How to Market Your Music on a Budget

As technology has evolved and made music more accessible, opportunities to share your work have become more plentiful in turn. However, it has also become just as simple for everyone else to send their own albums into the headsets of potential fans.

In a crowded industry, how can you stand out and separate your art from the overwhelming selection listeners have nowadays? The answer is marketing. 

Take song A and song B for example. Song A is shared on social media to a couple hundred followers, while song B is just added silently to Spotify. Which song will get more listens? Obviously, it’s the one that was marketed on social media.

No one – or at least very few people – are ever going to hear your music if you don’t find ways to get it in front of them. In order to reach relative commercial success, you need the magic ingredients of good music and marketing.

3 Ways to Market Your Music Through Paid Promotions

There are two ways to market your music: organically(free!) and through paid promotions($$$). 

This article will focus on ways to boost your reach through paid marketing, which is best used in conjunction with organic methods like SEO, social media, and collaborations. Here is another article I’ve written all about organic music marketing strategies.

Paid marketing has its pros and its cons. Naturally, the downside is that its costs money. As an independant and potentially debut artist or band, the last thing you want to do is drain your bank account. 

However, spending money on advertisements and paid campaigns is going to give you an immediate boost in the number of people who hear your music. 

As I understand most people don’t have access to the resources labels have, here is my suggestion for how you should spend a small music marketing budget.

Paid Music Marketing Methods

What is your overarching goal? Do you want more Spotify listeners or iTunes downloads? Maybe you want to sell more CDs? Are you just trying to grow your fan base?

Understanding the results you want to see from paid advertisements is critical. Otherwise, you will be throwing cash into the abyss. 

1. Social Media Ads for Music Marketing

Social media ads can be a great way to get your music to new people, or to have them visit your profile or website.

How you budget in this category will depend highly on the current state of your social media profiles. For example, if you don’t even have an Instagram set up for your band or music, it wouldn’t be a good idea to spend money on this platform, considering users would click on your Instagram profile picture and be greeted with a blank slate. I recommend reading through each bullet point and deciding which platforms would best suit you given your current position.

After deciding on which methods you would like to try, only use half of your Social Media Ads budget initially. It’s so important to test what works when running ads. If you saw a significant boost in iTunes downloads from your YouTube pre-roll ad, but not much from Twitter ads, then focus your remaining budget on YouTube.

Currently, Twitter has the option of using Twitter Promote Mode (which automatically shares your tweets as ads) or using the classic Twitter Ads (which requires you to set-up each ad). I personally do not recommend Twitter Promote Mode. Though it’s easy to use, I just do not find it as successful as when I set the ads up on my own.

I find that Twitter Ads can get quite expensive when trying to get new followers. In my experience, it has cost me about $2.00 per follower, which is not worth it in my own opinion. However, if you are interested in directly getting more listens of your music, it could be a great resource for you. 

Quite honestly, it surprises me that so many people still use Facebook, as I feel like I lost interest in it years ago. But alas, it still gets over 2.4 billion active users per month.

When it comes to advertising on Facebook, you get to choose your objective(brand awareness, clicks, etc), ad format (image or video), audience demographics, and placements. Feel free to tweak for your specific goals, but if you are looking to get more Spotify listens or iTunes downloads, I recommend the following set-up.

Choose the Product Conversion objective, and use a music video/short clip or a relevant image as the ad. Then, make sure it links to your song or album on iTunes or Spotify. Spend some time working on the text to accompany the ad. Imagine yourself as a typical Facebook user and think about what you would and would not click on.

Instagram ads would be a good idea if you’re looking to get more Instagram followers. You should have a lot of good photos and videos already on your profile, and the focus should be on your music. If you share relevant content often, this could be a great way to get more people to see any updates regarding new songs or tour dates.

There are a number of different ways to advertise on YouTube, but I recommend skippable in-stream ads. This style of ad allows you to play a lyric video, music video, or acoustic version of you playing your song before users watch a video. 

You have the ability to target people based on the type of video they’re currently watching, such as music videos of a similar genre or if they have checked out your music previously. You can also narrow the demographic by choosing the desired user’s age, gender, location, etc.

I have had a lot of success using this style of ad to promote videos and websites in the past, but it’s important to understand all of your targeting options, so read over the instructions well.

TikTok ads are fairly new, but will likely become a great resource for business spend in the coming years. Music that blows up on TikTok, blows up on other platforms, so it’s the ideal place to get traction if possible. By coming up with funny, trending, or memeable ads with your music playing over it, you will have a much better chance of getting your songs in other TikToks. Just don’t forget to include hashtags!

2. Campaign Giveaways for Music Promotion

There are a number of ways you can use giveaways to your adjective. It’s a great way to get new followers and to share your music. 

This method could be one of the less expensive ways to grow an audience if you already have physical albums or merch. For example, you could run a promotion on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook where you will ship someone a vinyl of your latest album if they comment on your post. Not only does this encourage more engagement on your post and profile, but it is likely to be shared with their friends and network. You can even have people tag a friend for an extra entry in your giveaway. This might be a good post to run a social media ad on too!

Just make sure you are very clear with the objective of the giveaway. Include the number of winners there can be, the length of the promotion, how quickly winners have to provide you with an address before it goes to someone else, and the method of how you will pick the winner. I recommend using an online name picker to choose the final winner.

3. SubmitHub

SubmitHub is a website devoted to helping artists get their work heard and reviewed by influential music bloggers and playlisters.

How does it work? Essentially, you use credits to send your songs to various music reviewers for original, custom feedback. Typically, reviewers will require just 1 credit, but some ask for 2.

While you aren’t guaranteed to receive write-ups on blogs or to be added to playlists, every reviewer your song is sent to is required to listen to your work and provide feedback.

It’s a great way to learn more about how your art is being perceived, and there’s also the chance to expand your fan base.

There are two tiers at SubmitHub, standard and premium. The latter just filters your submission to the top of reviewers’ dashboard and you will get a quicker response time (within 24 hours). Premium credits are 5 for $6, but they get cheaper as you buy more in bulk. Standard credits are free, but you only get 2 at a time and can only be used once every four hours. 

Test, Test, Test!

These three suggestions are only a few of the many ways you can market your music through paid methods. For best results, it’s critical to test everything that your trying out. Increase your spending in areas that are working, and decrease in areas that aren’t. No band will have the same success with certain advertising methods that others have because the target market will always be at least a bit different.

Most importantly, this list doesn’t even begin to cover the expansive impact that organic marketing can have on growing your fan base. Don’t focus all your attention on ad spend, because organic growth is possible when done correctly.

I’ll be sharing some organic tips in a new article soon, so stay tuned!

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