Organic Versus Paid Social Media Marketing for Musicians

Organic Versus Paid Social Media Marketing for Musicians


At the peak of any successful marketing campaign is the method in which you decide to reach your audience. Whether that be on social media, on your own website, or just in normal, everyday conversations, you need to figure out how you are going to best sell your music to your target audience. The two most encompassing strategies to extend your reach are organic or paid marketing. Most music marketing strategies will include a combination of the two and merging organic and paid marketing into your strategy will guarantee an increase in your potential to be heard by your target audience. Some may prefer organic over paid, and some may prefer the opposite, but both are proven to propel the influence of your content in different ways. This article will define both organic and paid marketing in detail, while also giving you tips for how to optimize your content and posts on social media.

Organic Music Marketing

To start, organic marketing allows you to bring in an audience naturally rather than “artificially.” This happens in a number of ways. Consistent posting, building relationships with other influencers and musicians, and being featured in interviews can all assist in your organic music marketing strategy. Rather than just paying money for people to see your posts, you will bring in an audience through a more instinctive process. In other words, this is the free marketing route. If you are already putting out posts on social media and distributing your music across different platforms you are already technically executing an organic marketing strategy.

There are many benefits to an organic marketing strategy for musicians. For one, it allows you to build real relationships and connections with your followers from the start. In this regard, they will find your music naturally, either through word of mouth, through the discover page on Instagram, or through a Spotify playlist. As you become more and more creative with your organic music marketing strategy you begin to increase the potential for your music to be found. You do still have to work at this strategy though. It is not as simple as posting a few photos to Instagram and sharing your song to your Facebook friends; you need to be strategic. Here are a few tips to enhance your organic music marketing strategy:

  1. Utilize Hashtags
    • Hashtags may seem simple, but they are very important in an organic music marketing strategy. Many people will scroll aimlessly through the #music page on Instagram, and if you’ve never used this hashtag before you will never be found on this page. It’s important to use relevant and marketable hashtags as well. Longer hashtags like #musicisgoodforthesoul won’t get you as many views as shorter ones like #soulmusic, #rockandroll, or #newmusic. It’s important to find out what your target audience is searching for and narrow down your hashtags to those words.
  2. Tag Relevant People
    • If you post a cover of a John Mayer song or were inspired by the Arctic Monkeys for your most recent album, there’s no harm in tagging those people, actually it can do a lot of good for you. You never know who might comment on your post or retweet your song. On Instagram it is especially important to tag the relevant person or band in both the caption and the post itself. This allows your post to be automatically placed on the person’s “tagged in” page on their profile. Do not go overboard with this though as it can be seen as spam and be taken down.
  3. Comment on Other Musicians Posts
    • In order to find new fans and grow your following, you need to build relationships. The easiest way to do this is to find people who have a similar music style to you and comment on their posts. You can do this across all social media platforms and it is extremely likely that someone will reply or even make a comment on a couple of your posts in return.
  4. Direct Messaging
    • Similar to commenting on other musician’s posts, you can also reach out to them through a direct message. This is better for reaching out to artists with a similar size audience to you, but it can’t hurt to DM your favorite musicians as well. Again, you never know who will respond, or who will share your music.

Paid Social Music Marketing

At the opposite end of the marketing spectrum is paid social advertising. Similar to the traditional advertisements you see on television or the ads you see on your favorite YouTuber’s videos, paid social marketing is basically an advertisement that you can create yourself and promote across most social media platforms. Rather than taking the time to build out long-term organic marketing strategies, paid social posts can be used for quick wins. This doesn’t mean they are more effective or easier than creating organic marketing strategies though. In fact, they can become extremely complex based on the target audience you are trying to reach.

As a musician, the use of paid social ads for your music marketing strategy can have a massive impact on the amount of people who see your posts. Behind word-of-mouth, TV ads, and search engines, paid social ads are the 4th most effective method that brands use in order to influence their audience. Most musicians today are thriving through the use of paid ads on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify and the numbers prove the worth of a paid social campaign. It is the optimal strategy for musicians to use in order to find an audience outside of their normal circle of followers. Here are a few tips to enhance your paid social music marketing strategy:

  1. Target Specific Audiences
    • On each individual social network the paid ad platform is a little different, but each one includes an array of audience targeting options. To name a few, you can pick and choose an age range you’d like to target, a specific location to target, or even a specific gender you’d like to target. Once you have a feel for who your audience is, this step becomes simple.
  2. Target Specific Keywords
    • This is aimed more toward those of you who would like to create ads on Google, Yahoo, or Bing, but it still applies to the written content you attach to your social ad. You need to make sure the content you write along with the image or video you post tells a story so that your target audience doesn’t feel as though they’re being advertised to. This allows your posts to flow more naturally with the rest of your target audience’s feed.
  3. Use Different Ads Across Each Platform
    • Depending on the size of your audience this step can assist you in better targeting your posts. If you have more followers on Facebook and want to build a larger following on Instagram, it’s not worth spending the same amount of time and money on each ad. In this example, I would put more time and money into the Instagram ad and focus more on an organic strategy for the larger Facebook page.
  4. Make Your Ads Engaging and Consistent
    • Your ads should be relatively similar to the average post you put out. If your sponsored Instagram post is a video of you playing the banjo, but the rest of your posts are videos of you shredding heavy metal your ad will not attract the audience you’re looking to win over making it a waste of time and money. It’s important to focus these ads specifically toward the audience you’re trying to attract. It’s also important that you can capture these viewers or listeners after they’ve visited your page.


As you can tell, the benefits of both organic marketing strategies and paid social strategies far outweigh the disadvantages. An organic strategy will ensure that you are pushing consistent content out to your followers while a paid strategy will help you bring in new and untried listeners. As noted earlier it is important to utilize both organic and paid marketing strategies in your music marketing campaign as each has their own long term advantages and they go hand-in-hand. Without an organic strategy your paid strategy may be ineffective, and without a paid strategy your organic strategy could become insignificant.

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