Online advertising tips for musicians

Paid ads aren't that bad.
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Paid ads aren’t that bad.

If you’ve ever released songs into the universe, you know it’s more than just the music.

With so much content out there today, the if-you-build-it-they-will-come mentality won’t get anyone too far, unless “they” know where to find “it” (“it” being your music).

Truth is, although every band starts their music career somewhere , we don’t really hear stories of quiet releases, songs with <1,000 spins, or a let-down that came from unmet expectations on release day.

Thankfully, there are a number of tools (free & paid) to help you spread the word about music, shows or events your fans need to know about. While I’ll admit I often encourage indie bands to learn earned media strategies – think press features, referrals, social networking – paid advertising, done strategically, works. And in case the term “paid advertising” already has a few of you cringing, I’ll do my best to hit need-to-know basics, in hopes you can apply these concepts as soon as today.

Effective marketing is simply a game of connecting the dots. You need to know:

  • who you’re try to reach,
  • what you’re offering them,
  • and what you want them to do.

WHO YOU’RE TRYING TO REACH

aka a “Target Demographic”

There are a few ways to find out who your target demographic is, which is a another term that simply means “your fans.” We’ve found it helps indie musicians to identify their “Perfect Fan” as a visual way to help bring their digital audience to life.

If you have a Facebook, Instagram or Spotify Account, you can use the insights from these pages to find out the age range and gender of your followers. Any trends you notice (ex. mostly female, party people) can help you get a better sense of who’s following your stories and who seems the most interested in the music you’re creating.

Brand-new to the game? Think about your “perfect fan” as an ideal and explore social media pages of bands or artists like you for clues. Ultimately your “Perfect Fan” is going to be created from a mix of insights, intuition, and a touch of creativity.

For the purposes of Facebook ads, think about your “perfect” fan’s motivations – what genre of music would they like? How would they spend their free time? Are there other bands that sound similar? Key “interests” can be used to help you increase the odds of reaching your fans, or potential fans, with the message or music you’re sharing.

WHAT YOU’RE OFFERING THEM

aka a “Value Proposition”

No matter what type of music you’re creating or what your “live show experience” is like, you have something to offer listeners. It can help to make a list of what the “value” is from what you are doing – what exactly will fans get if they follow you online or see you live? Get creative; it can be more than one thing, and more than music.

When you release music or you promote an upcoming show, your value proposition will include the item that you want your fans to purchase (ex. a CD or a concert ticket). If you’re simply looking for exposure and reach, your value proposition might be a Facebook Live video of you singing your new song while doing a handstand (hey, why not?).

WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO

aka a “Call to Action” or CTA

Once you’ve figured out who you’re trying to reach, and what you’re offering them… it’s time to tell fans what you want them to do. As it relates to a music release or show, it may seem obvious (ex. Pre-order my album or buy a ticket in advance). For other “asks,” consider your objective as you think of what your CTA should be. If your goal is to increase your “like” count on Facebook, your CTA will be for fans to “like” your page.

When you create a paid advertisement, make sure you don’t ask too much from fans. If possible, include just one CTA per advertisement to help you maximize your results.

Test different types of content for Facebook advertising to see what type performs best for you. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a better sense of where and how to allocate funds & tactics the next go-around. Ultimately, the best strategy is the one that works.

[Photo used courtesy of Vixen Visuals.]

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