Sound and Tone: How Musicians Can Use Visual Facebook Ads in their Promotions

They’ve got a knapsack, a ton of sticky tape, and ambition.  Yes, it may give someone cool street cred at the local indie bar to say they’re a music promoter – but just like how being a bike commuter can bring a world of worry in tandem with fun – posting up concert promos around a community is often a hard and exhausting task. Yet, for a long time this was a chief way musicians and promoters to get the word out.

Now, there are Facebook Ads.

You know they exist, you always see them, and you often click them. Nonetheless, though there’s no shortage of guides on how to set up Facebook Ads, advertising as a musician is a harder task given ads are seen but audio is heard. So not every musician uses Facebook Ads an optimal way (read: more people clicking and listening to their songs).

As a result, just as the Beatles were discovered in a smoky Liverpool bar – and music history is swarming with stories of great artists being discovered in obscure places – now increasingly online – even today there’s lots of good music going unheard.

Let’s look a little more now into why this is so, and what can be done with Facebook Ads…


Bringing Together Music and Images

Music is by its very nature an acoustic product. If people listen to your song and love it they’ll likely be happy to hear more from you in future. Yet, just the same as streaming has replaced Top 20 radio, so has the rise of online brought with it a rich opportunity to get noticed. Nonetheless, this has also required a musical act to look anew at the tried and true idea of sending a mixtape in the mail. Many as a result turn to Facebook to promote their music.

Further, Facebook may be the most popular social network at present; but switching up from using it for professional reasons beyond personal use can be a bit of an adjustment. It can be awfully uneasy to puzzle through the vagaries of the advertising world. There is all such of jargon, terminology, and industry-speak – some of it like CPC/PPC is necessary – but other jargon….not so much.

So, for the aspiring musician with the sleek drum solos or the big booming voice, may this be a step by step aid to getting your voice out there online.

Sign up a Business Page Right Away

The Guns N’ Roses may be all fine with delaying a release of Chinese Democracy for 20 years but if you are new to music sooner and faster is better. In turn, while you can amuse yourself and toy around in your personal Facebook account for a while, once you’ve decided to get busy pinching Grammys off Taylor Swift you need get a business page fast.

This is usually an easy-do, and can be linked into your personal Facebook account making it easy to keep it updated, share content, and post updates between the two accounts. Starting a whole new page may feel like a bit of a pain, but if you’re a serious muso you need to ensure your business has a separate online presence to your personal page, lest the two clash.

Use the Ads Creator First

There are two main options for Facebook ads: the Ads Creator and the Power Editor. The latter has more features and is powerful –  but just like how you don’t need a F-18 hornet to fly a Melbourne to Sydney red-eye – so too will the basic option suffice when you’re just starting out with ads.


Fighter jet

‘I still cannot believe that airline website sold us these seats for $10’

This is mainly because right now you’re just seeking to start out with ads – not commission a 24/7 online campaign. One that may not be set up to properly reach the right audience and do what it should. Accordingly, it is important you…

Decide your Campaign Objective

You need to target either page likes, clicks to website, or event responses. Where you are in your current career and calendar – are you gigging locally, set to go on a tour, or just build hype surrounding your next album launch – shall be the guiding stars that inform where you see page likes, website clicks, or even responses factoring in.

If you find an objective has an overlap with another that is usually fine – you may be seeking to get more clicks to a bar’s website where you are set to gig regularly, and where people shall see your Facebook page advertised – but just seek to ensure your campaign fulfils your chief aim. Trying to get event responses to a gig you’ll do in a year’s time is not nearly as wise as getting clicks to a website if your album just launched this week.

Get a Good Ad and Copy Done

In a bygone era the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ had creedence. This is when you picked up a dusty old paperback in a quiet country bookshop and hoped for the best because the guy behind the counter hadn’t heard of the author before. Now, there is Amazon Kindle, Google Books, and 100 other sites like it, and the same dynamic applies to music.

If a potential listener is scrolling through Facebook without any music on right now, you’re unlikely to get a click if they see your ad with only a mediocre album cover and some dour text to invite them to a listen. A good way to test your ad is to do the ‘Times Square Test’ when you look at it…


Times Square

Would you be OK with your ad featuring here? If not, go back to the drawing board to up its quality.

Just the same as you wouldn’t release a new song online without putting it through editing in Adobe Audition or FL studio, so too must you ensure the visuals of your ad support the strength of your music. Even great music will go unheard without the right introduction.  So, seek out a professional who can create for you a compelling ad and rich copy that can get your ad noticed for its imagery, clicked for its words; and ultimately your music listened to.

Alter and Change-Up as Needed

The advertising world is full of acclaimed campaigns and failed campaigns. At their essence the good and bad share an essential factor in common: communication. A good ad does not need to be so simple its boring – that’s always something to be avoided too! – but it does need to convey its message with real clarity. A bad ad can risk undoing altogether the good work of your product if the message is unclear, just as a good ad can really enhance and build upon the product’s appeal.

Between these two worlds are ads that have found some success, but need a refresh. This applies to your Facebook Ad.  If you’ve spent the past fortnight advertising your ad in Brazilian colours to celebrate the Rio Olympics then your campaign may be akin to Carnival! But, now the games are over it is time to switch those colours out to something else, lest it look dated or irrelevant.


Getting the Greatest Hits

Your music may be great but if your website, advertising, and overall visual presentation isn’t as good as the drum solo of your EP’s first single you may struggle to get listens. So, get a good logo, get a good ad, and get going on picking out just how many strobe lights you’ll need for a world tour. Also, seek to take the time to really get it right.

Creating good ads is a little like being good at darts. Hitting the bullseyes once is great, but if it is only that one time you’re not going to do nearly as well overall as someone who hits just short of the centre, but is regularly on target.


‘OK Buddy, great your aiming for a bulleyes – bad your last 3 darts hit the fish tank…’

Accordingly, better to fail a campaign with the right audience than achieve some modest success with one that is totally wrong. A slight re-positioning of your aim and quick adjustment of your copy or audience can fix the first, but an entire shift of content, target, and aim is needed for the latter – so focus on good form over results alone at the outset.

Beyond here, if you’ve so far been operating via Facebook, and perhaps a YouTube and SoundCloud account, it may be time to start your own website. It need not be complex – in fact a simple site is often best – but it can offer you a great new avenue to show you can solo like John and croon like Brenda.

Ed Kennedy is a journalist and ghostwriter from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via on Skype or LinkedIn.

#Art and Design