Some people seem to think that advertising their art is somehow “wrong”. I guess that stems from the anti-establishment feeling that still exists in the indie media world. That is not to say that most indie artists wouldn’t love to have a deal with a record label or film studio who will essentially spend money to promote them and their products in their stead.
Rather it is more of a feeling that your music/film should be able to make it on its own merit. There is nothing wrong with that except that the odds are against you. The internet is open to everyone and that means an incredible amount of competition for the limited viewing or listening time of everyone on it.
I saw Bowie’s ads on YouTube and I thought it was a good example. Bowie is a superstar. Ok, maybe his days on top of the game were 30 years ago but everyone knows his name and that certainly counts for something. Why does he have to advertise? Because he faces the same competition as you do for the eyes and ears of the audience.
The Bowie release of this album and the music video for his song “The Next Day” from the album have been textbook marketing (both old school and new) 1) he made a controversial video that would have a chance of going viral due to its content and would therefore be more likely to be covered by mainstream media (and the inevitable outrage it would cause among various groups). 2) He is using Adwords on YouTube to reach his target audience and make them aware of the album (click on the image at the top of this post to see examples of the ads) and you can do the same thing!
Adwords will allow his team to run ads directed at a general audience (after all who doesn’t like Ziggy Stardust) and also to target a specific market such as 40+ year old males (probably his best audience). I say his team because it takes a lot of knowledge to set up an Adwords campaign and run it in a way that maximizes both exposure and return on investment for the lowest possible cost. That is why I shake my head when companies try to sell inexperienced people on the DIY route when running an advertising campaign. It is like driving a race car, sure anyone can drive one but only a few people have the skill to drive in a real race and even fewer have the skill to win.