When Print Ads Work For Music Releases And When They Don’t

SpinMag.jpgOver the weekend Derek Sivers posted a great article about the bright ideas some people get when planning their ad campaigns. In this article someone planned to buy an ad in a magazine with a circulation of a million in hopes that if he bought this ad that he could get at least 1% of the readers to buy his record amounting to 10K in sales. Obvious to most people, it didn’t work out as well as he planned. While Sivers article speaks volumes about the foolishness of some peoples advertising campaigns and many other big ideas, I would like to focus on a mistake I see every time I pick up print magazines. 


One of the things many bands forget is that advertising is notoriously ineffective. Ads in large circulation print magazines work for two groups:

  1. Established Entities – If you are Coldplay and people are hoping to hear about your new release and this is one of the only ways they get info an ad is great. However, if you are Joe Unknown Artist this isn’t going to do you any good since you are just some more ink on a page and no one has found you yet
  2. Brand Recognition – Advertising can work for unknown artists in the way that after you hear a name so many times you eventually may be willing to give it a chance. How many times has someone asked you if you have ever heard of a band and you think “I know the name but have never heard them.” The next step is usually listening to them since you have heard a bit about them and now received an endorsement from a friend. This is where advertising helps, since one of the ways you may have heard of the band is flipping through the pages of a magazine.

Despite their being effectiveness to advertising in print magazines, you have to recognize that ads in print mags aren’t going to start something for your release or induce a tipping point. If you are getting press in many different areas (that you aren’t paying for) touring, getting reviews, blogs, radio plays. People don’t buy music from seeing an ad they buy music after they recognize your name from an ad and then check you out (or vice versa). If you are putting all of your money on an ad giving your music legs without spreading out your promotion to many other methods, you are wasting your money.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.