Image Credit: Music Ally

These marketing campaign examples will give you the inspiration to make your next music release a success.

A successful music marketing campaign can make or break a music release. In an age of digital music where everyone can create and release their music, opening them up to a global audience, you have to fight to become relevant and reach the right ears.

It’s sadly not good enough to simply create good music, you need to reach your audience. That’s where marketing comes in and, when done well, you can easily float above the competition to put your music in front of the people who matter. A unique and powerful marketing campaign will ensure that listeners are aware of your music and that they want to go ahead and hear it.

Music Ally have recently released their list of the very best music marketing campaigns from 2021. Exploring how artists and labels connected with existing fans and brand new listeners, using the social media platforms available to all of us and finding unique ways to connect with people in an authentic and effective way; the report offers a major insight into the strategies you can consider when you’re releasing music.

There were 70 finalists for Music Ally’s best music marketing campaigns of 2021 list, so we’re not going to list them all. We’re going to specifically look at some of the greatest campaigns with the smallest budgets, to show what is possible with creativity rather than throwing money at the wall. You can gain access to the full report, featuring all of the campaigns and why they were included here.

A quick note on how these campaigns were decided: All campaign data, budget information, and demographic statistics are provided by applicants. Budgets ranged from £0 to £25,001+ Labels were able to submit multiple campaigns. Campaigns were selected on the basis of originality, creativity, and impact.

Tony Bennett – £0-£500 budget

Image Credit: van Agostini/Invision/AP

Tony Bennett has been singing from the age of 10 and has had a lifetime of recognition and applause from audiences for his show tunes and big band singing. In recent years Bennett has come to renewed fame for his wonderful duets with Lady Gaga.

With his 95th birthday on the 3rd August, Bennett’s team wanted to make the occasion special whilst also using it to promote his latest album with Lady Gaga.

Marking his age, they decided to countdown to his birthday starting 95 days before. Sharing daily graphics online and encouraging his fans to donate to children’s art charity ‘Exploring The Arts‘, they built up a strong narrative all based around a good cause.

As his birthday drew nearer, they announced the upcoming collaborative album between Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. Revealing that they would perform for one last time on his birthday and releasing a brand new single, the countdown became even more exciting for fans.

With a life in the spotlight, Bennett has met a colourful list of characters in his life. On his birthday, Bennett saw a flood of posts and videos wishing him well for his 95th birthday. Celebrities offering their best wishes included Bono, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Billy Joel, and of course Lady Gaga.

Key Takeaway: Build up to something. Don’t wait for release day to get people behind your release, make the release day an exciting thing to look forward to.

Isak Danielson – £2,001 to £5,000

Isak Danielson rose to fame in 2012 after placing third place in The X Factor Sweden. Since then his recognition has continued to grow with a successful music career, releasing 3 studio albums in the last 4 years.

With the lead up to his third album ‘Tomorrow Never Came’ last year, Isak and his team wanted to give something personal to fans that showed an insight into the album and Isak himself. Isak created a scrapbook full of inspiration and moodboards based around his songs.

With the release of singles on Spotify and music videos, snippets and elements from the scrapbook were revealed to give deeper insights into the music. When the album released, fans were able to visit a site to unlock a digital version of the scrapbook and sign up to win the real copy. Fans were also given the chance to win an intimate, personal hangout with Isak.

Beyond the scrapbook, Isak’s label The Orchard recognised his significance in the Middle East. Focusing on that presence and appealing to that audience, they were able to earn over 8.3 million album streams from that audience on services like Anghami.

Key Takeaway: Fans love going beyond the music. Create deeper connections by providing an insight into your tracks or albums that is separate from the music itself. It’s also incredibly valuable to understand where your strongest audience is and focus on them.

Don Broco – £2,001 to £5,000

This British rock band have gone from strength to strength in the last decade making waves on the festival circuit and releasing 3 studio albums before 2021. With their fourth album on the way last year, they made a plan to engage fans using social media with their team.

It all started with the music video for their first single, in which they clone David Beckham and end up creating a villainous Beckham lookalike. They continued this narrative, having the fake Bechham take over their Instagram account and turning it into a David Beckham fan account.

Once it was made obvious to fans that their account was not actually now a Beckham fan account but still the profile for Don Broco, they continued to play with the football theme. They made up fake football teams with the band; creating football cards with the band members, fake figurine style photographs of the band as football models, and creating their very own Don Broco branded football kit.

They saw a huge response from fans who found the campaign really fun to engage with and follow. The team saw a massive amount of sharing from fans and applause for the efforts which gained traction beyond the fanbase for its unique and intriguing approach.

Key Takeaway: Come up with something silly that is fun. People love to be entertained and will be interested by the weird and wonderful. Don’t be afraid to shock and confuse. Find a theme that you can embrace for your entire campaign to create a recognisable and consistent image.

Homeshake – £2,001 to £5,000

Image Credit: Other/Charlie Cummings

Homeshake’s team describe the man behind the project, Peter Sagar, as someone who shies away from traditional marketing techniques. Therefore, with the release of his album ‘Under The Weather’ last year, they looked to find something against the grain to reel in listeners and get them excited for the new release.

They created a weather forecast app which featured a song recommendation program. The app finds where the user is and plays them a song from the new album that matches how the sky is looking in that area. Matching the mood of the weather with the feel of the track, it gave users an exciting way to hear the new album that also felt personal to them.

The album itself is said to explore the weather’s influence on our mood and lives, making the app not only an interactive and interesting way for users to interact but enhancing the overall theme of the release.

Understanding the power of sharing, the app allowed users to easily share their forecast with a “dynamically created image” to social media. They generated thousands of forecasts which were shared by listeners around the world.

Key Takeaway: Utilise the power of technology. Almost everyone has a smartphone which they use daily. Coming up with a unique and interactive tool for users to get involved with is a sure fire way to get people engaged.

Jaykae – £1,001 to £2,000

Image Credit: Publicist

The Brimingham rapper has been on the come up in recent years, collaborating with giants of the UK hip hop scene including Skepta, Mike Skinner (The Streets), and Stormzy. A recent collaboration with Jorja Smith prompted his team to use the occasion to build stronger relationships with fans.

Focusing on creating exclusive communication with fans to offer a personal relationship to Jaykae, they decided to start a phone-in/SMS tool for a campaign. The phone number was revealed hidden in Spotify Canvases, offering an exciting discovery for superfans. Teasing that there was something to be discovered on social media, fans went wild and they saw Jaykae’s streams spike up.

With the ultimate goal of building their mailing list, Jaykai recorded a voicemail for fans to hear when they phoned the number. When they texted the number they received a contact form to receive updates and the campaign took their mailing list from 250 to over 2,000 contacts.

They doubled down on the trend by customising all Jaykae’s social media channels with the title “TEXT OR CALL ME”. They went on to continue to use the phone number and voicemail method to promote the single with Jorja Smith to great response from fans.

Key Takeaway: Keep listeners up to date by getting them to follow your channels or sign up to your mailing list with something intriguing. It can be hard to build likes on pages and contacts for your mail updates; give people a reason to be interested in reaching the opportunity to stay up to date.

Lucy Spraggan – £2,001 to £5,000

Another artist who rose to fame on The X Factor – this time the UK version – Lucy signed to Columbia Records following her stint on the show. Despite leaving the singing competition early due to illness, Lucy’s musical success has not been hindered and nearly 10 years later she’s showing audiences what she’s got.

However, last year’s campaign by Lucy and her team was put in place to separate the artist from her past on the reality show and instead cement her image as a pop artist in her own right. Using Lucy’s own personal life developments (getting sober and healthy) as well as the aim of changing how she’s seen by the music public, they used the trend of transformation to inspire a campaign.

They posted regularly across social media, building and re-enforcing Lucy’s new image with each post whilst engaging with fans. They noted livestreams as a key element of their success in engaging with fans, particularly in the lead up to Premieres on YouTube.

Referencing the film Rocky in the music video for her track ‘Animal’, they had Lucy training and boxing like Stallone himself. They then offered up the boxing gloves used in the video to fans who pre-saved the album in the lead up to the release. This meant that the song was saved into listeners’ libraries immediately upon its release. They offered fans a better chance of winning when they used a referral feature, building natural sharing and hype.

They also got fans involved on the single ‘Run’, encouraging them to send their own videos of themselves running. These videos were then used for the Spotify Canvas of the single, offering fans a unique way to feature alongside the track. Finally, they played up to an in-joke that Lucy is obsessed with Biscoff by teaming up with the brand to offer £300 worth of sweet goods from the biscuit makers.

Key Takeaway: Use social media to engage with fans as regularly as possible. Regular posting keeps you in the mind of your audience. Giveaways are a great way to get people involved and compel them to make an action.

Valley – £2,001 to £5,000

Last year the band posted a TikTok of a demo that went viral with over 2.5 million views and 200,000 likes in the first 24 hours of being live. The band and their team immediately jumped on the traction, polishing the demo into a studio release and posting follow up clips over the next 48 hours.

Within 10 days of seeing the TikTok blow up, the band had released their new single on streaming services and saw their biggest response ever. The new single was featured on over 20 New Music Fridays around the world and 30 overall Spotify playlists. With features on other services like Apple‘s main page and YouTube Music‘s Top 20 playlists, they racked up 1.5 million streams in the first week.

They utilised the TikTok success by getting a popular TikTok creator (@Bowmanizer) to share the song and feature in their music video. The music video became the most-watched video in the first 48 hours for the band. They then went outside the box to engage with fans by creating custom stickers and lenses for Instagram that users could use and share.

Overall they grew 950% on TikTok, 100% on YouTube subscribers, 42% on Spotify followers, and 32% on Instagram. The song has over 70 million streams across various streaming services now.

Key Takeaway: TikTok (and platforms like it) have huge viral potential from very simple content. Don’t underestimate the power of your social media to reach brand new audiences. Maximise your potential if you do start trending on a platform.

Oscar Zia – £0 to £500

The Swedish Oscar Zia holds many positions as a pop singer, songwriter, radio and TV host, and an actor too. Moving to independent distribution for the first time with his release last year, it was time to do things differently and with a smaller budget.

Using the simplicity of TikTok as a focus, Oscar and his team set about creating fun and engaging content. They utilised the message of giving up bad habits with Oscar stating “he can quit whenever he wants”. They encouraged users to join Oscar in giving up bad habits, directing fans to a website where they could keep track of if Oscar was managing to stay away from his chosen bad habits.

Oscar kept people updated with his progress through videos on TikTok and encouraged others to do the same. TikTok helped with an official challenge page for the campaign. Overall they saw a significant increase of performance on TikTok and had over 3.9 million views on the hashtag.

This all played into the promotion of four singles released throughout the year.

Key Takeaway: Positive causes are a good way to inspire people and incite their support. Encourage fans to do something along with you, so you’re connecting through a simultaneous effort.