Over at the Disc Makers blog, Jon Ostrow answers the question, Should you advertise online?
Ostrow sees advertising providing two main benefits for DIY and indie musicians:
Awareness. What might also be called branding. Advertising can be used to promote name recognition and a general state of awareness unrelated to a call to action.
Conversion. Advertising with a call to action such as selling albums or tickets.
While advertising can certainly achieve both goals, awareness or branding is arguably less productive for relatively unknown acts. Big brands typically focus on branding ads after achieving a certain level of visibility and sales in order to keep themselves front of mind rather than to introduce themselves.
Ostrow goes on to discuss various aspects of advertising for musicians. Key points include:
Create a timetable based on your goals. For example, if you're hoping to increase album sales your schedule will have to be built in relationship to a release date.
Set a budget. Even low-cost social media or search engine ad buys can mount up quickly so set a budget in relationship to your timetable.
Know who you're targeting. You'll want to make your choice of ad buys, from social media to search engines to blogs or websites, based on where your audience hangs out.
Set a key performance indicator. Be sure to measure your success in relationship to your goal so that you can evaluate the outcome.
My Bonus Tip: If you're thinking about advertising and you're not sure where to start or what to think about it, try spending some time looking more closely at the ads that appear in your digital travels. Think about why you like or don't like them and consider which ones caught your attention and which ones forced you to find them.
When you find yourself going, I could use that for what I'm doing," then you're on your way. If you discover that you were right in thinking this isn't the time, then that's good to know as well.
For more on indie music advertising see Should you advertise online?