Promotion – the word that fills the heart of every budding artist with a mix of excitement and dread. Every musician's journey is fraught with dreams of their tunes gracing the airwaves and filling dancefloors. But how much of your hard-earned money should you invest to turn those dreams into reality?

Many articles will give you a magic formula– "Spend 30% of your marketing budget!" 

However, such a simplistic approach lack nuance and does not take into consideration a critical factor– namely, which stage of the musical journey you currently find yourself in. 

To appropriately answer the music promotion quandary, let's don the hat of a financial planner for a bit. Just as you would budget for a trip or a new purchase, your musical journey requires a well-thought-out financial strategy.

Using our guide from our previous article on how much you should be making as a music creator, let's dive deep into understanding the different stages of a musician's career and the appropriate promotional budgets:

1. The "Hacker"

At this stage, you're experimenting, and while you believe in your music, you're still finding your sound and audience.

Promotion Budget: $50 - $150 per track. Why?

You're testing waters. Spend small on playlisting, SongFly ads and other basic visual tools to get the music out there. The most important part of this stage is learning from the data you receive.

2. The "DIY Artist"

What: You have a clear musical identity and a budding fan base, but the business side is still a mystery.

Promotion Budget: $200 - $400 per track. 

Why: Playlisting is your foundational spend to increase general awareness, but you need to start targeting and acquiring fans more directly– i.e. with your own digital ad spend. At this budget level you are able to keep playlisting spend constant while increasing your digital ad spend, diversifying channels.

3. The "Professional Artist"

What: Music is your full-time gig. You have a dedicated fan base, and perhaps even a manager or label.

Promotion Budget: $500 - $5,000 per track 

Why: Your reputation is growing, and every release can be a potential hit. You need to invest in higher-end music videos, scaling your targeted ads, radio promotion, and PR.

4. The "Star"

What: You're a household name, with an enviable fan following and significant industry clout.

Promotion Budget: $5,000+ per track

Why: At this point, you're not just promoting music but a brand. Think bigger – billboard ads, TV spots, or even brand collaborations.

But remember, these numbers aren't set in stone.

Our recent SongTools survey highlighted an average promotional spend of $350 per track with a huge variance across the board (max of $5000). Yet, the crucial point is that these numbers aren't about how much but how wise. A smartly spent $200 can yield better results than a poorly planned $2,000.

The Return on Investment (ROI)

Promotion isn't just about spending money; it's about investing. The aim is to get a return – in the form of streams, fans, gigs, and eventually, more income. So, before you set a promotional budget, ask:

  • What's my goal for this track/album?
  • Who's my target audience?
  • What platforms do they frequent?
  • What kind of promotion resonates with them?

If you need help setting up your promotional efforts to yield the best ROI over time, it starts with building a funnel, you can learn how to do that here

Stretching Your Dollar

Being judicious with your promotion budget doesn't mean cutting corners; it means being resourceful. At SongTools, it’s our goal to break your music without breaking the bank, which is why we provide marketing tools at accessible costs. We suggest you only work with solutions that share this same sentiment. 

Promotion can't compensate for music that doesn't resonate. Always prioritize your craft. Genuine passion, combined with talent, will always find its audience. Promotion is merely a tool to speed up that process.

In conclusion, while the numbers provide a guideline, they're just that – a guide. Your journey is unique. Whether you're a Hacker or a Star, the right promotion strategy, combined with genuine talent, will ensure your music finds its rightful place in the spotlight.


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