What The Number Of Facebook Likes Says About Musicians

Size matters. Numbers matter. Last week I told a manager friend about a new band he had to check out. The first thing he did was pull out his phone and went to their Facebook Page. Facebook Likes are a quick, one glance indicator of status. It’s not the be all and certainly doesn’t translate directly to downloads, streams or ticket sales, but it’s the first stat anyone will seek out.

Of course Likes can be bought (or, ahem, advertised for). Everyone knows this. But it looks pretty dumb if you have 50,000 Likes and no one commenting on your Timeline.

Unfortunately musicians’ reach via the Page has plummeted (unless, of course, you’re willing to pay for it via a Boost). So, is it worth it to invest money to obtain Likes? It’s the quick way to get people to go one layer deeper with you and invest a bit more time checking out your project, but if you don’t have the actual fan base to back it up (or the music, video, stage chops) then, no, it’s not worth it. Get your act together, work your ground game, build a loyal base, and if you need to jump a tier of notoriety or recognition, then maybe run a couple promotions to attract some new, true fans.

What does the number of Likes say about bands? Read on…

Less than 1,000

Not worth paying attention to. They don’t care enough to even get their friends to Like their Page (or probably come to their concerts). Their only goal is to be “discovered.” By whom? They don’t know. They think “the music” is enough. Sadly, they are lost in the last century. Unless someone comes along to shake them up and makes them pay attention to their business, they will not be going anywhere anytime soon.


They’re a local band who care enough to put some effort into their career. They’ve played around town a lot and probably have a couple EPs or albums out. Enough for someone to head on over to Twitter or YouTube to check some more stats and content.


They’ve toured. Either very successfully regionally or done a few national tours. They have multiple albums out, probably a music video or two and are moving forward. A listen is in order.


Impressive. I need to look deeper and find their story. They’re a touring band or have had some licensing or YouTube success. I’ll watch a YouTube video or two and definitely check out the music.


These numbers compete. Either they have been beating the road touring for YEARS or are starting to kill it somewhere on the interwebs. Most likely YouTube. They’ve probably opened for some bigger artists on a few tours and have definitely put out some pretty high quality music videos. They have albums out and can pack shows regionally. They are their fans’ favorite “I have to show you this band,” band. Word of mouth to the max. They’re growing and are getting little victories here and there like TV placements, opening tours or a viral YouTube video.

Who reps them? Nobody? Damn, these cats are onto something. I need to get as much information about them as I can. I’ll spend some time on their profile, head over to their website, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, everything.


This band can headline national tours and bring a few hundred to every city they visit. They’ve been at the music game for awhile or have had some decent YouTube success. Maybe even a hit a few years back on Triple A, Country or College radio. They tour frequently as an opener and a headliner. They have multiple albums, EPs, live albums and singles out. And their music videos are high production.

They’re most likely repped by an indie label or great management. Definitely have a booking agent behind them. No representation means they have figured out how to make it work and should not give up any more of their career than they have to. People are a-knockin. They can keep the chain on the door for a bit longer.


They’ve had a big hit. Either radio or YouTube, but their numbers are strong. They have YouTube views in the millions. They are touring internationally. They can pack theaters wherever they go. They are on the brink of mainstream. Their fans are hard core. They can sell VIP exclusives at their shows and can get very creative on montization efforts.

They probably have a major label behind them. Or an established indie. If they are still DIY, then by god, STAY THAT WAY. You’ve beat the system and the industry is scratching its head.


Multiple hits. Die hard fans. Life is good. Touring internationally and they have it figured out. Their manager is kicking ass and has “the team” under control. Consistent music, videos and live show. They haven’t quite broken mainstream, but are known in the music industry. Respected.

1,000,000 – 5,000,000

The superstars of the industry. Label support. They’ve either had their day or on the up and up fast. They’re on the brink of mainstream or were hot last decade. They are very wealthy and, if still on tour, play arenas or large theaters.


Beyonce et al. Mainstream. Your mom’s heard of them.

Photo is by Owen Brown from Flickr and used with the Creative Commons License

Attend A Midsummer Night’s Concert: Featuring Ari Herstand at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, July 24th. Get tickets.


97 Responses

  1. Noah Copeland

    I don’t understand how they heck one get so many likes. I don’t think having less than 1,000 likes means you don’t care enough to get out there. I was in a band from 2009-2012 and I promoted the CRAP out of the facebook page and our shows and we topped out at 455 likes before we disbanded. Wonder what I did wrong….

    • Mr. Blasko

      I don’t disagree that FB likes are arbitrary and really… shouldn’t it be all about the music anyway?
      Unfortunately it isn’t. The point of the article, from my perspective anyway, is how the “industry” views an artists amount of “likes” and “views”as representative of their fan base.
      In terms of what you did wrong… I would estimate that you guys didn’t connect with a core fan base that cared enough to build you up on the social networks (i.e no word of mouth).
      These would be the telling signs to the industry that maybe your band wasn’t worth taking a risk on even if they totally dug what you were doing musically.

      • Noah Copeland

        Mr. Blasko, by word of mouth are you referring to people tweeting and posting about my music?

    • JoshO

      What exactly does theaudience do? I went to their about page, and it was very vague.

  2. Elke Hassell

    Why Beyonce???? She isn’t even in the top 10 Facebook likes – Start with Michael Jackson – who eventhough ‘Dead” is however in the top 10! So yeah lets stay real and stop jumping on the Beyonce Wagon as the Media likes us to believe that she is the only thing that matters now.

  3. GGG

    Don’t ever buy likes (or advertise poorly). Anyone that actually cares about likes, i.e. talent buyers, managers, press, etc, can tell in one click if your likes are bought or worthless. If your most popular city is in south east asia, your likes are worthless. If you have 20K likes and 2 people are talking about you, your likes are worthless. etc etc

    • Ari Herstand

      100% agree. However, there’s a difference between “buying Likes” from third party sites and promoting your Page on Facebook to target the very specific demographics who would actually like the band’s music. Some of the most effective Facebook advertising I’ve seen is when an artist creates an ad for her page and says “Like Sara Bareilles or Ingrid Michaelson? I bet you’ll like my music too.” Why wouldn’t Sara or Ingrid fans click to at least check out a song? And then if they like the music actually click Like and possibly dig deeper. This is how you can effectively “pay for Likes.” But these people will be a much more engaged group of true fans – not bots from Egypt.

      However, even then (as reported), it may not be worth it.

      • GGG

        Yea, that’s what I meant by advertise poorly; I wasn’t really clear. Facebook has the default set to like Singapore and somewhere else, where “like” farming businesses are (that probably give a kickback to Facebook).

  4. @fergheart

    I’m with Noah on this one. You can bust you a** and not get that many likes on Facebook. Ever since MySpace people have used social media as some kind of magic metric that matters. It’s not fair to judge an indie artist just on those metrics alone.

  5. Jimmy P.

    To say that artists with less than 1000 likes “don’t care enough” and “aren’t worth listening to” is total nonsense. Everyone starts somewhere. That paragraph is nothing but a collection of harsh words from an egotistical, self serving and careless “music marketing expert”.

    • Rebecca De+La+Torre

      Amen Jimmy. I make great living for a working musician but I’ve just started trying to get my fb pay going like 6 months ago. Does that make me irrelevant? Nonsense. Musicians email m all the time asking how to better their game. Ari is just being harsh and judgemental here.

      • Ari Herstand

        Hey guys, this, unfortunately is how the industry views it. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re looking for industry recognition, on any level (management, booking, label, sponsorship, promoters, talent buyers, music supervisors), this is what they’ll think.

        I don’t mean to attack artists with less than 1,000 Likes, just give them a wake up call that, unfortunately, at this moment in 2014 it’s how the industry works. It may shift next year.

        Rebecca, I know you make a great living as a hired performer (which, I would argue, is outside the general “music industry.” I do my fair share of college gigs which are very similar and definitely creates its own venn diagram with the music industry. Not belittling the avenue as it’s a great way to make a living), but building an original music career (and a loyal fan base of your original music) requires musicians to play the game a bit.

  6. Andrew Jones

    I guess…sometimes.

    I care way more about engagement ratios to give me a picture of trajectory than I do about a hard like count.

    • Rebecca DeLaTorre

      I agree Andrew. I would think that in this case Ari is just going for negative engagement, as well as just providing the hard-core perspective of the industry “experts” – assuming the success of your career depends on that (which in my case, it doesn’t). Whatevs

      • Paul Resnikoff

        I’m not so sure about that. I think Ari is basically saying that if a band has less than 1,000 likes, they’re probably not trying hard enough. Or, they don’t care about having an audience (maybe they just jam on the weeekends and play BBQs, who knows).

        Sure, if the band started yesterday then we have an exception. But this isn’t a critique of the music itself, it’s about how much effort is being put into promoting that music and making it succeed.

  7. Snidely

    Word of mouth to the max.”

    Is it “Speak-Like-An-80s-Valley-Girl Day”? OMG! Like, gag me with a spoon! You are, like, totally grody!

  8. Versus

    What are these judgments based on? Who thinks like this? Was a survey done? Or is this just how the author evaluates Likes?

    • Anonymous

      To call it journalism would be insulting to journalists everywhere. I’ve read blogs with more credibility.

  9. boichot

    Well, actually it works with bands actually present on facebook (you are still able to chose not to use this social network) AND with bands who have a fanbase present on FB.
    YES, jazz and world music aficionados are still quite absent and the fact you assume FB is a global network with a significant penetration for everyone should be put into perspective.
    If you are a rock, rap, EDM… band in the USA : Yes, i totally agree.
    If you are a french based afrojazz band, well, numbers still maters but I really doubt these figures means something.
    Another brief comment : 1000 true fans, even in facebook, is BIG and I’ve seen bands with much more comments, shares and answers with 1000 fans than other ones with 5000, everything depends on the quality of the community.
    Still, thank you for this article Ari, it gives a great picture of where some bands should aim

  10. indie dude

    this is ridiculous…and is why there’s so much new “crap” out there today…so lets say a label or media outlet goes by this way of thinking (which a lot do) – then they decide to give that artist or band PR or a record deal based on this and then maybe they go to a crowded show….then blammo…they’re the next big thing – but the music is still average at best…likes or followers have no link to the quality of the music…real artists aren’t concerned about this stuff and this is why we have so few in the spotlight these days..it’s a SAD time to be a music fan and i’ve been one since the 60’s and listen to everything new that comes out HOPING to hear something great…but I don’t because real artists are above this crap and busy working on their craft regardless of who’s watching or listening..

        • GGG

          You clearly don’t look hard enough or actually at all. Or you have a very narrow taste in music. If you want to complain about Top 40, sure, you’d have some of my support. And yes, there IS plenty of crap out there. But there is PLENTY of great music out there, too, you’re just too lazy to look or looking in the wrong places.

          The problem isn’t the music, the problem is the completely decentralized access points, i.e. the internet.

  11. Dr. VonCueBall

    Some validity to your numbers as for years my pitch to radio has been most of the numbers have been faked. Your numbers are more in line with real traction for those who have not faked their own success. Not sure how you figured this out but you are more right than wrong with this article. Nice going. The Doctor.

  12. illtalbeats

    Facebook is not for are for musicians, it’s built for ad revenue. I have about 900 likes – a combination of organic and ad based (not fake bot likes). Yet, I still get the same 10 people engaging. The average post is only seen by 10-60 people. Unless of course, I “boost” the post for $$$.

    It’s a vicious cycle where if users don’t see the post, they won’t engage – but Facebook won’t show them the post, because they haven’t engaged.

    • (Anon Oral Artiste)

      Im a pro artist who decided not to play the social media game. That’s what it is… A game. I don’t work for facebook, instagram, or twitter. They dont pay me to promote their websites, and they dont stop me from going out and connecting with my supporters. I didnt sign up tp try to prove how good i am at marketing. Im an artist and i make my impact and meaningful connections that change lives. I dont waste my time chasing digital likes and superficial approval ratings. All the “stars” bought half their fake followers anyway. Look it up.
      Not posting my name here either cause im not hunting for followers here either. #authentic

  13. Joshua Hall

    It depends on what Genre you are playing in. Ari – about 9,000 likes – Jason Mraz – 14 Million likes, Anti-Flag – about 300,000 likes, Green Day – 33 Million likes, the Hanumen about 1,500 likes , Krishna Das – 150,000 likes
    Michael Franti – about 350,000 likes, —who is like Michael Franti??? – any way point is, I know everyone who has hit the like button for my group actually “likes us” – we play in a genre that is not a casual – oh I’ll like that because they are my friend on facebook so I’ll like their band. Do what you love, promote yourself honestly and keep doing it – your email list and band website are the most important tools you have (twitter, facebook, instagram, ….. could be gone tomorrow) – the difference between someone who has made a living out of being a musician and someone who hasn’t is the one who didn’t give up. I pretty sure Macklemore didn’t have close to 6 million likes 6 years ago. Good article Ari. Thanks!

  14. anon-anon

    Robin Thicke 4,909,392 Facebook likes – New album sales – UK 533 -US 25,000 . what does this mean?
    Are his likes fake? Judging him and the music aside – Aren’t the people who “like” him willing to go down his artistic path with him – Isn’t that what building an audience is all about. Maybe not in this social environment. Endless nonsense.

  15. hippydog

    ditto on pretty much what others have said..
    Promoting posts is pretty much useless (horrible value money wise)
    and the time needed to “grow” your fanbase VS returns is also horrible for entertainers and small business’s..

    simply not worth it..

  16. More ARi-DMN click bate

    Oh come on Ari, gimme a break. MAYBE, at BEST, it’s an indicator of how adept you are at using social media. Any other conclusion is a non sequitur. PERIOD, end of story.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Except that professionals in the industry that are considering working with artists use this metric.

      • Anonymous

        Doesn’t really justify the arbitrary scale used here. Even if it is just an op-ed.

      • Versus

        Many do, but do all? And do all evaluate as brutally as the above breakdown indicates?
        Paul, is this focused on specific genres? This depressing analysis seems more appropriate to manufactured formulaic pop, but not so much to more esoteric genres (jazz, electronic, experimental, etc).

        There are still those who put artistry first, and are willing to take a chance on an act on that basis, in the faith that buzz can be built up. Agree that this is increasingly rare, or at least it is increasingly rare to get an advance for that kind of project!

      • JJ Robins

        I do think gatekeepers think stuff like, “Under 1K likes? They can’t make me any money. Next!”

        FB likes are a metric but I don’t know how accurate they are. (No magic bullets, right?)

        It seems to me like one FB like = one person visiting the page one time. It doesn’t mean they’ll ever see your show, visit your page again or see anything you post. As hard as it is to even get a like on your page, how valuable is it really?

        warning – antecdote:
        I know this is small time but —- there was a local Austin band in the ’00s that was very good at mobilizing their friends to like and and vote for them in contests but not very good at making music. They won “Best Experimental Band” in the Austin Chronicle music poll and were then chosen by Transmission Entertainment to play 2nd on a nearly sold out show with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, arguably the most popular touring US experimental-rock band at the time. Unfortunately, they also had to follow one of Austin’s most talented and beloved left-of-center art-pop bands (Opposite Day, I highly recommend them).

        Even worse, they stunk and everyone knew it! It wasn’t just that their songs were boring, they couldn’t really play their instruments and were not compelling at all. It was embarrassing to watch. By their third song, the packed room looked like it normally would between bands: clusters of four to five people standing in circles talking. There was very little clapping. By the last few songs, there was none. It was eerie. (what was really weird was that no one left. The band wasn’t loud so they just sort of became background music.)

        SIDE NOTE: Michael Franti deserves every one of those likes and more. He’s been at it a long time.

      • More Ari-DMN click bate

        …and what does that say about “professionals” in this industry? Look, if an “industry professional” is willing to pass on a band simply because they don’t have enough Facebook likes then that is probably not someone you want involved in your career anyway. Conversely, if an “industry professional” is willing to get behind a band for the sole reason they have a million Facebook likes then again, probably not someone you want to have involved in your career. Like I said, non sequitur.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          In the pre-internet days, someone might take a chance on an act that had a small and almost non-existent following, and was playing to empty halls. Why? Because the label (or manager, or whomever) felt that they could facilitate the connection between that artist and potential fans.

          Now, an artist can take many more initial steps. And if the artist doesn’t, there’s a huge problem somewhere. That includes building an early following on minimal budget, and yes, that is reflected in Facebook likes.

          Is it the only metric? No, it’s not.

          Is it an indicator, especially on the low end of likes? Yes, it is.

  17. Foxx

    If This is the way professionals judge artist then they are lazy number cruncher s who could care less about the entertainment value of an act. What about the very talented pop artist with small followings in different cities with 300 true fans who will come out depending on the day. What about the pop vocalist living in an area dominated by hard core hip hop. We need to get back to the days where A&R actually looked at the talent instead of sitting behind a computer crunching numbers. This is why music sucks in the US because it’s just a corporate numbers game. It’s not about entertainment value it’s about selling your fans tickets every week to come see the same show……..it loses it’s ENTERTAINMENT value.

  18. Ray

    Screw Facebook, I’m still building my MySpace numbers. I’m almost up to 100,000 fans! When I get to 150,000 I bet someone will actually come to one of my shows.

  19. Versus

    To be fair, the methods of A&Rs are varied, an unpredictable hybrid of evaluating actual musical quality and already established/faked “popularity”.

    I have recently had discussions with types at both extremes: the artistically-oriented indie label A&Rs who put artistic quality first (knowing full well that they are risking their companies’ financial viability), and the cynical insecure A&Rs who do not trust their own judgment (“I don’t even listen to the tracks unless their social media numbers are high enough”).

    Which model predominates? Presumably the latter method of statistical evaluation of music has gained for the simple reason that it is technically easier to have access to such numbers. Speculating: Pre-Internet, the equivalent would be local show attendance (still a major factor, of course), press attention, perhaps sales of a self-released album (a rarity before CDBaby and such). Ideally, the A&R would have to actually attend some shows of the act to gauge the actual fan rabidity, which would at least accidentally require said A&R to hear some of the music as well…

  20. Versus

    What are the promotion alternatives to FaceBook?

    I ask this seriously, in that many are calling FB ads and post boosts a poor investment. So where should one best put one’s promotion efforts and budget (if any)?

    (I dread a new age of payola, where the streaming service “curators” are “given” BMWs in exchange for play. Is this to be the future?)

    (Perhaps that answer must also necessarily vary based on the music genre).

  21. Willis

    Any artist can, and does, buy FB Likes. What really matters on FB is the engagement (number of comments). This validates the Likes. An artist with tons of Likes and little to no commenting is a fraud.

  22. JJ Robins

    I can totally see industry folk thinking, “Only 900 likes? This won’t make me any money. Next!”

    Ari always says there’s no magic bullet and I think FB likes are no exception. They may be a metric but I think most industry people know this.

    Afterall, they probably have their own FB pages and know that one FB like = one visit by one person who clicked “like”. It doesn’t mean that person will care enough to engage again and it certainly doesn’t mean you can reach them.

    Warning Antecdote:

    Small time example — There was an Austin band that was very good at mobilizing their friends to click like and vote for them in contests. When they won “Best Experimental Band” one year, a big promoter here asked them to play right before a nearly sold-out show with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
    Unfortunately, they had to follow the amazing opening act Opposite Day, one of Austin’s most talented and beloved experimental art-rock-pop bands.

    Worse, they stunk and everyone knew it. I don’t mean they had a bad night, I mean they were at a junior high talent show level of mastery of their craft. The room thinned. By the third song, it looked like it normally would between bands: clusters of four or five people in circles chatting. There was no clapping after songs. It was like the show was over. It was eerie.

    They still had thousands of likes on their page though!

  23. Ann Papenfuss

    They missed one special category. 94,000-95,000 fans: Has a loving wife who does an amazing job of promoting him.

    • GGG

      People that care about how many likes you have can also tell if they are bought in one click.

    • Versus

      I’ve heard A&Rs say that even if the Likes are bought, that still impresses them, because they think it shows the artist’s dedication and acknowledgment of the importance of social media!

      This is capitalism in action.

      • GGG

        And those people were probably fired….haha

        But really, depending on how good an artist seems, it might not matter. But it does for people who are looking at that to help themselves, i.e. traffic, promo numbers, guaranteed sales, etc.

        • Michael

          However I would argue that the more likes a fb page has, the more willing people are going to be to like it.

  24. David Rosen

    It’s so freaking hard to get over 1000. Practically every person I’ve ever met likes my page and it’s just over 600.

    The problem for me (and I’m sure a lot of others) is I’m not a live musician. I’m a composer. So I don’t have the benefit of doing shows and touring and all that crap. The closest thing for me is going to film festivals where films I scored play, and meeting new people there. I think I just got 18 from a film festival last week… But I gotta do that another like 20+ times to even just get to 1000… Let alone 2000.

    • GGG

      If you’re a composer your likes don’t matter. I don’t think any filmmaker or whatever will choose someone based on FB likes. That’s pretty much merit (or price).

      It’s more for bands. Some larger press outlets won’t even cover you unless you reach their minimum requirement. You can be the greatest band in the world, be paying $10K/month for a publicist who’s the daughter of the editor, and they might still say, “ohh…sorry, not enough Facebook likes..”

      • David Rosen

        No you’re totally right. It doesn’t matter as much for composers. But I do put out some of my music as albums, and it would be nice to have people see them. It’s tough though.

        I’m doing alright though 🙂

  25. CrowfeatheR

    Facebook likes are worth as much as your Myspace friends, no wait, less, much less. As a band you have this stuff called music, which doesn’t play on facebook at all. Facebook was designed to destroy music as an entertainment medium and replace it with retarded lcd games like farmville. Facebook is for the deaf and dumb, heck Zuckerberg himself refers to his users as “dumb f-ers”. Any music “pro” who puts any weight into a musician’s facebook page is a fuckin clown show wanna be tool. My advice, boycott Facebook so people can’t even searc you there and direct trafficto tour own website instead where you can place your own ads and not enrich one of the worlds hugest duchebags.

    • There is+something...

      And now I’m sure you have a good advice on how to make people find your website and discover you when they are not already fan… There are thousands of musicians out there waiting for the magic formula !

      Like it or not, I do discover artists from time to time because a friend shared a song or a video on FB. That’s how it works when you don’t have the leverage to direct traffic to your website. Not that I agree with the “like” business, but social medias presence is useful for promoting artists.

    • GGG

      Guess I’m a fuckin clown show wanna be tool, then. Like it or not, FB likes are still relevant for MANY aspects of the industry. Since you don’t seem to know this, I imagine you’re a bigger fuckin clown show wanna be tool than the rest of us. Learn how to market yourself and your shitty music, dumbass.

      Also..Farmville? Way to use a relevant argument…

      • CrowfeatheR

        Lol, well then, leave the music stuff to me and you can try to top the news feed over grumpy cat instead. Some people are too green to have lived through the myspace collapse to know better.

        • GGG

          The fact that you think people put all their eggs in the Facebook basket and don’t simultaneously use a number of social media sites, mailing lists, etc means you are far more green than anyone you make fun of.

          Also, it’s not about keeping your numbers up to make yourself feel better, it’s because for some things you HAVE to have certain minimum numbers. Have you ever used a decent PR company or do you use chop shops only?

  26. anonymous

    Those of you complaining or claiming Ari doesn’t know what he’s talking about are in denial about your own music careers. I’ve been a concert promoter for over 18 years and the first thing I look at when a band emails me cold looking for a show is their FB likes. Less than 1000 and I’m not going invest much of my time checking them out. I’ll next scroll the time line to see what they post and if anyone replies. If their photo looks legit I’ll listen to a song IF they have music linked to their FB if I have to leave FB I move on to the next email of the 50 or so I received since yesterday. You may not like it but FB likes are a quick way for busy industry pros to determine how much time to invest on an unknown artist. A band with 20k likes will get enough of my time to check out their video on youtube right off the bat. That’s not too say that the band with <1000 likes isn't very talented, maybe even more so that the band with 20k likes, but the former isn't reaching the public as effectively as the latter.
    What should be taken from this article is the pros in the industry look at your social media when you cold contact them. The first thing they will see is FB likes, and if you're likes are low compared to the dozens of other bands who cold contacted them then you're going to be less of a priority and get less of their time. To put your best foot forward be active on social media and build a following. Post content that your fans want to share because it's quality content and not a photo of what you're eating for breakfast on tour. And don't constantly market to your fans either, that's a sure way for FB to diminish your reach. Social media is where people go to be entertained these days, post entertaining things and make your show info, music and merchandise easily accessible with 1 click using apps and people who come to your page for the entertainment and use the apps to get your material.
    You know which bands I drop everything to listen too, the ones who are brought to me by friends or colleagues who I TRUST that tell me I have to hear _________ band. They could have 6 FB likes, but if someone I know went out of their way to tell me I have to hear this particular band I'll check them out. Your FB likes are like 1000 people, out of millions, I don't know saying to check you out. 20k people I don't know backing you is more impressive. Proportionately it's like if 1 person in your office, or class, or gym, or where ever you spend time with other humans tells you about a great new band or new TV show, you make go check it out. Compare that to if 20 people tell you about that same great band or show. You are more likely to invest your time listening to that band or watching that show when more people tell you they liked it.
    In today's world FB matters. Ari's generalizations are pretty accurate in the minds of industry pros for making quick judgments based on one data point. Just so you know most industry pros will listen to less than 30 seconds of your song too unless they hear something that "wows" them. It's not because they don't appreciate good music, it's because they don't have time to listen to the 50 three minute songs they were emailed today, that would take nearly 3 hours. And if you don't wow them with the first song, the rest of your tracks won't get a listen. You're better off sending a killer single and telling them where to find more music then sending 5 mediocre tracks.
    Just some free advice, take it for what it's worth.

    • CrowfeatheR

      Interesting perspective, So if an artist has just been on NBC the voice and due to contract they can only promote through the NBC page and don’t have a facebook you wouldn’t book them. Or if an older artist who doesn’t social media who just did an opener for a major artist on a regional leg of a tour, you wouldn’t book them. But the teenage garage band who just scraped their lunch money together and bought some fake facebook likes, you would book them. I have a better proposition for guys who like to do business like you do, just go on sonic bids and charge the kids $20 per submission and don’t listen to any of them.

      • GGG

        Wow, I think you’re the greatest epitome of a failed, bitter musician I’ve ever seen haha. Your music if probably terrible and you think you’re amazing. Guaranteed.

        If whoever pitched those artists for the show was even partially good at their job, those facts would have been leads, making the booker realize who he was dealing with. So your whole post is moot.

        • CrowfeatheR

          Dude, how much is Zuckerberg paying you to smoke his pole online? Lol, wow. Anyways….

          • GGG

            If you weren’t a fucking moron you’d have noticed that I haven’t said ONE positive thing about Facebook. All I’ve been saying is that people in the industry use it. That’s a fact. Facebook is a piece of shit for how they’ve pulled a bait and switch on reach for fan pages. We can debate the pros and cons of Facebook all we want. Fact of the matter is people look at your numbers and make decisions based on them.

            You don’t seem to understand this, which is probably why you’re a failure. Well, that and I’m sure your music is god awful.

  27. The Ghost Of Jerry Garcia

    I bet the band with 2 Likes is better than band with 100K likes.

  28. Do Songs Matter Anymore?

    It’s such a sad commentary on the music business when so much emphasis is placed on things like building likes on a Facebook page versus actually being good at the art of making music, song writing, performance, and maybe actually being able to sing instead of leaving it up to autotune or lip sync.

    Paul, Ari, or any “industry professional”,
    Do you think there is anyone in the business (management, booking, label, sponsorship, promoters, talent buyers, music supervisors, etc) that would actually be thrilled to find a solo artist or band with great songs, that can actually write and perform, but HAS NOT PUT A SINGLE THING ONLINE simply because the whole business seems to be completely fu.cked at the moment?

    I’m just curious. I would really like to know if anyone actually gives a damn about the songs and about whether or not the writer/performer has something worth while to offer as an artist.

    • Minneapolis Musician

      I suspect it really is ONLY about making a profit. It’s a business. They have to work with what actually sells.

      If it’s not about good lyrics or melody, that’s the audience’s fault, not the guy marketing the product.


      And who is going to donate their money to trying to educate today’s audiences? You could spend everything you have trying to do that and be broke, and they STILL would like “good enough” mass marketed, simple stuff.

      — Glenn

  29. Question

    It’s such a sad commentary on the music business when so much emphasis is placed on things like building likes on a Facebook page versus actually being good at the art of making music, song writing, performance, and actually being able to sing instead of leaving it up to autotune or lip sync.

    Paul, Ari, or any “industry professional”,
    Do you think there is anyone in the business (management, booking, label, sponsorship, promoters, talent buyers, music supervisors, etc) that would actually be thrilled to find a solo artist or band with great songs, that can actually write and perform, but HAS NOT PUT A SINGLE THING ONLINE simply because the whole business seems to be completely fu.cked at the moment?

    I’m just curious. I would really like to know if anyone actually gives a damn about the songs and about whether or not the writer/performer has something worth while to offer as an artist or is all about facebook likes, twitter followers, YouTube views, etc…

    (Sorry if this post shows up twice, I got a website error of some kind with my first attempt to post)

  30. Chris

    Nobody with a brain takes any notice of Social Media stats – they are completely meaningless.

    Shall I tell you what matters? Record Sales (be it record sales units or YouTube views / streams on Spotify etc. converted to money) and ticket sales – NOTHING else matters a jot

  31. Carl

    As with other instances where humans are asked to filter through a large # of requests (email inboxes come to mind), our brains will first seek to find a way to eliminate a significant % of the requests by creating a simple internal ‘litmus test’.

    Facebook likes are an easy one to grasp onto. So brain says:
    1. Less than 1,000 likes = ignore/discard
    2. Greater than 1,000 likes = put in the ‘maybe’ pile and use the next easiest filter to assess it.

    i.e. having more than 1,000 likes doesn’t guarantee you anything. But having less *might* guarantee that you’ll be ignored. Funny how the brain works.

    The implication for musicians is that fans 1-1000 are extremely valuable from a perception standpoint, but fan 1001 is significantly less valuable (again ONLY from a perception standpoint – I’m not making any claims about the actual value).

  32. Richard Saunders

    I totally get where Ari’s coming from. Since “Likes” are a measure of effort and/or investment, they are in some way an indication of how much someone has put into their career. The problem at the bottom, though, is that with the drying up of small label support, few people have $15,000 to spend on a record, $15,000 on a PR firm, $2000 to tour, and $5,000 on Likes, Boosts, and other social media ads, just to get past 1000 Likes. It costs a LOT of money to get to 1000 likes, and at that point, what’s your ROI (return on investment)? I’m not hand-wringing; I’m just saying, to get to 10,000 likes, where you might actually break even (while still having to keep your day job) requires a lot of money. Period. A rough guesstimate? Probably at least $50,000-100,000. And after spending that much money, you’re still barely in the hunt, and lucky if you can even quit your day job and live in a van earning barely minimum wage. That’s all fine and dandy, but it’s a price very few people can afford to pay, and I wonder how many great bands called it quits one or two years before they’d have had a mega-hit simply because up-and-coming artists are essentially being asked to finance everything these days, with slimmer chances of a return on that investment than ever.

  33. Matt Lewis

    How about # of plays and listeners instead. Why? Because most of those big numbers belong to a select few, mostly younger, who only prefer one style and/or genre of music that they hear via radio or TV. My audience is much older, and hate to say it, but like buttons don’t mean much to them, nor are they inclined to say much via one’s timeline. They are however loyal and will show up wherever you play. Personally, I think that if someone is judging you based upon Facebook or any other Social media like numbers, they aren’t true Fans to begin with. Seeing and hearing it live will in the end prove to be the real Like Button!

  34. Thayne Brown


    Thanks for the post, but what about the next part?
    How do you bridge the gap from one tier to the next?

  35. Michael

    I only have 850 fans on Facebook and 200 followers on twitter, but that’s because my fan base is younger and they use instagram. There I have over 4,500 followers. I primarily use instagram as a way to communicate with my base. Check me out

  36. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

    This entire argument has nothing to do with songs, music, etc. It has everything to do with asses in seats, and potential ROI. It has to do with showing me that if I book you into a 500 seat room, I can measure the effective conversion ratio necessary to justify investing in you on that bill.

    In the old days of direct mail marketing, it was well known that it had a 1/4% conversion rate.
    If I send out 1000 invites and only 10 people show up, that’s true lack of engagement.

    I may love the shit out of the songs you sing – but if the MENTION of your band can’t put 100 people in the seats, what real value is there – from a business pov?

  37. CrowfeatheR

    Ok let me close this out by saying the only thing that matters really is something that gives you a good return on investment and collecting facebook likes isn’t one of them. If you have to resort to your facebook likes to book the “big show” then you are dealing with a bunch of clown show amatures, real booking agents for shows that actually matter in the big picture know who they are booking and why they are they are booking them. Again this is just feeding the myth of being “discovered” and all that BS no amount of facebook likes will get you “discovered”. Focusing your efforts and doubling down on things that return on your investement of money and at the very least energy is important as there is limited time for promotion and facebook likes are definitely not one of them. Facebook in general is a terrible, terrible promoting tool for several reasons. You can have a bazzilion facebook likes and still suck and not have a single dime to show for it.

    • GGG

      Unless you have proof or are known to bring tons of people to shows while having 150 FB likes, how will the booker know he will get HIS ROI?

  38. hippydog

    you NEED to be a part of Social Media ..

    and the only sure fire way to get ahead with SM is CONTENT..

    First you need to be on the formats that work best for you.. (EG: Facebook, instagram, pinterest, twitter, etc etc). More then one format is smart, too many is not smart (IE: having all your eggs in one basket VS stretching yourself too thin, you need to have a working middle ground)

    second you need to have relevant content.. If you cant afford to have someone else do it, then you have to do it yourself (but if your going for 3k + likes you are most likely going to get your best ROI (time Vs results) by outsourcing this work to a friend or professional..

    Third thing is, the content needs be continuous , but not so much it becomes spammy.

    in the end, WOM (Word Of Mouth) is still king.. One fan who actually recruits others on your behalf will ALWAYS be worth more then 1000 likes..

  39. Oz

    likes are self-congratulory masturbation & a short term mirage, and facebook itself is just a lowest-common-denominator museum piece of generic hoohaa. whe the dust settles it will mean exactly jack shit.

    • grunt

      likes are self-congratulory masturbation & a short term mirage, and facebook itself is just a lowest-common-denominator museum piece of generic hoohaa. whe the dust settles it will mean exactly jack shit.

      now aint’ you just peachy 😉

  40. Shams Sharieff

    Sad truth. This has been the case for years now, and won’t change. The industry folk really do translate those numbers to those statements, and it has nothing to do with the quality of music or how talented a performer may be. It’s about seeing who cares. There should be a follow up article about how industry folk translate engagement for acts. They say only 13% of your following actively engage in your posts (the ones that actually see them). Look at it from a record label’s perspective, if an artist has 1,000 fans, and only 130 are actively engaging with their content, would it be worthwhile financially for you to invest $20k in a project? Following+Engagement=Influence. Influence is gold!

  41. Veteran - US MUSIC INDUSTRY 1970-today

    if an artist has 1,000 fans, and only 130 are actively engaging with their content, would it be worthwhile financially for you to invest $20k in a project? Following+Engagement=Influence. Influence is gold!

    That’s better than 10% conversion. But is it worth a 20k buy? Probably not. Now, if you had 1000 fans in each of the top 20 markets in the US, I might consider it.

  42. Anonymous

    So facebook actually controlling artists pages does not put even come into yhe picture then ?

  43. Jonny Alsace

    In 2014 my band went on tour in support of a very famous British act around the UK. We played 15 dates in large venues – from 1500 to 4000 capacity. Good reception at each gig; we sold over 300 albums through the tour. Over the course of the tour we gained 103 Facebook likes.

    I often check out bands on Facebook with over 1000 likes to see that their posts have 0 or perhaps 2 comments or likes, which suggests they pay for likes. It’s a bit depressing to see that the numbers matter so much to people.

    I’d like to carry on building up a genuine fanbase rather than paying for the privilege of looking like I’ve got one.

    I’ve got 333 likes. Fuck it, it’s art people not a popularity contest.

  44. Rick Shelby

    this article is absolute horseshit.

    Likes…especially for unknown garage bands……don’t mean squat.

    Just because some band full of losers sat in a basement begging all their friends for likes and going from group to group spamming and begging for likes says nothing about the quality of a band. The one and only way to gauge a bands popularity and reach on facebook it to see how many people interact on a band page. How many people post comments or engage in discussions. They are plenty of unknown bands who spend way too much time spamming in an effort to get likes….but when they post a message on their page, they get zero responses.

    In short…..bands who spend all their time spamming and trying to get likes….probably don’t practice and rehearse enough.

    Bands who beg for likes are gay.

  45. IfaTreeFalls

    Ari is 100% correct. An indie rock media website recently passed on my record due to lack of Facebook likes.

    I have a new record coming out in July of 2015. I hired a solid publicist who is pitching various outlets. We are a new band and this is our debut album so we only have about 160 likes. These are actual “likes”, not from a click factory in East Asia and/or spamming.

    Anyway, the response from the website was, “I really, really love this track but the social media presence isn’t there”.

    I was sort of heartbroken when I read that. I knew a lack of “likes” would keep me out of websites like Pitchfork, but this is just a mid level website (which I had never heard of before hiring this publicist). But there you have it — this is a metric used by the media as well as gatekeepers (bookers etc.) to gauge who is viable. The music is only a very small part of the package and, unfortunately, a lower priority than we would all like to acknowledge.

    The discouraging part is that I’ve already dropped a lot of dough on this campaign and booked tour dates etc. It’s going to be painful to watch a good record die a very, very slow death (I.e. getting meaningless press in low tier media outlets that I could have gotten myself). Part of me is thinking of ending the campaign before the release date and working on getting “likes”.

    [long low sigh] That Hunter S Thompson quote about the music business is more prescient than ever.

  46. Calvin Nam

    There’s this problem of the point that your Facebook post won’t appear in other’s News Feed if you don’t talk enough on Facebook..
    I’ve seen other artiste going to the extent of taking selfies on a daily basis just to get attention for their music to get exposed..
    That’s too much crap for me.. I need time to get my music done right, not sit down everyday on Facebook doing stupid things..
    There is also the problem of too many artiste going around spamming messages to people asking them to listen to their music.. is there no value in what an artiste musician is all about?
    Are there other ways to get exposure without going around begging in social network and wasting time doing stupid attention seeking task..??
    Are there ways to look more professional than all these and yet get exposure?

    • Ross

      Calvin, Why not just post a link to a song on your website, and then boost the post?

  47. (Anon Oral Artiste)

    (Sorry if this posted twice)
    Im a pro artist who decided not to play the social media game. That’s what it is… A game. I don’t work for facebook, instagram, or twitter. They dont pay me to promote their websites, and they dont stop me from going out and connecting with my supporters. I didnt sign up tp try to prove how good i am at marketing. Im an artist and i make my impact and meaningful connections that change lives. I dont waste my time chasing digital likes and superficial approval ratings. All the “stars” bought half their fake followers anyway. Look it up.
    Not posting my name here either cause im not hunting for followers here either. #authentic