Social Media Versus Advertising - Social Media Week on BTR


A long time ago – maybe ten years, which is a lifetime in music – record labels spent money on marketing. A large portion of the funds went to advertisements, including television, radio and billboards. Not surprisingly, this strategy has all but faded away, and with good reason. There seems to be little incentive to spend upwards of $50K on a billboard advertisement or commercial that will have significantly less impressive results than an email campaign costing nothing.

We have entered the age of recommendations; social media is dominating marketing practices, and your best friend is a better endorsement for any product than even the savviest trailer. Using social media as a marketing tool is different than online ad placements, of course. It’s not about pasting a banner advertisement on a web page as if it were a magazine. Rather it’s collecting a foundation of people who reinforce your work and using them to recruit others. Once you establish a base, you further your enticements.

As one writer points out in a piece for, “Although both social media and other forms of marketing might sound similar there is a huge difference. The difference…is interruptive marketing vs. participation marketing. Traditional marketing such as TV and radio force advertisements on us…Social media marketing on the other hand doesn’t work like traditional marketing. There is no interruption involved. You either participate and market your product, service or content, or you just let it go.”

In a world where people actually choose to foster products, it seems obvious the payoff would be bigger. The “ads” now come from our trusted sources – our mom or grandfather even – who believe in what they’re selling and who are promoting it with no tangible benefit to themselves. Consequently, social media marketing is legit. If my friend tells me to check out a song, I’m way more likely to do so than if there’s some gimmicky image flashing at the top my screen with a price tag aligned.

Social media marketing also makes it economically reasonable for bands to stay independent rather than signing to a record deal. Here’s a look at a minimalist budget for traditional advertising:

Print Ads ($200 – $1000)

Online Ads ($20 – $500)

College Radio Promoters ($1,000 – $3,500)

Press and Publicity ($1,000 – $5,000)

Marketing Services ($500 – $2,500)

Or, you could skip all the above and hire a company like Topspin Media for $100-500/annually, and they will consolidate your social networks, build your platforms, and sell your music. In a business statement, CEO Ian Rogers, describes the service as, “a direct-to-fan marketing and retail software platform…Topspin is the only platform which combines the bundling and sale of digital audio and video, physical products fulfilled in a variety of ways, tickets (including self-check-in via an iPhone ticket scanning app), VIP access/fan clubs, fan management, direct marketing, and social marketing, all backed by analytics to help you make smart decisions about your business.”

It’s cheap, it’s easy and it works. In a previous interview, Bob Moczydlowsky, VP Product & Marketing, explained the process of “permission marketing.”

“You don’t want to blast 100,000 people to get 2,000 interested,” said Moczydlowsky. “We care less about the masses, more about those who are really interested and are likely to develop a connection. We find that bundle and that’s who we reach out to.”

What’s also great about social media marketing versus advertising is you’re basically getting an exponential effect from one slick move. Place a gimmick out into your network and watch it spiral onward; it’s free help. Word of mouth at its finest and most lucrative.

Buddy Media has certainly capitalized on the value of social networks. The technological consulting firm works with large corporations to “create dynamic social content, engage conversations, and drive retail conversion.” Buddy Media takes a company’s web of fans and followers, and creates way to stimulate them so the interest directly translates to sales. They are embraced by heavyweights like MTV Networks, Ford, Mattel, Sony, the NFL, American Express, GE, ABC Networks, and the list goes on.

Furthermore, Buddy Media provides the analytical software to produce a tailored marketing campaign for any platform, customizing events around your products, and tracking the results. For all intents and purposes, this is the new advertisement. After all, no one likes to be bugged with a pop-up ad, and no one watches commercials unless it’s the Super Bowl. Everyone, however, cares about their friends. Social media uses such a connection to promote through relationships, and its quickly surpassing all of its predecessors in the wave of advertising.