Episode #107: Music Marketing Without Paid Advertising


Would you keep betting on a horse that never won a race? Seems ridiculous, but people keep throwing money at advertising for posts that never did well in the first place. In this episode, C.J. sums it up perfectly when he says, “If it doesn’t work organically without paid traffic, it’s not going to work with paid traffic.”

It works or doesn’t work because of how well you know your audience. C.J. explains that you need to be focusing on understanding your audience, what they respond to, what inspires them, what they will click and share and what will expand your reach. This concept is so simple it is overlooked and yet so important it needs your complete attention. Check out this week’s episode so that you don’t overlook what you should be doing everyday. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Being the bright side
  • Getting past looking for secrets and hacks
  • Connecting with your audience
  • This is a longterm business model
  • Focusing on organic reach
  • Multiplying what already works
  • Researching friends for superfan information
  • Putting in the work everyday


“The whole world is learning the hard way that they should have been building an online music business.” – @metalmotivation [0:00:48]

“I almost never see questions about the very thing that creates sales… ‘How can I better connect with my audience?’” – @metalmotivation [0:06:11]

“Being an online musician is a longterm business model.” – @metalmotivation [0:07:08]

“If it doesn’t work organically without paid traffic, it’s not going to work with paid traffic.” – @metalmotivation [0:11:18]

“The person who’s totally abandoned to their audience is the person who’s going to learn their audience, and the person who learns their audience is going to be the person who sells. That’s going to be the person who succeeds.” – @metalmotivation [0:19:49]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Amy Vanessa Dullum Facebook Page — https://www.facebook.com/amygoloby/

The Online Musician 3.0 — https://explodeyourfanbase.com

Book a Call With Us — http://www.CallSMA.com

The Inner Circle — https:savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle

Click For Full Transcript

00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. Thank you once again for joining me on this awesome music marketing podcast. I hope it’s making a difference in your life and in your music business. This is a great way to educate. A great way to share important information to further equip you to move the needle forward in your online music business.

That’s right, online music business. The whole world is learning the hard way that they should have been building an online music business. It’s sad to see so many venues and bars and entertainers shut down by the lockdown, but this is your opportunity to make a change. This is your opportunity to pivot in your life. Don’t sit there and be discouraged. Don’t sit there and cry about it. Don’t sit there and worry about it. Don’t be anxious. It’s better to take action than it is to sit, worry, and wonder.

There are so many things that you can do, and you may be envisioning a negative future for yourself, a negative future for the world. If your mind is so soaked in news headlines, or what’s going on in your Facebook newsfeed. Yeah, you might be a little discouraged about the future. But you don’t have to be. You know why? Because you are the bright side to your circumstances. Look in the mirror, because that is how you look on the bright side. You are the good news in your situation. Because, with determination, with effort, with work, you can create something out of nothing.

You can do what Leah did. You can do what so many other of our students have done, create an online music business from your own home. You can do it. That’s what this podcast is all about. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please do us a favor and leave a review and check off some stars on whatever podcast player you’re listening on. It helps other people to discover this podcast, and we read all of your comments and reviews, and it’s a huge encouragement to us.

Before we get started today, I want to share just a student spotlight by Amy Vanessa Dolan from our Elite course. She writes, “#win. I’ve been working hard behind the scenes and getting great feedback from the group, so I decided to stop and share some wins so far. I started with 2,500 Facebook page likes and ran like ads for a couple of weeks. I maintained a worldwide audience at one to 2 cents per like and a big four audience. I also included other buying countries at about 10 cents per like.

“I now have over 14,000 page likes and my post engagement is through the roof, up by 200%. It’s so weird to actually get comments and shares every time I post something. Yesterday, I started running my opt-in ad to the same big four audience. And so far, I’m getting 18 cents per conversion. I also made my first sale from my thank-you page. I’m selling my bundle offer for about $35-plus with shipping. So after paying shipping an ad cost, I made a profit of $20 in one day. Hopefully, I can keep making sales like this. It’s encouraging to see that the process is working.”

Exactly. We’re going to talk something about, even though you heard her talk about paid ads, we’re going to get into the fact that it’s not even about the paid advertising. It’s not even about the special techniques or software. I’m going to set you free from wondering how in the world Leah does it. How in the world these other people do it and why you can do it too without spending money on advertising. That’s what I’m talking to you about today, music marketing without spending money on ads. You’ll find out why Amy’s little program worked.

Now, this is one of the most important things about what Leah teaches at SMA that most people miss. I’m going to say that again. This is probably one of the most important things about what Leah teaches at SMA, the Savvy Musician Academy that most people miss. I find even our Elite students are missing this, it’s called the shiny object syndrome, shiny object syndrome. That’s when you’re distracted from what’s most important because you saw something you think new or innovative holds the answer to your problem. You think there’s got to be some special thing, some special hack.

And so, what’s the big problem for the online musician? Well, sales and the lack thereof. That’s the big problem for today’s online musician. Even again, our Elite students struggle with this very simple truth. They think there’s got to be a secret, and so they get distracted. The shiny object. It’s got to be this software. It’s got to be that hack. It’s got to be something secret. The big problem is sales. They say, “How does Leah sell so much and how come I don’t? There’s got to be an app. There’s got to be a hack. There’s got to be something she uses that I’m not using. Or maybe if I steal her ad copy, I’ll get better sales. I’ll just copy and paste and just replace her name with mine.”

05:36 CJ: I wonder what time of day she posts on social media. Ever thought about that? I get that question a lot. People want to know, when’s the best time to post on social media? Or maybe I don’t have the right number of emails going out. On and on and on. I can tell this is the case. How? Because of the majority of questions that are asked in all of our Facebook groups. Not just Elite, but our online musician groups, our free mastermind groups. It’s the same questions over and over. Questions about the shiny objects and not the right questions. I almost never see questions about the very thing that creates sales. I don’t see questions about that.

I have yet to have someone write in and post in our Facebook group, “How can I better connect with my audience?” I never see that. It’s always, “Settings on this piece of software.” Or, “What does Leah do about this?” Or something else? It’s never, “How can I better connect with my audience? How can I better understand my audience?” I never see that question. See, because people want to hack. They want something that breaks the code to sales, but they never find it, because it doesn’t exist in software. It doesn’t exist in some secret about some special thing that’s working now in social media that you can find your way around the algorithm. Hack the algorithm.

Remember, being an online musician is a longterm business model, not a short one. Being an online musician is a longterm business model, it is not a short one. For example, most people today that are making money through e-commerce are throwing up social media pages in Shopify stores in order to capitalize on trending issues, whether it’s politics or pet lovers. That’s how they do it. These entrepreneurs are all about the latest hacks and tricks, because they know the window of revenue for their products is so small. So whatever the trending story is, whatever is popular, they just create products or find manufacturers of these products that they can put up a short standing store for a while and a short standing Facebook page and just try to take advantage of that window of opportunity.

They’re not building a longterm business. These are short-term hacks. They brag about how much money they make, but they’re not going to be making money continually. These are short-term solutions. At SMA, we’re teaching a longterm approach to building a personal brand through the proven principles of branding, culture building and direct digital marketing. It’s longterm approach, not short term. We want your music business to be lasting for years, not months. That’s why the investment upfront has to be so significant. It’s also why Leah, for example, doesn’t teach on Facebook ads.

In her latest course, The Online Musician 3.0, or TOM 3.0 for short, she does not teach on Facebook ads. None. We do that in Elite, but she doesn’t teach it in TOM. TOM 3.0, the latest version that just released, doesn’t teach on Facebook ads. Is she trying to cheat you? Is this some kind of underhanded way, like the phone company, to get you to buy something more expensive? Absolutely not. This is the best thing she could do for you, is to leave out the ads. Because she wants you to understand one thing, if you can’t build an engaged following of super fans who buy your music and merchandise, then all the apps, all the tricks, all the hacks are not going to help you.

Okay? That’s because the purpose of her in-depth teaching on social media advertising, email marketing, are about scaling what’s already working organically. But people get blinded by the shiny object, so they think, “Oh, the secret is the Facebook ad manager. Oh, the secret is the Facebook Pixel, and I learned that in Elite, so let me get into Elite. What you find out is, Elite students who aren’t selling anything. Because it’s not for that. The Facebook Pixel is not your answer. The latest hack is not your answer. A special retargeting app is not your answer. They’re only there to enhance and scale and multiply and maximize what is already working organically.

10:15 CJ: You have to make social media digital marketing work organically before you start spending the money. It’s as simple as that. It’s so simple that gurus have to help you misunderstand it. So simple that gurus have to work overtime to help you and I misunderstand this. Again, I don’t see those questions in the Facebook groups about, how can I better connect with my audience? They think it’s a trick. They think it’s a hack. They think it’s somewhere found in the technology or their misuse of it. In other words, you got to create an engaged following who’s ready to buy your music, but you got to do it without pain advertising. That’s why she left it out of TOM 3.0.

If you do that, then paid ads can greatly increase your results and your profits. But if your posts or your emails aren’t working organically right now, then they’re not going to work if you put hundreds of dollars behind the advertising. It’s not going to work. If it doesn’t work organically without paid traffic, it’s not going to work with paid traffic. For example, boosted posts. That’s the most basic fundamental way you could do any kind of paid advertising on Facebook. A boosted post. People think, for example, that the smart thing to do is to boost a post to get more reach, when the really smart thing to do is to post regularly and organically without paid ads and whichever post performs well organically is the one you should boost.

See, people only think, “Okay, well, boost means I want it to get to more people.” That makes sense, but if you don’t know that that post is going to perform well, don’t spend money on it. But if it performs well organically, then whatever money you spend is going to multiply the results. You won’t just get double the amount, you’ll get multiplications of the amount of reach and engagement. If it’s already working organically, then money spend behind it is going to multiply the results. Why is that? Because that organic post is already proven. It’s already shown itself to work. That’s when you put money behind it.

What does all this tell us? Well, it tells us you got to find your ideal super fan. You’ve got to get them engaged through regular content. You got to understand what inspires them, what causes them to get engaged and respond and take action. You got to build a relationship with them where they know you, where they like you, where they trust you, where they share your content with other people. You have to keep this in mind with everything that you do online, whether social media or email. Isn’t that true? Why would you think that just spending money is the key? It’s not the key. Spending money with advertising just multiplies or scales the results you’re already getting organically.

So everyone that recently signed up for Leah’s TOM 3.0 course are set up for this very thing. Because again, she doesn’t cover the Facebook ads. She intentionally left out paid ads to save you a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of frustration. Because people will think they’re just going to throw money at it. They think ads are the way out. They don’t get the results because they haven’t first done it organically. That just leads to frustration. They become an enemy to themselves. They start talking self-defeat and they talk themselves out of the music business. They just think it just wasn’t meant for them, when it’s just because they’re doing it wrong.

That’s why she covers, for example, in TOM 3.0, mindset stuff, goal setting. You got to have plans. You got to have goals. You got to have things mapped out. You got to be prepared to win mentally. You got to know your micro niche. You got to create culture. You got to understand branding, build your website, build your audience, learn how to monetize your music, stuff like that. She covers all of that in TOM 3.0, but none of that is based on Facebook ads. Because ads only expand and scale what’s already done.

Now, again, I said, even our Elite students are struggling with this. So music marketing without paid ads is something very organic and very natural. You should be able to figure out who your ideal superfan is. What are they like? What music do they like? Obviously, things similar to your genre of music. What other artists are comparable? What do they follow? What are other pages that they follow? Think about the culture that surrounds your music. Is there a particular magazine that your culture reads? A TV show or a movie that they watch? A book that they read? Certain things that they’ll follow or do? Hobbies, interests?

15:26 CJ: All of these things are going to help you to target your ideal superfan. Maybe you have friends on your own Facebook profile right now that you could say, maybe you go through your friend list right now and think of three or four people that you could say are your ideal superfan. They’d be a great example. Well, go look through their stuff. See what they’re talking about. Find out more about how they think, what they’re interested in. Look through their page and you can find out what they follow, what they like. You might be inspired to consider targeting things you’ve never considered before. Things to talk about in your posts that you’ve never talked about before. Then figure out how to write some copy. Figure out when to promote. Figure out what your fans are interested in and how you can get them to convert. How you can get them to support you, et cetera, et cetera.

You got to know culture. You got to know your branding. You got to know your website, your audience, all of these sorts of things. Well, that’s what SMA teaches. That’s what you’ll always hear on this podcast or what Leah will teach, for example, in TOM 3.0. These are great ways for you to get started. The thing is, is that I don’t want you to be distracted by the shiny object syndrome. I don’t want you to think it’s something special. It’s not something special. It’s not a secret. It’s not a secret. If you can get what you’re doing to work organically, and I’m talking to everybody, not just people who are just listening to this podcast that have never taken a course at SMA. I’m talking to our TOM students. I’m talking to our Elite students as well. You have to get things working organically. You have to do it without paid advertising.

If you can do that, if you can learn, then selling becomes so much easier. All I want you to learn how to do is to sell. All I want you to learn how to do is how to create an engaged audience, is to get people to follow you, get them to know, like and trust you. I know my audience. What I do with my projects, I know my audience. I know the words they use to respond to. I know the kind of offers that they like. I know the topics they want to hear about. I know what to say to them. I know what to show them. Leah knows her audience. She knows what they want. She knows what they want to hear about. She knows what they want to see. She knows how to create engagement, and that’s the key.

That’s why you can never seem to find the hack. That’s also why it’s easy for marketing gurus to take your money from you, because they’re showing you and telling you that it’s a hack. That it’s a secret, and if you can only get behind their pay wall, their subscription, the cost of their course, then you’ll discover the secrets. There’s no secrets. There are no secrets. Sure, we use that term sometimes in our marketing copy, but there really is no … It’s only a secret because you don’t know it. But what I mean is that there’s no special hack. No. What we’re talking about is common knowledge. Like I said, I don’t ever get that question in the Facebook groups, “How can I better engage with my audience?”

No. People are thinking about everything but that. They’re going over and over their Shopify store, over and over their website, over and over how to set up this email feature or that thing. It’s always something like that. Now, I’m not saying those things aren’t important. Obviously, they’re what we use to scale what’s already working organically. So they are important, and we want you to figure that out, but I know that the people who are asking about those things aren’t getting anything working organically right now.

I’d rather have the person that is totally abandoned, I mean, 110% abandoned to their audience, their brand, their culture, creating content, getting those people engaged. I’d rather have that person going crazy with that and not having a clue how to set up a website, than the person who knows all the technical stuff, and yet can’t get a single person engaged. Can’t get any reach with their posts. Can’t get anybody to sign up for an email list. Can’t get anybody to buy a tee shirt. Because the person who’s totally abandoned to their audience is the person who’s going to learn their audience, and the person who learns their audience is going to be the person who sells. That’s going to be the person who succeeds.

20:01 CJ: The rest of it is easy. All the email marketing and software. Yeah, it’s challenging. It’s a lot to learn. It takes time, but that’s the easy part. Believe me, it’s the easy part. Learning your audience, learning a bunch of individual human beings, that’s where the challenge is. But that’s also where the profits are. That’s where the money is for your music business. That’s where it’s found. I want you to show up and don’t come back to me. The question everybody comes back to me, “Hey CJ, how much do I have to post? It seemed like I got to spend a lot of time on social media. I have to comment and answer all these people.” If you say that, you are not cut out for this. Because what you’re looking for is the shade and the wage, the most amount of pay for the least amount of work.

No. When you’re building, it’s going to take everything that you’ve got. So yeah, showing up every day on social media. Showing up regularly with your emails. Answering people, answering inbox messages, creating a relationship, researching. Looking at what people are saying, taking notes. Learning more about your culture, studying your audience, studying your competition. Learning more and more and more about what’s working online. All of this can be done without spending a single penny on paid advertising, and it is the one thing that’s going to guarantee that your ads will work in the future. Because you’re going to know what to say down the road when it comes to writing your own ads. You’re going to know exactly what to do, because you’ve already proven it.

Invest yourself in the fundamentals of online marketing, especially as Leah teaches, for example, in TOM 3.0. Invest yourself in that. Get to know your micro niche, get your mindset right. Set some goals, learn to create the culture around your music. Learn about brand and get your website built. Build your audience up. Learn the keys to monetizing your music. Learn these sorts of things, and you can do all of that without paid advertising. Man, that’s exciting. You should be tearing up your ceiling right now. You should be writing me an email right now telling me, “CJ, I love you for setting me free from thinking that there’s always a secret that I’ve got to discover.”

No. The power is in your hands right now to learn your audience, to find out what works, to show up every day, to build the culture and lifestyle around your music and create your little online music empire and make a full-time income doing it and never have to leave your home if you don’t want to. I mean, for some people, it’s too good to be true. They say, “CJ, that’s just too good to be true.” I talked to some other musicians. They said, “That’s too good to be true.” No, it’s not too good to be true because other people are doing it. We see it all the time at the Savvy Musician Academy, and nobody set a better example of doing this than Leah has.

Get started today. Don’t put off your music business anymore. You can start doing these things right away. If you’re in our Elite program, then get back to the basics. If you’re in TOM right now learning things, you’re going to learn so much, but please use this message today, this episode today, as the way you’re going to keep yourself focused and encouraged during the time you go through TOM 3.0. If you’re not a part of TOM 3.0 or of any of our other courses, then you should check it out. You should check it out. Go to theonlinemusician.com right now, theonlinemusician.com, learn more about TOM 3.0. It’s packed. I only mentioned a few things. That thing is packed with content that you can use and you don’t have to spend any money on advertising.

Also recently launched, is our Inner Circle program. I’d love to have you join me there, savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle. I’ll finish out the podcast with that, but thank you so much again for being with me. Please, once again, leave a review. Check off some stars, help other people discover this music marketing podcast. It’s always a pleasure to be with you. Good things in store. Good things on the way. Stay happy. Keep smiling. Keep your head up. Stay motivated. Stay aggressive, healthy aggression. Resist what is resisting you. Don’t let anything stand in your way. Give yourself for yourself. That is the meaning of sacrifice. Give something of value to get something back of greater value. So give yourself for yourself. Pay the price, make the sacrifice. Your life and music business are worth it. No one can do it but you, but we’re here to help you to walk arm in arm. We are committed to your success. We’ll see you soon.

25:09 CJ: The entire music industry just changed overnight. Suddenly, every band and musician has had their live gigs canceled indefinitely. No one knows when live events are coming back. When they do, the competition will surely be fierce. Artists are realizing they have to pivot quickly if they want to earn an income with their music. Musicians are now scrambling to figure out how to sell their music online. They need answers and they need them now. If this is you, then discover our new Savvy Musician Inner Circle membership. It’s a private subscription-based coaching group to help you launch and market your online music business fast.

For one low monthly subscription, you’ll get live weekly marketing instruction plus tips, tools, news updates, and your questions answered. It all takes place in a private Facebook group that I, CJ Ortiz, will be hosting and I’d love to help you build your online music business. To learn more, go right now to savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle.

Leah McHenry

Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.