I logged onto Reddit today and saw a discussion on how people would promote an amazing song they made for under $200. I saw a number of people saying they would pay for TikTok stars or other microinfluencers to tag their song in a story/reel/video.
This is a terrible idea. I tried this a couple of times with some “spare” promotion budget and found it a waste of money. Ultimately it's just temporary, fleeting, superficial exposure and there are better things to spend your money on. If you happen to get shared by an influencer I'll be super happy for you… it's just a terrible investment if you're looking to pay for exposure.
It's Temporary and Shallow Awareness
The video will only get traction for a small portion of time. TikToks, Reels, and Stories only show up in feeds for, what a day or two at most? And then once someone has seen it, it's unlikely to show up again because the algorithms are tuned to always show you FRESH content.
One impression is hardly enough. Marketing research indicates you have to be exposed to a brand on average 5 to 7 times before you begin to form conscious brand awareness. This is why advertisers run the same ads over and over and over – because it takes multiple exposures for people to be aware!
So even if you have enough impressions to feign some level of awareness, you still have a long way to go. In marketing psychology, awareness is only the first of FOUR steps required for someone to take action.
Obviously, a wider top of the funnel means more people have the POTENTIAL to reach the action, but you also have to ask yourself about the QUALITY of the awareness. Beyond the fact that you're literally a backseat to the main content, you're not necessarily targeting people effectively. Would an audience of polka fans have much interest if your death metal song is put in front of them? (Extreme example but you get the idea).
This is on top of the fact that people follow influencers for a specific thing, be it fashion, comedy, whatever. Most people aren't even paying attention or even care about the song that gets tagged – they're looking at the photogenic person's face, outfit, etc! AND they're scrolling through social media because they're bored! Good luck getting someone to want to leave their doomscrolling trance.
Their Followers Aren't Likely to Become True Fans and Superfans
At the end of the day, what sustains artists is having a passionate tribe of fans. Getting a bunch of people who aren't invested in you to listen to your song once or twice (the most likely outcome even in “successful” influencer campaigns).
So how do you build true fans and superfans? It varies from artist to artist, but I can tell you repeated exposure in a setting where people are expecting to discover new music and be receptive to your brand, personality, story, etc is going to be a HECK of a lot closer than hoping a song catches someone's ear while they're staring at an attractive person in a unique outfit.
The RIGHT Way to Do Influencer Marketing
If an influencer has an engaged audience it can be an extremely powerful tool for building longer-term brand familiarity. Become friends with them and figure out how you can help each other. Promote their stuff regularly if they regularly talk about you too. Offer to play at their events. Come up with a true win-win. But your audiences have to work together.
For instance, if fashion influencer that's launched their own shirt designs, wear their stuff and tag them if they REGULARLY add your music and wear your merch. There's a HUGE difference between becoming a known name on someone's feed and just one little shoutout that's easily missed.
Obviously, you can't do that if you're a literal nobody. It's the fruit of often YEARS of relationship building… but it really is the only form of influencer marketing that's actually worthwhile.
TLDR: Influencer PARTNERSHIPS are great – buying off an influencer in hopes that magically their audience will click through to you is not.
What's the Alternative if You're Trying to Get Established?
So what should you do? We have a guide on that. Click here to read our guide on the BEST way to promote your music.
David Ryan Olson
Hey I'm David. I'm a mix engineer and I run Evergreen Records. Thanks for reading this article and feel free to contact us with any questions about persuing music that you have.