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Ads For Musicians: How To Run Ads For Your Music

By Matthew Vultaggio

November 10, 2021

If you are a musician looking to find more fans of your music or increase your Spotify streams by using ads, I’ve researched, experimented, and gotten some pretty good results with ads and shared my findings with you here.

The best way for musicians to run ads for their music is to use Facebook Ads to find potential fans who listen to similar artists and genres as them for free using Facebook’s Audience tool and then easily pay to reach them with Facebook ads.

Facebook also has some great features that other ad platforms don’t have (or have worse versions of) such as:

  • “Conversion Events” so that your ads will optimize around a specific action you want fans to take (like streaming a song or buying merch)
  • “Custom Audiences” so that you can reach fans that have interacted with you in the past again for cheaper
  • “Lookalike Audiences” so that you can leverage Facebook’s algorithm to find millions of more fans based on the fans inside your Custom Audiences

…not looking to even use Facebook ads, in particular, you say?

Even if you do not intend on using Facebook ads to grow your Spotify streams and music career, you can still leverage Facebook’s advertising tools and interest-based targeting features to conduct research into your target audience!

Besides, the Facebook Ads Manager has become the standard for how all other Ads Managers look and behave – with the OG in digital ads, Google, even starting to copy how Facebook Ads work.

This means that learning how Facebook Ads work will give you a serious leg up whenever you are trying to learn any other ads platform in the future.

To learn more about how you can run ads for your music and even combine the Facebook Ads algorithm with Spotify’s algorithm to find even more similar fans for free, simply keep on reading, my friend. 🙂

What Type Of Ads Are Best For Musicians?

In my 6+ years of experience in running ads for my own music, I’ve found Facebook ads to be the best for musicians, artists, and producers.

In particular, I’ve found that Facebook and Instagram ads are an effective tool for musicians looking to grow Spotify streams and followers – which is the area in my music career where I’ve had the most success.

However, Facebook ads can be useful for musicians looking to find fans, selling merch or digital products, and growing follower or view counts on just about any online platform out there today.

The 3 reasons that Facebook Ads are the best for musicians are:

  1. They have in-depth targeting options so that you can find fans based on their Interests in similar artists and genres to you
  2. There is flexible budgeting so that you can spend as little as $1 per day on ads
  3. The Facebook algorithm that can optimize itself to get the most results possible for the lowest cost possible

…so why use Facebook and why focus on “interests” to find your target audience?

For better or for worse, Facebook collects a crazy amount of data on its 3+ billion users which you can access for free inside of the Facebook Ads Manager to conduct research on different target audiences for your music.

Things like age, gender, location, and median income may have been useful to advertising agencies trying to sell cigarettes in the 1960s, but…

Today’s artists trying to make it in the digital world will have a better time trying to find fans that are interested in similar artists and genres as them.

Why The Facebook Ads Algorithm Is So Great For Musicians

The Facebook ads algorithm has become so advanced that it can find those basic demographic targeting options for you automatically as it has become significantly better and more accurate at finding an artist’s ideal target audience.

In addition to this, you can leverage the Facebook Ads algorithm to find millions of similar fans and listeners based on the specific activity that they took to engage with you

From visiting your website, watching your video, buying your merch, or streaming your music.

Later in this article, I’ll show you why Facebook Ads (and its learning algorithm) can be even more useful when you combine it with Spotify’s algorithm to find even more similar fans for free.

First, however, let’s take a look at how you can actually use Facebook Ads to find fans in the first place.

How To Use Facebook Ads To Find Fans

Did you know that you can sign up to the Facebook Ads platform and actually use some of its tools for free without even spending on any ads?

Musicians and artists can use the Facebook Ads platform to find their potential fanbase for free by using the Facebook ‘Audiences’ feature to research and create different audiences based on the data Facebook collect on its 3+ billion users and then easily pay to reach them with Facebook ads.

After properly using Facebook’s ‘Audiences’ feature to build multiple target audiences for your music to test, you can then run Facebook ads to actually reach these fans when they are on Facebook and Instagram as well as on apps and websites on Facebook’s network.

..the best part?

Facebook’s advanced algorithm can optimize all by itself to reach the most fans possible for the lowest cost possible and you can create create “Lookalike Audiences” (1+ million people that are similar to your fans) to find even more fans for less.

To learn more about this, check out my full article called: Facebook Ads To Find Fans. 🙂

What gets really interesting, is when you combine Facebook’s algorithm with Spotify’s algorithm to be able to reach even more similar fans and listeners for free on Spotify…

Facebook & Instagram Ads For Musicians To Grow Spotify Streams

There are 5 key reasons that Facebook ads are so effective for Spotify growth:

  1. There are in-depth targeting options for a very wide variety of interests in addition to basic demographics – interests range from brands to genres to artists to products and beyond
  2. You can “scale” the ads and control your budget – the more you spend the more results you get, in comparison you can only post on social media so many times in 1 day before people get upset
  3. Facebook’s learning algorithm can optimize all by itself to get you the most results possible for the lowest cost possible
  4. You can place people that engage with you into “Custom Audiences” and Retarget them with ads at a lower cost than it took to reach them in the first place
  5. You can leverage the Facebook algorithm to create “Lookalike Audiences” which are 1+ million people that are similar to the people that are in your Custom Audiences

By combining all of these together, you have the power to send highly targeted listeners over to your Spotify profile and then leverage the Facebook algorithm to find more of those people for less over time.

This increase of highly targeted listeners on your Spotify profile, in turn, increases your chances of tripping the Spotify algorithm which will push your music out to even more of those people for free.

This strategy can quite simply be called “The Spotify Algorithm Hack“.

…which we will learn about more in the next section.

But first, if you would like to learn more about how Facebook ads for Spotify growth work, check out this article on Facebook & Instagram Ads For Musicians To Grow Spotify Streams. 🙂

…and now on to this so-called “Spotify Algorithm Hack”…

The Spotify Algorithm Hack

Hands down, the best way to get lots of streams from Spotify’s algorithmic playlists (like Release Radar, Discover Weekly, and Radio) and editorial playlists is to ‘hack’ the algorithm.

To hack the Spotify algorithm you need to consistently send real, targeted listeners to your music from multiple sources such as directly from your profile, average user playlists, and more influential Spotify user playlists.

If you’ve been trying to ‘hack’ the Spotify algorithm by paying to get on playlists that are too good to be true or definitely use bots or click farms to artificial boost streams, it’s a good time to cut that crap out.

…so what is the right way to ‘hack’ the algorithm then, you ask?

You need to get real listeners over to your music.

This is exactly what I did to get on 7+ Spotify editorial playlists myself and hit over 4,000,000 streams on Spotify – I used Facebook/Instagram ads to target potential fans who listen to similar artists and drive them to Spotify.

Here’s how it works:

By bringing over listeners who are likely to enjoy your music, you can expect your song to have a higher than normal Save Rate and Repeat-Listen Rate, which are a few of the signals that the Spotify algorithm is looking for when trying to find songs to recommend to its users.

These targeted listeners are more likely to follow your artist’s profile and add that song to their own playlists.

This lets you enjoy your artist’s music being streamed by these listeners for a longer period of time, these new followers being notified of future releases, and for these positive signals to be sent back to the algorithm.

Plus, the algorithm will notice you are getting an increase in songs from your profile and other user playlists. If you’re lucky, maybe your ads will hit a more influential Spotify user or 2 who might then add your song to their playlist.

When the almighty algorithm notices a song is worth recommending, it can start placing your song on algorithmic playlists like Release Radar, Discover Weekly, other artist’s Radio playlists, etc.

However, there is something that you should know about this strategy, my friend…

It’s not easy or quick…

This strategy is not easy or quick. If it were, everybody would be doing it.

Your first release probably won’t pop off, which is why you need to adjust your music release strategy so that you are dropping a new song every 4 to 5 weeks.

By releasing music more frequently, you have more chances to trip the algorithm, but you also have more chances to build a relationship with the Spotify editors.

They have access to all this data too, so if they see your music continuously growing and you are consistently helping them do their job of maintaining playlists by giving them frequent music.

So how long will it take then?

Let’s take a look at what an ideal timeline of running ads would look like for you, my friend. 🙂

What It Takes To Grow Your Spotify Streams With Facebook Ads

When giving you a timeline or roadmap to follow as you take what you’ve learned here and continue to apply your new skills to future releases, I want to be careful to not be too overly optimistic or pessimistic.

So first, let’s look at all the things that can impact what kind of results you can expect.

Although properly marketing your music is a skill that can be learned and improved upon, the quality of your music will have a significant impact on the outcomes you will be able to achieve.

Remember that you will have winners and losers, hits and duds, in your music career – a song you thought would be a hit might not land with your audience, and sometimes a song you don’t care for may end up being their favorite song for years.

What can impact your results:

  • The quality of your music
  • The quality of your Audience targeting
  • The quality of your ad experience (ie: does your fan “know they are in the right place” based on how your ad, smart link page, and Spotify link look and sound?)
  • How much you are spending on ads for each campaign
  • The quantity and quality of data built up in your Facebook pixel
  • Not checking in on your ads campaign enough
  • Making too many changes to your campaign too often (aka not waiting at least 3 days before deciding to make a change)

Remember that the timeline I will be providing is more of a guideline with average results – half of the artists will see fewer results and half will see more.

However, as long as you commit to constantly continue releasing new music for your fans and keep trying to outdo yourself in both the marketing and the actual songwriting…

The only place to go is up.

Before showing you the timeline/roadmap that you can follow when running ads to properly market your music, let’s take a closer look at how important building your back catalog of music through this process of releasing music will be.

The Importance Of Building Your Back Catalog As An Artist

Each time you release a new song, you are adding to your back catalog of music that new fans and listeners will be able to dig into as they discover you for the first time.

This is important because it allows fans to deepen their relationship with you through these older songs in addition to increasing your daily and monthly stream counts.

On top of this – continued attention and engagement on your older songs through streams, saves, and playlist adds present the opportunity to trip the Spotify algorithm once again.

Spotify’s algorithmic playlists like Discover Weekly and Radio don’t only apply to new songs within their first 28 days of release and can be an amazing way to dramatically increase your stream counts for free and reach new fans and listeners.

How To Run Ads For Your Music: A Timeline For Spotify Success

The main thing you should focus on in the early days are the action steps – this timeline assumes you have completed all action steps that are listed.

Do keep in mind that if you are slower to complete any steps you will likely see slower outcomes and the opposite is also likely to be true – both of which are completely okay!

You are most likely balancing your music career with a full-time job, family, and social life – which can undeniably be tough, I’ve been there and completely understand.

After a few months of getting the hang of things, your main focus will be to keep releasing music each month, trying to at least break the 1,000 stream mark, and trying to trip the Spotify algorithm’s Release Radar playlist.

To this day, and over 15 releases deep, I still focus on consistency and the Release Radar playlist.

The outcomes listed here are quite conservative and are what you can begin to expect without even tripping the Spotify algorithm in a big way or landing an official editorial playlist.

Month 0

Your very first month is really all about getting everything set up properly: smart link software, your Facebook Ads account, video assets, and most importantly… 6-12 release-ready songs.

The truth is that Month 0 can last as little as a few weeks or as much as several months.

This really all depends on where you are at in your music career, what you already have set up, how much time you can dedicate to your release strategy, and how much release-ready music you already have prepared.

Month 1

Month 1 begins when you are ready to launch your very first Spotify Success release campaign.

If you are brand new to Facebook advertising and do not have any data in your Facebook pixel, you will be focusing on running ads to Facebook audiences based on Interests (similar artists and genres as you).

In these early months, it is important to test out quite a few different Interest-based audiences so that you can find out what gets you the best results.

I would recommend starting with running 2 to 3 unique Interest-based audiences that only target countries in the Green/Tier 1 list.

Remember that you can always improve your results in the future by adding in Yellow/Tier 2 countries, Custom Audiences, and Lookalike Audiences to your targeting.

Month 2

In Month 2, you should be focusing on improving the results you got from your first campaign by doing two main things:

  1. Continue to test different Interest-based Facebook audiences against the top performing audience(s) from your last campaign.
  2. Add in ‘Custom Audiences’ into your audience targeting based on Instagram profile engagement, Facebook profile engagement, and video watchers of your last campaign.

At this point, you most likely have not built up enough data to be able to start running Lookalike Audiences, but you can definitely begin creating them inside of the Facebook Audience tool to see what audience count is and to save time later.

Month 3

What you do in Month 3 will largely depend on 1 thing: how well you have been able to find an Interest-based audience that gets you good results.

Your goal is to find 1 solidly performing Interest-based audience so that you can add a copy of that audience but have this copy focus on Yellow/Tier 2 countries to help lower your cost per result.

For this month, there are 3 different options that you can focus on:

  1. Continue to test different Interest-based Facebook audiences against the top performing audience(s) from your last campaign.
  2. Test a Lookalike Audience against the top performing audience(s) from your last campaign (if you have built up a large enough size in any of your Lookalikes).
  3. Run this month’s campaign using the best performing audience from your last campaign as well as a copy of that audience with locations switched to Yellow/Tier 2 locations to help lower your cost per result.

Month 4

By Month 4, you should have built up enough data in your Facebook Custom Audiences to at least create Lookalike Audiences based on Instagram and Facebook profile engagement.

Be sure to continue to test new audiences (Lookalike and Interest-based) against your top-performing audience from the last campaign to keep trying to find better and better results.

Month 5/6

By Month 5 or 6, you should have built up enough data in your Custom Audiences that you can begin testing Lookalike Audiences based on higher quality fan engagement such as:

  • 75% or 95% video views
  • Website/Smart Link visits
  • View Contents (the ‘Listen on Spotify’ button on your Smart Link pages).

Although these audiences should perform better because they are made up of fans that are taking an action that is as close to the action you want them to take as possible (streaming your song)…

It is still important that you test.

These audiences will be of higher quality but will likely have lower audience sizes at first compared to your other Lookalike and Interest-based audiences.

The Facebook algorithm needs as much data as possible to optimize, so a lower quality audience with a higher audience size performing better wouldn’t be unexpected.

Also – for example, you may have a super-engaged Instagram audience which makes your Instagram Profile Engagement Lookalike Audience perform much better.

Always test and let the data/results lead you – don’t just make assumptions.

Month 7+

If your first 6 months are about testing out different audiences and building up the data in your Facebook pixel, the next 6 months are all about optimizing and getting to a point where your release campaigns run on autopilot.

Continue to test different Lookalike Audiences against the top-performing audience(s) from your previous campaigns.

Ultimately, your goal is to find 1 Audience that works really well for you – this audience may be made up of a combination of different Lookalike and Custom Audiences.

Once you have achieved this, all you will have to do whenever you have a new release coming up is duplicate your previous campaign and swap out the start date, ad creatives (ie: video), and URL destination.

How To Get Fans To Stream Your Music (By Building A Fanbase)

Finding success on Spotify is more than just increasing stream counts, I’ve found that the best way to increase Spotify streams is by building a fanbase of fans who want to stream your music.

To get fans to stream your music, you need to build a fanbase from scratch by releasing music monthly, tripping the Spotify algorithm to give you more listeners and free streams, and have a place to foster a community for your fans on and off social media platforms.

…the reality is this:

It’s not just about Facebook ads or playlisting promotions.

It’s also about branding, social media, web presence, building momentum (or “buzz”), and most importantly – having an active and growing fanbase of real, genuine music lovers that actually care about you and what you do.

The 4 fundamental components of creating a thriving and active fanbase that you can call upon to stream your new releases and support your latest projects are:

  1. Brand-building and world-building
  2. Respecting the Fan’s Journey
  3. Omni-channel platform presence
  4. Touch points and return paths

Without a fanbase, you have no chance of learning how to find Spotify Success and a music career in general, really.

To learn more about this, check out my article on How To Get Fans To Stream Your Music. 🙂

Make Sure You Do This First

One of the first steps you will want to make to make sure that you are set up to run Facebook ads towards your music is making sure you have music available online where fans actually want to stream your music.

Although my top suggestion for a music distributor is definitely DistroKid, I’ve gone ahead and compared DK to other popular services in case you are in the market for a new digital distributor or are simply just curious.

Popular alternatives to a music distribution service like DistroKid include TuneCore, CdBaby, Ditto, and Amuse.

If you would like to see how DistroKid compares to these services, more closely check out this articles:

Or, if you would like a more detailed look into what DistroKid has to offer, you can check out my big fat DistroKid review. 🙂

P.S. If you also want to learn about music publishing and make sure that you are not leaving any money on the table with your music distribution setup, I’d recommend checking out these 2 articles:

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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