Indie Music Bus
a metaphor for our concept of a “vehicle” to support independent music
Hello, independent music creators and supporters! My name is Walter Hargrave I have a message to the independent music industry based on years of observation and participation. Music has always been a part of my life. Music has saved me in many ways but that’s another story. I feel that I owe something back and I have a talent to share. I want to help independent music artists succeed and to eventually bring awareness of what the loss of independent music would mean to our society.
Music is central to my life. The story of Indie Music Bus™ (IMB) began year 2000. The need to build a support system started much earlier in 1998, when some friends drew me into supporting their rock band. I really believed in them, even though our country music town was so unsupportive. I wanted to find a better way to support them! Building computers and writing computer programs is also a passion and my day job. The ability to learn new languages and systems allows me to express myself in many ways. I feel it to be my strongest creative feature, through which I found ways to help the band beyond my occasional recording, mixing and musical contribution.
I discovered the internet. During my research on the internet, it became clear that finding support for the band was not going to be as easy as I anticipated. However, we did decide to put their music on a popular music site. I learned a lot in our first year and success was just within our reach when the owners of the music streaming web site made huge business errors and was forced to close. The websites and services I researched afterwards were mostly unaffordable for a financially strapped startup band. Many of the music supporting sites I studied were just scams! The long hours of research on their behalf ultimately became my inspiration to create something to support independent music.
I had a domain I was already developing named ClubKnowledge.com(CK). I took what I learned and continued to discover current ways to help me reach the goal of supporting great independent artists. Then one day, I found Twitter and that’s the day things started to really click in my mind. I thought, this is it, the place to reach the public affordably! Still using the ClubKnowledge name and Twitter account, I followed established and influential music industry people and brands. I was saddened to discover most of them only supported a few of “their” artists, ignoring other talented artists. I felt strongly about openly supporting all the talented artists and those that contribute to the continued success of independent music. Support on Twitter and from CK went on manually for many years. Eventually I had to take a break from it all because the day job became too intense.
Later I came back into the scene and decided that ClubKnowledge was just too broad of a concept and I wanted to find a better brand name. One day on Twitter, I noticed an individual who created a cool promotional concept. “Catch a ride in the front seat of our taxi”. They would mention an artist and supporter with that slogan. I thought to myself, a bus would be better, hmm, “Indie Music Bus”. So many cool things instantly came to mind from that one thought. I immediately setup the Twitter account and purchased the domain indiemusicbus.com.
An attempt was made to create the Indie Music Bus logo myself, but it looked far too amateur. So, I hired it done and it has been one of the best investments to date! Research was done to make sure my logo was globally unique. It was quite expensive, but ultimately worth it. The brand was beginning to take shape, “Ride the Indie Music Bus™”
I was still using a text based editor as my database of artists, supporters and the Tweets themselves I would share. This became far too difficult fast. I thought,” I’m a computer programmer, why am I doing it this way?”
The Indie Music Bus Engine
In 2012, I began work on a project that would set the Indie Music Bus apart from all other social media services out there. The first version of the software was written in the Microsoft™ C# language on the .Net 4.0 platform. It also integrated with version 1.0 of the Twitter API as well as SoundCloud API. It’s now using .Net 4.5.2 and version 1.1 Twitter API with a new addition to integrate with Spotify in the works. I never stop thinking about new concepts and features.
The software, “Indie Music Bus Engine”, set us apart from all other services, has many amazing features that are still used even as I type this. It runs on a server that’s not in the cloud but hosts in our office here in Florida. I will share the best features of the software below:
- Databases (searchable)
- All artists, bands and supporters riding the bus
- Contact information
- Streaming Music Tracks
- Interviews/Blog posts done via Indie Music Bus
- Tweets for Artist Accounts
- Tweets of DIY Tips
- Our quotes and other tweets
- Future ideas
- Five Twitter Apps, One for each Twitter Account
- Integration with Twitter – Get artist info, description, website URL, image etc.
- Integration with SoundCloud – allows us to instantly get the links, titles and genres of an artist’s publicly available music.
- Automated Timed/Day of Week/X Day of the Month, Event driven Social Media Promotion
- Music Sharing
- 1 in 10 chances to also share the acts’ official website
- 1 in 5 chances to also share our Music Monday interview. Includes the artists current Twitter image
- Shout out tweets stored for artists.
- DIY Tips and General Ideas for artists, radio people and bloggers and Quotes
- Contest winner’s special promotion
- Music Monday Promotion
- Follow Friday and Artist Networking Promotion
- Music Sharing
- If an artist is following Indie Music Bus during our first visit, a randomly selected opener message from the database is shouted out from our Twitter account IMB Scout.
- It can mass direct message to those riding the bus however we favor our mailing lists
Daily Social Media
Every morning and evening after work, even while the automated features of the engine does its work, I am on social media do things manually when free time permits. Chatting, responding to questions and even coming up with DIY tips on the fly as I speak with people. Conversion with industry and artist’s spark innovative ideas all the time. I run a lot of polls on Twitter which have given me much insight into the way industry people and artists think. I learn something important daily from those polls!
Daily Back Office Work
I spend a great deal of my free time reading, answering and sending of email, reviewing music submissions from our directories and third-party sources. Reading news and books to keep up with industry changes.
Almost daily, I wrote new code for upcoming features of the IMB engine.
There are so many new things I would like to develop but with such a small team and no income yet for it. All I can do is document them for later. I will list them later in this document.
Indie Music Monday Interviews and Promotion
Indie Music Monday has become our most impactful of all our promotions and it probably the most notable. It has drawn the attention of many in the main stream industry. I am sure they are watching it closely but to what end, I’m not sure and can only speculate.
Every Monday, Indie Music Monday features a top talent from those on the bus or from other third party promotional campaigns. The largest of which are ReverbNation and Music Gorilla.
During the week-long promotion for an act, their best most current video is featured as the background of our front page at indiemusicmonday.com. Their story hook, bio, photos, upcoming events, contact info and websites are also presented. Later in the week we publish an extensive 800+ word interview conducted by Candice Anne Marshall of Starlight Music Chronicles. The interview is often promoted during the weekly music sharing too!
Music by all the acts who have been featured previously or will be in the future are stored in the database as mentioned earlier to be shared during these promotions.
During the promotion and for a couple of days afterwards, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the music shares and the awesome interviews. Because of all this, Indie Music Monday is now the Top Twitter account result in Twitter searches for the hashtag #MusicMonday!
There have been plans to also have an internet radio station streaming the music 24 hours a day. But with so many changes going on in the industry, ASCAP, BMI, Stream Licensing, etc., we have put that idea on the back burner for now.
Indie Radio Submit and Blogger Directories
For a long time, I have researched many internet radio stations and blogger sites to determine what qualities I liked and disliked about them. Then I began inviting the ones I felt most worthy to form the directory because they:
- Offered radio time to independent artists free of charge or a small onetime fee.
- Mention the artist Twitter and Song title on Social media
- Pay royalties or very up front about not doing so.
- Their sites main goal is not to make money from the artists
- Show a real interest in supporting the artist and not try to scam them
These directories are the most used of the free services we offer because they are easily found in all the search engines by anyone searching for places to “submit music to”. There are many users that return often to see if there are new opportunities available. So, the traffic is always on the rise.
Future Ideas and Services
A subscription based newsletter with several “indie” subjects. Authors of the content will receive most of the profits.
An Online Game that promotes the music via the fans. Plans include a mobile app too.
Home to all acts we supported that got signed by the majors
A subscription based promotion system available only to the most serious and successful independent acts.
Logos you can use