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The One Thing

I spent $250 on Spotify ads to promote my music

Published about 2 months ago • 4 min read

I am a firm believer that advertising on Instagram is the most effective way for artists to grow on Spotify using paid ads.

This, despite the fact that Spotify has its own, native ad platform.

Due to my belief in (and experience with) the efficacy of Instagram ads, I’ve never run a campaign of my own within Spotify’s ad studio, but this hasn’t stopped me from seeing a lot of data from artists who have advertised there.

And none of the results have been good.

Ever.

However, as someone who believes in testing multiple angles, I finally broke down and decided to try my hand at advertising directly on Spotify to promote my music.

Here’s how it went.

The setup

To run this test, I used three separate campaigns, all running simultaneously and all promoting different songs to avoid cross-contaminating results.

For the first (and obvious) campaign, I ran ads on Spotify, inside their native ads manager.

I targeted a slew of similar bands and artists, only looking at users in the United States, ages 18-34.

Now, there are several other settings within the Spotify platform that differ from Meta ever so slightly, but these are the big setup features that matter most for our test.

For the second campaign, I ran a traffic campaign within Meta’s ad platform targeting a combination of DSPs and defining further for a collection of similar artists, genres, and other affinities.

This campaign also targeted users aged 18-34 in the United States.

And for our third campaign, I ran a conversion campaign within Meta’s platform with the same settings as the traffic campaign save for the fact that I targeted the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Of course, the majority of results for this campaign came from the US anyway, so I still count this as a fairly accurate test.

I ran all three campaigns from March 13 through April 13, 2024.

The results

For our Spotify campaign, I spent $250 and earned 36,732 impressions and 157 clicks.

This equated to a 0.43% click-through rate at an average cost per click of $1.59.

For each of our Meta campaigns—traffic and conversions—I spent $159.48 and $159.59, respectively.

The traffic campaign generated 20,431 impressions and 423 link clicks—a 2.07% click-through rate at an average cost per click of $0.38—while the conversion campaign generated 15,557 impressions and 312 website views content—a 2.26% click-through rate at an average cost per result of $0.51 (it also generated 352 clicks at an average cost per click of $0.45, in the interest of full transparency).

If we do a bit of quick math here, we can see that each of the Meta campaigns generated 269% (traffic) and 224% (conversions) more clicks than the Spotify campaign, despite spending around 35% less during the same timeframe.

If we were to hypothetically expand the budget and accompanying results to match our $250 Spotify spend for each of these Meta campaigns, this would make them both over 4x (traffic) and 3.5x (conversions) as effective as an ad campaign run on Spotify.

Now, of course, there are outlier details here.

First, I’m comparing link clicks across the board, which isn’t necessarily fair from a “results” standpoint for a conversion campaign; however, it is a common metric that threads across all three campaign types, which makes it an apt number to review.

And second, Spotify gives more data that is directly attributable to ad spend like number of converted listeners and listener conversion rate, whereas Meta can calculate none of these because Spotify won’t send that data back to a rival ad platform.

However, a cursory look inside Spotify for Artists reveals that I’m getting far more results for my ad spend on Meta than I am on Spotify, and with numbers like 25 new listeners and a listener conversion rate of 0.08% attributed to my $250 in ad spend on Spotify, Instagram is far and away the better option.

And it’s not even close.

The logic

So why is Spotify’s ad platform so bad?

On paper, this ad experience should be like a silver bullet for artists who understand how to run ads.

But it’s not.

I believe it comes down to one fundamental reason: user behavior.

Instagram is a platform that is built upon surprise and delight—the purpose of the app is to scroll, discover, and enjoy what you just found that you didn’t know existed beforehand.

This leads to all sorts of new actions and engagements from its users—the behavior is built into the core “fabric” of the app.

But Spotify is different.

Yes, discovery is a part of it, but when you’re using Spotify, most of the time you’re not in “discovery” mode.

Most of the time, the phone probably isn’t even in your hand.

Nine times out of ten, when you’re listening to music on Spotify, you’re in “work” mode.

Or “driving” mode.

Or “working around the house” mode.

Or any other of a number of “modes” that puts the phone out of reach and eliminates “discovery” mode.

With Instagram, the phone is in your hands and your eyeballs are on the app when you’re using it.

There is no alternative.

With Spotify, your phone could be facedown on the desk, in the center console of your car, or in a drawer somewhere, playing music on a speaker via Bluetooth.

How can you take action on an ad when your phone isn’t even in your hand?

And furthermore, how can we expect new listeners to hop over to our artist profile, stream, and save when the phone isn’t even within reach?

I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending time and money on ads, I want the people who see them to be able to do something about it.

If you enjoyed this one, I’ll be digging further into the details this Thursday on YouTube.

Hope to see you there.

Whenever you're ready, there are four ways I can help you:

  1. Read the Newsletter: Read previous issues of The One Thing to learn at your own pace and upgrade your marketing knowledge for free.
  2. Book a Consultation: Schedule a one-on-one call with me to improve your marketing across paid advertising, social media, and more.
  3. The Spotify Traffic Accelerator: Join the hundreds of artists who have successfully learned to automate their growth on Spotify using paid ads on Instagram.
  4. Become a DuPree X Artist: Hire our team to manage your marketing across streaming platforms and social media so you can focus on what matters most—making music.

The One Thing

Tom DuPree III

One high-leverage idea to scale your audience (and your business). Delivered every Tuesday.

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