Music Business

Facebook & Instagram Advertising for Musicians & Creatives – The Evolving Saga

Facebook and Instagram advertising can be a challenge for DIY minded folks including musicians and creatives. I have done some research on the topic and also ran some ads (specifically for my album release), but many questions still remain. I am going to write about my experience with it so far and be careful not to make too many definitive statements because there are a lot of unknowns.

Here’s a few general things that I am convinced of:

  • There’s no magic bullet. You need time and money to do testing and analysis in order to create more effective campaigns. Online learning is good for understand the terminology and concepts, but won’t get you very far on its own.
  • Ads for musicians and creatives is not as easy to measure compared to an online business that has a clearer and more quantifiable objective, such as conversions.
  • Social media advertising is a long-term endeavor. You need to do it for a while in order to assess results. Dabbling here and there doesn’t work. This is why the pros hire other pros to do it. They have the experience and their time is dedicated to it. It’s hard to DIY this.
  • Most people agree that videos are the move here. Your ad should be some compelling text and a quality video.
My Recent Video Promotion

I’ll discuss a recent promotion that I did for a video on both Facebook and Instagram. For this, I used the Facebook Ad Manager. That is to say that I did not use the ‘Boost Post’ option which will also create an ad, but with fewer options and features. More on the difference between these two approaches here and here.

Let’s get into. I promoted a DIY video of me doing an original arrangement of the traditional folk ballad, The House Carpenter (Facebook link, Youtube link).  I spent a total of $66.76. That includes both Facebook and Instagram. It ran for approximately 3 days. The objective for the Instagram ad (line one below) was Link Clicks. The objective for the Facebook ad (line two below) was Video Views. I am targeting a cold audience. Because I don’t have much of an audience (page likes/followers) already, I am targeting people who are not aware of me in hopes of building a wider audience. Here are the results.

FB Ad Manager Report - House Carpenter - page 3
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Here are my comments on this data:

  • First, reach and impressions are useless to me. The numbers look impressive, but it only means that my video showed up on someone’s screen. In most cases, the person scrolled right past it.
  • Link clicks, comments, reactions, shares and page likes are all good stuff, but the numbers and cost of these are concerning. For example, if you offered to sell me post comments and $11 each, I would decline the offer. That’s just discouraging.
  • The metrics that are most useful to me are the ‘Video Watches at x%’. Particularly, a watch at 75%, is a successful engagement. The cost for each of those works out to 66.76 / 111 = $0.60. That seems a little high. Was it my content? Was it the ad configuration? I am not sure, and probably wouldn’t be able to determine that without running many more ads under various conditions.
  • Another useful metric is the Link Clicks. It someone clicked through to my website, they were interested enough to learn more and could potentially listen to my album on a streaming service or download it.

My general reaction to this campaign is that it feels like a bad deal. It feels like I paid too much for what I got. But, what did I get exactly? To answer that, I need to review my objective.

The objective was to get people to listen to the song, watch the video, check out my page/profile, and/or visit my website. The Google Analytics data for my website jives fairly well with the ‘link click’ metric from the Facebook report. That’s the most traffic to the website in a while. In a sense, I achieved that objective.

Google Analytics - Social Acquisition - House Carpenter Promo

Ideally, a few people would make it to my website, fall in love with my music and purchase a download of my album! That would be especially great if it covered the cost of the ad campaign. But it was not to be!

I want to keep running this under different conditions, but I feel like I am spending money just to learn more about the Facebook ad platform. Honestly, it’s fun! It’s like a puzzle or a game. The problem is that’s it’s expensive to play.


I will make clear again that I am a novice when it comes to online advertising. With that said, if someone asked my for a recommendation, I would say to use the streamlined ‘Boost Post’ feature on Facebook to promote you video or your event and/or the ‘Promote’ feature in Instagram. This keeps you out of the quagmire that is the Facebook Ad Manager.

So, why bother with this at all? Could you say that about anything? What about gigging? We have all probably driven dozens of miles to play for a few people and low pay. Is this any different?

On a positive note, it is interesting to compare music promotion like this to how things were done pre-social media or pre-internet. We should probably be grateful that we have an opportunity to make music and put it in front of thousands of people with the virtual click of a button and a relatively small amount of money, right?

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