Don’t let anyone tell you that there aren’t any good mentors in the music business these days. Because I know one.
Promoting your band is a lot more than throwing up a Facebook page and launching a Twitter account. And if you listen to Moore, you quickly find that the information and guidance he’s offering, works.
Moore’s extensive book series Your Band Is A Virus is a favorite among emerging bands and those who are looking to take control of their own futures.
I got some insight from Moore about some of the essentials. So if you’re an artist looking to break out, come back or just try something solid and useful, this is a thoroughly interesting read.
SW: What was lacking in the music world that caused you to create IMP?
IMP: Well, I.M.P is just an extension of my personal ideas on both music and the music business. As far as the music business side, I saw first hand that many PR companies were ripping artists off left, right and center.
I don’t agree with the “we’ll see” approach when there’s money involved. I think that you should exert quality control from the front door and guarantee results or else provide a refund. It’s a new way to do PR, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing – guaranteed PR.
As far as the music side, I feel, as many people do, that mainstream music in general does a horrible job of expressing the human experience. The picture it paints is a violent and materialistic one, but I don’t think that’s accurate, at least in my experience, looking at the people I’ve known and the people I see every day. I don’t think people are shallow or stupid and music doesn’t need to be either.
Radio, Idol music and club music have their place, but there is room for an alternative, and that’s what “music with depth” is about. “Music with depth” to me, is music that was made for itself, not as a cash cow.
It’s music that would have been made with or without a crowd funding campaign! Public Enemy, Janelle Monae, PJ Harvey, Dillinger Escape Plan, Nirvana, Tom Waits, Amon Tobin, David Bowie…that’s music with depth to me, but I tend to take on anything high quality that I feel is sincere.
SW: What are the basics for an artist to know?
IMP: So many things, but an artist should not compromise or be safe. Once you compromise your art, you sound like an audio compromise, and there’s nothing worse than that.
I hear so many indie bands going for the exact same, safe sound, and it all sounds like Starbucks music that you could take to Grandma’s house. I understand the motivation to do this kind of work.
They want licensing. They want to hit the mainstream. They want to be the backdrop for the next iTunes commercial. But what they don’t realize is that the artists who break through are the ones who actually take a risk and say something individual, something artistic.
The other thing – if you actually do this and your work is unique and artistic, be smart enough to put the same passion and effort into promoting yourself that you put into the music. If you don’t do this, you’re either a hobbyist or you’re not as passionate as you thought you were.
SW: What kind of guidance do you give new artists versus an artist who’s
been around for a while?
IMP: Relatively the same. Obviously, for more seasoned artists we focus on leveraging current accolades and successes in order to create new ones and then leverage those. For new artists, we just generate the initial successes to drastically boost their resumes. The process works from either standpoint.
SW: What’s the #1 mistake artists make in promoting themselves?
IMP: The subject – object dilemma. They look at the world as an artist with all that entails. With the identity of being an “artist” comes many, many beliefs and biases. Some may be about how good art will be found. Others may be about how you should not have to pay for anything (which many artists believe, actually). Others will be biases towards all kinds of advertising.
I hear so many indie bands going for the exact same, safe sound, and it all sounds like Starbucks music that you could take to Grandma’s house.
So, this narrow perception is the root of all evil when it comes to music promotion. It’s best completely scrapped so that artists are free to run the show.
You just released an album? Well, you’re the CEO of your business. You don’t need to pander to anyone or be “scooped up” by a magical record label. You outsource your promotion or go DIY. You get advice on your advertising and you do it, just as a label would. You build your own fanbase directly. Everything is a collaboration. You’re the business.
SW: Give a few examples of some artists who have done it all right from
concept to promotion and beyond.
IMP: I think Janelle Monae has done a fantastic job of keeping her high-minded concepts and soul intact while rising to the top. She may not be as popular as Beyonce, but I think she’s about as huge as you can get without going the stripping route.
Janelle Monae is a big success and she proved it was possible to do it the classy way, which sends an important message. As a results, she’s incredibly respected.
The Dillinger Escape Plan have been extremely consistent with growth, from constant touring to a string of critically acclaimed albums. They keep getting bigger and the keep deserving it.
SW: Is it ever too late to start again?
IMP: No. Anyone telling you that is playing the devil’s advocate, so they’re talking out of their ass.
SW: When do artists know they’ve hit their mark?
IMP: The way I see it, I think that feeling is a creative one – when you feel you’ve really expressed yourself optimally with your work and created something powerful. Then the promotion is really fun. You feel successful no matter what happens.
SW: How should artists use press?
IMP: Artists should leverage their press by adding relevant clips to their press sections/EPK’s and also to their bio. They should include press when reaching out to companies, venues, festivals, labels, etc. It’s social proof. They should actually advertise their press, because this will a) amplify the social proof and increase their standing online, b) gain them more admiration from the publication because of the effort put in, c) potentially get them a ton of new fans when their article is the “most popular” on the website.
So, most of you artists who just say “Thanks” and then let it sink like a stone….you need to work harder!
SW: Are you an artist yourself?
IMP: I do play a bit, but I keep it completely separate from I.M.P.
I want each to be uncontaminated so I don’t use one to promote the other.
SW: How does an artist attract an audience?
IMP: They need to create something from nothing. Nobody wants to get involved with nothing. You need to build something that people want to hop on board with. To do this, you’ll need to invest; do hyper-targeted advertising to fans of specific artists similar to you.
Target areas you want to take over. Think like a business in this regard. Build your following online as well as with personalized hype and outreach at your shows (you can hire people for this) so that it begins to create a vacuum. You need an audience to attract an audience, which sounds ironic, but it’s not. Luckily, it’s not difficult to build an initial audience with a strong product and targeted ads.
SW: How do they keep them?
IMP: Provide them with great music consistently. Engage them in conversation, but in your own way. Treat them very well and be appreciative, but there’s no need to kiss up or pander…or beg. No one likes a band begging for likes or contest entries. Treat them as you would want to be treated as a fan of a great artist.
SW: What’s the key to a long music career?
IMP: Passion and the patience and professionalism to follow it.
SW: What will tank a music career faster than anything?
SW: Anything else you’d like to share about IMP and its vision/goals?
IMP: Just that we’re always looking for new “music with depth” so feel free to get in touch any time! Thanks for having me, Lisa!