Google Ads Certified

Microsoft Ads Certified

Facebook Ads Certified

YouTube Ads for New Musicians: The Complete Guide

Why would you pay for YouTube Ads that’s so unauthentic!? Right? Wrong, your favorite musicians, paid for ads, that record label you want to sign to, will buy your ads, and after this article so will you too! Now strap in new musician, as I take you on a compete guide of YouTube Ads.

What This YouTube Ads Article Will Cover

  1. The Need For Advertising
  2. The Types Of YouTube Ads
  3. What Kind Of YouTube Videos You Should Promote
  4. Setting Up Your Campaign
  5. Measuring Your Campaign Success

The Need For Paid Video Advertising

As social media becomes more noisy, it’s getting harder and harder to reach your own followers, fans, and even grandma! As a musician it is crucial that you utilize the greatest platform to visually and audibly reach your potential new fans, YouTube! Ranking organically on YouTube is possible but with 1,300,000,000 videos posted everyday it is very difficult. Cut through the noise and reach potential fans at the right moment. Skip buying that extra beat pack and invest in advertising, it will be well worth it.

The Types Of Youtube Ads

Okay rock star, before you dive in and start promoting your music you need a quick brush up on the basics. Use this article as a reference guide when you want to test different ad types in the future (thank me later).

Display Ads

YouTube Display Ad example
Example of a YouTube Display Ad

Oh, you thought YouTube Ads was all videos? Nope, Display Ads are images that show above videos when users are browsing. They are a great option for targeting search terms perfect for your brand such as “new hip hop” or “underground alt rock” (I’ll talk about that later). They can be animated (GIF format), but YouTube stipulates that any animations must be 30 seconds or less. If your creative has a black or white background (even partially), it needs a clearly recognizable border to highlight the ad’s clickable area.

Dimensions: 300px by 250 px
File type: PNG, JPG, GIF (can be animated)
File size: 150 KB max

Overlay Ads

YouTube Overlay Ad Example
YouTube Overlay Ad Example

I knew you were really subtle with your marketing tactics, especially if you’re considering Overlay Ads. These masterpieces pop up while viewers are watching their favorite Ultra 2018 live sets and new Drake videos. Technically, they take up the lower 20% of the video (but we want 100% of the attention).

Dimensions: 480 px by 70 px
File type: PNG, JPG, GIF (static or animated)
File size: 150 KB max

Skippable Video Ads (A.K.A ‘TrueView Ads’)

YouTube TrueView Ad Example
YouTube TrueView Ad Example

You know how they say first impressions are everything? This is especially true when using Skippable Video Ads. You have 5 seconds before viewers can skip your ad and never hear your beautiful music. Best practice to avoid this, is to have a strong call to action (CTA) and to grab the viewers attention visually. If not, no big deal you only pay if they watch more than 5 seconds.

  • Video URL: Video must be uploaded to YouTube.
  • Image: Choose from 4 auto-generated thumbnails. To implement custom thumbnails, contact your Google representative.
  • Headline text: 25 characters max (any more than 25 will be truncated on some devices)
  • Description: Two lines 35 characters max each
  • Video ad settings: File format: AVI, ASF, Quicktime, Windows Media, MP4, or MPEG, preferred video codec: H.264, MPEG-2, or MPEG-4, preferred audio codec: MP3 or AAC, resolution:640×360 (16:9) or 480×360 (4:3) recommended, frame rate: 30 FPS.
  • Aspect ratio: Native aspect ratio without letter-boxing (examples: 4:3, 16:9)/ Max file size: 1 GB

Non-Skippable Video Ads

Horrible when you’re the viewer, great when your the advertiser. Welcome to the world of Non-Skippable Video ads! These play for 15 – 20 seconds and you pay for every 1000 views. Of course viewers can’t skip them, so make sure you have good content or you could be receiving hate mail instead of streams!

Bumper Ads

Bump? Yeah, bumper ads are very similar to the Non-Skippable Ad format but they are only 6 seconds. Pro-tip these are great when targeting mobile users or in tandem with those trusty 20 second Non-Skippable Ads! I would recommend to have a quick brand message that defines your music, or a preview in those 6 seconds that evokes emotion.

YouTube Videos You Should Promote?

Angry Man Making People Listen To Music
Don’t Be This Guy

You’re probably saying ‘okay I know I need to advertise’ but what do you even promote? Don’t grab an iPhone selfie video of you demanding people to listen to your music. You should know who your perfect audience is and speak to them authentically. If you have a Facebook, Instagram or Spotify Account, you can use the insights to find out the age range and gender of your followers. Most importantly keep in mind what you are offering your fans a.k.a a value proposition.

Music Video Previews

Do you have a unreleased music video that you want to promote? Now is the time to push that content. Utilize the different ad formats, depending on how long you want the preview to be. I would recommend 10 – 15 second Non-Skippable Ads that has a strong call to action. This CTA could be for the viewer to go to see the rest of the video on your YouTube page.

Vlogs For Music Promotion

Musician Vlogging
Musician Vlogging

Do you have a solid fan base that would get value from a peek into your life? If you answered yes to this then doing Vlog types of ads might be for you. Tell a story in a TrueView Ad with a behind the scenes production session, or preparing to go to a big gig. Really, humanize yourself and build a connection with your potential fans.

Album Teasers

Similar to music video previews, you want to give your audience a taste of what the album will sound like. However, you don’t want to sell the farm. A good rule of thumb is leave them wanting more and not being sick of you.

Setting Up Your Music Campaign

After you create your video(s) and upload it to YouTube its time to create your campaign. You don’t have to be a Digital Marketing Specialist to succeed in creating an optimized YouTube campaign. Subsequently, the more you know the cheaper you can reach more of your fans!

YouTube Ads Campaign Selection
YouTube Ads Campaign Selection

Goals For Your Music Campaign

For this example we will be discussing the goal of brand awareness and reach. This will be most effective to reach the similar types of users who would likely be your fan. For the sales goal it would be to sell your physical album or digital products. Leads could be in regards to a show you are promoting to potential attendees. Next, for website traffic, as the name suggests, is ad type that pushes people your website. This could be a great opportunity to utilize an email capture funnel set up. Finally, app promotion would be for any mobile application you would want to get installs from.

Campaign Type

Like I mentioned previously, you can go the display or video route for your campaign. In this example I’ll be using the TrueView video format ad to get our promotion going.

Campaign Subtypes in YouTube Ads
Campaign Sub Types In YouTube Ads

Creating Campaign

Budget and Dates

Now it’s time to confront the elephant in the room, budget. This answer is all based on how much reach you want to achieve and how quickly. I would start with a campaign that lasts at least 2 weeks and spends $5 a day to see real results. It is best practice to check your account daily to review traffic and performance.

Bidding Strategy

Target CPM: Your bid amount is the average amount you want to pay for every 1,000 times your ad is shown (average cost-per-thousand impressions).

Maximum CPV: Your bid amount is the most you want to pay per view.

Maximum CPM: Your bid amount is the most you want to pay for every 1,000 times your ad is shown (cost-per-thousand impressions).

Viewable CPM: Your bid amount is the most you want to pay for every 1,000 viewable impressions of your ad (cost-per-thousand impressions). For video ads, an ad is considered “viewable” when at least 50% of the ad shows on screen for two seconds or longer.


After, choosing a bidding strategy, you need to decide if you want to show up only on YouTube videos. The benefit of choosing to use Video Partners in tandem with standard YouTube varies depending on your strategy. Video partners can be very trustworthy sites such as CNN, and the NYtimes. You can bid on top content partners that usually get higher engagement. If you want to exclude certain website or content themes this is possible as well. Also any views on these partners count toward your YouTube Video views!


Choosing language targeting may seem like a no brainer, if your music is primarily for English speakers. On the other hand, if you are an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) artist you can be more flexible. You may want to target all languages or only specific majority languages in your target locations. Nevertheless, you can allow your other targeting options to narrow down your audience later on. You can always edit your settings if the comment section gets too confusing for you.


YouTube Views Outside The USA
YouTube Views Outside The USA

Next, in this section you can choose how narrowly or worldwide you want your ad to be shown. The more accurately you can target areas of your state or country that will enjoy your music the better. I would suggest that you don’t try to target the entire world, try with your state or region. Then, you can scale up or down if your views are lagging or cost is too high. Some common English speaking countries to target would be the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

Content Exclusions

In the same way you don’t want to waste viewer’s time who can’t handle your tunes. You can exclude content that is sexually explicit, uses profanity or injury. The more narrow the less possible impressions and costs may rise as well.

Creating Your Ad Group

If you are making multiple video ads for your campaign you should name your ad groups according to the content. Otherwise, you can name the 1 ad group the same as your campaign.

People: Who You Want To Reach

Now we can target your fans demographics directly based on gender, age, parental status, or household income. If you are not sure and want to see what group performs best I would leave all boxes checked for now. Otherwise, you could target 18-24 year old males in top 50% house hold income! Watch out for unchecking ‘the unknown’ box because this could greatly decrease your views. Wondering how YouTube knows the audience demographics?

When picking your audiences these can be an absolute game changer for the results. For example, YouTube has data on the type person behind the keyboard by their search and browse history. So you can type “music” in the audience search and every genre you could want to target (or exclude) is right there!

In this section you can also choose is you want to target your re-marketing list. If you don’t know what re-marketing, it is basically a group of people that have seen you ad or YouTube video before. Depending on their engagement such as watching 50 -100% of a video, you could run another ad at them.

Content: Where You Want Your Ads To Show

In this section you can start to segment your audience by Keywords, Placements or Topics! Keywords are the search terms that you want your ads to show up for such as “hip hop songs” or “classic rock vlogs”. Likewise, Placements allow you to choose specific YouTube channels, apps or websites. Finally, Topics let you to broadly bid on a topic such as “Music Awards” or “Entertainment Industry”. This can all get very over whelming if you have never done it before. So, I would start with a topic and see if you can get quality traction and then optimize from there.

Measuring Your Campaign Success!

Congrats music mogul, you have made your first YouTube Ad! Don’t celebrate too fast now, we have to measure it’s success too.

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that determine if your campaign was successful or not. For a brand awareness campaign these would be video views, impressions, unique users, awareness lift and ad recall lift. Most of all you want to be asking yourself specific questions about your ads that determine their personal success to you. Such as “Which ads do viewers click on most?” or “Which ad is getting watched all the the way through?”.

YouTube Ads Analytics

Analytics Is Your Best Friend

By checking your analytics in your YouTube Ads you can see important ad metrics such a view through rate, impressions, clicks and much more. I would suggest focusing on these metrics as you get more data. As you see an ad is doing well (or not so well), you can experiment with different versions of it. For the variations or A/B tests you want to change 1 aspect about the ad at a time. This is so that you know that when you change the background music or the CTA that the view through rate and clicks were 50% better because of the change.

In Conclusion

I know you don’t want to hear this but, your music career is a marathon and not a sprint. Nothing is a hack or a quick track to the top and that even includes YouTube Ads (any paid medium for that matter). Have a complete marketing strategy that includes paid advertisements, owned & earned media and unique content. You need to focus on your craft, connecting with one new fan at a time and most of all enjoying the process.

Leave a Reply