If there’s one thing artists always want to know when it comes to music marketing, it’s where they should spend their hard-earned money. Creating a sustainable income from music is no easy feat, so it’s natural that musicians want to invest their earnings wisely.
Artists often believe that they have to spend money to make money and progress their career. However, in the early stages there are actually plenty of easy strategies to promote your music for free.
Saying this, there comes a time when a little investment goes a long way, so in this article we want to show you where you should be spending your money as an emerging artist in order to gain the best return on your investment.
As a music marketing company, we see artists throw money at pointless endeavours all the time, so we’re going to point out the things you should avoid wasting your money on too.
1. Social Media Ads
Whenever we’re asked the question ‘where should artists spend money first?’ – we don’t hesitate to answer: social media ads. The idea of spending money on platforms that are supposed to be free can put a lot of artists off, but if you do it right, you will get results.
What we love so much about social ads is that even if you don’t make huge gains in streams or new followers first time round, you’ve still gained something: data. Experimenting with ads is a great way to find your target audience, so although it might feel like you haven’t got much return at first, the data you have obtained becomes a valuable asset, as you can retarget these people at a later date when you have a bigger ad budget.
Not only this, but you can start off small with as little as $5 and see exactly what you’re getting for your money thanks to cost per click measures. In terms of music marketing and PR, there simply isn’t another form of promotion which shows you where your money is actually going.
Experimentation is key when it comes to ads. For instance, rather than blowing all your budget on one ad, split it between a handful of different ones. Play around with titles, demographics and locations to see what works best – this way you won’t waste all your money and you will have narrowed down your audience at the same time.
Focus On The Content
Our biggest tip for ads is actually to do with the content itself. We’ve heard artists complain that ads don’t work, even though they’ve tried various targeting combinations, but more often than not, the reason they aren’t working is because of the content. Usually, this is what needs changing up if you’re not finding favourable results on your ads.
There are 3 things we have found work best to ensure your ads are successful and cost effective:
- Use banners: Doing this helps your ad stand out and stop people scrolling. The text needs to be intriguing and spark people’s interest. We’ve done A/B tests with ads using a banner and without, and both the cost-per-click and engagement are significantly improved when you employ them.
2. Tell a story: Make sure you are getting people emotionally invested by telling the story of your track, you as an artist or what inspired you to create music.
3. Add Value: Don’t just take from your audience, you need to create value in your ad for them by telling them what they stand to gain from it. This could be put across in the banner or the caption, but show people how they will benefit by investing time in you.
Need some help starting off with ads? Check out our video tutorial right here.
2. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is amazing, but there is a caveat…
In recent years the online world has seen a huge surge in the use of this kind of marketing, but because of that, it has become an increasingly saturated market. As a result, a lot of people have begun to waste their promotion budgets simply paying anyone and everyone to stick their track in the background of an Instagram story. This just doesn’t work anymore.
The thing with using influencers is that is has to be the right fit not only for you, but also for the influencer. Otherwise, it’s only going to feel forced and inauthentic. Modern content consumers are clever enough these days to sniff out a cheap bit of product placement, so you won’t be fooling anyone.
When we welcomed Artist Manager of Nina Nesbitt, Chelsea Wood, on to our podcast, she pointed out how important it is that “If an influencer markets anything, how is it right for your brand? It always has to be your brand and what is right for you.”
In other words, there’s no point in getting a fitness influencer to use your track in their content if you’re a folk/singer-songwriter artist because it probably isn’t going to fit. You need to be really selective when hiring an influencer, so do your research on them first and make sure it’s a match made in heaven before you part with any cash.
This tip is a little different as it’s something you should spend money on before you’ve released your music.
If you’re familiar with any of our video content across YouTube and Instagram, you’ll have heard us say that the best place to start when it comes to music marketing is with a quality product. You could be the best at music promotion in the world, but without substance and quality music, you’re essentially flogging a dead horse.
So before you even think about your marketing strategy for your next release, or splashing the cash on other methods of promotion, ask yourself if the quality of your track is good enough.
By quality, we don’t just mean a catchy pop song or a banging dance anthem, but also the sonic quality of your music. Has it been mixed and mastered properly to a high level of production? If not, then this is the place you should be spending your money before anything else.
How Do I Know if My Music is Good Enough?
There’s one really easy way of knowing if your mix is good enough: listen to a playlist that you think your music would fit well to and honestly ask yourself if it sounds good enough. In terms of sound quality, is it within the same ballpark as the other tracks? Alternatively, get the honest opinion of other musicians you know.
In our podcast with Matthew Fletcher, manager of Mcfly and (formerly) Busted, he highlighted the importance of focusing on the quality of your music at the start of your career:
“People don’t focus enough, in my opinion, on the quality of their songs. If you want to be an artist, then that has to be your number one focus. Get that right first.”
“And I would always say to people – just be honest with yourself, even if people around you can’t be. And even if you want to be dishonest, be dishonest in the sense of it not being good enough. Compare it to your idols and ask yourself honestly, is it as good as that?”
Where NOT to spend your money
1. Buying Fake Followers or Streams
We’ve made our stance on purchasing followers and streams clear many a time before – and in case you were wondering, it’s not a positive one. We can understand the temptation when you’re early on in your career and you compare yourself to other artists, but this will only set you back in the long run.
Whether it’s getting ‘shadowbanned’ by Instagram for buying followers or having your music removed from Spotify for dealing in fake streams, the gratification is only temporary and you end up hindering the progress of your career.
2. Buying Gear You Don’t Need
That new guitar or synth can be pretty alluring, but is it going to make you a better musician? Probably not. Is it going to get you new fans? Definitely not. Think about all the coverage and exposure you could secure using the methods we listed if you didn’t break the bank on frivolous ego-boosting purchases.
3. Spending Big on a Music Video
You might think that since we preach about getting the quality of your music right first, the same would apply to your music video – but it’s not quite the same ball game. If you’re still in the early stages of your career, spending loads on a fancy video is a waste because you don’t have the audience yet. Big artists can afford to do this because they know that people are going to watch it. Without that guaranteed exposure, would you feel comfortable forking out several thousand on a team to make your production ultra high-end?
Further down the line, there could well be the demand for you to make polished videos, but until then, try some of these alternatives to a music video which will provide you with quality content without leaving you bankrupt.
To wrap up, promoting your music doesn’t have to cost the earth, especially when it comes to using ads – even with a small budget you can conduct some market research that you can use further down the line too. Saying this, it is worth investing in things like production to set you on the best possible path from the get go.
However, if you’re yet to make your debut release, don’t think that you need to spend tons of money to get off the ground – you’re still testing the waters at this stage and you won’t have much of an audience yet. In this case, focus on building that audience through your content strategy before splashing the cash.