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How effective are Facebook ads for music bands?

About two weeks ago I decided to do a little experiment with Facebook ads for fan pages.

My band Colorless Green Ideas has a Facebook fan page for a couple of months now. Unfortunately, the amount of fans stagnated at a humble 64 fans. I thought we deserved better and tried a Facebook ad campaign.

What’s quite interesting about Facebook ads is that you can decide to spend a small budget and that it’s quite easy to target your ad to a specific niche. I targeted my message only to people in the UK who were younger than 37 and who claimed to be interested in drum’n’bass or breakbeat.

Here you can see a preview of the ad:

And this is what Facebook told me about the targeting:

The ad ran for 10 days. In the table below you see the statistics with the results (the table is a bit big to make it readable inside this post, but click on it to have a better look).

Apparently, the ad showed up on Facebook for 222.874 times in that 10 day period. If I understand the difference between unique impressions and impressions correctly, 75.965 unique people got the message on their screen (some of them saw it more than once). The clicktrough rate was 0,08% on average (0,18% unique CTR) and quite stable during the campaign (I only wonder what caused the big fall on the third day. There were a lot more impressions that day. Maybe Facebook did some experiment because the clicktrough rate was quite good?). After all, 112 people clicked on the ad. 85 of them became fans, which is quite a high conversion rate, imho.

But the main question will be: was it cost-effective? The first days I set the daily budget on € 5, the default value. I saw that Facebook had no problem with spending this amount and it was a bigger budget than I wanted to spend, so I changed it to € 2 per day. At the end of the campaign I spent € 22,98 for 112 clicks and 85 new fans. That’s € 0,27 per fan. Is it worth it? I wouldn’t know. If I decided to spend € 300 to acquire (the ‘famous’) 1000 fans, what would the return on investment be? If 30 people of these 1000 Facebook fans would pay € 10 for an album or merchandise, that would mean break-even. Can you expect this engagement of Facebook fans?

I’m not sure how this would work out for Colorless Green Ideas. To prove my point I’ll make a comparison with the Facebook page that we set up quite recently for the other band I play in: Amatorski. We didn’t set up any advertising campaing for this fan page. The growth of number of fans is only fed by word of mouth. Look at the graph:

In a couple of days the number of fans grew form zero to 325 (I must admit that we already had a Facebook group with 500+ members and that we sent them a message to tell about the new Facebook fan page). It’s quite clear that Amatorski’s music is better received by the public than Colorless Green Ideas. One of the determing elements is the fact that Amatorski is a quite new band (about 1 year old) which generates a lot more buzz than Colorless Green Ideas, which exists for more than 4 years now and seems to have passed its acumen (I think our most succesful period was 2 years ago). Although we received much appreciation during the years, we never really got the people to tell their friends about ‘this great new band’. The high conversion rate from clicks to fans in the ad campaign also proves that the music is perceived as qualitative, once the people get to know it. But apparently it’s not good enough to let the word of mouth do its work. Word of mouth works far more better for Amatorski.

To sum up: with a Facebook ad campaign you can increase your number of fans with a rather limited budget. However, the future will tell if you get a good return on investment with such a campaign. Word of mouth will always get you better results.


Hilke Ros is a musician who got very interested in internet and how the latter is changing the music business. Het writes a blog at and is working on a start-up that aims to help musicians with managing their online identity.

Reader Comments (12)

Is "itchy" some UK slang I'm not up on?

August 19 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

While FB ads have their place, I don't think promoting a band is a good return on investment for them. The idea w/FB is to gain fans organically. Before I'd pay for an ad for an artist/band I would diversify their social media campaign to include different types of social media to build an audience/fans/friends. This is all relatively free. Each page would point to the other and each would have different points of interest. The end result would be increased free (or nearly free) web exposure.

But hey, can't hurt to try something just a litte, right?

So wait...did the FB metrics show you the referral? Can you tell who joined because of the ad campaign vs. who joined from your existing fan group?

August 19 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

My band, Conflict In The Sky (, runs FB ads, and while it's always an ongoing experiment, I believe it's been effective. I think increasing the number of fans via an ad, also increases the number of fans you get via word of mouth. We were pretty stagnant for a while before the ad, but now I see our fans jumping by more than what is coming from the ads. We've also seen an increase in the interaction on our posts.

We set a $3/day budget and have tweaked the ad as we go. First we tried paying per impressions, and this did not work well in terms of fan conversions. A few a week maybe. We switched over to clicks and saw the conversion rate go up a little. Overall...still fairly expensive.

The real trick was changing the wording of the ad and the bid price. These 2 things had the biggest impact. We changed the ad to read "for fans of Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars, AFI. Next show at ...." (fans of these bands were also in our target) The number of clicks went up noticeably. Then we started dropping the CPC bid...way below the "recommended" bid. I did it just to test and figured, hey, im sure facebook wants my money, they'll find a way to display my ad and get my 3 bucks. I was right. A lower bid also means more clicks/day and ultimately more fan conversions. We now range from 5-10 new fans a day from the whatever fans we get from them telling a friend. We've targeted a 50 mile radius in our area and when I check the fans, we'll frequently see 5-6 kids from the same high school within a few days of each other. I'm assuming one person found us via the ad then told their friends.

It's definitely not the cheapest method of getting your name out there, but it also doesn't involve any of our time. As anyone in an independent band knows, your time is very limited.

Good research, thanks for sharing this with everyone.

With any online advertising you have to make sure you are targeting the right audience period. We find that using mass distribution channels to advertise artists gives poor return on investment. Our advice is to go where your niche is, for example if you're a rock artist advertise on rock blog networks the audiences are much more dedicated to the cause, that's what we do for the artists we represent and they're making tangible results on their sales because of it. Social networks are about engaging with fans, not about advertising and using an engagement strategy will give you a much better return on FB/Twitter/MS and the rest.

putting out regular PR is the most cost effective long term ambient advertising you can do, and done right it will get you coverage in the search engines for months and years to come.

Simon Adams

August 19 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Adams

Thanks for the comments.

@Jim. I didn't think too long about 'itchy', but it sounded great. I don't know much about UK slang, English is not even my native tongue (I'm from Belgium). :-D But my dictionary says that this is American slang...

The FB metrics don't show the referral. Only the clicks. But I'm quite sure the increase in fans was a result of the click on the ads, because the number of fans nearly didn't move the last weeks. Should be a strange coincidence that our existing fanbase decided to grow...

I just want to make clear that it was not my main purpose to use facebook ads for my band and that this will probably not be our future strategy. I just wanted it to give a try and to share my experience with other artists.

August 19 | Registered CommenterHilke Ros

"Justin" translates to "Jim" in Belgium? I might just move there for tax purposes, that sounds pretty promising.

Anyways, I can assure you, it's not American slang. That just means you got bitten by a mosquito or flea, or you just caught an STD on tour. "Itchy" is not a good thing anywhere in the United States.

Either way -- I really do appreciate this post, it's a good firsthand look at how their system is working. I think I might still give it a shot, just on account of my own arrogance.

I also appreciate the comment from @Chris Fullam!

August 20 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

The cost-effectiveness is certainly a difficult one to analyze, we have found with our facebook ads that we certainly do not get a large number of conversions into actual fans, but it does help keep the branding of the band in front of people's eyes which is important, keeps people aware that we are out there and in the long run I think it will help when the people we don't convert start to become aware of us elsewhere, we will be familiar thus giving a greater perception of the band.

August 27 | Unregistered CommenterWes DeBoer

I got inspired by this post and the follow up comments and set up my own Ads campaign. I must say that after just 4 days our fan count has gone up from 94 to 106, an increase of 12 fans. This to me is a big deal as now I am beginning to find what the demographic of my band's target audience is. I'll keep you up to date on our our band stats.


Atul from DonkeyBox

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterAtul Rana

Oh, we are on Facebook here btw :-)

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterAtul Rana

Awesome comments. Thanks everyone. I've just started a campaign - been running for about 24 hours. We've seen a fair amount of added "fans" already. Obviously there's a difference between internet fans and actual fans, but I agree with what Wes DeBoer said about general exposure.

Anyway, all I really have to offer here is this: decide upfront what you're trying to accomplish with your ads and limit your target based on that. Exposure is always good, but if you're on a budget (and who isn't?) you might want to, say, build your show attendance (=local targeting) vs. build your internet album sales (=global targeting). Sorry if this was obvious, but I know how tempting it is to want to get your music in front of everyone imaginable (= no targeting).

I actually started a campaign for my band a while ago. I set the target audience to those who like similar music as of our band. In 1,5 days we have risen from 300 fans to 500 fans. CPC is now 0,04 euros.

I really like the results but at the same time Im skeptical if this has any affect to our future "fame". At the time I can recommend facebook ads for the bands...

September 20 | Unregistered CommenterKimmo

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