10 Questions You Must Answer Before Spending Your Money On Ads As A Musician

Marketing within the music industry is becoming an industry on its own. Just by going on YouTube you get inundated with a plethora of marketers and said advertising gurus that bombard you with too many tactics and strategies on how to spend your money. Then the fun happens when 10 artists apply the advice but only one might get the promised return. Why does that happen? Because the other 9 were not READY to run ads for their music. By answering the following 10 questions you will discover if you are at the level of needing ads or if you still have to elevate your brand before spending money on promoting it.

10. Do I know who I am?

Photo by Ben Sweet

Sounds ridiculous, right? But can you say in one sentence who you are as an artist? Saying I sound like no one else is not an answer. You need to say off the cuff what’s your sound, what’s your message, what makes you different, and what’s your location, all in ONE sentence. That one sentence goes in your social media bio. That very little space dedicated to introducing yourself to the world.

9. Is my music quality on par with industry standards?

Photo by Felix Mittermeier

Poor mix and master translates to poor retaining power. Or conversion rates. Or turnout. Or whatever you like calling it. There is no way around this. The standards have been set so high that you MUST match what people hear on the daily from mainstream sources in terms of quality.

8. Do I know my audience?

Photo by Jade Masri

If you know who you are and got high quality music, it still won’t be enough if you don’t know who to advertise yourself to. How old is your ideal listener? What country do they live in? How about city? What are their interests? What other artists do they listen to? If you don’t know your audience but are keen on running ads, might as well invite us to a watch party and we’ll grab some popcorn to see how your dollars get burned for free.

7. Am I okay losing this money?

Photo by Jp Valery

Speaking of, you should seriously envision whatever amount you’re going to spend on advertising being burned. Or smoked. Or used as toilet paper. If you think this is outrageous, remember that when you’re unknown, you have to spend about 5 times more per follower than a major record label, thus you will get the same followers for 500 dollars as they get for 100 dollars. They have the connections, blogs, exposure, radio and TV links, major producer and advertiser discounts, etc. Do NOT spend your last money on ads while you got an entire mortgage to take care of or a child that doesn’t have his future secured. Putting your all into music while you can’t guarantee his/her daycare next month, is as stupid as it gets. Spend on ads only if you won’t feel it in your pockets.

6. What do I want to get out of it?

Photo by Isaac Smith

Do you want e-mail sign ups? Spotify streams? IG followers? Facebook Likes? Video plays? What is it PRECISELY that you want your ads to achieve? And don’t say all because it is not doable. You start with one at a time and ace it. Then move on to the next target. But you do have to know what you want as the end-result in order to reverse engineer the look and sound of your ads.

5. What is a realistic goal to have?

Photo by Karsten Winegeart

Let’s assume you answered I want more Instagram followers in number 6. If you have under 1000 followers, it is VERY unlikely that you will get more followers as a result of your ad campaign. Why? Because having followers in the 3-digits is a major telltale sign of someone who’s barely starting out and people have always gone with what the majority says. You don’t have a majority yet, so you shouldn’t seek more followers until AFTER you have a minimum of 1k already following you. If you’re wondering how to get to your first one thousands fans, read our past articles. You have to know where you stand to know what you can realistically expect.

4. Who do I compete with?

Photo by Stillness InMotion

If you’re a rock band but you guys don’t have professional photos or even a decent music video, you will get DROWNED amongst the much better, more professional upcoming bands who are heavily investing in both their sound and visuals. Know your competition and stay in the best shape possible when it comes to your brand.

3. Do I have enough of a track record?

Photo by Roman Kraft

A mininum of 25 posts would be best before entertaining ads. If you just promote your most recent release without prior posts on your social media profiles, you risk gaining fans for the wrong music. What do we mean? We mean that artists, while awesome and creative, often suck at marketing and they focus their advertising budget on promoting songs that don’t represent them 100% or that won’t be relevant 2-3 years from now. Make sure you uploaded enough material on your social media in order to give your new visitors a better context of understanding you and your music in the long run.

2. Do I have the capability of retaining the new visitors long-term?

Photo by Sonja Langford

Are your photos, bio, website, videos, captions, tags, locations, followers and following ratio on point? If you’ve left even one essential element out, you’ll be bleeding money. You can’t afford to leave anything to chance when you’re an independent artist on a tight budget.

1. What do I actually need more of?

Photo by Alexis Fauvet

Here’s something new for you: not two artists are alike and not two artists need the same thing. Some need their YouTube Channel promoted, some need more followers, some higher engagement, some playlist placements, some blog coverage, some traditional media coverage, some more industry connections, etc. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses as a music brand. Then start building where you lack. If you have 10k followers but only 50 likes per post, you need to retarget those very people following you. You need higher engagement. Be aware of your necessities vs your desires.

If you made it this far, please like and give a listen to our B.R.E. Spotify playlist where we’re helping and promoting artists we personally know and wrote about on this very website:

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