Do you think you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to promote your music if you’re not running Facebook ads?
I think a lot of people have it in their heads that Facebook (FB) ads are this golden ticket, and if you figure out the “secret formula” and put in some money (even $10 a day) then you’ll be able to sit back and watch your audience and bank account grow.
And hey, I’ve seen these claims popping up all over so I understand where this mindset is coming from.
The truth is, FB ads can be an incredibly powerful tool for helping the right type of business grow, but there’s a LOT more to running successful FB ads than what people think, and there’s absolutely no secret formula that’s going to skyrocket a musician to success here.
How I’ve Use Facebook Ads
A lot of people assume I must have spent a lot of money on advertising over the years to have grown the kind of audience I have, but in reality I’ve never used FB ads, or any other paid advertising, to directly promote my music or try and grow my audience.
Everything I’ve done to promote my music has come from free organic content. If you want to know more about how I make a living as a musician you can check that out here.
Where I do have a lot of experience with FB ads though is in promoting our online educational program, MoAT.
Jarred and I have invested years of experimenting and tens of thousands of dollars and have been able to consistently earn a positive return on investment (ROI), but let me tell you firsthand it’s not easy to do, it’s incredibly time consuming, and there’s absolutely no quick way to figure it out.
And I’ll just add, there’s no way that I would have been able to successfully do it if I didn’t have Jarred leading the charge there with everything else I was already doing on the music side of my business.
Since we learned so much from running successful FB ads with MoAT, we wanted to experiment with that knowledge and see if we could apply it to promoting my music, specifically on Spotify because that was the big claim I kept seeing people make online about fast tracking their success. We wanted to have first hand experience to share with our students, and spoiler alert, it ended up being a huge waste of money.
Products Are Key
So why were we able to get FB ads to work so well for one thing and not another?
In short, it’s a balance between the type of product you’re advertising, the value of the product, the ability to track data on the product, and your experience and skill with not only knowing how to use FB ads as a platform, but how to create and manage successful advertising.
Now obviously there’s a spectrum here, and paying for ads on something like streaming or “likes” is at the very far end of things I don’t think you should ever do, while developing ads for a high value product is at the other end of the spectrum and can be incredibly beneficial, but it’s also at a much more advanced level for someone who’s already pretty established and has some extra help.
But besides those ends, there are a lot of areas in between that could work for the right musician if they really want to invest the time and energy here. Paid ads for live shows, sheet music, physical albums, merch from your own online store, etc., could all potentially yield a positive ROI if set up the right way.
But before we explore more on that, I first just want to explain in more detail why I don’t think it’s wise to use paid ads to promote music streaming on a platform like Spotify and to warn you to be cautious if you’re thinking of trying this. I’ve seen this advice popping up a fair amount, and honestly the math just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Paying To Promote Music Streams
Alright let’s take Spotify for example, an artist gets paid around $0.004 per stream for an original song (you own all the rights), which means you need a song to be streamed at least 3 times before you even make a penny.
I can tell you from my own experimentation and from what I’ve researched, that it’s extremely difficult to get someone to click on an ad to stream your music for less than 10 cents.
For the sake of this example, let’s say you can get someone to click on your ad and listen to your music for 5 cents. That means you need each person who clicks on your ad to stream your original music 15 times before you break even with your ad spend.
As if that wasn’t difficult enough, even if someone does click your link, you really have no way of knowing what action they took once they got to your Spotify page.
Maybe they listened to a song, or maybe they just left right away. Even if they decided to listen to a lot of your songs, you still don’t have access to that information, so there’s no clear way to know if your ad is profitable or not.
It’s Not Hard to Pay for Streams
When you see people out there claiming things like “I just got 1,000 streams from this FB ad”, that’s totally possible, but just keep this in mind: it’s not that hard to get more people to stream your music from paid ads, but it’s extremely hard to actually earn a profit from running those ads.
And for some people, maybe they’re just looking for exposure to get more eyes and ears on their music and they don’t really care about creating profitable ads, and hey, that’s their business.
I just personally have never felt comfortable doing that and always want to be able to track an ROI if I pay to promote my music. And I just want to make sure you’re at least considering that because the last thing I want is for you to spend your money to get more streams and realize later that your Spotify payout doesn’t even cover your ad spend.
Alright now that we’ve covered that, if you’re still with me at this point and think you’d like to give FB ads a try, there’s still a lot to consider, so to help you figure out whether or not FB ads might be a good fit to promote your music, I’m going to go through a series of questions and considerations for you below!
1. Do you have products?
I think that in order to truly have financial success with FB ads, you first need to have some products, and here’s why.
- This is important for a number of reasons but the main one being that products give you the ability to determine your ROI.
- ROI is a huge indicator in how well your ad is performing and helps you decide if you should spend more money on an ad or turn it off.
- Running FB ads for original sheet music or copyright free sheet music, online lessons or courses, and merch are a few types of products I’ve seen artists find success with.
If you don’t have any products like this, then I don’t think you’re ready to try FB ads. If you do, continue on to the next question.
2. Do you promote your music organically?
- The idea here is that even if you can get someone’s attention with an ad, if you don’t have any additional content available that helps them feel more connected to you, you’re probably not going to make much of a lasting impression to the point where they’d even become a fan, much less a financial supporter.
- And if you aren’t familiar with the term “organic content”, it’s basically free content you share that people find on their own that you don’t need to pay to get in front of them, so things like blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.
- Organic content lets you to promote your music for free.
- I personally think that having a good amount of organic content is critical if you don’t want to waste your money on FB ads because when someone clicks on your ad, it might be the first time they’ve ever seen you. They don’t know you yet, so why would they end up supporting what you’re doing instead of someone else simply from an ad on FB?
- The answer here is that people are more willing to support you once you’ve created a bond with them. And the easiest way you can build that bond is through creating organic content and engaging back with your audience.
- If you don’t have any organic content to promote your music yet, then I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and use FB ads.
3. Do You Have The Time?
- I’ve seen a lot of people asking how I’ve used FB ads to grow my music business, but like I mentioned earlier, from the time I started my business in 2010 I never used FB ads until we started promoting MoAT in 2019.
- Before that, all of my business ran on organic traffic and as of today, everything outside of MoAT still earns income exclusively from organic traffic.
- One of the main reasons I didn’t start ads earlier was because I honestly didn’t have the time to both run ads and do everything else for my business.
- My husband, Jarred, started working with me in 2018 and he was able to focus more on FB ads so I could continue to create more music and content.
- Something you learn very quickly when you start dabbling in FB ads is that it takes time to get comfortable with understanding how the platform works, and then it takes a lot of time and experimentation to find both the right audience and the right message in your ads.
- You’ll create a lot of unsuccessful ads before you find something that consistently works for your audience, and even when you finally have an ad that works, a good ad is only effective for so long, so you constantly have to create and experiment with new ads if you want to remain profitable.
- It’s not impossible to do this, but it does take up a great deal of time analyzing why certain ads worked, why certain audiences worked, coming up with new ad copy, filming new ads, etc.
- And besides the time it takes to handle the creative aspect of running ads, here’s a bonus consideration that’s essential to running financially successful ads:
Bonus Consideration: Do you understand data tracking?
- It’s critical that you fully understand how tracking works on this platform (or any advertising platform you’re using). Tracking helps the FB algorithm find your ideal customer more easily and it helps you understand whether or not an ad is profitable for you.
- Now if I was writing this blog back in 2020 I would tell you that all you had to do to set up tracking for your FB ads is to install a short snippet of code (called a FB pixel) on your website and/or shop and then all the data you would need would get sent back to FB, but all that changed in 2021.
- In 2021 Apple rolled out their iOS 14 update which added a new privacy feature that had a massive impact on FB ads.
- If you have an Apple device I’m sure you’ve seen this by now, but basically what happens is when someone launches the FB app from their mobile device, a box pops up asking the user if they want to let FB track them across other apps and browsers. To no one’s surprise most people answer no. By selecting “Ask App not to Track”, Apple prevents FB from using pixel tracking to see user behavior outside of FB.
- Now I know everyone has different opinions on internet privacy so I don’t want to get into that here, but the bottom line for our discussion is that this privacy change made FB ads harder to make money with because if someone opts out of tracking, FB can’t target people as effectively.
- FB can still track its users while they’re on FB, but it’s limited in the data it can track once you leave the platform.
How can you track now?
- Because of all of the changes from iOS 14, FB has come up with alternative ways for businesses to send data back to FB without using the pixel that they call Conversion API or cAPI.
- When you’re setting up your tracking, you want to make sure you are utilizing both the FB pixel and FB cAPI to collect as much data as possible. This still isn’t as effective as before 2021 but it’s the best you can do now without spending a ton of money on tracking software.
- If you’re interested in learning more about tracking for FB ads, here’s a link to an article that gives a more detailed explanation: https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-conversion-api/
- Some online store platforms, like Shopify, have streamlined ways to set up tracking with FB ads in this new setup, so make sure to check out the documentation for your site or store platform to see what the best practices are.
Alright guys that about wraps it up! I hope this helps you determine if you’re ready to run FB ads to promote your music and what to consider if you want to get started.
From what I’ve seen and experienced, FB ads can work great under the right circumstances, but you definitely don’t need them to be successful.
Just remember that paid ads should always be a complimentary part of your business, not something you should ever completely rely on.
Even if you decide to try and run some paid ads, you should absolutely still be creating and releasing organic content and concentrate more on strategies that help you grow with that.
If you want to learn more about growing your audience through organic content then you should definitely check out my free 1 hour training session here.
Talk to you guys again soon!
Cool info, thanks for laying that all out. I’m considering using FB ads to giveaway albums in hopes of building my email list. I plan to have automated email sequences that people will find valuable, but also make some gentle sales pitches to recapture some ROI. That seem like a good idea?
You’re welcome James! Adding the right people to your email list and then following up with great sequences and offers can definitely be a winning strategy. Probably something that will still require a lot of time and experimentation to really optimize everything but it could definitely work.
Thank you very much Taylor! I am studying carefully your course together with Tobias Rauscher’s one, and following Michael Walker’s Modern Musician too.
This post has made me realize that I already hasn’t a content campaign, so it doesn’t have sense, as you said, to invest money in Facebook Ads, because my fans are going to be very happy hearing my last album, but now I haven’t anything more to offer them, because I have been several years focusing on the music school I created to “survive”.
For me, creating content is unsustainable now, because I need money ASAP. So for me, the best solution is busking and trying streaming through Twitch. It is the way to practice and songwriting while earning money.
Then, my plan is to write new songs, and when I feel like I am into a content campaign, publishing songs and content, I will use Facebook Ads (based in audiences and niches) to lead my fans to my newsletter instead to Spotify, as Michael Walker and Kristine Mirelle suggests, because it has no sense to send them to Spotify. It is smarter to send them to your own database, where you can redirect them to Spotify or wherever, sell them your merchandise, etc. 🙂
Thanks for sharing that Santiago! I think you’re on the right track, and like I mentioned in the post I don’t think it’s generally wise to spend money on ads just to send people directly to Spotify. Getting email signups from the right kind of people is definitely more valuable in my opinion. Wishing you the best on your journey!