What to expect when marketing your music

Marketing your music can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if it’s your first time.

You’re putting your new music in the spotlight, and it’s going to get a reaction.

Music marketing can be stressful — even when you’re successful. So we thought we’d help you mentally prepare.

Here are nine things to brace for as you build a marketing campaign, run ads on social, or share your songs with new listeners:

1. Indifference and rejection

It’s just part of the math. Good marketing is a process of winnowing to find your true fans. And chances are most people will not like you or your music.

The same is true for mega-popular artists. While they have millions of fans the world over, there are far more people who either haven’t heard of them, or who don’t like their music.

Even when your audience starts to grow and you gain tons of fans, many more people will simply not care. You can’t please ’em all. And for that reason you’ll need to…

2. Develop thick skin

Whether it’s plain old indifference or outright rejection towards your music, you’ll receive some negativity when you start to market. It’s easy (and understandable) to take that criticism personally. You’ve spent the time to craft music you’re proud of. You have a special attachment to it. Now some anonymous person online is saying it sucks?

There are a few ways to respond to negativity. The first is that you can simply not respond at all. Ignore the haters and move on. But if you choose to respond, make sure you don’t burn any bridges when you do. Taking the “So you think you can do any better?” approach can come off as petty. If you must react to criticism, do it diplomatically and then move on. Don’t dwell on the haters.

3. Spend money to make money

The old business adage is true. You can’t reach the world for free. Most new startups plan to “lose” money before they turn a profit. There are customer acquisition costs, infrastructure costs, and so forth.

If you want to launch an effective digital marketing campaign, you usually need to pay.

And early on, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t recoup those costs even IF your campaign is successful.

4. Work and analysis

Music marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” venture. When you launch a marketing campaign, it must be managed and optimized.

This means some early morning and/or late nights, which can be tiring if you’ve already got a full work schedule.

But invest those extra hours in your marketing. If you don’t take it seriously, no one else will.

5. Your assumptions will be challenged

These assumptions could be about anything:

  • what constitutes “success”
  • who your target audience is
  • where in the world your music performs best
  • which song or video is the hit
  • how much an average conversion will cost

You might have a hunch before you start. But the answers are shaped by your audience, not you as the marketer.

This can be jarring at first. You might think your target demographic is college kids, only to find out it’s Gen Xers who are listening most.

Or that new track you’re proud of and so sure it’s the one? It may get a lukewarm reaction compared to a deep cut that takes off thanks to some random TikTok video, sync placement, or playlist.

When you can, have a few options, and test them against each other. You don’t always know what will take off — or with what audience.

6. The feeling of “now what?”

This is common after marketing campaigns big and small, from major companies to self-run businesses. After all the buildup and anxiety of launching a campaign, there’s a letdown afterwards that can hit hard — even when your marketing has gone well.

Have a followup plan in place so you avoid plateauing. You’ve got your audience’s attention. Now lead them to the next step on the journey.

7. Changes in advertising and algorithmic trends

The strategy you used for your last campaign might not work the next time you attempt it. Trends are… trends. Returning to the same well too many times (or even just more than once) could mean you’re pouring resources into something that will probably have fewer returns.

Don’t get stale. Stay nimble.

8. CTAs and external links will cost you

Social media platforms don’t want people to leave. If an ad contains a link to your artist website or another external site that takes someone away from the platform they’re on, that ad will cost you more.

Also, content with “calls-to-action” tend to LOOK more like ads, which will cost you more since the social platforms want your ads to appear like native, organic, viral content.

9. Niche will cost you more

Often the more targeted you want to be with your audience, the more expensive your campaign will be. Going after specific age, region or gender demographics can cost more than marketing to a broader audience.

This isn’t always the case of course, depending on your objectives; but when possible, think wider when you market your music.

Marketing content that has a broader emotional appeal (while still speaking to the target audience) will bring in more people from across all demographics, which will in turn grow your fanbase.

In other words, if appealing to people who are adjacent to your target audiences gives your content more actual viral power, you’ll get greater reach than you would going niche.

Greater reach for less money means you’re also bound to find more of your true fans too.

Want to learn more essential info on marketing your music?

Watch the full podcast episode “Music Marketing 101, Part 1” (or listen below):