Walter Hargrave, Indie Music Bus – interview
As the driver of the Indie Music Bus, with all of the Indie artists out there now, Walter Hargrave has a long and fascinating ride ahead of him. The Indie Music Bus is an answer to the independent musicians’ prayers, offering various services from promotion to internet radio and blogger directories to DIY tips and tricks, and most importantly “belief”.
There is not much more that I add to the answers Walter provided and his wife, Darlene helped add some life to, except that for the Indie artists it is essential that you read this. It could very well change your life and enhance your journey. You can follow Indie Music Bus on Twitter, as all links are listed below….
What is Indie Music Bus, and what exactly does Indie Music Bus do?
Indie Music Bus™ is a self-promotion service for independent music.
- A brand name and acronym “IMB”
- A metaphor for a vehicle to support independent music
- A software that is the engine that drives our automated part of social media promotion
- A philosophy of effective teamwork
- Long-term, trustworthy support
- Honest and transparent
- A team of volunteer writers and listeners
Indie Music Bus™
- Offers promotion & social media opportunities
- Invites certain artists for an interview
- Offers Tips and DIY advice
- Pages with friendly radio stations and blog sites
- Free Services and Ad free websites
Research Phase / A&R
The thing we do the most around here is listen to music! Lots of music, we have listened to more songs than we can over the years. Music submissions arrive via email, from our database on the IMB website or via a third-party interface like at ReverbNation. Often, 7 thus far, we work with ReverbNation to find many of the artists we now feature via their campaigns.
Social Media Promotion on Twitter
For artists Riding the Bus, its “engine” shares music, video, websites, reviews and interviews. During our automated promotion cycles, it uses a mixture of random processes, day of week and time of day type events, to broadcast stored information about an artist or band.
Information broadcasts could be a song title by an artist name with a link to the music or any of the things mentioned above.
We are Social
As often as possible, we will watch Twitter and other social media to answer questions and direct messages. Sometimes fun chats and informative chats will spontaneously occur. Often, the conversations spark an idea for new advice to share with others. Chat with us on Twitter anytime!
Artist and Industry Interviews: There are officially two of us, Candice and myself, who work on interviewing artists, industry professionals and hobbyists. They are about 800+ words long and carefully researched. The questions asked will conjure answers that will appeal to music industry media and music fans.
After many interviews, we noticed that some artists were not adding press to their websites. It is very important to link all good press on your website. More about this later in the interview
Pinned Tweet Simple Opportunities/Contests
As often as possible, we create and offer simple but effective opportunities to give everyone a chance at exposure. For instance, last week we had a pinned tweet that simply said, “Two acts will win interviews, simply like this post and comment why you should win!” Our pinned tweet promotions receive over 10,000 views per week. We fully expect that number will grow every week.
We use some polls to find out what our following think about certain things. Sometimes a poll’s purpose is to learn more about artists or industry people. Other times they are for the benefit of our followers. Occasionally they are just for fun!
Fun Poll: So, 440hz or 432hz #tuning?
Very popular poll with 910 votes cast! 63% said 440hz.
Non-musician music fans: Do you like to read band interviews and music reviews? Long or short reads?
35% Yes – Long reads
35% Yes – Short Reads
DIY Tips and Tricks
On our website blog and social media accounts, we offer free do it yourself tips, tricks and advice on many music industry related topics. Every day, during the reading we have done, current ideas and information embellish our blog or promotion database.
Internet Radio and Blogger Directories
We spend much time checking out internet radio stations and blogs sites for quality features. Then we ask them to list their radio station or blogger information on our directory. The IMB directories are our most used feature because they receive a great deal of traffic from the major search engines and from the promotion we do. The directories are the highest-ranking pages in fact! You will find the directories via our front page. Directory listings and usage are free!
There are so many extremely talented artists out there, how does an artist catch a ride on the bus?
There are four requirements needed for long-term promotion:
- Be an independent musician or band
- Have music available to stream online
- Follow Indie Music Bus on Twitter
- Our belief in them
There are a few ways you can catch a ride on the bus, a simple follow of our Twitter account can lead to that result. An artist or band can also send information about their music via a form on our website. Via third-party suggestions and occasional random discovery with an invite!
When an independent artist applies and gets approval, they are “Riding the Indie Music Bus” and then have access to exclusive features and opportunities.
Any artist Riding the Indie Music Bus™ can suggest their latest music to us via the email address we supply upon our congratulations announcement.
Everyone should stay in touch with us and supply updated information, music release info, re-interview requests, etc.!
What inspired you to originate Indie Music Bus?
Inspiration for Indie Music Bus came from a need to support a local Rock band in a cow town who only embraced Country styles of music. From the difficulty, I had trying to find quality support at low or no cost.
There is not much to do around my home town for entertainment. Researching on the web looking for internet radio stations and blog sites was tedious and drawn out. I wanted to make this easier and less time consuming for myself. I was inspired to provide this service to others based on my struggles. There are many bad people out there making promises they cannot keep. They charge the artists for these so-called services and they leave them in the cold. I believe in being honest and open about what I can offer without hidden agendas. Over time, I drew other people to the cause we all believe in. We look, listen, write and blog.
Please explain #Music Monday.
The “Music Monday” is an event that occurs on Twitter every Monday, when most everyone in the industry shares music or things about music. The #Music Monday hashtag originated from somebody else ssometimebefore “Indie Music Bus” existed. I decided to create an independent version of the daylong event and named it “Indie Music Monday.” Every Monday we share music, video, artist web sites, and our interviews of the top independent talent from the bus. Also promoted on this day, is our Spotify playlist of those featured artists. The artists we promote on Music Monday sometimes come from third-party submissions and may not officially be riding the bus. Most do end up following IMB on Twitter, which is one of our requirements for the free promotion, at which time they become part of the family and added to the promotion roster.
Is there advice that you can give to anyone looking to get their musical message out there?
Carefully build the right relationships with social media rather than always broadcasting.
- On social media, be mostly social first. Only when your audience appears receptive should you offer a call to action. Switch from social or broadcasting depending on whether your audience is attentive and receptive.
- Use story hooks and great backing stories in the descriptions on your YouTube videos, music tracks on SoundCloud and anywhere you can type a description. Use them in press, on your blogs, in your newsletters. Garner interest with these stories and people will be more likely to listen and even buy merchandise!
- Keep a list of the things that inspire your songs. Use that list to help develop your stories for album releases.
- During your road trips, jot down “stories from the road”. You will find them useful when it comes time to blog.
- Paraphrase and link great press on your websites! Labels, radio stations and others use your press or lack of, to help them decide whether to work with you. Make it easy for them to find! It also helps future interviewers research a great deal!
- Being independent does not necessarily mean work alone, in fact, it takes effective team work! Concentrate on building the team of people that best portray your vision.
- Achieve long term success by doing many smaller things daily rather than large things occasionally.
- If you are waiting for your “Big Break”, you are doing it wrong! You must create your own opportunities and gain your own momentum.
- Unhappy customers or fans can teach you more than the happy ones. Use criticism to better yourself.
Walter, are you a musician by any chance?
I do not consider myself a musician, however I play the drums a bit. Not looking for personal fame, but if it happens, it would be great for the artists and the brand. I’ve been a replacement of a standby who sang backup on a recording or two. I know my way around the soundboard and how to set up the stage. I did that at a few outdoor events. I have recorded and mixed a couple demo CD’s for a band. My wife and I listen to independent artists we bought and downloaded, when we take long road trips. I am the captain of the airflow, the navigator, and entertainment officer. She drives. Just drive. We sing in the car. I play the beat with my hands and she air guitars one handed. Does that count?
I understand that you put out a newsletter, how often, and what does the context include?
I have been so busy building the bus and fine-tuning the engine, the first few editions of our newsletter only presented information about upcoming opportunities. Eventually it will have a mixture of opportunities plus music selections, industry news and band interviews. A Q&A section would be fun, where questions submitted are published in the newsletter, and whoever reads it can offer the answers via email to IMB. Then, publish the answers in the next newsletter cycle. The newsletter(s) will publish monthly or weekly depending on the amount of content available. Read more about it at indiemusicbus.com/newsletter
If someone isn’t an artist but would like to see or hear the passengers on the bus, how would they do so?
There are a few ways for the public to listen to the music we support. You will find our most selective music via a Spotify playlist found in the footer at Indie Music Monday’s website. All supported artists’ music can be listened to via our interviews, newsletters and on SoundCloud or via weekly social media shares.
Thank you so much Eileen for your time and this interview. I appreciate that. I would also like to thank Jimmy Star for really being the King of Cool, and Candice Anne Marshall of Starlight Music Chronicles for her valuable contributions to Indie Music Monday’s fabulous interviews. I would also like to take this time to thank everyone who has supported independent music in any way, really, Thank YOU! ~ Walter D. Hargrave
Websites and Social Media
Indie Music Bus:
Indie Music Monday:
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.