Music Marketing Manifesto FAQ

Branding

 

If you are unsure of what your music sounds like, there are a number of things you can do to determine what artists your music sounds similar to. Here are a few suggestions…

  1. Look into your Facebook audience insight tool. If your audience is large enough, you will find artists that fans of your page also like.
  2. Survey your friends and fans using a free Google Doc survey.
  3. Start by making a list of your influences. Priorities them based on your gut feeling. Then create a number of Facebook ads within the same ad set (no more than 3 at a time). Promote a music video of one of your most popular songs, and see which ad gets the most video views with 50% retention or more. Add that artist to a list, and repeat until you have at least 3 artists. Then run all of your top artists against one another in the same ad. There is good evidence that fans of the best performing artist, also like your music. Now take that artist and enter them into Facebook’s audience insight tool and make a list of the top artists that fans of your winning artist, also like. This is a good place to begin when it comes to targeting.

However, there is an even more important thing to consider when it comes to targeting.

It is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that is even more important than your music itself.

This is because it is the promise that you make about the experience that your music offers that is going to draw people in. How your music sounds will determine if people fall in love with it, so you must also target people who like your music. But when it comes to making that initial conversion, it is going to be that unique selling proposition, and your ability to communicate it in your ad and lading page copy, that is going to entice people to sign up to your mailing list.

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Email Marketing

There are a lot of reasons that an email open rate may be low. It may very well have something to do with your content, but it could also mean that something is not working correctly on a technical level. It may also indicate that there is a problem with your targeting.

First, it is important to establish what a good open rate is. Let’s look at the standard MMM funnel (as taught in Music Marketing Manifesto).

No matter how hard we try, not everyone is going to open our emails. But I like to see an open rate on the first email of at least 80%, or very close to it. If it is much lower than that, open rates should be addressed. You can expect your second email open rate to drop, but I like it to be over 40%. Third email sometimes drops a little more, but not drastically. During the limited time offer that follows, you can expect open rates to drop even more since you are emailing every day for three days. But ideally you are still seeing an open rate between 20% – 35%.

Real time broadcasts typically receive open rates between 20% – 40%, depending on the size and age of your list, and your relationship with your subscribers.

There is a lot of wiggle room here, and these numbers are not set in stone. What is more important is your ROI. But the above is a guideline that gives you some idea of “normal”.

Here are a few scenarios that come up fairly often…

Your ads perform poorly and those who do subscribe are not opening 

When this is happening, it typically indicates that you do not have a well developed USP and your copy, and targeting needs work.

Your ads perform well and your squeeze page is converting well, but the open rate drops off sharply.

We often see a scenario where everything appears to be working well, and the open rate is normal on the first email, but then we see a steep drop off after that. This typically indicates that people are not connecting with your music and/or your copy. This may just be because you are targeting the wrong people. But it could also be that your music still needs some work. However, it is important to also pay attention to the sales conversion rate in this situation, because it is not uncommon to see a funnel that alienates half of the audience, while completely thrilling the other half. So if your sales are high, and/or your email open rate remains relatively consistent from the 2nd email on. It may still be worth running this campaign. If the music and funnel experience is good, then alienating those that are never likely to become fans is not necessarily a bad thing. The ROI is what matters most.

The open rate on your first email is very low.

I often get reports of people who see open rates as low as 45% on their initial email. This always strikes users as puzzling because it’s hard to imagine that someone might sign up to get free music, but then not bother even opening the email that delivers that music. This is my take on why this happens…

Typically, when I see open rates of less than 65% on the first email it is because people have confirmed opt-in turned off. Doing this is not always a bad thing. However, the reason it can sometimes result in low open rates is because Facebook’s algorithm has become almost a little too good at doing it’s job.

Lets say, for example, that you have created a Facebook or Instagram ad that targets Bob Dylan fans, and that Facebook recognizes 5,000,000 people as being interested in Bob Dylan. And lets also say that the “objective” of your campaign is “conversions” (getting people to sign up to your mailing list). Facebook does not just target fans of Bob Dylan in some chronological order. Instead, the algorithm looks at all of the people that are landing on your designated thank you page (your conversion goal) and creates a segment of those 5,000,000 that most closely match the profiles of those people who are landing on your thank you page. Then Facebook targets that segment, rather than the entire 5,000,000 people.

However, the people most likely to subscribe are the people that have less concerns about handing over their email address. These are often people that have a secondary email address that they don’t check often, or who don’t monitor their primary email often. They have less resistance to signing up because they are not concerned about the inbox clutter. Facebook’s algorithm has become so good at cloning the psychological profiles of people within a segment, that they are effectively cloning the “low hanging fruit” of your target audience. In other words, those who are less likely to check their emails. With confirmation turned off you inadvertently end up feeding the algorithm with these unresponsive, less resistant subscribers, which in turn teaches Facebook to target even more people that are just like them. It;s a terrible cycle that just drives open rates down.

This doesn’t happen 100% of the time that you have confirmed opt in turned off, and there are times that you still want to have confirmed opt in off, but it does seem to be happening more and more. The solution is to make note of your ROI, and then create a duplicate campaign that has confirmed opt in turned on. Track your open rates, click through rates, and ROI separately to see what generates the most overall revenue.

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Facebook & Instagram Advertising

 

How much you spend each day is really based on your own budgetary constraints and how much financial risk you can bear. Facebook’s minimum is $1 per day.

However, there are a few things you need to be aware of when it comes to budgeting…

In order for Facebook’s algorithm to be able to optimize your ads best, it needs at least 5 actions each day, based on your campaign objective. More is better.

So for example, if your objective is conversions, you need at least 5 conversions each day (on average) in order for the algorithm to have enough data to do it’s job, and optimize your campaign. If you get less conversions than this minimum, your campaign will not likely perform well. The same is true whether your objective is clicks, engagements, video views, etc.

So, when deciding how much you should spend, you need to take your objective, and your campaigns performance into consideration. If your hope is to spend $1 for each subscriber (for example), then you should not spend any less than $10/day on your campaign. The reason I say $10 instead of $5 is because the campaign is not likely to perform optimally at first, so you need some padding in the budget.

If your budget is limited and you cannot afford to spend $10/day, then I suggest changing your objective to traffic, and optimize for “landing page views” instead.

This will not be ideal if your goal is to get subscribers (conversions), however it is the better approach since you are nearly certain to get more than 5 landing page views per day, even with a budget of $3 a day or more.

In general, the more you spend the better your ads will perform, up to a point. Eventually, a new challenge will arise, which is scaling up to larger budgets.

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If you are unsure of what your music sounds like, there are a number of things you can do to determine what artists your music sounds similar to. Here are a few suggestions…

  1. Look into your Facebook audience insight tool. If your audience is large enough, you will find artists that fans of your page also like.
  2. Survey your friends and fans using a free Google Doc survey.
  3. Start by making a list of your influences. Priorities them based on your gut feeling. Then create a number of Facebook ads within the same ad set (no more than 3 at a time). Promote a music video of one of your most popular songs, and see which ad gets the most video views with 50% retention or more. Add that artist to a list, and repeat until you have at least 3 artists. Then run all of your top artists against one another in the same ad. There is good evidence that fans of the best performing artist, also like your music. Now take that artist and enter them into Facebook’s audience insight tool and make a list of the top artists that fans of your winning artist, also like. This is a good place to begin when it comes to targeting.

However, there is an even more important thing to consider when it comes to targeting.

It is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that is even more important than your music itself.

This is because it is the promise that you make about the experience that your music offers that is going to draw people in. How your music sounds will determine if people fall in love with it, so you must also target people who like your music. But when it comes to making that initial conversion, it is going to be that unique selling proposition, and your ability to communicate it in your ad and lading page copy, that is going to entice people to sign up to your mailing list.

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Despite recent skin changes n the ads manager, the process is more or less the same as it has always been. However, the changes to the way the ads manager is designed seems to be creating some confusion for users, so I thought I’d create a quick video to walk you through the process.

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The simple answer is of course you can…

However, in my experience, video does not typically convert as well as images do when you are driving traffic to a squeeze page. This is because a big part of why the MMM process is successful is because we really hone our skills as copywriters, and a good ad really titillates the curiosity of the prospect.

The goal of the ad is to make a bold claim or promise about the experience your music offers. We do this by demonstrating in our copy that we completely understand what it is that our prospects love about music. If we do that well, our prospects will feel that they just need to find out if we live up to our claim. With a squeeze page, the only way to scratch that itch is to take the next step and subscribe. This is one of the reasons I commonly get conversion rates of over 40% on my squeeze pages, from cold traffic.

Now, you might be thinking… but what good does this do if it turns out they don’t actually like the music?

If they truly don’t like the music then it won’t do you any good at all.

But more commonly, people find themselves on the fence. They might like it, but they don’t fall in love at first listen.

With the squeeze page/list building approach we buy ourselves time to build a personal bond and impress them with additional music and content. Thus, increasing the chances that they will become genuine fans and eventually spend money with us.

This is the method to the madness and it works well.

With video everything is put on the table right away. The prospect’s curiosity is satisfied and they feel far less compelled to take the next step, even when they do like the music. This is because there is no personal bond yet, and music itself has no inherent value if their is no bond or pre-existing desire (such as that which exists between a fan and a celebrity artist).

So, while there are exceptions to every rule, and I have seen video work well, it is not typically the best place to start. My advice is to at least test your videos against images.

As an aside, where I do often do well with video ads, is when targeting an warm audience, when running traffic directly to a streaming platform, or when using them to build a custom audience for retargeting and/or lookalike audiences.

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While you can test multiple images within the same ad (if you turn on “Dynamic Creative” on the ad set level), you cannot test a video against an image within the same ad. However, what you can do is two unique ads within the same ad set, and those two ads will effectively compete against one another and Facebook will eventually send more traffic to the better performing ad.

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You can only tie one conversion goal to your ad campaign’s objective, but you can track multiple conversions. In other words, if your objective is conversions and you have selected the thank you page people land on after subscribing as the conversion goal for the campaign, then the algorithm would optimize the campaign based purely on that data. However, you can go into your view column in the ads manager and add as many custom conversions as you want to the custom view. This way you can see how many sales you got (or anything else you want to track), despite optimizing your campaign for subscribers.

One side note: I have found that the tracking of sales that take place deeper in a funnel (such as the standard MMM funnel) is not always that accurate. This is because often enough time has passed between clicking and purchasing that a person may have cleared their cache, or purchased from a different location or device. It’s just something to be aware of in case you find that sales are coming in, but not showing up as consistently in your ad tracking.

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MMM Lessons

You can watch over my shoulder and learn how to set up countdown dynamite in this lesson: https://www.musicmarketingmanifesto.com/members/4-19/

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Yes, but it is extremely important to me that MMM is promoted ethically and in god taste, so it is by invite only. If you are interested in becoming an affiliate please send an email to support@musicmarketingmanifesto.com and let me know a little about your existing audience and how you plan to promote the program.

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Streaming

This really all depends on what your specific goals are. But as a general rule, my position is that the average independent artist will typically make more money by only releasing a few songs from each album to the streaming platforms.

MMM is a sales-focused marketing strategy. As someone who has worked with thousands of artists over the years, I have seen many more artists generate what would be considered to be a “reasonable amount of revenue” with a sales model, than I have with streaming models. For example, to generate $5000 you either need to sell 500 albums for $10 or you need to generate approximately 1,000,000 first world streams. The latter is MUCH harder for the average musician. This is supported by my own experiences, and by the data gathered in an extensive survey that I conducted on the topic. That said, there are exceptions to every rule and there is no one right way for everyone.

With that said, if you do decide to pursue a sales model for the release of your album, then should not release the entire album to the streaming platforms. After all, we cannot expect people to buy our music if they already own it.

But I thought nobody bought music anymore? Isn’t the album dead?

No. The album is not dead. It is true that when we look at mainstream industry stats, that we see a dramatic decline in album sales over the last 10 years. However, the buying triggers for independent music are very different than the buying triggers for main stream music.

Those who consume mainstream music, typically do so because a song/artist is trending. No initial bond exists with the artist, and fans will consume music in the simplest, cheapest, most frictionless way possible. This is certainly Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc. Because streaming has become the norm, major labels need to pursue streaming models because they need to attract the masses to recoup the hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars needed to break a band internationally.

However, those who consume independent music typically do so because they feel a bond with the artist. They may have seen them perform live, met them personally, they may have read a review, or they may have engaged with the artist online via email, social media, blog comments, etc. It is a much more one-on-one relationship and reciprocity is a significant factor. Once that bond exists, you’l find that real fans will support us in almost anyway we ask them to, whether that is buying a digital album, a physical album, backing us on Patreon, Kickstarter, or even just streaming our music on Spotify.

The challenge is not getting people to part with their money, it is getting people to care. Once they do, you can ask for their support. And on an independent level, you will almost always do much better asking for that support in the form of a direct sale than a stream, simply because one $10 album sale is the equivalent of more than 2000 streams, and the former is much easier to generate than the latter, with a direct to fan marketing strategy.

That said, streaming still has it’s place. It is important that we have a presence on these platforms because it is still a real income stream, it is the easiest way for existing fans to engage with our music, and it can lead to music discovery. Moreover, most artists will see that a small fraction of their tracks will generate the majority of their income. Therefore, by releasing “the singles” only (typically spread out over several months), we preserve our ability to sell music to the real fans, while also benefiting from all that streaming has to offer as well.

  • Thanks for your perspective John. Very interesting. I love the sentence: “The challenge is not getting people to part with their money, it is getting people to care”.

    I remember you also talking about “windowing” years back in your “record release formula” class. It was very interesting.

    Take care,
    Eric

    • John Oszajca says:

      Thanks Eric, glad that resonated with you. It’s been interesting to see the term “windowing” catch on in the music space following that podcast. I think it will continue to be discussed and embraced in the music space. Cheers.

  • Glenn Langford says:

    Thanks John, really useful perspective. Hadn’t considered holding back tracks from streaming for sale only. Makes sense.

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