Talking Shop with IMP’s Head Honcho, Stephen James Moore

I’ve always dreamt of a recurring column on the faces behind the scenes in the world of independent arts. One of my favorite interviews I ever published was with Kaila Hier, a film publicist and PR superstar who has introduced the world to some truly incredible independent movies and promoted some of the most interesting film festivals out there. Kaila is one of my favorite PR folks to work with, but there are so many other names and faces that the general public never sees despite deserving their own spotlight.

In the world of music PR, Stephen James Moore is a true rockstar – the man in charge of IMP, Independent Music Promotions. He literally wrote the book on marketing music as a social media virus and continues to lend support and love for artists in the independent scene worldwide. He’s turned me on to some truly great acts over the years, including Philly’s own indie rap superstar Saynave and one of my favorite modern punk acts, Sickpay.

Steve also has a badass metal band of his own, by the way… so while you read our words below, feel free to pop Post Death Soundtrack on in the background to get the full experience!

You may know him as James, I know him as Steve, but I’d like him to introduce himself now. So, let’s kick off with the first question for any interview. Who is Stephen James Moore?

Hey Justin! I think of myself first and foremost as a musician, lyricist and songwriter. I got into music at around age 13 when I found I felt a bit like an outsider. I started recording terrible sounding demos at age 15, and slowly developed my craft, which is now primarily singing or singing and playing guitar for heavy metal, doom, hardcore punk, industrial and even some electronica/trip hop projects. I feel strongly about artistic integrity so I don’t censor myself, and with Independent Music Promotions, a company I started in 2011, I encourage my clients to do the same. I like to attract artists who don’t give a damn what is expected of them and who just speak their truths.

So, Steve, for the better part of a decade I’ve been working with you and checking artists you work with at Independent Music Promotions. Can you tell folks what IMP is?

Independent Music Promotions is a music PR company I started in 2011. It was formed with the intention of being kind of an antithesis to most PR companies who tend to seek the trendiest and most mainstream-sounding artists, all the while guaranteeing them no coverage. I find that it’s not difficult to guarantee coverage if you work on maintaining good contacts. Overall, IMP is eclectic. I want IMP to be known for introducing everything from experimental jazz and ambient electronica to doom metal and hardcore punk. I’m passionate about all of it. I’m not just a musician. I’m a music fanatic who owns over 2,000 vinyl records (that I’m struggling to unpack in my new place), so this helps me relate to my artist clients and creates a kind of family atmosphere. I understand where they’re coming from, their influences, their history and musical references…you have to live it to do it properly.

I want to dive a bit deeper. Can we start from the beginning, what inspired you to start IMP and how did it all come about?

I was always the one guy (there always is the one guy) in my bands over the years who would handle the marketing, while everyone else got to lay back and say ‘I just like the creation process’. This became a frustrating pattern. Still, I learned a lot and spent a ton of time online, reaching out to publications and promoters, copywriting, etc. Like most musicians,I too have been ripped off, or at least felt ripped off, by a music PR company, and I wanted there to be a worthwhile, guaranteed service musicians could actually count on. So I decided to start my own PR company founded on the premise of more secure guarantees, guaranteed press, some advertising, practical SEO-focused promotion to enhance Google reach permanently/etc. I intended to start a company that I would hire for my own releases and it grew from there.

As you’re aware, a large mission of mine, when it comes to running The Farsighted, has always been highlighting independent art, whether film, music, literature, or whatever. I was drawn to independent music and the DIY ethic as a young punk in the 90s music scene of Northern NJ. What about promoting independent artists inspires you to keep doing the work you do?

For me, it’s being one primarily. I’m 43, and for some strange reason I’m still making music and just released the best album I’ve ever made with Post Death Soundtrack. It took a long time to season my skills. I love independent artists because… although I have great respect for other things, music is my whole life. It’s my sport. I play and record music. I collect music and listen. I promote music. There isn’t much time for me to follow much else. I like that independent artists can do and say what they want and I always encourage them to do just that. That is beautiful to me. The DIY ethic has also been instilled in me from a young age. I grew up trying to rise up in the Calgary punk scene and have worked with awesome guys like Casey Lewis of Belvedere many times now. He is a go-to drummer and producer for me. Because music has always been the only safe space for me for self-expression and freedom, and this is likely the only thing I’m good at, I gravitated towards this.

Obviously any artist reading these is free to reach out to you for promotion packages, but if there’s a passionate artist who doesn’t yet have the funds to afford professional promotion, what is some of the advice you’d give them to start? And, if they want a bit more, where can they grab a copy of your book?

Yes, often artists ask why I have the rates that I do. It’s because I am contacted almost daily by new marketing companies who have organic advertising, social media and other offerings. I take the time to vet them all. The ones who are excellent, I aim to add them to the campaigns. So a lot of what you see, and the funds I am paid, go directly into advertising. Sometimes I even end up going over-budget. So there’s more than meets the eye! As I keep learning, I keep wanting to be more comprehensive and add more heavy push to the campaigns, and we are competing with major artists, so things like social media ads, Spotify ads and sponsored news posts are very much needed. Artists can actually just reach out for advice at All I ask is that you be specific in that you’re asking for advice, a playlist spot, or PR, because if you just send a press release, I don’t really have the capacity to deal with that. And that’s a good tip for any artist. Just be clear what you are looking for, which many artists don’t do. If you simply do that, you’ll be surprised by the amount of support you get. Artists can get my book on Amazon.

Thanks! In this new interview series, I am talking folks who work behind the scenes in the arts. You’re our first interview, but I plan to revisit my interview years back with film publicist Kaila Hier, talk to film festival directors, and reach out to a few indie book publishers I know soon. There’s so much behind the scenes that goes into the art and culture we experience. What are some of the things behind the scenes in the works of music that have surprised you?

I wouldn’t say too much has surprised me, except one thing. I guarantee you, if you are a musician and you don’t just give up after the creation process, thinking your work is done, you will find the marketing world exciting. Yes, it’s challenging. But it’s extremely rewarding and necessary to market your work and connect with real people. I’ve personally been a bit cursed to play with musicians who just want to have fun over the years, and it wears on you. Once you realize connecting with others and sharing your work is actually fun, you’ll enjoy the whole process.

Before we wrap up this interview, I wanted to to get superficial a bit and just talk about the stuff you love. Who are some of your all time fave musical artists?

Oh, wow. First of all, Nirvana, The Beatles and Tool (Ænima mainly). Alice in Chains, Gucci Mane, 21 Savage, Skinny Puppy, Mike Patton, Metallica, Refused, The Doors, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Portishead, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Sepultura, Soundgarden, Iggy Pop/The Stooges, Windhand, Russian Circles, Massive Attack, on and on.

How about currently? What do you find yourself listening to most these days?

I’m just getting all my vinyl unpacked after a long-distance move. I’ve been listening to the new 21 Savage and Gucci Mane records. Gucci Mane is a hero to me and my favorite rapper by far. I’ve also checked out the new Pearl Jam and it’s ok. The Nirvana In Utero re-release had some excellent live tracks. Unbelievable energy. Other than that, I’m kind of waiting to unbox everything and revisit this music library of mine. That being said, I always try to discover new music. Oh, I also really enjoyed the new PJ Harvey album and, just like Gucci Mane, I bought it on vinyl. She is fantastic.

As a fan, what artists have stuff on the horizon that you’re most excited to hear?

I like artists that have a sense of danger to them. As an artist myself, I feel that being vulnerable in your art makes you more magnetic, or at least I find it way more authentic. Of course, there are big players like Tool where it’s a wonderful event when they release an album, because the whole world is listening at roughly the same time. There are reaction videos, and those times are pretty fun (same with Metallica). I also closely follow doom metal, bands like Windhand, YOB and Russian Circles, so whenever they release something, I’m there. Tom Waits, too. He is elusive and doesn’t release something every day, so it’s special when he does. Pretty much, I’m like everybody else. I cultivate favorites in my brain over the years and I grow to love these people.

Oh… and you know I’m a film buff. Have you watched anything lately that you think I should check out?

I thought Emily the Criminal with Aubrey Plaza was pretty good. She should do more intense stuff like this and I think she will. Other than that, I just heard the original Lord of the Rings (extended version) series is coming back to theaters in HD, so I’ll be going to those showings. Absolutely love those films.

Ok, thanks for that! Sometimes it’s just fun to talk about the things we love as fans! So, as we wrap, can you share some of the artists you’re working with now that you think our readers should check out?

Yes, I think Chris Ianuzzi is a dark electronica/industrial music genius and honestly, it would be worth your while to spend some time with his work. Lara Taubman, an Americana/anti-folk artist whose work is confessional and strong like PJ Harvey or Gillian Welch. Idiot Grins, who play a smart mix of R&B, funk and junkyard rock. J’Moris, who, to me is one of Texas’s best rappers. He is essential listening for anyone getting into rap music. And of course, my band, Post Death Soundtrack.

Man, this was fun. Let’s continue this in a longer podcast form sometime, just because I want to keep picking your brain. As we leave, I have two more questions, first… how can folks follow you and get a hold of you?

The best way to get a hold of me is by hollering at This is mainly because I don’t like my text getting clogged up with non-personal or medical things. We can easily schedule a phone call if need be.

And, lastly, if you can leave artists reading this with the one most important bit of advice, what would it be?

Don’t be cynical. There are wonderful people on both sides of the industry. And please, do not spend all your funds on recording. I know everyone loves recording, but no restaurant spends their funds on the rental and then says ‘we have no money for plates or cutlery’. You have to plan for some marketing. Research some of the forefront people (who have good reviews) serving your genres and go from there. It’s also good to hire several different people, as I have for my new album (as well as myself pushing it). It’s all about believing in your work and having fun promoting it.

Justin has been running websites since his first Geocities site in 1994, but only did he ever start covering anything of substance years later. After he stopped regularly running local concerts in Northern NJ and the greater Philly area, he knew he needed to step up his writing game if he expected to continue to get free music to listen to. He writes regularly here and at Cinapse, as well as contributing to a few other sites on occasion. He likes music, film, the Philadelphia Eagles, the 76ers, talking about Criminal Justice, reading Intelligence Report, and his family... not in that order. His beautiful wife is far more talented than he is and his kids far more adorable... and crazy.
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