A Complete Glossary of Music Marketing Terms
Whether you’re a independent musician, publicist, or just a curious fan, these music marketing terms are good to have under your belt so you can better understand the inner workings of the industry.
by Dayna Young of www.fredandaugustus.com
One of the hardest parts of learning any new skill is locking down the jargon, acronyms, and shorthand language used to communicate tasks, projects, and concepts. This is no different in music marketing, which seems to come with its own completely unique language.
With this glossary, you can begin exploring music marketing, comfortable in the knowledge that you’re learning key marketing terms and gaining a better understanding of how they apply.
A/B Testing: Also known as “split-testing” A/B testing is the method of comparing two variations or variables to see which offering performs best. It’s often done in advertising (by testing different creative) or in email marketing (with a variable subject line or copy), as well as in calls-to-action (perhaps the button colors are different) or landing pages (where content might vary or be laid out differently).
Advertisement: The Oxford Dictionary describes this noun as “the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services.” In a marketing sense, an advertisement is a means of communicating with your target audience, whereby you are sharing news of the features or benefits of a product or service.
Ad Set: An ad set is the information that tells your ad how to run. This includes choosing the audience to target, how much you want to spend, your preferred schedule, including start and end dates for your advertisement, and placement (where you want your ad to appear). You can have multiple ad sets in any campaign.
Analytics: Analytics is the study of the data you capture from your marketing actions in order to identify meaningful patterns, determine the ROI, and/or develop actionable insights you can carry into further campaigns. As it relates to marketing, some of the initiatives you might analyze include the effectiveness of your call-to-actions, website traffic, social engagement, and so forth. In short, analytics helps you strategize how you can make improvements to the marketing tactics you are implementing.
Application Programming Interface (API): Want to allow two applications to connect and communicate? An API will help you facilitate this. APIs essentially give two applications the ability to talk to each other and extract or exchange information. An API “calls” from one application to another, which responds with the information requested and brings it back into the initial application where it’s digested into usable data. It’s typically facilitated by an API key, which is unique to the user account. For example, the email marketing platform Mailchimp allows you to create an API key that can be coded into your WordPress account and allows you to implement an email subscriber capture form on your website. Anyone who signs up for your email account on your website is then automatically added to your subscriber list in your MailChimp account.
Audience: Consider your audience to be not just your existing fans but also your potential fans. Your audience is not just anyone who listens to your music but also the intended recipients who might enjoy your songwriting, production, live performances, or otherwise. In a marketing sense, it can be more accurately defined as the group of people you hope to motivate with a specific message and whom you want to see, engage with, or take action on your campaign.
Bottom of the Funnel: While the majority of this list will be alphabetical, we’re going to break rank with the funnel definitions and share them consecutively. The first is “bottom of the funnel.” The bottom of the funnel is where you want your audience (fans) to be. Why? Because this is where they are close to or ready to make a purchase. Have you ever considered whether you want to attend a concert? Your problem might be, “How much are tickets to this performance?” This question will inform your decision about whether you want to hit “Buy.” While identifying a problem is a MOFU (more on that in a moment), with the knowledge gathered from your question (“tickets are $25.00 each”), you become instilled with the confidence to make a decision about whether you’d like to move forward with a purchase. That’s bottom-of-the-funnel action. By the way, the bottom of the funnel is also known as “BoFu.” Yes, you read that right.
Middle of the Funnel: MoFu, or Middle of the Funnel, refers to the stage where your audience member has not only identified their problem (“How much are tickets to this performance?”), but has actively started to research it with the goal of solving the question that they have. E.g., if I want to attend the Foo Fighters concert on December 25th in Anaheim, California, but I live in Colorado, then I not only need to know the ticket price but also the potential cost of flights, accommodation, transportation, and food.
Top of the Funnel: Let’s get this out of the way: ToFu. Much like our previous “funnel” descriptors, “top of the funnel” refers to the initial stage of the buying process, whereby it’s referencing a concept that involves pulling a targeted audience into a communications funnel that may eventually lead them towards making a purchase. Typically at this stage of the funnel, you’re building brand awareness so that when a person entering the funnel begins to research the particular problem they may have (e.g., “concerts near me in September”), you are able to help solve that question for them (“On September 1st, [insert your artist name] plays [insert venue]”), thereby moving them towards the middle of the funnel.
There are two primary types of bounce rates you should be aware of: website bounce rate and email bounce rate.
Email bounce rate: This refers to the percentage of the recipients in your intended email (typically your subscriber list) who did not receive your email because it was not able to be delivered to their inbox (i.e., returned undelivered by the recipient’s mail server). While a high email bounce rate indicates that a large number of emails sent out never reached the intended recipient, not all bounce rates are bad. There are hard and soft bounces, and it’s important for you to understand the difference between each before deleting subscribers from your lists.
Website bounce rate: This is the percentage of all sessions (people who land on your website) who only viewed a single page on your website and left without navigating to other pages on your site. The higher your bounce rate, the less chance you have of other conversions (such as subscribers to your newsletter) because your audience is not staying on your website long enough to perform any other actions.
Buyer Persona: Much like any “character,” a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. When you have a clear picture of who you’re marketing to, your communication becomes more effective and targeted because your content speaks to their pain points. To create a buyer persona, you use a combination of market research, real data, and creative narrative.
Campaign: When you implement a specific series of marketing tactics designed to sell or promote your product, service, or brand, you are enacting a marketing campaign. For example, if you are promoting a tour, you will likely implement messaging across your social platforms, your email marketing, and potentially advertisements. This could be considered a tour marketing campaign.
Call-to-Action: An action you want your audience to perform after they’ve been served your marketing message. A call-to-action is usually served in the form of a text link, button, image, or web link. A CTA’s purpose is to convert your audience member into some sort of trackable action.This could be subscribing to your newsletter or purchasing an item from your store. Your language should be action-incentivized, such as “hear our new song now” or “buy merch here,” and convey messaging that is enticing and implies value by following through on the CTA.
Click-through-rate: The percentage of your overall targeted audience that clicks the link in your specific marketing message and visits your desired landing page or webpage.The marketing message can be served in a myriad of ways, such as in an advertisement, an email, or an organic or boosted social post.
Conversion: When you serve a marketing message to your desired audience, and an audience member then completes a desired action, that’s a conversion. Why? because their “action” has converted from passive to active. While typically a “conversion” in marketing refers to a website visitor completing a goal on your website (such as subscribing to your newsletter), there are other types of conversions, such as a “purchase conversion” on your e-commerce ads.
Conversion Path: A conversion path is a series of web-based events designed to convert an audience member into a lead, and typically consists of a CTA, landing page, content offer, and thank-you page.
Content: Content is a piece of information valuable to the audience, typically in the form of a blog, article, video, social media post, or other media form.
Content marketing: content marketing is a strategy used to attract, delight, and engage your audience by serving relevant information that will attract your fans and help to develop your brand. Whereas a piece of content is singular, content marketing exists at a more strategic and deliberate level. It is one area of digital marketing.
Content Management System (CMS): CMS is a software application that helps users (who are typically non-technical) create, manage, and modify website content with ease. CMS eliminates the need to code a site or, in many cases, to know how to code at all.
Creative: In the digital marketing sense, creative is the images, videos, audio, or other formats you use in your campaign to serve your messaging to your audience. For example, in an email campaign, that would be the header image you use to promote your product, service, or news, whereas in an online advertisement served to users, this could be the video creative you create to promote your new song.
Custom Audience: On a number of advertising platforms, you will have the ability to create a Custom Audience of fans or potential new fans who have shown an interest in you. You do this by using sources such as website traffic, engagement from your Facebook audience, your customer lists (aka your email subscribers), and so forth. You are then able to choose to target these audiences in your ad set and run ads promoting your music to such audiences directly.
Standard Conversion: These are actions that advertising platforms recognize and support as “standards” for their ad products. You can track standard conversions by adding a pixel code to your website.
Custom Conversions: “URL-based rules” that are not embedded into the code of your website, and need to be set up in addition to your standard conversions in your advertising platform. For example, if you want to track purchases in your store above and beyond general visitor traffic, you would need to create a custom conversion to track this user action.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): As your music business grows and you need to keep track of the customers, a CRM will help you manage your relationships. At its most basic level, a CRM is a centralized spot where business entities can store and track information on customers and prospects and share this information internally with ease. However, as your business grows, a CRM can allow you to manage your relationships on a much broader scale. You can track email and phone calls, schedule appointments, send dedicated offers, and much more, ultimately helping your business grow.
Content calendar: Also known as an editorial calendar, a content calendar is a month-to-month schedule for your content. A content calendar typically includes any key talking points for the planned month, including any specific content you need to create or topics you need to cover. For example, in July you might be promoting your August tour, as well as being on the tail end of promoting the release of your album and your merchandise line in support of your album. Ensuring these items are detailed in your content calendar will allow you to stay organized and on track and ensure consistency in messaging.
CPM: “Cost per mille” (or 1,000 impressions). When your online ads are delivered, one such cost of assessing your results is the CPM. The “M” stands for mille, Latin for “thousand,” and in online advertising, impressions are measured in the thousands, referring to the amount the advertiser pays per one thousand visitors who see the advertisement. While a lower CPM is usually the most advantageous, overall it really depends on the overall goal of your advertisement.
CPR: Cost per Result. Your audience member clicked on your ad, visited your landing page, and subscribed to your newsletter. A CPR indicator breaks down the amount you spent per the objective you set, and it helps you assess the cost efficiency of your advertising based on your overall outcomes.
Digital marketing: a marketing campaign that involves digital communication. More specifically, it covers the marketing channels of search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing, and marketing analytics. Any and all tactics you use within these channels to promote your brand and connect with potential fans are digital marketing.
Email: “messages distributed by electronic means from one computer user to one or more recipients via a network.” (Oxford language definition)
Email Marketing: Due to email’s unique ability to deliver information right to your customers’ inboxes, this core component of digital marketing allows you to make subscribers directly aware of your offerings, products, and services. Not only is email marketing fast and cost-effective, but you can create highly targeted and personalized messages that encourage repeat website visits from your desired audience.
Fan journey: A fan journey is the series of stages that a potential fan progresses through, from potential listener to super fan. All SEO begins with the fan journey. There are five stages to the fan journey (discovery, exploration, purchase, retention, and advocacy). When a fan searches for your music, merch, or concert tickets, they are at a particular stage of their journey and will have a specific problem or question in mind that needs solving. It is entirely possible for you to curate the information presented to them in response to their search query in a way that helps to move them into the next stage of their fan journey.
Impression: We touched on CPM and how that acronym refers to the cost per 1000 impressions, but just what is an impression? An impression is the metric used in online advertising, which refers to an “ad view” (or the number of views your ad or marketing message had). It differs from “clicks” because it is not how many people clicked on your ad and visited your landing page but how many individual people were served and saw your ad.
Keyword: When you search for something on the internet, you are entering a word or phrase into the search engine’s search bar. This is known as a keyword, and these are the topics that search engines index that help them return relevant information to a user’s search term. In fact, search terms make it entirely possible for you to curate how your artist brand information is displayed in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). In terms of SEO, everything on your website and website pages can be boiled down into search terms by picking the keywords you want to optimize for. For artists, this is often brand-centric (e.g., Dillon Francis, Dillon Francis videos, or Dillon Francis touring). In the case of the keyword “Dillon Francis Touring,” having a dedicated tour page on his site (dillonfrancis.com/tour) is where to start. Then he would ensure that all images, video, and copy on that page are optimized for the keyword and that his Meta Title and Meta Description further support this phrase.
Keyword research: This is the process of researching and analyzing the search terms, words, or phrases that will be most relevant to your artist brand. Fortunately, they are fairly standard for most artists (artist name, artist name + tour, artist name + song, artist name + album, etc.); however, for artists who may also say, say, perform locally at corporate gigs or weddings, they will need to research more thoroughly what the localized search terms are for “wedding bands near me” or “80’s rock bands weddings.”With keyword research, you can strategically include the relevant keywords in your content. With your keywords included in your content, you will ideally appear higher in the SERP delivered to a user in response to their search term.
Landing Page: Any page on your website that contains a form used for lead generation (i.e., designed to convert a visitor into a lead) is a landing page.
Look-Alike Audience: Also known as “Similar Audiences.” These are audiences created from your Custom Audiences with the specific intent of finding people to add to the Lookalike Audience who have similar demographics and interests to those in your Custom Audience or who have previously demonstrated similar intent (for example, a history of adding to cart in e-commerce stores for artists like you).Lookalike audiences are a great tool for helping you find potential new fans.
Marketing strategy: A marketing strategy is your game plan for how you’ll reach your target audience (potential fans) and turn them into prospective fans or super fans who purchase your products and services. It’s the tactics, timing, goals, and content or assets you’ll use to communicate a singular or repetitive message to your audience in a way that leads to a particular outcome or action.
Marketing analytics: With your strategy enacted, you need to be able to assess how effective it was, whether your goals were reached, or if you potentially need to pivot or make immediate improvements. This action is called determining your ROI (return on investment), and marketing analytics is the process you use to manage or study your marketing data to determine your overall ROI.
Mobile Marketing: Any marketing message you serve using a strategy aimed at reaching your audience on their smartphone, tablet, and/or other mobile device is considered mobile marketing.
Open Rate: This refers to the percentage of subscribers who open a delivered message, such as an SMS text or an email.
Page View: When a page is loaded in a browser, it is logged as a “pageview hit,” which is a request to load a single web page in the browser. This metric is useful for marketers because it allows them to observe any changes in page views of content on their site.
Pay-per-Click (PPC): PPC is a model of advertising whereby an advertiser (e.g., an artist) pays the publisher (e.g., Google) a certain amount of money every time an ad is clicked on. The amount of money you pay is determined by whether you chose a flat rate or a bid-based rate when you set up your ad.
QR Code: Oxford Languages defines a QR code as “a machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone.”
Return on Investment (“ROI”): This performance measure is relative to the cost of your campaign and is used to evaluate how much the campaign itself contributed to the profitability of the overall investment. In short, is what we spent worth what we’re seeing in return? Keep in mind that this value is relative. Not every campaign will make you money back; however, it could still be classified as a good investment if other key goals are achieved.
Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”)
SEO is a component of digital marketing strategy and is defined by Google as “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” By understanding how SEO works, you can then implement various SEO-specific tactics (such as on-page SEO, off-page SEO, local SEO, technical SEO, etc.) to help ensure that your site appears high on SERP results.
On-page SEO: On each page of your website, you have the ability to control elements (or code) on the page itself. This includes not only the content, headlines, and headers, but optimizing the images (size, compression, and titles), as well as any title tags, meta descriptions, or structured data on the page.
Off-page SEO: Also referred to as “off-site SEO,” Much like the name implies, off-page SEO refers to the activities that happen off your website. Examples of off-page SEO include any backlinks to your website, traffic from your social media posts to your site, and so forth. The Google algorithm tracks activity to and from websites within its ecosystem, and all of these activities help to raise your site’s rankings.
Local SEO: Want to be more visible in Google’s local search results? It’s possible to improve the organic traffic to your website by following a number of local SEO best practices. Local SEO is especially important for artists looking to gain support for their “business activities” in their local area, such as if you are a band regularly booked for weddings or corporate functions.
Technical SEO: Not only does Google and other search engines want to see key marker points hit in regards to on-page, off-page, and local SEO, but it’s also equally important that your site loads fast, is easy to crawl, and, amongst other things, is mobile compatible. This process of fixing any on-site issues and thereby optimizing your site for search crawlers is very much at the intersection of web development and marketing.
Segment: When you classify a part of your audience by similar characteristics (such as age or gender, for example), then you are creating a segment. Segments can be helpful in assessing what types of audience members took a particular action in relation to a marketing message. For example, 20% of 18–24 year olds watched your video versus only 8% of 36–45 year olds.
Social media marketing (“SMM”): As we already know, your social media platforms provide you with a way to engage with existing fans and reach potential new fans. More succinctly, “Social Media Marketing” refers to utilizing your social media accounts to market your artist brand, your products, and your services. When you share a post on your Facebook account, for example, that post is part of your social media marketing strategy.
Targeting: Also known as “target marketing,” targeting is the act of directing your marketing efforts for your products and services towards a specific segment of your audience.
XML Sitemap: This important part of technical SEO allows search engines to better understand the structure of your website by creating an XML file that lists all of your website’s important pages, thereby ensuring that Google knows how to find and crawl each of them.
Dayna Young is a music marketer with 10+ years of global experience in music, entertainment, and leading creative teams to success. Through her work with Fred & Augustus, and FANDA she provides marketing resources for artists seeking to grow their online profile and engagement, with a focus on developing existing and new revenue streams. Ultimately, what gets her out of bed in the morning is the knowledge that she’s creating opportunities for artists.