So a couple of years ago I embarked on an attempt to advertise Stoat on Facebook and Instagram to try an increase our listener numbers. It wasn’t very successful, and you can read about it here
Sometimes though I don’t have enough sense to quit when I should, so I kept trying to see if I could figure it out. In line with advice I got from various YouTubers (like Andrew Southworth) I started aiming ads at “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” countries – i.e. richer countries, that idea being that in poorer countries few people have Spotify subscriptions, so if they click on your ad they’ll end up on a free version of Spotify where you can’t select a particular song. Kinda useless if you’re paying for clicks and they don’t even get to hear your music. Also rather that trying to pick out similar artists I just aimed the ads at anyone who had “Spotify” as one of their interests on FB/IG. Still v little movement in our Spotify numbers, until I ran a few ads with this image …
… and the text “Quirky rock music to brighten your day/Listen now on Spotify”, and in the first week our streams on Spotify tripled, and our listeners doubled – this was the first time I’d had something that might be considered “success”. Price-per-click on the ad was still pretty high, but now I suddenly felt like I was getting somewhere.
In retrospect it kinda makes sense – that image’s childish quirkiness actually kinda tells you something about the music, and similar with the text. Maybe with previous image/text combinations I was going too much for stuff that looked/sounded cool, and getting clicks from the wrong people, whereas now people who’d like the music would also like the ad, so only interested people were clicking? I dunno, but whatever the reason I now had something to work with
So for the next few weeks I experimented with different songs and the same image text, and eventually Dog King came out as the clear winner – it cost about half the amount per stream compared to the next best-performing song (Try Not To Think About It).
Then in May 2022 we released Let’s Go Out, and I created some new ads with its cover image and a few different clips from the song. At this stage the Dog King ad was costing us around €0.26 per ad click (or around €0.03 per stream, because people would keep listening to it after first clicking)
Yeah, it’s another blackboard drawing from my kids, and I don’t know why, but people liked this even more. Straight away it was costing us around 20% less per click, and after I had the brainwave to direct the ads to our “This is Stoat” playlist rather than just the song (so people would stream a few tunes rather than just the single) our per-stream-cost came down by a third.
When “Let’s be srangers” came out I ran a similar test with that, but “Let’s Go Out” performed better so that’s where we’re at now – it costs us around €0.12 per ad click, which works out around €0.02 per stream. Still double the per-stream cost for the piano music, and obvs we’re still a long way from break even
Is it worth it? Hard to say – most of our listeners are in Turkey and Mexico (I presume cos that’s where facebook/instagram ads are cheapest), so it definitely doesn’t translate to gig attendance (I have experimented with a different style of ads for gigs, but without success so far). It is nice though to have nearly 1500 listeners a month, and once in a while to get a message from someone thousands of miles away telling us how much they like our music, so we’ll keep it up for another while at least