Musicians: Why Focusing On How Many Views Or Listens You Get Is A Waste Of Time & What To Measure Instead.
As fun as it is to create music, the business and marketing side of things can be challenging for us musicians…
As a musician, you might think you hate marketing, you might think you’re annoyed that you have to sell anything, and you might also be annoyed that you have to do anything that has to do with money or views or engagement. You might be at your wit’s end and ready to throw in the towel.
Maybe you went to a 4 year university to study music, and now you’re graduated and you have all this knowledge and expertise, but you don’t feel qualified, or capable to do what you would actually love to do.
You know you can play an awesome solo, you know you have a great voice, you know your vocals are amazing, so why is your bank account at $46.33 and why are you still having to look for deals on frozen pizza just to keep you and your family from starving to death?
Or maybe, you just love music and you’re really good at it, and you think you have what it takes, but you don’t know who to talk to, where to start, and you’re waiting for someone to discover you and make you famous like Peter Hollens, Tyler Ward, or Miley Cyrus.
The truth is that even though you might love innocently creating music for the fun of it, to create a highly successful music business you’re going to need some business Savvy.
It’s time for you to take business into your own hands and steer the wheel to creating your own profitable system for making a living, and maybe even a killing with your beautiful music.
The following article is written by our Music Marketer at Dane Maxwell music, and I hope you can start to see business from another angle by reading it. If it’s over your head, once again we are launching the “Business For Musicians Who Want Profit” Program to hold your hand through transforming you to a musicians who has Business Savvy and can handle the big bad world. you can apply here
Hey there. Ralph here. I’m in charge of marketing for Dane Maxwell Music. Dane has asked me to publish a series of articles on how we do marketing to help musicians become more successful online.
Before we get into the weeds: If any of this is over your head, you can apply here for our upcoming “Business For Musicians Who Want To Profit” group.
As a group, our goal is to profit from every single song made. We all share best practices on how to do that. I think you’ll enjoy it.
But before we talk about profit, this post is about the primary metrics we measure.
We don’t track views or plays as the most important metric.
Right now, our primary focus is on Facebook Marketing. So this post will detail how we approach Facebook. But this would apply to YouTube as well.
What we’ve found is that the success of a song isn’t about how many views we get, it’s about a little metric called “engagement.”
That’s the little bugger you want to measure and improve.
This applies on Facebook & Youtube and most other social music places.
If as a collective, you and your band talked about engagement instead of views, you’re on the right track.
And it’s easy to measure.
Let me show you what we mean.
As a musician, do you ever find yourself asking any of the following questions?
- I’m getting likes, but do people actually like my music?
- Is my audience listening more to my songs as I improve over time? Or am I losing interest?
- What are my most popular songs beyond listens and views?
- Why aren’t I making any fucking money?
These questions drove me nuts until we started figuring out how to answer them all.
In this post, I’ll walk you through how looking at your numbers can help guide you in measuring your success and keep you on track for improving everything you do.
In a future post, we will talk about how we plan to make money from the music in unconventional ways.
(And I know… looking at your data can be intimidating and confusing if you’re not a marketer… but I promise you, it’s simpler than you think and will be well worth it)
First up, why do we measure?
Measuring our metrics helps us determine the audience engagement with different songs, what songs resonated more with people than others.
It also helps us understand people’s content and listening preferences, and informs our decisions on how we build up future releases.
Ultimately, measuring helps us know what works, what doesn’t, what to test out, and what to improve!
How to drive your music success using KPIs? (And what the heck are KPIs?!)
For musicians unfamiliar with KPIs, it stands for Key Performance Indicators, and they are the key data points we look at.
Our main KPIs are views-to-clicks ratio, CTR (click-through rate), views to shares and watch through rates
How to make sure your audience is engaging with your music (Views-to-clicks are the biggest indication of engagement…)
It’s simply the amount of video viewers that ‘clicked’ to engage with the content
It will depend on how well-liked the content is, as well as the temperature of the audience watching…
Of course people who are existing fans and have listened to other songs/Albums are ‘warmer’ and more likely to engage than completely cold audiences.
We’ve had engagements as high as 18-25% (e.g. when releasing songs to our warmest audience at the beginning of a release campaign), and as low as 5-7%, we aim for 10% or more, engagement will always be the highest at the beginning of a release and drop as time goes on, here’s an example for Sacred Path when shown to a warm audience, it’s a solid 10.3%…
Also, here’s the same metric for every song we have released to date
Excerpt from Dane:
In cells 22 to 16, those are my first songs ever released. And cells 12 to 3, those are my latest songs released.
You can see that as a musician my top songs are getting more engagement over time. Which means I’m improving as a musician using data to show it. You can also see the duds that didn’t perform well at all.
Like .8% engagement for Before The World Got To My Heart!
Interestingly enough, the song I felt the worst about has the highest engagement on this list.
Whispering To You had a whopping 8% engagement compared to the rest. Shows how much I know about what works!
I can also draw other conclusions based on these numbers. For example, my most engaging songs seem to be the ones I feel deeply connected to while I’m singing.
So I’m doing my best not to sing a song unless I’m deeply connected to it. That’s a high bar to set. It requires extra vulnerability and care going into each line.
The other songs that do “just ok” are songs I think sound good. But I don’t deeply really feeeeeeel them. The ones that really connect are the ones that hit a deep emotional core from my own life experience.
They are the ones where I’m feeling most true to myself.
This will instruct how I write and make future songs.
Think about it. How often might we sit down as a musician to try and write a “hit” … when our best shot is to be really raw with ourselves and make sure we feel deeply connected to the song and words we are talking about.
How I Go About Writing & Singing A Song, The One “Thing” I’m After:
There’s a principle in communication I use in my everyday life.
If when I’m done speaking, I feel complete with what I’ve said and at ease. Then I’ve fully expressed myself.
It’s actually really hard to do for me!
But… if I’m ever in a conflict with someone, and I communicate myself completely, I find I don’t actually “need” anything from the other person anymore.
Yeah… even in an argument or anything, If I’ve communicated myself and I feel complete, that’s the golden ticket.
But if I don’t communicate completely, then I will need the person to respond or validate me.
It’s when I’m complete in myself and my communication that the desire for something from someone else fades away.
So I take this feeling I use in my relationships, and apply it to my music.
And it generally reflects in higher engagement too as we’ve measured.
If at the end of a song, I feel complete like I’ve given my all and said what I need. That’s the bar I set for if a song gets released in the future.
It’s not a fail safe, for example whispering to you was a challenging song for me, but it turned out to be the highest engagement.
But it’s as close to a rule as any that I now follow.
We will continue to measure our engaging songs and test them against this rule. Do I feel complete with this expression?
Hopefully this helps you, and…
Thank goodness for measuring.
Back to you Ralph.
How to make sure you stand out among all the noise (And how CTR helps you master just that…)
It doesn’t matter how great your music or content is… if no one gets to hear it, it’s as if it never existed for that person.
Your fans are bombarded with a constant stream of content at all times, so you wanna make sure your visuals (thumbnails, photos, gifs) stand out, and peak the curiosity of your audience, same with your words.
While views-to-clicks above measures clicks relative to video views to determine likability and engagement with the content itself.
CTR measures clicks relative to impressions, this metric measures the attractiveness of a post and the alignment between the content of that post and the audience we’re displaying it to…
CTR is very relative to the industry / post format / audience targeting etc.. but an average is usually under 2%.
For Sacred Path we had a CTR of 4.15%
(But hey.. we know what we’re doing — most of the time! *wink*)
Some basic guidelines are…
- Always include image or video, never just text.
- Always use visuals that are high contrast.
- People recognize faces fastest, so make sure your face is showing on the thumbnail or image.
- Try to have an interesting background / location.
- Above all, be sure to target your content to people who are likely to engage and be interested, whether it’s existing fans, or new audiences that are likely to engage with your genre or style.
How to know if your audience really loves your music (Views to shares….)
I’m sure you’re used to getting the “This is awesome!” comments on your videos. But how do you know who is kissing your ass verse if your content is really good?
By looking at views to shares.
Views to shares is self-explanatory, again.. it’s a great way to measure engagement.
When someone shares your content, they’re putting their name behind it and sharing it with their world, don’t take this one lightly!
For sacred path total views of around 48K and 182 shares gives us a views-to-shares ratio of 0.37%
To put in context, Ed Sheeran’s Castle On The Hills had 0.48% views-to-shares and Katy Perry’s Chained To The Rhythm had 0.62%, and these 2 songs were very viral hits.
What to look for (and what to watch out for) when looking at “Watch through rates”
This is the average watch time per video
This is an area we’re constantly testing across different platforms, simply because people behave differently on different platforms, for example.. Youtube has a much higher watch through rate compared to Facebook.
The average watch through for Sacred Path on Youtube is 2m 14s, and on Facebook it’s only 12s
But wait a sec.. ’12 seconds’, that’s it? That means that nobody makes it to the main part of the video!? That doesn’t make any sense….
This brings me to a quick note on audiences temperature, data, and ‘averages’… (This is one of the most important things you can ever learn about your numbers!)
‘Averages’ are probably the most used equation when looking at data statistically…
However it’s one of the least insightful numbers to look at..
The right way to look at this is from an 80/20 perspective.. after you take into account that 80% are just going to disengage.. no. matter. what.
If you show a video to 100 people.. it’s not that each of them will watch 12 seconds and stop.
More like this… 80% will watch only 10-20 seconds.. 10% will watch half the video, 5-7% will watch most of the video.. and 3-1% will watch the entire video and voluntarily take further action…. like searching for more songs, tag a friend in the comments, sharing the music on their wall etc
And this is true for marketing of any kind…
Averages can be pretty useless… focus on the few, not the many, these few are the ones that engage (really really ENGAGE!)
Hundreds of millions of people will listen to Katy Perry’s latest hit song, but far fewer will hear her entire album, even fewer will bother spending 30 minutes watching her Youtube Live Streams for each release, and far fewer would buy full-tour or VIP ticket to her concerts and contribute most of her revenue!
So.. that’s how we measure our success!
If you have any questions or feedback, comment below and we can do a blog post on it.
And if you’d like to apply for our upcoming “Business For Musicians Who Want To Profit” group, you can do so here.