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Music Promotion Mistakes: When paying for music promotion goes wrong!

Many artists and DIY label owners want to create successful music promotion campaigns, but they don’t know the true goal of music promotion. Many have misconceptions about the importance of streaming in the promotion process. This problem causes the artist or DIY’er to lose money and motivation. However, all we need to do is get your minds focused on the right end goal: fans.

The Average Independent Artist's Stream Count

On average, artists with a small fanbase or little notoriety get 1,000 streams or less every 90 days. This leads many artists to believe that getting more streams will convert to more fans. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As we progress, you’ll see that listeners discover first and stream second. A focus on stream counts will always stop your drive dead in its tracks.

Getting Fans and Funding

I asked my viewers, “What’s the hardest thing about starting in the music biz?” They responded with getting listeners and fans as their number one answer and finding funding as their number two answer. These answers were neck and neck. Getting listeners and fans has to deal with promotion, and finding funding must be correlated, right? These two are difficult when you don’t know the purpose of each. Why do you need the money, and why do you want the fans?

What Do You Need Funding For?

When I asked this question to the viewers, the landslide answer was for music promotion. I agree music promotion is very expensive. If you remember in previous videos I said, “Funding your career should be done with cash on the music side because its return is low.” However, I was not prepared for the next response from my audience.

What Artists Want to Use the Money For

Below are the top answers for where artists will use investors’ money or their own:

  1. Increase streams

  2. Sell merchandise (digital, physical)

  3. Increase follower count

The problem with this is many will decide to increase the streams through playlist promotion so they can feel good about their numbers. However, this is backward. Getting a listener is the end of the food chain for the majority of music discovery, but it’s not the end of the food chain for the fan.

Most music discovery happens on social media, so your goal should be to increase your follower count first, increase streams second, and sell merchandise third. Merchandise should always be an end goal, never the first goal because merchandise is for the fan who has already discovered you. You should never spend money to promote merchandise to anyone except followers and fans.

The Life Cycle of a Fan

Artists are still blinded by vanity metrics and trying to compete with major labels, hence why they want streams. However, as an indie artist, your number one goal is customers and revenue, period. What you are most concerned about is raising your conversion numbers to get scrollers on social media to stop, look at your video, follow you for more, cross over to Spotify and listen, come back to social media to find out more about your story, tell a friend, THEN buy a ticket or merchandise. That is the cycle of a fan. The goal is to make this happen as quickly as possible by increasing the quality of the content and promotional materials as well as the value that the consumer gets out of the content and promotional materials to make them ultimately purchase merchandise.

This is What Quiets the Delusion

I asked, “As a self-run record label owner, what is your biggest revenue category OR where do you see yourself earning the most money?”


  1. Sell merchandise

  2. Streams

  3. Live shows

The landslide answer was to sell merchandise. The second answer was streaming. So if you perceive yourself selling merchandise, shouldn’t your goal be to create the best promotional materials (music, music videos, micro music videos, SM content) to convert potential fans into fans for selling your biggest money maker, which is merchandise (digital or physical)? Why place a significant amount of money into streaming promotion?

How Does Paying for Music Promotion Go Wrong?

Paying for music promotion goes wrong when your end goal is to increase streams. This means every dollar you put into music promotion must yield you 263 streams. We know this doesn’t happen. So let’s say you pay $30 for a playlist add that yields you 1,000 streams. You make $3.89 but you spent $30. This gives you an 87% loss on your money. Do this a few times, and you’ll say you got burned, but in actuality, you just didn't know the cost of music in the streaming markets.

How Would You Solve This Issue?

I would focus on using social media to display my promotional efforts in video form. This will let the consumers know how interesting you are, and if you pique their interest enough and you’re charismatic enough, you’ll start to gain the fans that you need. Content is king!

If You Had Less Than 100k Followers, How Much Would You Spend?

$10,000 would be my test budget. Cash only, no credit. Save up all at once or set aside money from each paycheck to keep the car going down the road to see if people catch it. Again, it’s all about the value people get out of the quality content you put out.

Check This Out!

If you're a music creative or executive looking to build your label or publishing company in 60 days or less, grab the 60-Day Record Label Course and get it done today! You’ll gain the ability to get real funding, avoid contractual pitfalls, and keep the middleman out of your pockets. Click the link below to get started now! If you’re skeptical, grab the free guide, "10 Ways to Increase Your Record Label Profits," which comes with a free split sheet download.

When You Focus on Acquiring the Fan…

The plans that you make will be much more thorough than just building an audience to stream, and the music business will start to make more sense to you. Lastly, your streams will follow a great promotion campaign that targets acquiring fans instead of streams.

When You Focus on Acquiring Streams

You will do a disservice to yourself, and you more than likely will run out of money because your vision is short-sighted. Focus on streams you lose; focus on fans you win.


If you were struggling with where to spend money for music promotion so you don’t lose it all, you now have more information to help you along the journey. By understanding the true goal of music promotion, you can focus on building a loyal fanbase, ensuring long-term success, and avoiding costly mistakes.


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