EFX Studio Banner Page

EFX Studio "Sound Solutions"
Celebrating our 14th Year on the Web!

Original Music Compositions, Arrangements,
Voice Overs, Multimedia Audio Post Production,
Digital Video/Photo Processing
 and Computer Programming.

Music Articles
      CD Success
      Beat Mjr Labels
      1st Question
      Find Ideas
      Mail Tips
      Music Ads
      Lazy Greedy
      $1 Tool
      Print Ads
      Career Results
      Win Friends
      Online Sales
      Selling More
      The Dream
      Effective Sell
      #1 Hit Song
      Build Fan Base
      Market Model
      Play Forward
      Card Mailing
      Success Story
      Attract Fans
      Music Focus
      Media & You
      Increase Tips
      By The Rules
Back to Fun Page
Music Store
Department Store
News Center
EFX Studio Home

Music Print Ads: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

by Bob Baker

Whether you've spent thousands on four-color ads in national magazines or just $50 to place a small display ad in your local music rag, chances are you've advertised your music at one time or another. Maybe you advertise a lot. Either way, the more successful your band or record label becomes, the more likely it will be that you'll steer your promotional budget into ad dollars.

Some bands and record labels simply slap an ad together at the last minute and run with it -- all the while feeling good that they are "advertising" their music. Others go crazy with cutting-edge artwork or a quirky idea that amuses the band members. But do these ads serve the real purpose for advertising in the first place?

To be effective, your ad needs to implant your band name and identity into the minds of music consumers (or industry types, if you're advertising in a trade paper). If it's not, it's dead weight. Your ad needs to make a compelling offer and inspire people to take action to get or hear your music. If it's not, you're simply spending money to stroke your ego instead of get results.

Here are my thoughts on some display ads I randomly found while flipping through some national music magazines.

  • Tooth & Nail Records -- based in Seattle -- ran a full-page, four-color ad in Alternative Press to promote 11 of its releases. The page had the label name at the top, all 11 album covers with band names, titles and formats listed. Address, phone and web site were displayed at the bottom.

I guess if you're having your recordings distributed to retail outlets, you don't want to rub store owners the wrong way by being too blatant about asking for direct sales from consumers in ads -- even though they are more profitable for you. You can gain more clout with indie distributors by backing up your records, tapes and CDs with "national advertising." But if you encourage buyers to make purchases from you instead of them, why should the stores bother?

I'm certain that's the case with Tooth & Nail -- and if so, this ad performs its marketing function while also including enough contact info for serious fans to reach the label directly. However, if your label were not relying heavily on retail distribution for sales, this ad would provide only generic "image" promotion a bad move for a record company on a tight budget.

  • Here's a great one. A full-page ad from New York City's Grass Records. Apparently, the powers at this label took 10 of their bands and put together a 20-song sampler CD called Grass of '96. Then they put it on sale at Best Buy for only $1.99. (Great strategy: Get the music into people's ears cheap up front, then make your money on the back end through future sales.) The ad points out that each sampler CD contains a $3 mail-in rebate good towards the purchase of any full-length Grass Records CD. Of course, those titles are also available at Best Buy.

The ad then shows four of those full-length album covers with blurbs from the press under each describing the music. (You should know I'm a big fan of marketers who let consumers know what kind of music a band plays.) The ultra-hip labels might like to shroud their ads in mystery, but the bands and labels that clearly communicate and provide sales incentives are the ones that will come out on top. (This should go without saying, but here it is anyway: Of course, the music has to be good and meaningful for any band to truly succeed. Okay, I feel better now.)

The Grass page ends with a plea to contact the label and join its fan club. Web site, toll-free 800 number and address options are provided. All the ingredients are here for a very effective ad.

  • The first time I glanced at the full-page ad from San Diego's Re-Construction/Cargo Music, I had serious doubts. Graphically, it was far too busy even for an ad that promoted industrial and sythcore acts. Lots of various, disjointed artwork and type mushed together in an uninviting visual stew. But upon closer examination, it fared far better.

What I liked most about this ad were the descriptions of each band. Not only did they describe the music, but most weren't squeamish about making comparisons to other bands (example: "...should appeal to fans of Cop Shoot Cop and Filter"). When introducing yourself to the public through ads, don't be afraid to give people a point of reference. The small type at the bottom of this ad did ask fans to write for a free catalog. Address and web site info were included.

  • Epitaph Records' half-page, black and white ad in the Illinois Entertainer scored some points. First, the headline for the ad reads "You scratch my back and I'll STAB YOURS." That's clever and attention-getting. Second, the ad promoted the Epitaph Hotline, which you could call to hear song samples of any of the five bands shown in the ad. Now there's a fresh way of getting people to hear new music by only risking a long-distance phone charge. When you call to hear the music samples, let's assume that complete ordering info is provided (since no other contact info is in the ad). By the way, the number is (213) I-Offend.

Now here are some problems with the ad: There are no descriptions whatsoever of the bands' music. Sure, the hotline is there so you can find out for yourself, but I'd be a lot more inclined to call if I knew some of this music was anywhere near the ballpark of what I already like. Sorry, but the back-stabbing reference in the headline doesn't quite narrow it down. Also, the hotline is mentioned in relatively small type at the bottom of the ad -- almost as an afterthought. It should be the primary focus of the ad, especially since few other labels are doing it.

I hope this critique inspires you to start getting a lot more bang for your advertising buck.

Bob Baker is the author of "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook," "Unleash the Artist Within" and "Branding Yourself Online." He also publishes TheBuzzFactor.com, a web site and e-zine that have been delivering marketing tips and inspirational messages to music people of all kinds since 1995. Get your FREE subscription to Bob's e-zine by visiting http://TheBuzzFactor.com today.

Back to Top

Back to Article Index

EFX Studio Bottom Page

Visit our eBay Store!

Site Contents | FAQ's
Entertainment News
News Center |
Auction | Classifieds
E-mail | Tickets
Recommend Our Site
Request Information
Fun Page | Satire
Music Articles
Back to Top

This Web Site and all contents are Copyright 1996 - 2010 by EFX Studio.  All rights reserved.
Celebrating our 20th Year, the last 14 of them on the Web! Last modified: February 12, 2010.
Names of companies and products mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.
This Web Site best viewed at minimum 1024x768 using Internet Explorer 6.0 with View Text Size set to Medium.

Web www.efxstudio.com

Has our Web Site been useful? Consider giving a contribution.*
Donations and proceeds from our Online Stores help cover hosting fees and other administrative costs.

Thank You for your support!

* For information regarding donations, click here.

Solution Graphics

Buy Directly From Us With Confidence!

EFX Studio is PayPal Verified

Official PayPal Seal
Click on the Seal for more information. You need to have a PayPal Account and sign in and view the information.

Back to Top


Anyone can make a sale on eBay, but not everyone can make a business out of it.
Click here to find out how we can help.

Back to Top