How to Make Money From Your Music Video Haters

April 28, 2019

The internet is full of trolls ready to rip your latest song apart right in front of your eyes. Nothing gives these sick bastards more satisfaction than ruining someone's day. Even if you have a tough hide, hateful comments on the music you’ve worked hard to create always stings a little. I’m going to show you how to make money from your music video haters. What sweeter justice could you ask for?

I don’t write about this very often on the Black Ghost Audio blog, but I release music under the alias Virtus in my spare time. A while back I put about $100 towards marketing a music video of mine on Facebook, and it resulted in 38k views, 675 reactions, 256 comments, and 235 shares. Not bad, right?

A picture of the engagement stats for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising on Facebook.

1. Upload High-Quality Content

There was some sick, calculated, psychological tomfoolery behind the marketing strategy for this video that worked 100% according to plan. You can quickly achieve results like this yourself, but there’s one primary prerequisite.

The success my music video saw on Facebook wasn’t due to the fact that it was the most fantastic song ever made, but it was definitely of a high-quality, and it was something worth sharing. If you like EDM and Trap you’d probably be into the song, and if comic book style artwork is something you enjoy, you'd probably think the video is pretty cool too. Before you spend a dime on marketing, make sure you have a product worth selling, and a defined audience to pitch it too. Here’s the music video that was promoted:

Once you have a killer music video that you’re ready to upload, you need to do something that’s going to get people fired up enough to comment on it. In my case, I decided that merely captioning the video “The craziest EDM drop ever?” would be sufficient enough. Cocky, ignorant, and targeting people who care about EDM. Perfect. The trap had been set, and all I needed to do was bait the wolves.

2. Tag Your Friends

The next step was to tag a couple of my friends in the post, and politely ask them to tag a couple of their friends. This got the comment section started, and before long, complete strangers were either tagging their friends or leaving their own comments on the track.

Plenty of the feedback I received was positive. Many people checked out the video, gave it a like, and continued on their merry way. I even had a kind soul generously invite me to North Carolina. To this day, I'm still wondering if this person wants to book me to play a show, or just hang out and play Smash Bros. Either way, I'm down.

A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.

Now, the shit storm you’ve been waiting for has arrived. I present to you… the haters:

A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.

What kind of response would you have if someone left a comment like this on a music video of yours? The typical reaction is to either ignore it, delete it, or cry about it in the corner of your studio. I decided to go against the grain here and have a little bit of fun with my haters (P.S. I’m Canadian):

A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.

Once people realized that I was actually responding to comments in a funny, sarcastic, light-hearted manner, they happily jumped in with their own comments; some positive and some negative. Not everyone agreed with my methods, and I even had someone tell me that I was responding to comments in the wrong way:

A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.

3. Respond to Every Comment

I responded to every comment, good or bad, no matter what. This paid off in two essential ways. The first was that some people ended up checking out the video and then realized the comment section was blowing up, which they found entertaining in and of itself:

A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.

The second way in which responding to comments paid off had to do with a unique Facebook video feature. When you leave a comment on a Facebook video, other people who have commented on the video are also notified. This feature keeps people returning to the video to engage with it repeatedly. If you didn’t know who Virtus was before, you did after you left a comment. This following comment stirred up 18 replies, and countless notifications:

A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.

As much as responding to comments is important, you need to go about it in the right way. Calling someone names online makes you seem petty and doesn’t add much value to a conversation. Use your comments as an opportunity to provide entertainment to your fans, but try to do this in a way that doesn’t belittle the person you’re responding to. I’ve included some of my crowning sarcastic achievements below:

A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.
A picture of a comment on the Facebook video for Virtus - Dark Prince Rising.

4. Retarget People Who Engage with the Video

Facebooks Ads allow you to retarget people who have engaged with your content in the past. This means everyone who commented on my video was going to be getting hit up with more of my content again in the future. With this ability, I would maintain the listeners who enjoyed my music and use my pack of haters to fuel organic engagement on future videos. These haters were unknowingly providing me with free extended marketing; every time someone comments on a Facebook video, there's a chance that the people apart of their social network see that they've engaged with your content.

The beautiful thing about this marketing strategy is that regardless of what anyone says about your video, the fact that they’ve engaged with it in the first place is a complete win for you. The person commenting has identified themselves as someone who feels strongly about the genre of music you write, they’ve proven that they are active on social media, and they’re unknowingly propagating the reach of your music throughout the internet. As the saying goes, "all press is good press."

5. Don’t Take Things Personally

It’s not going to be easy at first when responding to people who are shredding apart your life’s work. You need to remember that you are not your artist project. Your artist project is a brand that’s potentially associated with your name, but it is not you. This buffer may seem like it doesn’t exist sometimes, but trust me, it does. To effectively respond to people, you need to have a good sense of humor. If you don’t, inciting a strong response from strangers on the internet is a surefire way to get burned.

6. Keep It Professional

If someone comes after you saying “Your music is trash,” the worst thing you can do is display an uncontrolled emotional response. If you were working in a restaurant and someone you were serving said they didn’t like the food, you would probably do your best to accommodate them to some extent, and avoid telling them that you hate them with every fibre in your body. Does this mean the food is “bad?” Not necessarily. Does it mean the person ordered something they personally just don’t like? Quite possibly.

Your music is a product that people consume in the same way they consume food. Some people are going to like it, some people aren’t, and that’s ok. The people who like your music are an easy sell, and there’s still hope for the people that don’t jive with it. You can use your haters to make your marketing budget reach further, which in turn will generate more followers, streams, and merch sales. Over time, you might even be able to win your haters over with your entertaining social media presence, or better yet, with your music.

I should mention that you need to draw the line somewhere when it comes to comments. I don’t allow people to post any off-topic, racist, or genuinely evil comments on my videos. This type of content adds no value to the comment section for my fans, so as such, it has no place being there. Other than that, I generally allow people to speak their mind, and I do my best to engage with them in fun and playful ways.

No matter how you spin this marketing tactic, you win. All that it requires you to do is keep your cool when responding to people online, and use hateful comments to entertain your fans. I actually learned about utilizing this marketing strategy through Indepreneur. They offer some great educational content on building and monetizing a fan base, so if you’re interested in learning more about how to set up effective Facebook video ad campaigns, I recommend you check them out.

I want to invite you to join me in the Black Ghost Audio group on Facebook; it's full of producers currently working in the music industry who are more than happy to help you improve your productions. Leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding this article. Your feedback is always appreciated, and we'll take it into account when we publish future articles.

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Charles is a Mixing and Mastering Engineer at Black Ghost Audio. After graduating from the University of Manitoba with an English degree, Charles continued his education at Icon Collective, a music production school based out of Los Angeles, CA. He is the founder of Black Ghost Audio, an audio engineering company that creates educational content for music producers. You can send him a work inquiry at charles@blackghostaudio.com.