The importance of online ads for artists and record labels

The importance of online ads for artists and record labels

“Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the problem is I don’t know which half”
– John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922). 

A famous quote from a department-store magnate, describing a well-known problem with advertising.

This blog shows the Dos and Don’ts for successful online advertising campaigns in the music industry.

Online advertising, a quick introduction

Since the days of people like John Wanamaker, a lot has changed in advertising. The biggest change, of course, is the move from printed ads to online ads. As the music industry has its focus on digital, the focus of this blog will be on online ads.

Online advertising

Placing ads (text, audio, video, images) on frequently used places on the internet (websites, social networks) to either increase awareness of the brand, influence consideration or drive traffic. 

Increase brand awareness

Advertising campaigns with the goal to create more awareness for the brand or product. Find new (potential) customers or make the current target audience more aware of the brand.

Influence consideration is basically the second step in music marketing

Convincing people who are already aware of your brand or product to consider buying/trying the product. Entice the target group to find more information about the product and/or influencer their opinion about the matter.

Drive traffic

The final step in online marketing, making sure the target audience performs the action that you want them to perform. A sale, stream or follow.

Online advertising media

The possibilities of advertising online are endless, to narrow down the most used methods for the music industry we focus on social media platforms and Google.


Well-known in the advertising industry, offering various advertising opportunities. Search ads and display ads on Google search, the Google Network, YouTube and partnering sites. Over 95% of all websites worldwide are included. 

Google Display Ads Google Search Ads Google Shopping Ads YouTube Ads

Social media channels

The most used social media sites when it comes to ads are Facebook and Instagram. Twitter comes in third place.

Instagram advertising also includes story ads. Instagram stories are often included in a marketing campaign.

Instead of diving into the elaborate options of both Google and social ads, we’ll focus on the Dos and Don’ts for musicians.

Best practices

Kwettr helps artists by building their ad campaigns. We’ve analyzed all our past campaigns, here are our top Dos:

Choose the right medium

Not all online media are best suited for music ads. A mistake commonly made is to take the online ad budget and divide it evenly over all major online ad platforms. 

Another commonly made mistake is to focus on the (social) medium that has the largest followers base. This does not necessarily mean that the particular social medium will generate the most income or best ad performances. 

Tip: start out with small budgets on several platforms, upscale the ads that are performing well and downscale the ads that are not performing.

Test, test and test

Do not limit the testing to the medium only, make sure to test the different ad types, campaign types and goals and creatives. Image ads might work well on one platform but this does not mean that they will work on all. 

Tip: create several ad sets with different ad formats and ad spend. 

Measure success

John Wanamaker would definitely be interested in tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Ads because these tools show great insights into the performance of ads. Measuring what works well and what does not work at all means that budgets are spent in the best possible way. 

Measuring success is a difficult task and skilled staff are needed to make the best use of them. Taking an online course to learn all about measurement is time-consuming, Kwettr staff is skilled in measuring campaigns.

Facebook Ads results

Grow your profile

Best practices show that focusing on driving action to portals such as Spotify is very difficult. Getting a fan to click an ad, with a call-to-action to listen on Spotify means less than Eur. 0,01 revenue. Running the ad is usually more expensive. 

Targeting on getting download sales in the current streaming market is almost as difficult.

One of the other options is to target ads on growing your profile. Running ads aimed to get more followers on for example Spotify or YouTube means that all people who performed an action (follow you) stick around as being your follower. Those new followers receive your new music and, also very important, having a large follower base on streaming portals is very good for your image as an artist.

Don’t buy followers

A mistake often made by inexperienced people in advertising is buying followers. Instead of running ads to increase the number of followers, ‘shady’ services are used to buy fake followers in bulk.  An artist profile looks better with lots of followers but in the end, it is always bad for your profile.

Spotify even cleans up once in a while by deleting fake profiles; social media channels perform similar actions. Artists who are flagged as having fake followers jeopardize their chances of getting good features.

Build your image

A bit similar to growing your audience and number of followers. Every brand has an image, communication is key to a good online strategy. Find the right content to promote, that does not always have to be a product people can purchase. For example, a live mix, something personal or a production tutorial all help build your image online.

Google Ads: import referring sites

Diving into targeting options even further: importing referring sites into your Google account. Example: Kwettr downloads all points on the internet where people were before they clicked on the album of your competitor. These URLs are then uploaded to the Google ad account and ads are served only on those valuable places. Next level promoting music.

Best practices are elaborate and online ads are a difficult line of business. Need help? Contact us here.

Google’s P-Max campaigns

Google Ads incorporated the use of AI in their campaigns. A fairly new type of campaign is called P-Max: Performance Max. It uses artificial intelligence to select the best-suited assets for the best-suited target groups.

All you need to do is upload content (artwork, videos, copy) and Google simply chooses the right combination of assets per target group. The results are impressive. Note: you must always create a Search campaign first: P-Max campaigns are fed through data collected in Search campaigns.

The Don’ts

Advertising separate products

As mentioned above, running ads for separate products such as single releases can be a tricky business. Lots of clicks get wasted and the ones that do perform the action you want them to perform usually don’t make up for the budget spent.

Don’t shout

Mind your tone of voice, make sure not to shout or ask for sales/streams in a direct way. Most commonly made mistakes are ads emphasizing ‘buy my record here’. Results show that on average less than 1% actually performs that action. Be gentle and creative when it comes to copywriting.

Mind the rules

Facebook and Google close fraudulent ad accounts on a daily basis. The rules set by Google and Facebook are elaborate, breaking the rules on ad copies, images, and style guides often results in a closed ad account. Once an ad account is closed, the chances of getting it reopened are very small. 

Especially if your artist account is connected to your ad account, this is a major problem.

Find help

Running well-performing ads is a difficult task, our advice for artists and record labels is to focus on making music and performing. Online marketing agencies and platforms are experienced and help out with online ads. Kwettr account managers can help you improve ad campaigns.

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