Marketing

We tried a cheap promo service (so that you won’t)

The service Zire has been making the rounds recently, offering to promote artists and their music across various social channels. But is the low price tag a little too good to be true?

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

Zire is one of many new services advertising cheap music promotion on social media, but are their claims too good to be true? We found out.

Every musician knows the experience of swiping through stories on Instagram and seeing advertisements for services they’ve never heard of promising impossible things. Some offer to ‘unlock’ an artist’s true potential with a course or livestream event. Others promise to help “maximize” reach or “get guaranteed” exposure in exchange for a small amount of money.

If you’re anything like us, then these advertisements are probably met with an eye-roll. You feel your gut warning you to keep scrolling because the claims in the ad seem too good to be true. After all, if meaningful success costs less than $100, wouldn’t everyone do it?

Sometimes things are different. Sometimes you stare at the ads and its slick animation, wondering if maybe the reason you haven’t heard of this service is because nobody you know has tried it yet. Perhaps you even tell yourself that the promises being made aren’t unrealistic. Maybe these companies do have all the answers, and you’re the only one whose thought to give them a try!

You should always trust your gut. If your instincts are telling you that something is too good to be true or someone is offering something you know cannot be delivered for next to nothing, then you are a fool to consider otherwise.

But on the off chance you’re still considering these companies, we went ahead and spent money for you. We found Zire, one of many companies promising cheap promotion on multiple high-profile websites and apps for a small amount of money, and we bought a one-week campaign. We partnered with the band You, Me, And Everyone We Know to see what would happen when their single, “F.I.N.E.,” was promoted on the service. The results are not shocking, but they are worth discussing.

In this Music Biz update, host James Shotwell walks through the Zire platform. He showcases the site’s slick animations, automated ad creation, and seemingly in-depth analytics. He also compares the result of a $40 promotion to the typical engagement You, Me, And Everyone We Know sees on their Spotify profile. Check it out:

Some highlights:

  • To their credit, Zire’s creation process is simple. Artists find a song, upload photos, connect social accounts, and set parameters for their ad.
  • Our one-week, $40 campaign included ads on Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Genius, Ultimate Classic Rock, and more.
  • Despite asking users to upload photos, Zire auto-generates dozens of ads using stock images that users have no choice in using. These images didn’t reflect the look or sound of the band.
  • The most impressions our ad received was on a website that has not been updated for over a year. Worse, the site had nothing to do with the style of music the band plays.
  • According to Zire, our one-week campaign generated over 27,000 impressions. Of those, less than 600 clicked through to a streaming service.
  • Based on Zire’s audience insight, most of our impressions were from advertisements shown to people ages 45-55, which is much higher than the band’s target demographic. Zire does not allow users to set age parameters during the ad creation process.
  • Ads were shown to people worldwide, including countries where the band has no footprint or any ability to visit in the foreseeable.
  • Compared to previous weeks, You, Me, And Everyone We Know saw no measurable change in consumption or followers.
  • Of the roughly 550 Spotify plays that the Zire ad potentially made possible, the band generated $2.20 in revenue.

In summary:

We spent $40 to make roughly $2.20 with ads that cast the widest net possible. Zire’s insights tell us there were nearly 30,000 impressions, but only about 600 got people to visit a streaming service. We have no way of knowing if those individuals actually listened to the band.


Music Biz is brought to you by Haulix, the music industry’s leading promotional distribution platform. Start your one-month free trial today and gain instant access to the same promotional tools used by BMG, Concord, Rise Records, Pure Noise Records, and hundreds more. Visit http://haulix.com/signup for details.

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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