.

For more information on Independent Music Promotions, visit their website. You can purchase a copy of James' book here.

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