The One Thing

Which countries should you target with ads for Spotify?

Published 9 days ago • 5 min read

Where we choose to advertise makes a significant difference in the performance of our ads.

If we go too tight, we might experience a much higher cost per result (and fewer overall results for our ad spend) than we want to see.

If we go too broad, we might waste our money on results that don’t really count for much in the long run.

That whole “if your audience is everyone, your audience is no one” thing.

So how should we think about country targeting when it comes to sending traffic to Spotify and other DSPs, specifically?

I mean, music is universal, right?

Well, sort of.

Genre, lyrics, artist nationality, and various other factors all play a role in deciding how to use our advertising budget most effectively.

Start at home

The best place to advertise your music is in your home country.

Well, in most cases, your home country and then some.

The odds are, if you’re reading this, you are located in one of the four largest English-speaking countries globally—the US, UK, Canada, or Australia.

If you’re not in one of these four countries, you may need to read between the lines a bit here, but the general rule still applies.

Because I’m based in the United States, my goal is to focus on these four countries with my ads.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, my lyrics are in English, I’m located in an English-speaking country, and everything I do online is in English.

Put simply, speaking English is a fundamental part of my music.

Of course, English is a fairly global language at this point; however, I’m looking to take advantage of the odds here.

Now, if I were making instrumental music, the game might change a bit, but we’ll get to that.

There’s also the second point to consider.

If I ever want to monetize a fanbase with merch or touring, it is just far, far more likely that I am going to do that in the United States first.

If I am able to succeed in the US then I might expand to other countries, and the countries I am most likely to expand to first are, you guessed it, the UK, Canada, and Australia.

For most artists with “traditional” goals of streaming, merch, and touring, focusing on these four countries makes the most sense.

“Tier 1” countries

There are 13 countries we always start with whenever we run ads for a new client with DuPree X.

These are also the same 13 countries I will often expand to with my own ads when I want to take things outside of the “Top 4”.

They’re also the only countries we focus on inside the Spotify Traffic Accelerator.

Basically, if there were going to be one list, this would be it.

The countries in this list are Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“But Tom,” you say, “what about ___ country?”

Well, there are several reasons this list exists in this format.

First, there are a lot of English speakers in these countries.

Again, as a US-based artist (or one of the other in the “Top 4”), it just makes sense to be sure your audience can understand you.

Second, if you were to expand even further with a career and tour, hitting Western Europe is more likely than a lot of other places.

Third, these countries, for the most part, pay out some of the highest per-stream royalties of all countries where Spotify is available.

There are more premium subscribers, and the cost of a premium subscription is higher, leading to a higher financial return on ad spend.

And fourth (and lastly), these countries all play well no matter the campaign objective you’ve chosen (and believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way).

You can use this list with a traffic campaign.

Or you can use it with a conversion campaign.

This list is flexible and safe, no matter your goals.

These are strong places to build your fanbase.

Note: when using this list, depending on your genre, the bulk of your results are likely to come from the US, UK, and Germany, most likely due to the fact that these three countries have the biggest populations of all the countries included.

When to go global

Let’s be honest, there’s a whole world out there, and sometimes it just makes sense to target people all across the globe.

And if you’re making instrumental music, honestly, going global is a smart move.

When no lyrics are involved, music truly is universal, so it makes a ton of sense to get out of your own backyard.

As Spotify continues to expand its offering into more and more territories around the world, it can be easy to feel like you need to hit all of them.

In fact, this is where I started when I first began running ads for my music.

I didn’t know I should target those 13 “Tier 1” countries, and the “Top 4” list was way more expensive than targeting countries like Russia, which was still available at the time.

But having run, man, I don’t know, hundreds of thousands of dollars of ad spend for a lot of artists at this point, I have come to understand how most of these countries play and perform with ads.

As a general rule, I try to avoid targeting every single country where Spotify is available.

In fact, whenever I do go global, I still keep it fairly narrowed and lean into the countries with bigger populations where I know people are hungry for new music.

Places like Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, and Indonesia will give you a lot of results for your ad spend, but you have to be careful.

There are a few rules I follow when expanding my targeting to a more global audience.

First, keep it narrow by selecting higher-population countries where you just have better odds of generating results.

Second, do some research and learn whether or not your genre and style of music already have a sizeable fanbase in the countries you’re considering.

If you’re a rock band and there isn’t much of an audience for the genre at large, then odds are you’re not going to see outsized results.

And third, always—and I mean always—use a conversion campaign when targeting any country outside of those 13 “Tier 1” countries.

If you don’t, your ads will end up getting “botted” by nasty little programs designed to click on ads and free up ad space for competitors.

It’s a weird and dirty practice, but it’s real.

Going global with your ads, if anything, is a time to be even more thoughtful than usual about who you’re targeting and why.

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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