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What Artists Should Know About ReverbNation’s 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:

63 thoughts on “What Artists Should Know About ReverbNation’s Promote It”

  1. 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.

      1. 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?”

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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?

  11. 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

  12. 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! ;)

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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).

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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! :)

  26. 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.

  27. 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?

    1. 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)

  28. “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??

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