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Friday, April 10th, 2015

Industry Spotlight: James Moore - Independent Music Promotions

The field of music promotion and public relations has always been an integral part of the music business. It may not seem like the most glamorous part of the rock n’ roll lifestyle, but it’s importance is second to none. James Moore has fully and effectively submerged himself into this world of music promotions and PR. Moore is the founder of Independent Music Promotions, a DIY promotions and PR company focusing exclusively on “music with depth worldwide.” He is also the author of the best-selling Your Band is a Virus music marketing book series.

Recently, Bands on a Budget interviewed Moore to get his opinions on the business and to hear the stories behind his business and his book. If you're interested in working in the field of music promotions and PR or if your music could use some professional promotion, the insightful and inspiring words from Moore will definitely helpful. 

1. Why music promotion and public relations? How did you become involved with this field?

I love music so had to be involved with it in some way. A regular 9-5 simply wouldn't do. After promoting on a freelance level for many years and being inspired by the philosophy "The 4 Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss, I compiled my knowledge at the time into my book "Your Band Is A Virus". Slowly but surely, the book gained more and more of a following, I think, because of it's artist-focused DIY approach that preached speaking your truth rather than pandering to the business.

Independent Music Promotions officially opened it's doors in 2011, and the ethos of the company has followed the same artist-focused philosophy of the book. It's a passion project for me because I get to have my say in the music industry by only working with artists I believe in, and also by not contributing Idol pop, cookie cutter mainstream music, or anything like that into the culture.

2. How has the field of music promotions and PR changed over the past decade? How have you adapted to those changes?

I think that when it's all boiled down, the arc is the same. Artists need to build their power, their popularity. With popularity comes everything else. You can sell when you're popular. Some of the methods of publicizing and spreading music, such as music discovery apps and platforms, music licensing companies, social media, advertising, torrent and underground websites (which many artists fear and don't utilize unfortunately), streaming services, and digital distribution methods, are constantly changing. The goal, however, remains the same. The key, I think, is not to get hung up on a particular technique but keep the underlying goal in mind, so that you're free to use all relevant techniques without attachment.

As far as how I've adapted, I put relationships at the top of my priority list because they will always be important. Instead of just adding contacts to a list, I always introduce myself and let them know what I.M.P is about. I also think it helps to have a niche, and that's why I chose "music with depth" for the company. As new companies and technologies make themselves available, I research them, and if I feel they'd be valuable to my artists I look for a way to incorporate them into my campaigns. I'm always learning.

One of the unfortunate aspects of PR, and how it largely has not changed, is that many PR's use the traditional "let's hope it sticks to the wall" method, which often produces little to no results. I saw this as a problem when starting I.M.P so I built the relationships first and offered guaranteed PR from the beginning.

3. Give us some insight into your concept of "paying respect to 'music with depth' worldwide." What does this specifically mean?

I grew up not respecting artists who treated music as a kind of real estate; who were just in it for the money - boy bands, bubblegum pop, etc. I grew up on artists like Public Enemy and Nirvana, so my musical education was different. Their music and lyrics, as well as hundreds of other artists, spoke to me on a deep level. I realize it's personal preference and completely subjective, but the best way I can put it is that I try my best to stay true to that intention with Independent Music Promotions. Rather than complain about the current musical climate, in my own small way, by supporting artists who mean what they say, I'm creating a change. "Music with depth" spans all genres but it's music for the sake of the music, not profit.

I think a lot of people are tired of Idol pop, reality show quick fixes, and the auto-tuned stuff on the radio and so are the independent artists who are out there making good music. By paying respect to it, what I mean is publicizing it. Great art should be respected, and one of the ways to do that is to let the public enjoy it rather than, and this happens too often, let it sit, whether that be in the form of 1,000 CD's gathering dust in the basement or a digital album getting no traction on Soundcloud.

4. Why did you start Independent Music Promotions?

I started Independent Music Promotions because getting press for bands was something I found I had a knack for, and even at the freelance level I found that I was getting higher results than many PR companies. I also found that many artists were getting ripped off, and that there was a market for the actual delivery of CD reviews, interviews, and so on. It's a simple, practical service without much bombast or over-promising ("get signed", etc), and that's the kind of direct communication I think is needed. I also started I.M.P as a way to simple work with and enjoy music all day. I like to listen to albums as I work and it's a great way to immerse yourself.

4a. What major accomplishments has IMP achieved over the years?

Since we opened we've had the opportunity to work with hundreds of artists from all over the world and we've landed press for every single one of them without fail. That's not the norm in PR. We've been featured in some of music's biggest publications such as ASCAP and Sonicbids, and have landed press for our artists in everywhere from Guitar World to the source. Most importantly, our artists have had many successes and the roster can be found here

5. Why did you write your book, Your Band is a Virus?

I wrote it mainly inspired by all the mistakes I made early on, and the hundreds of hours of wasted time I spent doing the wrong things when promoting music. I see artists doing these things all the time, so compiling what works and what doesn't, in straightforward language into a book, seemed like a good idea. I found that the music marketing books I was reading leaned too heavily on irrelevant case studies and there really wasn't much as far as "do this now" type actionable steps. That's the main thing I wanted to fix.

5a. What inspired the themes and ideas behind your book?

The psychological garbage and self-doubt that often gets in our way really inspired a lot of the book, and also artists who do things their own way such as Sonic Youth, Dead Prez, PJ Harvey, and Tom Waits. There's definitely a defiant attitude to the book that suits a creative, revolutionary approach to music promotion.

5b. Do you have any specific examples of a time when you applied a particular lesson from your book to a scenario in your life?

I used to be very cautious and afraid of spending money, and I was the type of person who wanted guarantees before jumping into something. Now I spend freely and intuitively for my growth and betterment both professionally and personally, and I don't take all the weight on myself. Just as the book talks about acting, jumping in and outsourcing/etc, I've done that in my own life and it absolutely works. I do what I do best, and I outsource the rest to professionals who are at the top of their game. 

For example, I outsource my SEO and my advertising, and the company is all the better for it. Personally, I recently hired a trainer to get in shape; also something I may have been squeamish about previously. Once you make a move, let it integrate so you can make another move.

6. In one sentence, what is the best piece of advice that you can give to anyone looking to seriously pursue music promotions and PR?

Your relationships and your intent are everything, and you can become better at music promotion every day.

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