Interview with James Moore, author of “Your Band Is A Virus”
We have got a chance to interview one of the best people on Earth who can tell us about music promotions. Meet James Moore, Founder of Independent Music Promotions. James has been working with artists throughout the world . His experience of over 10 years promoting independent music is well evident from his first book – “Your Band Is A Virus” in which he expresses his thoughts that a music band is like a virus. The first book was a hit which motivated him to make his book extensive – a complete marketing guide for musicians which has extensive resources that will help an emerging musician to publicize his music at the best prices.
How did you get into the music industry? Was music always your passion or did it just happen by chance?
Music has always been a passion of mine, ever since I got into Nirvana and Public Enemy at a young age. I started off by playing in bands and promoting for artists on a freelance level. I experimented with different promotion techniques, making a lot of mistakes in the process over a period of about 10 years, and then I released the original “Your Band Is A Virus” book. From there, I officially launched Independent Music Promotions and began working with more artists on an international level. I think this became my life simply because music is a main interest of mine, and I’d rather spend my days promoting good art than working for someone else in a 9 – 5. I made that decision and ran with it.
A lot of us have a very little idea about what exactly a music promoter does? Can you throw some light on it and possibly tell our readers what a day of life as a music promoter/working in a PR firm is?
Well, a music promoter works hard to gain exposure for good music. He or she should ideally have a high amount of quality control, and this is usually not the case. I only take on music with depth, and usually say no to 7 out of 10 submissions that come my way. Once an artist is chosen, the promoter should put together their materials into a concise and simple “pitch”. Sometimes that will include a news release, but it should always include a bio, full artist and album information, a streaming link of the album, and a zip link containing the album and photos.
Once the pitch is together, the promoter should contact magazines, websites, blogs, podcasts, etc seeking coverage for the artist. Being personable wins in the end. The more research you’ve done and the more contacts who see you as a real person and possibly a friend, the better results you’ll get. Most of the job is relationship building, because it’s no good to just send requests out into the ether. Promoters should also be creative in seeking out new exposure opportunities for each artist and exploiting any potential niches.
How different is your book “Your Band is a Virus – Expanded Edition” different from the previous version?
It’s about double the length but has roughly triple the information. I wanted it to be the most realistic and actionable musician’s promotion guide available, and I think I’ve achieved that. It’s like a brainstorm. I also worked with a list of top industry professionals to give inside information on topics outside of my expertise, so I provide in-depth interviews with legendary record producer Stuart Epps (Led Zeppelin, Elton John) and HIP Video Promo CEO Andy Gesner, to name a few. I’m confident that if artists have a good product and they engage with this book in a creative way, they will have very intense results.
How much promotion is too much promotion? At what point does it become a hard sell?
Well, there’s no such thing as too much promotion. However, there is such a thing as doing too much of the wrong things, like continually posting the same links on your social networks for example. I recommend thinking outside of the box and never give up. If you’re focused on a particular publication, be professional, submit your music, and follow up. If that doesn’t work, try other routes. Contact bloggers and writers directly. If the site has user-generated content, hire a freelance writer to review you or post your news. Artists should take more control and not always accept the rules of the powers that be. Make it happen, provided your work is honest. Don’t lie to yourself and the world.
If you find that it’s seeming like an extremely “hard sell” across the board, take an honest look at your album. It may not be up to snuff and going back to the drawing board could be a necessity. It’s critical for artists to not fall into illusion regarding their own material.
You’ve stated that with the advent of social networking, every individual is a potential marketer whose contribution is not to be underestimated. How do you foresee social media promotion in the future? How is this going to be different from the present?
Well, here’s an example. Band A see themselves as a single entity reaching out to the world, so they send email blasts everywhere asking people to please listen to them. They continually post on Facebook asking people to buy their album/etc. Band B see themselves as an attracting entity, a virus, and they research all the user-generated content websites online. They put out classifieds looking for freelance writers and gather a team of 50, 100, more. They put a street team together and pay their members for their time. They hire professionals for press on top of this. They actively seek out opportunities to further themselves. Band B gets serious coverage while Band A waits, continually checking their inbox.
Social media, I think, should be about 10 percent of a band’s marketing plan. Right now, many bands are spending 50 percent or more of their time on social networks. I hope things change, but the fact of the matter is that most people like to do the same thing over and over again regardless of whether it works or not. It gives a false sense of security.
Do you feel traditional methods of marketing have died out with the onset of internet? Also, what is your opinion on word of mouth marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing is more powerful than ever, now that much of online content is driven not by major publications and professional writers, but by consumers and “average people”, if I can use that term. So word-of-mouth promotion is really the most effective form of promotion, as people are more open to being suggested an album than being told what to listen to (unless it’s a taste maker authority such as Pitchfork, or a respected review site like Popmatters).
Traditional methods of marketing can still be highly effective online. There are many more outlets for coverage/press than there ever have been, so the possibilities are endless. The reason most bands get poor results when promoting is they target the top 50 or 100 music blogs, not knowing that a million other artists are doing the same thing, and the editors of these blogs have grown apathetic. More effort put into seeking out small and mid-level websites who cater to your genre will yield surprising results…and guess who keeps an eye out for artists who get covered on the mid-level blogs? You guessed it. The major blogs. You just have to see yourself as the new leopard in the jungle and make your presence known.
Can you tell us what are the two things that a band/artist should and should not do while promoting themselves?
Bands/artists should not put out an album without properly promoting and act as if they are. It sends confusing messages to the public and ultimately hurts the band in the long run. Artists should instead prepare, leave time for promotion, and save up. If you spent a year writing and recording, you should show the art some basic respect and give it a push.
Also, artists should not talk about themselves and how great they are. You should let other people do so. The only way to do this is to get press.
Being a music promoter, what do you think is the most difficult aspect of your job?
The most difficult part of the job for most promoters is the challenge of publications being inundated with thousands of artists, being very busy, and having a low response rate. That’s why it’s critical to put in extensive research and be personable, as well as be creative and throw the rulebook in the garbage completely when promoting art that you care about.
Your advice for those who are just starting out in the music industry?
I’d say, if you’re looking to be the next Rihanna or Nickelback, you may want to meditate on that a bit and examine closely why you’re doing it. Do you just want to be a star? Do you want people to hear your message? Do you feel you can help people? That’s very dangerous territory, and perfect ingredients for megalomania. Your inspiration should come from a very deep space inside, a place of silence and clarity, so that your action is clear and direct. If you’re compelled to play music for the right reasons, nothing should stop you on your path, no matter what the hipster indie organizations do or say.
“The world is a global village”. PSY – Gangam Style is an example of that. In today’s world, do you think music promotions need to be restricted to a particular region/country?
Absolutely not. I always focus worldwide and never exclude a website. In fact, I enjoy seeking out publications and platforms of all types. It’s one of the fun aspects of my work. Sometimes artists get too stuck in their local area and think “Well, my local paper won’t answer my emails and neither will the local music blogs. What do I do now?” I say, completely ignore them then and target everywhere else. They will come running when you’re known elsewhere. It’s a pattern of the mind.
What are your thoughts about Musicperk.com?
Musicperk.com is one of my favorite websites for a few reasons, and I’m not just saying this because of the interview! I’ve worked with you guys for a long time and there are some ingredients for success that are notable. One is attention; it’s easy to get inundated with requests and fall behind on emails, but having a high reply rate is critical for a site’s reputation, and Musicperk certainly does that. Another aspect is positive attitude. Many websites come across like jerks with overly extensive submission policies and inflated egos. Musicperk is different in that regard, too. The third element is creativity and expansion. Musicperk is always growing and changing, taking input from its audience and inspired from within to bring new material to the public.
As far as promoting music in India, I don’t know why more promoters don’t do this. Especially for myself, who focuses on a lot of high quality rock music, it’s critical to promote in India, where I know for a fact there are a ton of rock fans.
Thanks very much for having me!