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What Artists Should Know About ReverbNation’s Promote It

Promote It

Running a Facebook ad campaign is confusing. You bid for ad placement, but the price you pay bears little relation to your bid. What’s the difference between reach and social reach, connections and clicks, CPC and CPM? More importantly, is there any way to tell how many people played, downloaded, and shared your song, or signed up for your mailing list? (answer: no, there’s not)

ReverbNation's Promote It!

ReverbNation’s new Promote It tool addresses those shortcomings, and then some. You pick a song, photo, and budget, and it automatically generates dozens of optimized Facebook ads based on past Promote It campaigns, and continually optimizes your campaign based on the performance of those ads. New fans click through to customized landing pages that track not just clicks and likes, but plays, downloads, shares, wall posts, and mailing list signups. As I’m quoted as saying in the press release, “It’s the ultimate ‘set it and forget it’ fan-making machine!”

I was invited to try it out and provide feedback during the beta period, and I’m flattered that some of my suggestions made it into the final product. So far I’ve run six campaigns. Let’s walk through the creation and performance of my latest and most successful one.

Promote "But Not Tonight"

As of this writing, there are two types of campaigns available: promote a song, and promote your Facebook page. Soon you’ll also be able to promote a show or release. Most of my experience is with promote a song, so let’s continue with that:

Setting up your Promote a Song campaign requires nine simple inputs:

1. Which Song Would You Like to Promote? You should pick one that grabs the listener in the first 5-10 seconds. The song I chose starts right in on the first verse, with no instrumental introduction whatsoever.

2. Pick 5 Similar Artists. Since I was promoting a Depeche Mode cover song, I picked the band and its members’ solo projects: Dave Gahan (lead singer), Martin L Gore (songwriter), and Alan Wilder (long-departed yet still beloved keyboardist/producer) – plus Erasure, since half of that duo was in the original line-up of DM.

The product manager for Promote It told me that artists who have between 50,000 and 500,000 likes work best, and my results bear that out:

Similar Artist Scorecard

The Dave Gahan ads performed so well that they completely crowded out the rest. Perhaps it’s because Depeche Mode has millions of casual fans, but only the most serious ones keep up with the lead singer’s solo work, and are therefore more motivated to check out my cover.

3. Write Ad Text. You can choose to author one of the ads yourself, or let Promote It generate them all. Since my custom ad was outperformed by the auto-generated ads, I won’t bother sharing it with you.

4. Choose Picture. Your choice here can make or break the campaign! My previous campaign was identical to this one, except I used a close-up of yours truly. The results were pathetic. It should come as no surprise that a photo featuring 1) a world-famous band and 2) an attractive female does a better job of catching the eye.

5. Geo-Targeting. Choose between local (your state), national, all English-speaking countries, or global. Theoretically you should get the best results from global, but national did just as well for me in my limited experience.

6-8. Name Your Campaign, Sync with Facebook, Start Date. Pretty much self-explanatory.

9. Budget. Choose between $25, $50, $100, $250, or $500 on a one-time, weekly, or monthly basis. I recommend you experiment with successive $25 campaigns until you find a winning formula, and expand from there.

My $50 campaign lasted six days. Here are the results (click to enlarge):

Campaign Results

I was most pleased with the 44 mailing list signups, but 57 likes is nice too. There’s sure to be some overlap between those two figures, but in any case, that’s a lot of new fans who will be hearing from me on a regular basis.

How does Promote It compare to running Facebook ads directly?

It really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you just want to boost the number of likes on your page, direct ads have a serious advantage: you can structure them so that a click is a like.

But if you’re looking for the kind of things we musicians tend to care most about: song plays, downloads, shares, and mailing list signups, there’s no way to know which is best. Facebook doesn’t provide that information.

And no, you can’t just take the best performing Promote It ad and copy it over to Facebook. ReverbNation doesn’t share the text of its auto-generated ads with you, perhaps for that very reason.

But who says you have to choose? I use both.

How is Promote It working for you? Please share your results in the comments. To see it in action, check out this short video:

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70 Comments

  • Reply
    Jon Ostrow
    September 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I was lucky enough to have been invited to a pre-launch demo of Promote It and honestly was blown away by the potential of this platform. But, I think the BEST thing that Reverbnation has done is introduce free webinars that not only act as a tutorial for the new Promote It platform but as an introduction to Facebook Ads for novice social-musicians. How does the old saying go? give a kid a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a kid to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime.

    • Reply
      Elle Laurel Rose
      June 6, 2014 at 4:18 am

      I just hate that money gets into the hands of Goldman Sachs (through Facebook). I believe that is still the case, yes? 🙁

    • Reply
      James DjTorch Dillard
      October 13, 2014 at 12:12 am

      Has anyone compared just using facebook promotion vs promote it?

      • Reply
        ctheory11
        October 14, 2014 at 5:50 pm

        Other than me, in the article you’re commenting on, I don’t know of anyone else.

        See the heading, “How does Promote It compare to running Facebook ads directly?”

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    True Jon. And assuming Facebook survives the backlash from the latest round of changes, it will probably be around for our lifetime! 🙂

  • Reply
    Monty Singleton
    September 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Great article, nice and concise! I love Promote It and right now it's my favorite form of promotion. I'm getting the most bang for my buck easily. Compared to the mp3.com days, I finally feel like artists are getting great use out of the Internet. Rather than promoting to other artists, we actually are getting good tools to recruit new fans that doesn't require endless amounts of touring. Though, over time the more popular this becomes the less effective it will be. Always gotta hit the trendy night club while it’s still hot.

  • Reply
    Sam Page
    September 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Interesting article. So… how does Promote It compare to Jango?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I remember those days too, with musicians banding together to play each others songs in order to earn some cash. I didn't participate in any of those "circles," but I still raked in about $1500! In terms of actual promotion, it was all meaningless.

    Now we're able to reach out to the middle of the mainstream, and it doesn't get more mainstream than Facebook! I'm not sure it will become less effective, because they are always optimizing the algorithms. But at the same time, the overall noise level from musicians on Facebook is sure to go up. Time will tell!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Great question Sam! They are obviously two very different beasts, but that doesn't mean I can't compare them in terms of, say, new mailing list subscribers per dollar spent. I think that Promote It probably wins on that metric, but obviously Jango gets you many more plays per dollar. But how many of those listeners are paying attention?

  • Reply
    Helen Austin
    September 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    really interesting reading. I think I shall be trying this. Thanks for talking us through it!

  • Reply
    Kevin Conner
    September 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    The International Independent Authors and Artists Consortium is also looking to work together with indy bands as well as passive promotion. Please visit our website and join. Membership is free.
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-International-Independent-Authors-and-Artists-Consortium/278909172127658

  • Reply
    Narissa Young
    October 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for posting Helen 🙂

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 4, 2011 at 4:06 am

    I saw your tweet that you tried it. Care to share your results?

  • Reply
    Michael Bouteneff
    October 27, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Once again, excellent breakdown, Brian, thanks for sharing. If I ever finish my album, I'll be sure to give this a try. 🙂

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    December 2, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Yes, and I believe they are prompted for their email address. The reason there are more downloads (49) than email addresses (44) is probably that some downloaded it twice.

  • Reply
    Matt Belmont
    January 17, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Another great article Brian.

  • Reply
    Darrell Chaisson
    January 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Grreat article..found it after I signed up.I am 1/2 way through a $100.00 campaign..and it is working pretty well..had 100 fans to start now at 130+ in 4 days.. Moved up significantly in the charts.had some great feed back from the new fans..all good D.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Sounds like a pretty good start!

  • Reply
    Joshua Jimenez
    March 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks! Great article. I was going through promote it and came to the fees page and stopped and started researching. This article was the first I clicked on and no need to go further. Thank you for saving me time and for spreading the love! Keep up the great work.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 6, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Glad you found it useful, and I'm pleased to hear my articles have decent SEO with no effort on my part. 😉

  • Reply
    Joshua Jimenez
    March 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Ok so I did a $25 campaign and listed lifehouse, beatles, stp, chilli peppers and fionna apple as "people I sound like" Lifehouse was I guess by far the most succesfull. For the money the campaign did a good job. It said it threw 155,000 impressions out of there and I think 60 clicks and 30 plays I believe. In this 3 day period ($25) my visits went up from like 520 to like 800. 30 more plays, you def. see the difference. Of course I shot up the charts and as my campaign ended my momentum slowed. But what's there bad to say about something that works? If you'd like to hear my music to see how the bands I chose came to play you can at : http://www.reverbnation.com/joshuajimenez I would believe that you would have to sync with facebook in order for this to work. Good luck everyone!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 13, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing your results Joshua! That's really good, especially considering the wide range of artists you picked. There's a lot of space between Fiona Apple and the Chili Peppers, for example. I wonder if you might get even better results with a narrower field.

  • Reply
    Starewell Rock
    March 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Hey guys… I've tried both Jango and Promote it and the funny thing is the bands that Jango we are most like score us below average on Promote it… makes me wonder which site is telling the truth!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Both! They measure different things. Fans of band x may like your music more or less than they click on your ad.

  • Reply
    Brett Simms
    March 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Great website/discussion Brian I intend to follow you!

  • Reply
    Bedford Stroud
    April 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    how long does the transaction usually take? its been 3 days and nothing! I'm excited but starting to get nervous!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    April 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    That doesn't sound right. I get confirmation emails every step of the way. I'd email support@reverbnation.com.

  • Reply
    Christopher S. Gillard
    May 23, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Great article, glad I found it! I have a question though. SInce the option is now available, has anyone tried promoting a gig this way? I'm starting to get offered some paying gigs, but I don't know alot of people to invite personally (I'm always home practicing, lol!) Most of these venues require you to bring in 10 or more people to actually make any money. I'd like to do some kind of advertising beyond inviting the few people I know, and am wondering if anyone's had success using Promote It for gigs?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    May 23, 2012 at 4:55 am

    I don't perform, so I haven't tried it, but I'd be curious to hear others' results as well.

  • Reply
    Adrian Martin
    July 20, 2012 at 4:05 am

    I just promoted my Beatles Tribute gig for July 21. I don't know how to check the results of my campaign. Can anybody help a ludite out?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    July 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Last time I did one, I could see the results in my ReverbNation control panel, plus I received email updates at each step in the campaign.

  • Reply
    Paul Levy
    November 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Upcoming music artists are encouraged to participate in a campaign which will enable them to earn upto $1700 to boost their music career. You just need to follow the instructions and do the right thing. Read more in this website. http://www.mel6.com

  • Reply
    Kris Pierce
    December 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I'm definitely on the fence on the pros of paying for promoting my RN site and here's why: while it functions great as an EPK, it's a site of mostly other bands and very few actual fans, has a disappointing store, and no real way to generate sales. I make more money from AdShare than downloads. I would like to see other targeting capabilities such as specific companies and their employees (which Facebook promotion can do). I'm going to try promoting my upcoming gig using this program, since that seems to be the best way to generate something more tangible. I'm fortunate to be involved in MTV's beta testing for their artist site program and I definitely prefer sending fans there, whereas I send people looking to demo my tracks to RN. http://www.MTV.com/artists/haunted-echo

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    December 18, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Good to hear from you Kris! I'm on that MTV beta too, but don't direct anybody there, or to my RN site either. What you really should be directing people to is hauntedecho.com, which appears to be available! So grab it, before I do and charge you a premium for it. Can't knock a guy for trying to make SOME money in the music biz! 😉

  • Reply
    Mawande Tsoliwe
    January 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I think this a great platform, however I wish I could promote my webpage instead. I've uploaded free Albums and songs, that can only be downloaded with either FB likes and posts or Twitter follows and twits. It would be like hitting a couple of birds with one promotion stone.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    You can use Facebook Ads directly to send people to whatever URL you'd like, but staying on-site is a big advantage to Promote It!

  • Reply
    Rick Martin
    January 15, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Good shared knowledge Brian. I have been thinking about this stuff, and low and behold, you wrote an article on it a while back. Sounds like I need some scantily clad women in my ads… I tried promote a song vs promoting on top sites, and had better luck with the former. I also wonder if an artist truly gets into the Jango rotation after gaining some fans on there. One may never know.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I beta tested promoting on sites, and had little luck! Promoting a song did much better for me too. As for the scantily clad women, I guess that depends on your demographic ;). Jango has slowed down quite a bit for me lately, at least with email shares (which is the only metric I actively measure).

  • Reply
    only in the mornings
    January 27, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Have you tried promoting your facebook page…or a video? Something that got fans but did not sacrifice a free download? I had a good response with promoting a song, but would like to try other promotions. I don't mind staying onsite (facebook to facebook). I just don't know if I 'only' promoted my page, anyone would hang around to listen. Wondering if you get to pick the landing page in that instance.
    Anyway, your blog is golden. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Mawande Tsoliwe
    January 27, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I think I agree with you. Promote is great, but needs more functionality. And some of us want to promote more than just our facebook page.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 29, 2013 at 12:25 am

    I've tried promoting other things, including my page, with direct advertising through Facebook. Last time I checked, you can't send them to your music tab, and the goal should be to get them to listen to your music in as few clicks as possible. No matter what platform you use, getting people to click off of Facebook to another site is tough. At one point, I tried promoting http://music.colortheory.com, but my clickthrough rates were so low, I gave that up quickly.

    So basically I think Promote It does a good job with what it's designed to do – get you more Facebook fans.

  • Reply
    The Nathan Carlson Project
    March 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

    interesting reading, will be looking into this when the CD release of my debut EP comes out.

  • Reply
    Ed Sadler
    April 3, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Would like to use it but it adds "Tonight April 6" to the poster, even though tonight is not April 6th. Get rid of the glitch and I would use it.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    April 3, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Interesting! Have you tried emailing support@reverbnation.com?

  • Reply
    Biigi B Biigi B
    April 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    IVE BEEN A MEMBER OF REVIRBNATION AND YOU CAN SPEND CRAZY MONEY AND NO RETURNS IVE STARTED MY OWN LABEL WITH DIITO AND SO FAR IM IMPRESSED..BIIGIB IF ANYONE IS LOOKING FOR A DEAL CONTACT ME AT http://www.factorycommunication.com.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    April 24, 2013 at 1:12 am

    If you're spending crazy money on ReverbNation promotions and not getting any sort of return, I'd wipe the slate clean and take a good hard look at the product.

  • Reply
    Biigi B Biigi B
    April 24, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I agree totaly but i dont do this to serious its more of a thing i wanted to do after working for over 30 yr in the music world …but i know what you mean and considering some of the rubbish i have had to work with over the yrs its num

  • Reply
    Rebecca Davis
    June 29, 2013 at 3:25 am

    HOw do to you structure the Facebook promo so a click is a like?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    July 1, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    It's been so long since I've done it, I'm not sure anymore. The whole interface has changed in the meantime, such that there are different ad types, and multiple ways to generate likes.

  • Reply
    James DjTorch Dillard
    October 25, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    After reading this for the third time. I do have some concerns about RN.
    1. I'm not a "tribute band" or someone who does another bands music.
    2. I do R&B and EDM/Dance Music (very different) Should I setup two RN accounts since it looks like RN is setup for single Genre' Artists?

    • Reply
      Elle Laurel Rose
      June 6, 2014 at 4:16 am

      Sorry this is late, but ….

      Call it pop? Seems to me like R&B is already very similar and a lot of EDM sound has entered into a lot of pop/dance-pop.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I'm not sure I understand your concerns James. I'm not a tribute band either. 90% of my stuff is original. As for the genre, that's up to you and it's going to be the same on any site. If you aren't mixing the two genres together into something unique, but are performing in two clearly distinct styles, I'd probably do them separately.

  • Reply
    James DjTorch Dillard
    October 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Brian Hazard I thought you said you did Depeche Mode covers? you said, 2. Pick 5 Similar Artists. Since I was promoting a Depeche Mode cover song, I picked the band and its members’ solo projects: Dave Gahan (lead singer), Martin L Gore (songwriter), and Alan Wilder (long-departed yet still beloved keyboardist/producer) – plus Erasure, since half of that duo was in the original line-up of DM.

  • Reply
    James DjTorch Dillard
    October 29, 2013 at 1:55 am

    So far my results have been bad. 12,000 views /6 clicks. No other way to put it but horrible. The concern I have with numbers like these is where they are displaying these impressions? Not impressed and I still haven't received back in reply yet. Not sure I'll be using this service again.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 29, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I put out a Depeche Mode tribute album in 2003, but the vast majority of my stuff is original. Regardless, we were basically both in the same boat as far as this promotion is concerned! You picked pretty much the same similars as I did, and you can see from my results that Alan Wilder, Martin Gore, and Erasure didn't perform too well for me. Dave Gahan, on the other hand, was an unbridled success story! 🙂

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 29, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Yeah, that's pretty bad! They are displaying the impressions on the right sidebar of the news feed. I saw my ads come up when I ran my campaign (after remembering to turn Adblock off). I dunno… it's been a year and a half since I wrote this article, and Facebook has gone through lots of changes. I haven't advertised with them, directly or through ReverbNation, for a long time.

  • Reply
    James DjTorch Dillard
    October 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Brian Hazard I do believe your suggestion about putting a woman's photo up may improve my results. But, I found spending a day sharing links online worked better. Where are you based out of, Brian?

    • Reply
      Elle Laurel Rose
      June 6, 2014 at 4:42 am

      I really don’t like when bands use pictures of women who aren’t in the band, especially if it’s clearly sexual or she’s barely dressed. Society should be beyond and above that kind of exploitation. Female fans, at least, want better.

      Why not have women in the band? Of course the “concern” after that is she’d have to be eager to show herself that way. Lots of issues may come up. Being a solo women is easier, but people still accuse ’em of exploitation. Exploiting myself for my own musical product? Not if I’m my boss and it’s all my decision/drive/power/ambition! 😉

      (I’m actually close to finishing up the mix of a song about that stuff. :D)

      • Reply
        Brian Hazard
        June 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm

        Sounds like an interesting song concept! “Exploitation” might be a strong word, but I guess it depends if we’re talking about Beyonce or Miley Cyrus. 🙂

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    November 11, 2013 at 1:01 am

    I'm in Huntington Beach, California. Glad to hear you found something that works for you!

  • Reply
    Elle Laurel Rose
    June 6, 2014 at 4:44 am

    “The product manager for Promote It told me that artists who have between 50,000 and 500,000 likes work best, and my results bear that out…”

    Gee, that number range is hard for me to find… Soft suggestion??

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      June 6, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      That’s for similar artists. Most of the “big time” artists you’d probably think of off the top of your head have those kind of numbers.

  • Reply
    Cuttaman 100gran
    July 12, 2015 at 1:46 am

    Just tried Promote for the first time… And I wanted to know what’s the biggest difference from the campaign, and free trial exactly?

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      July 15, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      I didn’t know there was a free trial! Maybe that’s new.

  • Reply
    hefeextraktANSOLAS
    August 15, 2015 at 2:26 am

    FREE ?! not really

  • Reply
    Lyka Gonzales
    December 4, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Reverbnation is a sneaky f**k. Signed up for a month of free subscription. All crap news sent to your email BUT NOT THE EXPIRATION OF FREE SUBSCRIPTION to make sure YOU GET CHARGED.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      December 4, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Hate when that happens. I always put a reminder on my calendar to cancel before any free trial ends.

      • Reply
        Jessie
        January 10, 2016 at 7:36 am

        Wait so regarding the FREE Trial, is there really a way to cancel it in case you are not happy with the promotion results or to avoid yourself from being charged continuously? I always wanted to try submitting my songs for Promote but reading the comment from Lyka she said it is not good.

        BTW some of my songs sound old school 80’s especially Virus and Pulse. I love 80’s and 90’s musis so i tried to create a fresh take on the sound by playing with trip-hop, electronica and gothic orchestra sounds. Hope you can check out http://www.reverbnation.com/atshara

        Thanks for this thread and I’ll do more research first before I invest money in promotion of my songs. Thanks Brian!

        • Reply
          Brian Hazard
          January 12, 2016 at 6:25 pm

          I confess I haven’t kept up Jessie. It’s been over four years since I wrote this article! Since then, I’ve only advertised on Facebook directly, with the occasional promoted post.

          I like your sound!

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