Grow Your Spotify Followers with ToneDen

It’s been over two years since I wrote How To Promote Your Music with Facebook Ads, and it’s still one of the most popular articles on the site.

I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’m still learning! The truth is, the platform is constantly evolving, along with the Ads Manager interface. It’s hard to keep up!

What if, instead of babysitting your ads every day, you could automate the entire process, and get even better results?

Such is the promise of ToneDen, a social marketing platform built for music promotion.

Want to sell tickets through Instagram Stories? Grow your presence on YouTube? Get SoundCloud followers by offering a free download?

Whatever your music marketing goal, ToneDen likely has a ready-made campaign for it, which they call a “playbook.”

I took their Spotify Growth for Artists playbook for a spin, which uses Instagram Stories ads to direct listeners to your artist profile. After a week when the campaign completed, I followed it up with a near-identical campaign directly on Ads Manager for comparison’s sake.

Setting Up Your ToneDen Campaign

It took mere minutes to get my campaign off the ground. It seriously couldn’t be easier.

After connecting your ad account and choosing the correct Facebook and Instagram pages, you select your artist page on Spotify and enter similar artists. ToneDen pulls the Fans Also Like for those artists and scans for matching interests in Facebook.

ToneDen Spotify Artists and Generated Interests

As I’ve lamented previously, there are no good synthwave targets. Still, I was surprised when ToneDen didn’t pull in anything from Depeche Mode.

I ended up targeting Depeche Mode, Synthesizer, Retrogaming, and Synthwave. Yes, Synthwave is targetable as an interest, but Audience Insights puts it at only 1 – 1.5K people in the US.

I didn’t come up with Synthesizer and Retrogaming on a whim. I’ve tested them extensively in the past and they consistently deliver. At this point, my ad account is pretty well seasoned regardless.

Next you’ll set a geographic target, when the option becomes available. For now we’re stuck with all 70+ Spotify countries worldwide.

Enter a daily budget (I went with the minimum $5), then design your ad! There’s even a video tutorial with best practices right on the page.

ToneDen design Instagram Story ad interface

Here’s what I whipped up in less than 10 minutes, using video from beeple.

In retrospect, I should’ve gone for more contrast between the type, logo, and video. Whatcha gonna do.

The audio segment, on the other hand, was already thoroughly tested in my playlist promotion campaign. I don’t know why the last two lines of a verse going into an instrumental coda works, but it does!

Review, confirm, and you’re done! ToneDen schedules the campaign, and with any luck, the ads will be approved by Facebook before it goes live.

My ToneDen Spotify Followers Campaign Results

I won’t keep you in suspense.

I got 102 new followers for $30, or $0.29 per follower.

ToneDen Spotify Followers Campaign Results

Keep in mind that ToneDen isn’t able to filter out organic growth, which historically is about 15 followers per week.

My first impression was — that’s really, really good.

I’ve experimented with direct to song campaigns through Feature.fm, and ended up paying more than $0.29 per click to Spotify. And that’s just to get a user there in the first place, much less to listen or follow!

There’s one key difference though: geographic targeting.

My direct to song campaigns were targeted to the countries where most of my fans are: US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Sweden. All of them are relatively expensive countries to advertise to.

ToneDen breaks up the Spotify countries into three different tiers, and then continually optimizes the ad spend based on each tier’s performance.

In the end, 40% of my budget went to Tier 1 countries, 40% to Tier 2, and 20% to Tier 3. So what does that look like in practice?

Not what I expected. Turns out Brazil is a Tier 1 country.

I have nothing against Brazil, but considering that US clicks cost 3-4x, I wonder if they really belong in the same tier.

Another consideration is that I can’t ship merch to fans in Brazil. There’s no First Class International option from the US, so it currently costs $33.75 to mail a 3 oz CD in digipak.

Argentina? $119.20.

I learned this just the other day when a fan in Colombia ordered my CD and I had to refund her money.

With that in mind, I’m not sure Brazil and Argentina are the best countries for me to invest in.

ToneDen argues otherwise in their Spotify Promotion Guide.

Going global is especially important because it allows us to tap into Spotify’s 240 million listeners for worldwide, affordable engagement. Labels and artist managers who only promote their music in the US, the UK, and Australia, where royalty rates are high, miss out. Spotify’s algorithm doesn’t put a premium on streams from the US over streams from Turkey: user engagement is valued equally. Less expensive user engagement gets you on algorithmic playlists just the same as more expensive user engagement.

Would massive engagement from Brazil and Argentina put me on the Discover Weekly playlists of US listeners?

I don’t know, and I’m not sure the hypothesis is even testable given the data that Spotify provides.

Could I Get More Spotify Followers Myself?

Honestly, I didn’t expect the campaign to work as well as it did. I knew I’d get some streams, but without a clear call to action, I didn’t expect many new followers. Maybe it would be worth testing an alternate ad that includes “follow for new songs” or something like that.

ToneDen is limited to interest targeting. You’ll recall that I targeted Depeche Mode, Synthesizer, Retrogaming, and Synthwave.

But I had a better audience up my sleeve — the lookalike I’ve been using to build my Spotify playlist. One that I wagered could handily beat ToneDen’s results, in an admittedly unfair fight.

Instead of targeting all Spotify countries, I split my $5 a day between two groups: US and Brazil + Argentina + Mexico + Chile. It’s the same setup I’ve been using in my playlist campaign.

I got 54 new followers for $35, or $0.65 per follower.

Yeah, I accidentally ran it a day longer than my ToneDen campaign.

So, ToneDen wins? Yes, I suppose it does.

I admit defeat, but I didn’t lose by much once you factor in geography:

My Spotify Followers Campaign

My cost per click for the four Spanish speaking countries was actually slightly better. The biggest difference is that I devoted half of my budget to the US.

ToneDen Spotify Growth for Artists Conclusion

ToneDen’s Spotify Growth for Artists playbook is the best way to get Spotify followers that I’ve tested so far.

Compare my organic follower growth vs. the ToneDen campaign vs. my own lookalike campaign:

Spotify for Artists Follower Growth

The real beauty of the method is that people follow entirely of their own volition. They aren’t being forced to follow in order to download a track or pre-save an upcoming release.

Should you try it?

If you accept ToneDen’s premise that user engagement is valued equally, then absolutely! If you have reason to suspect otherwise, let us know in the comments.

They were kind enough to provide Passive Promotion readers with a discount code. If you sign up, I’ll earn a small commission, which will go toward future experiments!

New users get a 7-day free trial plus 10% off any subscription using code COLORTHEORY10 here.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep testing! I just launched a new campaign with different targets and four different ads.

Have you tried ToneDen? Share your results in the comments!

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Brian Hazard

Brian Hazard

Catch more of my promotional escapades in my How I’m Promoting My Music This Month email newsletter.

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104 Responses

  1. Sounds good…. I will check it out! At present I am trying the Indiepreneur, John Gold and Carl Hitchbrooke methods (all the same but with slightly different angles), but I am failing due to a lack of time in sitting down and going through the courses and digesting the info – it’s all so overwhelming and time consuming. Reading your review these sounds quicker. In your opinion, is this method better than those courses or is it an ‘add-on’ to complement them? Does this bypass them? Or have I completely misunderstood the method?!

    1. You’re a trooper! I haven’t heard of Carl Hitchbrooke. Maybe it would be better to test those three methods sequentially, starting with whichever one is easier to implement and/or looks the most promising.

      Actually, I’d suggest trying ToneDen to get a baseline, since it’ll take you less than a half-hour, and then see if you can beat it with the other systems.

      Is ToneDen better? That’s a tough one. If you don’t factor in the work of setting up your ads manually, ToneDen’s current lack of geographic fine-tuning, and the subscription cost, they are theoretically equal.

      In other words, ToneDen isn’t doing anything that you couldn’t do for yourself if you had the time, knowledge, and inclination.

      That said, I know I’m not going to be entering in 70+ countries into Ads Manager anytime soon!

      Ultimately it comes down to whether or not you subscribe to their global approach. I really can’t say if becoming an algorithmic superstar in Brazil will get me on US Discover Weekly playlists. For now, I’m taking their word for it!

    2. I got the name wrong – it’s Carl Hitchborn AKA ‘The Baker’. who had some success taking an unknown British band from obscurity to stardom by throwing everything at FB ads and has similar courses on FB ads and Spotify to the other courses that you have covered before. The methods all use FB ads but as you know by doing Indiepreneur and Gold – there are unique tweaks to each and a different philosophy (one favours not making ads look like ads or using buttons, and the other does the opposite). If this ToneDen takes away the need for me to have to do all the trainings and clumsily execute them as I have been doing then I welcome it because not all of us can easily grasp the steps in the training and run the campaigns correctly (I am always messing up somewhere and not getting any results but I do know that I am the one making errors…). I need to study it a bit and see how much it costs overall but as always, if I do it, I shall report back my experience!!! Learning so much from you and always happy to read a new review!

    3. Haven’t heard of him either! 😉

      To be fair, Indepreneur favors not using buttons for fan finders in particular, as they’re supposed to look organic.

      A bunch of ToneDen’s playbooks look promising to me! Might as well do the free 7-day trial and see how you do. The most you stand to lose is the ad spend.

    1. It’s all done on your ad account, which is what you want because 1) you can see everything, and steal what works for future campaigns, and 2) it helps season your account, which will improve performance over time.

  2. I tried one of those $497 webinar things where you watch several vids on how to do this very thing (with Facebook ads). It didn’t go so well for me (it’s very possible I didn’t let it ride long enough to pick up steam). But, I did see an Instagram story of one of the teachers driving around in a new Tesla about a month later. All kidding aside, I’m sure it worked (and still does) for some.

    It seems that Toneden makes it hard to screw this up. Maybe I’ll give this a shot sometime. I know using your code won’t give you $497, Brian – but, I’ll still try to win us a prize on Instagram!

    1. It’s gotta happen eventually!

      Yeah, they idiot-proofed it pretty well. The only place you could possibly make a blunder is in selecting your targets, and they make you click a box confirming that the targets are valid.

  3. It seems like a really cool service. I just started my 7 day trial. Let me get this straight though. You have to pay for the ads on top of the cost of the subscription? That’s pretty steep. so you pay either $50 or $100 and then you have to add on the playbook features for another $50? Brian, I’ve been on your mailing list for a very long time. I really appreciate what you are doing for the music community. Thanks so much!! -JOHN-

    1. You’re welcome!

      To be fair, Facebook charges for the ads, not ToneDen. The $50 Basic Plan is good for up to $500 per month in ad spend, so there’s no reason to go higher than that.

      As for adding the playbook features, I’m not sure how that works! It’s not mentioned in their pricing breakdown here: https://www.toneden.io/pricing

  4. So I signed up and started my free trial. Facebook shut my ad account down due to suspicious activity and apparently I violated some sort of policy. I responded and told them what I was doing with Toneden. Doesn’t seem to be helping the situation. Do you know of anyone else having this sort fo issue??

    1. That’s a big yikes! No, I don’t know of anyone who’s had that issue. I hope you contacted ToneDen support? There’s a little help popup thing on the site.

      I’m running three different types of campaigns through ToneDen right now with no problems.

  5. I have some questions:

    1. Is it even a good idea to do this because of the international bots across the world?
    2. Would I be better off just running my own ads if it has a similar cost per click, but a much higher cost per follower?
    3. If I’m a U.S artist, should I only target the U.S. even if there is a much higher cost per click?
      1. I’m no security expert, but I don’t see any particular country running so far ahead of the others to suspect that bots are involved. Especially when I can see that the clicks translate to new followers.

      2. I wonder why, all other things being equal, your cost per click would be the same but your cost per follower higher. You’d have to do the math and compare your ad spend to the cost of a ToneDen subscription, and the convenience of having the ad sets automatically optimize.

      3. ToneDen’s assertion, and I’ve heard it in other places too, is that you’ll end up paying less for US plays by growing a worldwide audience. In any case, you wouldn’t JUST target the US. Indepreneur talks about “green light countries” that have higher rates per stream, which would add maybe 15 more like UK, Australia, Germany, etc.

  6. So, to be clear, this company can’t do a campaign on Instagram? If it can’t be done on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook!)… I just can’t be bothered.

    1. Actually, it wasn’t unclear… but the ToneDen site gives misleading prompts where that’s concerned (if you haven’t used Facebook Ads before). Anyhow, I despise Facebook – I avoid it at almost all costs – and apparently you have to create an Ad Account in FB to use ToneDen in IG. Ok, fine, well… when I tried to create an Ad Account in FB it was a total disaster. I got a ways down the rabbit hole, got verifications, payment info input, etc etc, then… a couple of hours of error messages, then finally figured out that I needed to verify some business account info, and then after I did all of that I got an “Ad Account Disabled” message. So, to be clear, my Ad Account has been disabled before it’s ever been used… one time. Brilliant. So, I clicked on a “Review Status” button that I assume will never get tended to by even some faceless drone. So, I’m done with this thing before I even began. What a collosal waste of time – all Facebook’s fault, to be clear.

    2. Hi David. I had a bad experience too. I already had an ad account. When Toneden set up the ad my ad account got shut down for suspicious activity. No matter what I told fb they just kept telling me there was suspicious activity and some policy violated. I had to reset my pw and verify my account. When ToneDen got back to me they said that fb can be a pain in the but and that they seem to randomly flag accounts using Toneden. I gave up. I didn’t want to go through that again.

    3. Thanks for that John. Obviously, I didn’t know that. One more reason to move along. Nothing’s worth having your account locked/blocked/disabled/etc. Unfortunately, FB/IG is slowly winning the war of essentially not letting anyone but themselves do anything for your account marketing-wise. They just keep making it harder and harder for (inexpensive) third-party vendors to work through your account. Eventually I imagine they’ll find a way to keep almost all of them out, although it will take a few years. Then things will get really expensive.

    4. My ads account has been active for many years, and was created in a more relaxed political and social environment. FB must be working harder than ever this election season to ensure that advertisers are legit.

      I understand your frustration, but it’s by far the best ad platform in the world right now. It’s going to be hard to reach potential new fans without it, ToneDen or no.

  7. Trevor again:
    I think because the countries toneden uses cheaper cost per click countries (like u said 3-4x) so it was the same cost per click in my Facebook Ad Manager. But when it came to how many total clicks, it might have been a lot more with those cheaper countries? Does that make sense, and if im wrong let me know.

    Also, doesn’t indiepreneur also talk about AVOIDING SKETCHY TRAFFIC, PERIOD? If that makes sense?

    1. I’m not sure I understand your cost per click situation, but what we really want to measure is cost per follower.

      You’re correct that Indepreneur would not recommend this method. That said, they talk about seeing particular countries completely dominate an ad set. I’m definitely watching for that and haven’t seen it. My feeling is, if I’m getting the followers, it’s legit.

  8. My cost per click situation is that when i check Facebook Ad Manager, the price is the same, $0.20 on my personal ad set and on the toneden ad set, but the cost per follower is WAY higher on my own ad sets (i.e. i got less followers).

    1. In other words, a higher percentage of people who click through from the ToneDen ad choose to follow you. It sounds like the targeting you entered in ToneDen (or ToneDen selected for you) is a better match. If you’re using the exact same targets, try checking the “Detailed Targeting Expansion” box on your own ads. I notice ToneDen uses it by default.

      It also sounds like your ad(s) could use improvement, considering I’m currently getting clicks at $0.09.

  9. Hi Brian! What’s the chance ToneDen is not using bots? I mean, the cost per follower is really low especially for being a single cold campaign instead of an actual funnel with brand awareness and a couple of retargeting campaigns. Assuming those new followers are real, what’s the likelihood they’ll stick around and become true fans?

    1. ToneDen is positively not using bots. They use your own Facebook Ads account, and you can monitor everything yourself. The likelihood listeners will stick around depends on how much they like your music. Or to frame it another way, how good your targeting is. Unlike running your own ads straight to Spotify links, FanBridge uses a redirect page that tracks visitors through your Facebook pixel, so you can retarget that audience with other campaigns.

  10. I know you said “My feeling is, if I’m getting the followers, it’s legit..”

    But do you think that even if you are getting followers, there’s still a chance it could be bots though???

    1. Maybe it’s a lack of imagination on my part, but I can’t envision a bot that would swipe up on your Spotify story, open Spotify, and click the follow button. My streams are going up accordingly too.

    1. When you create an ad from a post, you can choose whether or not you want to add a button. A “listen now” button on a post is an obvious sign that it’s an ad, which for the purpose of a fan finder, we want to avoid.

  11. Thanks so much Brian for all the work you do to help the indie musician community!!!

    What really needs to be said clearly is:
    No course, no service, literally nothing will ever work for someone, when
    1. Music is not good
    2. Visual is not appealing
    3. Targeting is wrong (and I feel that’s the hardest thing)

    So many artists are disappointed from the courses, tutorials and strategies out there, because the guys selling the courses do not tell you absolutely clear that the strategy will not work for everyone the same way!

  12. Was having fun playing with the free trial this week – I actually really like this ‘Facebook Ads for Dummies’ approach – lets you get stuff up quick without second guessing yourself, and look each day at the sloping graphics instead of scrolling for numbers in FB ads manager… much easier on the eyes.

    Was all about to get started with a subscription… then… uuuup, $50 more for the ‘spotify playbook’ (I sortta though that was the whole point here?!) hmmm, well, yeah hmmmm, ok I could do it for a month at least…. ..uuuuuuup! a separate fee for EACH FB page… …ahhhh, I was playing around with 4 different projects – would be $400 to continue this way…
    …so, i guess i’ll be reverse engineering what they’re doing for now…
    …no more ‘Facebook Ads for Dummies’ for me :/

    1. mmm, no, may have got that wrong, i think you CAN access different FB page accounts to advertise from on one Toneden account… i’m still looking into it, they make it all pretty convenient setting up the fanlink trip page and everything else. and i think their argument about avoiding bots by using ‘conversions’ traffic is convincing (on account of that ‘conversion’ leads are usually ‘higher quality’ and bots are almost never ‘higher quality’ leads… probably bots don’t like to spend money or put in CC numbers i guess… )

    2. I only set up one account, but I remember being able to select from multiple. Yep, it’s pretty convenient! And the conversions campaigns have been working well for me. If you don’t want to pay the extra $50, you could just use whatever base tier they offer and set up a Smart Link to run your conversions ads.

  13. Hi Brian, another great review. I have a newbie question, apologies if this is a stupid question, but I assume if you don’t have a FB account then you cannot use this service at all correct? Thanks a lot!

  14. “If you don’t want to pay the extra $50, you could just use whatever base tier they offer and set up a Smart Link to run your conversions ads.”

    I don’t think you can set up conversion based ads inside of toneden unless you use the growth playbook?
    If i do this Brian will i be more likely to get bots since this is no longer a conversion but a link click? Or will the landing page mitigate the bots?

    1. No, you can still set up conversion based ads. I’ve got two running right now! I just copied ToneDen’s ad structure, which you could do with the free trial.

  15. Thanks again Brian for the reply. Yes I could open a FB account but do you have to be active on it at all? I don’t have any intention of having any kind of brand “presence” on FB or Insta. I only am on youtube for my music videos. I would only make an “empty” FB account for this sole purpose, just so I can try this service out, and just try and direct people to my spotify or youtubechannel or website. But just wondering if that is even possible or would that cause me issues. Do the ads try and direct the person to your FB or insta page or directly to your spotify? Just not sure how much control you have in that area as would hate to direct people to a blank FB page. Sorry for the newbie questions, as you can likely tell I have no experience with FB or insta , thanks Brian!

    1. For all its evils, Facebook’s ad platform is the best in the world for reaching your potential fans. You want to have a presence on FB and IG because people will click through to your profile from the ads, and if they don’t see a living breathing human being that they can relate to, they’re not going to become invested.

      As for the ads, you can direct people wherever you want. If you want to send them directly to Spotify, Instagram Stories ads are probably your best bet.

  16. When you say you “just copied ToneDen’s ad structure, which you could do with the free trial.” Are you saying that you made a free trial with Toneden, and then copied the ad structure over from the FB Manager itself so you can run ads in perpetuity without paying for it?

    If so what is the conversion event? Is it “view content” because i cant seem to link the landing page straight thru facebook, but the “per conversion” event is automatic with the playbook.

    1. Actually, I set up my own campaigns to see if I could beat ToneDen, which I wasn’t quite able to do. I think the key difference is that they split the countries into three tiers and dynamically adjust the budget.

      I remember setting up the custom conversion required a lot of trial and error, but yes, it’s View Content with the rule “URL equals” your Smart Link. You can use that configuration to run any campaign using a ToneDen Smart Link to pixel users on the way.

  17. If im either way im sending people to a fanlink landing page when running an ad, does it matter if i pick conversions or link clicks?

    1. It does! You’re sending people through the ToneDen Smart Link to Spotify, pixelling them along the way so you can retarget them later. A conversion event tells Facebook that user actually viewed the content, beyond just clicking the link.

  18. Hi, I want to try Toneden but can I ask for how many days did you keep paying 5$?
    And for 7 days good and give good profit for the next promotion?, Because I am student and I don’t work haha.

    1. I’m still doing it, now $6 a day. Today my playlist has 9.1K followers.

      There’s no way the money from the streams is paying for the promotion. Maybe 5% of it at best, unless you could SubmitHub, but that’s work!

  19. Hi Brian — this is an excellent write-up, and the “paint by numbers” approach from ToneDen finally prompted me to jump in & experiment w/ ads. Just ran a ToneDen Spotify followers campaign and am now trying a non-ToneDen playlist campaign inspired by your post from May.

    What’re your thoughts on executing a non-ToneDen Spotify followers campaign that’s setup through URLgenius vs. a ToneDen smartlink? URLgenius seems cheaper than paying $50/month to access ToneDen’s smartlinks, and it looks like there’s a way to setup FB pixels & conversion tracking w/ URLgenius, though it’s going to require me putting on my IT hat.

    1. Great question Joe! I use ToneDen for the pixel. I suppose you could just create a ToneDen Smart Link to URLgenius and kill two birds with one stone. Please let us know what you find out!

    2. Hi all — wanted to follow-up and say I’ve had pretty good luck w/ the URL Genius pixeling operation. URL Genius somewhat recently launched a beta feature where you can add a FB pixel to any of your custom deeplinks. The (slight) catch is that you need to add a CNAME record to remap a subdomain (preferably from your artist website) to your URL Genius link . . . no extra cost, but takes a bit of Googling to get it right. I’m probably butchering the technical terms, but the URL Genius team can help out if you get stuck. We’ve created separate pixels to track both playlist building campaigns and direct to Spotify profile campaigns. I’m going to experiment with creating LAL audiences once I get enough conversions, but we’re at pretty affordable results right now ($.12/click for US + UK + Canada + Australia, $.09/click for western Europe, and $.05/click for LATAM). It’ll be interesting to see if the LAL audiences can beat those CPCs.

    3. Great stuff Joe!

      I can totally do the CNAME thing, but routing through ToneDen is working fine for me now, so I’m in no rush. That’s wonderful news though!

      Why would you create separate pixels? Can’t you just track the same pixel by URL?

      Your costs are pretty similar to mine. Please keep us posted on the LAL!

    4. That’s a good question, and maybe my strategy is a little off, but my thinking was that I want to keep people specifically clicking or interacting with our band (via a website visit, deeplink, and/or ad where we’re front and center) separate from those clicking through our playlist campaigns (trying to build a couple nice playlists to own for future releases & so we have a couple for SubmitHub). I see these audiences as being different degrees of warmth that I may run different campaigns against in the future, and my interest targeting is different enough that it seemed like the right approach. I could also just be splitting my dollars . . . I guess we’ll find out in the future!

    5. That makes sense! I figure the people I’m targeting for my playlist are close enough to my artist demographic that it’s good training for the ads algorithm regardless.

      Even if you use the same pixel, you can still target audiences from those campaigns separately by creating an audience based on a custom conversion.

  20. Hey y’all – wanted to share so helpful tips based on some comments in the thread.

    ToneDen is a Facebook Marketing Partner. We are listed in Facebook’s partner directory here:
    https://www.facebook.com/business/partner-directory/details?id=1475983562518583

    The reality is that Facebook disables ad accounts by mistake quite often.

    Facebook is overly precautious on flagging ad accounts that may violate their advertising policies.

    They use a combination of algorithms and humans to determine if an ad account is violating their policy.
    More often than not, the algorithms get things wrong. They then rely on humans to fix the mistake. This is why the appealing process is so strenuous.

    This isn’t a problem that’s unique to ToneDen. If you visit YouTube and search ‘disabled facebook ad account’, you’ll get an idea of the scope of the problem.

    Facebook will easily un-disable an ad account if you reach out and send an appeal to them.

    We have a step-by-step video on how to do so here: https://youtu.be/OVMY3FJn5p8

    What’s funny is that we have people who don’t use our product comment on how helpful the video was!

  21. Hey Brian, did I read correctly you’re using ToneDen for an ad campaign for your playlist? Can you explain how you set that up? I am trying out their Growth Playbook but it’s just going directly to my Artist page. I appreciate if you can be detailed on how you set up a campaign for your playlist through ToneDen.

  22. Hi Brian, thanks for all your great articles, I’ve enjoyed a few of them by now. I’m confused about something: when my free trial period ends, can i keep my ads going without Toneden or will they disappear from my FB ads account? Can i keep using them with the “Basic” $50 plan? Or do I have to pay another $50 on top of that for the spotify playbook campaigns?

    1. Sorry for the delay Noel! I reached out to ToneDen the day you posted your comment but haven’t heard back yet. I’m fairly certain they won’t disappear from your account, but even if you extend the end date directly in Ads Manager, you won’t have the tracking and budget automation.

  23. “but even if you extend the end date directly in Ads Manager, you won’t have the tracking and budget automation.”

    But can you just click “budget optimization” inside Facebook Ads Manager?
    What do you mean by “tracking” automation? Wont facebook track it anyway?

    Thanks again Brian

    1. Facebook’s budget optimization is optimizing for conversions (link clicks). ToneDen could be optimizing for Spotify follows, though I guess they don’t know which ad group the follow came from, so maybe not.

      As for tracking, I mean ToneDen keeps track of your Spotify growth. Of course, you can do that manually if you make a habit of it!

  24. I actually managed to get my facebook ad account squared away and functioning. I started using ToneDen which appears to work ok. Problem is that my FB ad account got disabled shortly after starting with ToneDen. I appealed and it was re-enabled. A few days later, disabled. Appealed and it was re-enabled. Few days later, disabled. I emailed ToneDen and said, basically, “This isn’t worth it – get your sh1t together.” They acknowledged they were having a widespread problem with facebook and were trying to work with them to remedy it. Neither company seems to know what the problem is. I just said let me know when you’ve figured it out because it’s too much hassle as it is. ToneDen is capable of working well… but they’ve gotta fix that glitch first.

    1. I suspect that because you’ve been using FB for ads for a long time, your account is less sensitive to third-party use. So, your account has “aged” and is less likely to face issues. I suspect the issue is with newer accounts that haven’t aged as much and since ToneDen’s service is kinda sorta new-ish it’s triggering something inside FB. Anyhow, I don’t know. All I know is that they’re trying to fix it because lots of customers are facing the same issue. We’ll see what happens.

  25. I’m very confused by ToneDen. It seems like I would paying for a monthly subscription in order to able to then pay to advertise with them. I guess I don’t get why you just can’t pay to run campaigns with them and not pay a monthly subscription fee? Is the fee because they have kind of fine tuned the process of using Facebook ads? Sorta like paying someone to come over and do your laundry even though you’re perfectly capable of doing it but just don’t want to? I may be missing something very obvious but I just keep reading what you get with a subscription and it says “$500 max monthly ad spend”. So if I pay $50 I can then spend up to $500 on ads? Why is there even a cap at all if you are paying for it out of pocket? I’m not even trying to be sarcastic. I just don’t understand it at all. I think your articles are great and very helpful but ToneDen’s business model seems to me like going to Six Flags Magic Mountain and paying to get in but then you still have to pay for each ride.

    1. That’s how Disneyland was in the old days! I think my Dad has some “E” tickets lying around somewhere.

      That’s not how I see this though. It’s like if you hired me to manage your Facebook ads for you. You’d have to pay me my fee, plus Facebook for the ads. And if you wanted me to manage a huge ad account (over $500/month, say), I might charge you a higher fee.

      I’m not sure I needed an analogy, but it makes perfect sense to me.

      So to answer your question about why you can’t just pay to run campaigns, it’s because ToneDen wouldn’t make any money, and they are a for-profit enterprise like the rest of us.

    1. But there isnt a real human that manually manages it is there? I would love someone to do the indiepreneur stuff on my behalf but if Toneden is a computer programme doing it automatically don’t you lose some important decisions that only a human can make or does it replace an ad manager well enough?

      I have been quietly following the Toneden threads weighing up if it is worth it for me or not, I can’t gauge if you need the prior knowledge that Indiepreneur or Gold give you or if Toneden replaces all that?

    2. You can get help from a real human, but the platform is automated. I’d say for this specific purpose, ToneDen replaces Indepreneur. That said, it would be helpful to have some good interest targets going in!

  26. Hey Brian

    This post/experiment of yours has been invaluable, thank you! I tried the Toneden trial and ended up subscribing with your code (thanks for that too!). I’ve tried manual Facebook/Instagram advertising on and off over the last 3 years or so and it’s just been a confusing, expensive mess for the most part. For the first time, through Tonden, I’m actually getting results, which is encouraging.

    My problem is that my cost per follower is around $1 (I’m about 2 weeks into my campaign at a budget of $5 a day). Toneden support said that that is the average for an artist my size. And according to my campaign rating it’s performing “well” or as expected. I don’t disagree, but if I look at your results and at some of their case studies, I feel that there is definitely a lot of room to improve. I’d love to get more bang for my buck.

    Obviously it depends on so many things (good music, good ads, good social media presentation etc) and it’s different for everyone, but I followed all their guidelines, I feel my Spotify page looks (and sounds) good. I’ve consistently releasing (downtempo electronic) music since 2013 so I have a decent back catalog. I used to be a video editor so I spent a lot of time and edited 3 (decent) different “music video type” 15 sec videos using my latest single. I followed their targeting guides but I’m still not managing to get my cost per follower under a dollar.

    I’m reasonably certain that my ads are good. The top performing one has an almost perfect rating on Toneden (in all 3 tiers) so I think my problem is targeting. In the Toneden tutorials, regardless of genre, they basically recommend: 3-5 main Spotify artists to target (including yourself), then as far as additional or general “interest” targeting goes, you should add: 2 music genres, 1 to 2 additional main artist targets and then a further 3 to 10 similar artists. That’s about 14 general targets (max)?

    I’ve done all that but I’m suspecting that my targeting is too broad? I’m not sure how broad you went but from the article and the screen shot you included, it doesn’t seem nearly that broad? Is what you showed and mentioned in the article pretty much all you entered as targets? You really just included about 4 general interests apart from the 3 targeted Spotify artists? I’ve tweaked my targets slightly, a bit more focused, but still according to the Toneden recommendations as mentioned (I have a total of 13 general targets + 3 Spotify targets) and I’m not seeing better results really. Still the same. I’m thinking of scaling way back similar to what you did (as I do operate in mainly niche genres: downtempo, lo-fi, instrumental electronic music)…just thought I’d ask. Any tips with regards to targeting would be appreciated!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Paul!

      I notice that ToneDen always enables Detailed Targeting Expansion, which will broaden your reach even if your targeting is very narrow. With that in mind, I’d rather go too narrow than too broad!

      Yep, my targets were just Depeche Mode, Synthesizer, Retrogaming, and Synthwave. Even that is probably too broad, but given time, Facebook will figure it out and hone in on your target audience automatically.

      I’ve had luck with all sorts of different targeting, including super duper ultra narrow! But with Detailed Targeting Expansion enabled. Lookalike audiences have also performed well, as have simple broad audiences like Retrogaming + Spotify.

      Which unfortunately means I don’t have any simple rules of thumb for you to follow! Just keep testing, and apply what you’ve learned from other campaigns. Over time your Facebook ad account will season itself and, assuming you’re trying to reach the same sorts of people, start to reach those people with less direction on your part.

  27. This is what the automated thingy says about my ad “This ad set isn’t generating enough views content to exit the learning phase. This usually occurs when your ad set is limited by audience size, cost control, budget or other settings. Consider making changes to your ad set to improve performance.” I just left it alone cuz I used the same budget you did and you got really good results.

    1. You’ll need to do some experimentation to get your cost per follower down, because $4.50 just isn’t worth it. Your ad set will never optimize because you’re not able to get 50 clicks per week with your current budget. If it were performing well, I’d say to just up the budget, but in your case, I think you need to go back to the drawing board.

  28. I think part of the problem is ToneDen has automatically put in over thirty different bands based off what I put in (initially three). I just left them because I figured it knew what it was doing. But in your article you targeted much less. I’ve done much better when I’ve created campaigns myself. The reach is like 30,000,000 million people. I went back to the drawing board as you suggested and this time it’s even running worse than my other one…lolololol
    I re-did the ads, etc. Thought I did pretty good but apparently not really. I think I’ll go back to the drawing board again.

    1. I’d say 1-5M reach is a safe bet. 30M is too broad. Make sure you give your ads time to optimize before drawing any conclusions! Assuming you’re getting enough conversions to optimize, that is.

  29. Yeah I botched these ads. Gained two followers and had like zero uptick on Spotify. When ToneDen added thirty bands (based on my initial three) I just went with it as I felt I was following their lead but I think it just really muddied everything up. I’m gonna try some of the playlist advertising that you did in yer other tutorial. Maybe I’ll do better with that!! I have found advertising my songs to be the hardest part of music promotion. I also think I don’t know what to even compare my results to but when there is no uptick on Spotify at all clearly something isn’t working.

    1. Make sure you still go through the tags they add to make sure they are relevant to your sound. It added a whole bunch of stuff based on the artists I added that I felt were inaccurate. I removed those. It’s just guessing based on your input, I think you should still double check everything. Hope that helps!

  30. Thanks Brian, that does help. Thanks for your insight. It’s encouraging to hear that the Facebook algorithm should automatically improve my performance as well. I didn’t even think of that…crazy.

    I’m going to keep testing and playing around. I think I’m going to try something a lot more narrow and see what happens. I think I’m going to need to wean myself off of Toneden eventually ($100 a month subscription is a lot for me) because I want to keep doing this long term, but I need to educate myself on the manual Facebook ads more. I find the ad manager pretty intimidating at this point, haha. I want to see what works best with Toneden’s help and then I want to recreate those ads manually eventually.

    One other thing I wanted to ask if you don’t mind…how long would you say is enough time to keep the ads running before making tweaks? How many days to give it time to optimise or to draw conclusions from?

    If things improve, I’ll share. Hopefully it helps some of the other guys on here…

    1. Yeah, $100 a month is a pretty penny for us DIY indies.

      I suggest not touching your ads for three days if you have the self-control. It depends on your budget too At $5 a day, that may not be long enough to optimize. At $50 a day, you may want to pull the plug early if it’s not working at all.

    1. I just found this thread, very interesting, thanks Brian and everyone for all the insight. I have been running Toneden spotify growth ads for about three months and my spotify followers have increased beyond my wildest hopes. Instagram and You Tube as well and it seems legit, these people engage, leave comments and follow on several platforms. Just recently though, and I mean very recently, I think they were doing some tech admin and the campaign just kind of stopped working. So for anyone who has recently started a campaign, if you’re not getting the results you expect, you should just check that it’s actually working properly. From my experience, Toneden support is friendly, thorough and prompt.

    2. I have been following the whole thread and was still on the fence, but Lucinda’s account has pushed me more towards exploring it as her results sound great too (along with Brian’s).

      I just wanted to ask Lucinda (if she doesn’t mind me asking) – prior to using ToneDen, did you do any of the courses on FB advertising first that Brian has done (Indiepreneur, John Gold, or others like Carl H etc), and did you have knowledge or did you just go straight into ToneDen and just follow the instructions? (trying to ascertain what level of experience is required with ads).

      Also, did you have an existing fan base or were you starting from the ground up? (again, just to ascertain its success, as I do know that Brian was already successfully building a fan base from before and wasn’t starting from zero so I would like to know from someone who is starting from zero if they get results as that is where I am despite signing up for all the FB ad courses!!!).

      Thanks to all who are contributing to the conversation.

      And, Lucinda, I do apologise if you do not go by ‘she/her’ and I have made a gross assumption from your name 🙁

  31. Hi Apostola, I am indeed a she/her – I appreciate you checking! Yes I am a big fan of Indepreneur and all their trainings and I followed their advice as best I could until earlier in the year when either facebook changed something in their ad platform or my brain just couldn’t handle it anymore but I couldn’t for the life of me get an ad to launch properly and then I stumbled upon Toneden and I thought I’d give it a try. The results were so good that I just carried on with them. It’s not cheap – you’re kind of paying for the privilege of not having to deal with facebook but it really is easy, very little brain power required, and the results were instant! Seemed almost too good to be true but I’m as sure as I can be that it’s legit – I didn’t just get a load of new spotify followers, the streams on all my songs increased, my instagram doubled, my you tube X5, and real people making playlists, doing insta stories about my music, leaving lovely comments – admittedly a lot of them in Spanish and Portuguese but I’m totally fine with that! I only just started releasing music in 2019 and before I started the Toneden campaign in June of this year I had a small fan base – 80 odd spotify followers, 500 instagram and about 50 you tube. My facebook was bigger but the reach now is so minimal that I find it’s not really worth bothering with. Hope that’s helpful, hit me up if you need more info.

  32. I thought I would just add this. I’ve literally just now been in contact with Toneden’s support because of my recent campaign that stopped working. They’ve sorted out the issue now but I did ask them whether there was any chance that my new followers could be bots and they said this:

    “We believe those followers aren’t bots for these reasons:

    Your ads are being run on Instagram via Stories in a variety of countries, with over 50% of your daily budget going towards relatively “expensive” countries from an advertising standpoint: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, etc. You are less likely to encounter bots with ads on a native advertising platform like Instagram than by advertising on display networks like Google AdSense.
    In order for the follow to occur, the user needs to have a Spotify account. If the followers were bots, not only would they need to already have an Instagram account, but they would also need to create a Spotify account AND perform a follow.
    After your campaign stops spending, you usually see a slight drop off in your daily stream count, but fans usually come back to stream again depending on how large your catalog is, which is inconsistent with bot behavior.”

    Thought that might be good to know!

  33. Hi Lucinda. Thanks for sharing! Yeah, I’ve also found that my Spotify profile overall has been doing good since I started my Spotify Playbook campaign 2 weeks ago. My monthly listeners and streams (not just my current single) are up daily and then obviously my followers too. It’s working slowly but surely for me…I just want to see if I can tweak it to perform even better.

    Do you mind elaborating on how you went about your Spotify campaign? I’m in the middle of making some tweaks and like I’ve discussed with Brian above, was wondering about targeting. You seem to be getting really good results right off the bat…do you mind sharing how broadly you targeted? Did you follow Toneden’s recommendations of 3-5 Spotify artists, 2 genres and then an additional 10 artists or whatever? Or did you go narrow like Brian? I’m just curious. I’m launching a much narrower campaign tomorrow to see if I get better results.

    Also, if you don’t mind me asking, are you doing $5 a day or more? Also, what music genre(s) are you in? Thanks!

    1. I am a complete newbie to all of this so please excuse my very basic questions. What does it mean when you set a $5 budget? Does the amount relate to the size of the audience to be targeted, the quality of the ads, or something else? What more do you get if you were to increase the budget? At $5 per day (at least, not even considering the monthly fee), how long do ad campaigns usually run especially if you are just starting out and aren’t making money from your music yet? If you can only afford 7 days per month for example, do you feel it is more effective to run a campaign for the 7 days every month, or run the ad longer like for a whole month but only do it 3x a year?

    2. A $5 budget means $5 spent per day, irrespective of the audience size or ad quality. If you increase the budget, you may reach more people, or you may just reach different people who cost more to put ads in front of.

      As for how often to run campaigns, it really depends how Spotify fits into your overall game plan. You might advertise for a week every month just to get a little social proof on your profile, or you might run ads continuously to gradually build your audience over time, like I’m doing.

  34. Hi Paul, firstly I’d be very wary of too much tweakage – if it ain’t broke…! I just changed a campaign that had been working really well for a few months in order to promote a new single release and the results have been poor. I don’t know if it was the tech glitch that they had recently, my creative or what. So I’m probably going to revert back to what was working before, bring people into the profile and let them discover the new single for themselves. In answer to your questions, my music is broadly pop music but with a retro sound, so old-school song-writing with a lot of 80s musical influences. I pretty much went with what they suggested, 3 artists which then generated a load of related artists, many of which I deleted so I was left with about 10 related artists. I didn’t put any genre interests and my spend fluctuated a bit but probably averaged out at about $10 a day.

    1. That is all very inspiring! Thanks for sharing. I signed up to Indieprenuer, Gold and Hitchborne and I am just paralysed watching all the vids and trying to implement everything – it’s too overwhelming and I just want to get on with the business of making music without having to spend so much more time and effort on the marketing!

      Even if ToneDen is more costly, if the results are worth it with the minimum of hassle, then it sounds like a very attractive way to go about things! I was just on the fence as there was the whole debate of the issues others are experiencing.

      I shall read Brian’s review again and try to absorb it all and give it a go!

      Thanks to all for the info and inspiration!

  35. My results are pretty non existent with ToneDen and I’m not gonna blame the service as my results when I do FB ads all by myself are usually kinda loathsome. But I am confident that I just have not figured out how to advertise properly in the given format even after watching all your videos…so I’m gonna keep on trying!!

    However, I am confused on ToneDen when I add the three recommended artists that it by default adds over forty artists to “Generated Interests”. I’m just wondering Brian if this happened to you? Looking at who you targeted obviously you did not add the automated Generated Interests. I’m just surprised at how many it adds by default. When I go in and take them all off, but then need to make changes… if I add another artist in the “Add Spotify Artist” area it immediately adds them all back again.

    The worldwide targeting seems to go against what Indiepreneur suggests (only targeting certain countries as there were so many bots). What do you think? I actually think ToneDen has a lot of really good suggestions for marketing so I’m not dissatisfied with it…I’m just puzzled with the sheer number of people it would be targeting if I left in all the Generated Interests in. Indiepreneur says an audience of around 2 million is good but one of my ToneDen audiences was like over 100 million.

    1. Correct, I didn’t add the (strongly) suggested interests. I imagine it’s the same recommendations Facebook suggests directly in Ads Manager.

      ToneDen should be targeting only Spotify countries, not worldwide. I believe that’s the way to go, despite Indepreneur’s recommendation to the contrary.

      On the other hand, their recommendation on ad reach is a good one! Maybe stick to 1-5M. 100M is a no-no for sure!

  36. Hey Brian, I tried playlist push as well and I was extremely disappointed as well. What a waste of money.

    I have to tell you though that I have a vocal synthwave track or two for your playlist, if you like them. I have a really hard time with promotion and SubmitHub has not worked out for me. I’m also incredibly poor, living in Canada with autism and on disability. Will you please consider my song? Professionally mixed and mastered. Here’s a link:

    https://open.spotify.com/track/5dSWERdbwkveTeRTmCk1M0

    1. Sorry to hear Playlist Push didn’t work out for you! Some people get lucky, some don’t. So yeah, a lot like SubmitHub.

      Speaking of which, that’s where I take all playlist submissions. I get about 15 a day and it’s pretty overwhelming. You’ll find me here.

      Since you spent hundreds on Playlist Push, I’m guessing you can afford the $2, but if that’s a genuine obstacle let me know!

  37. If I was doing electronic music I would totally submit to one of your playlists Brian mainly because you actually have real listeners. I’ve gotten on multiple playlists via SubmitHub and they have yielded almost nil streams. No one listens to the playlists I ended up on and its funny because they have hundreds, if not thousands of followers. It is very deflating to get picked for these curated playlists and then discover…wow…that did…nothing…lololololol. I’ve had better results with radio on SubmitHub.

    1. I just started using toneden.

      This campaign is performing great!
      You’ve added 152 new Spotify Followers and have only spent CA$23.67, at only CA$0.15 per new follower.
      That means for every CA$0.15 you spend, you are gaining one new fan on Spotify.

      I also see:
      75 clicks received so far, 0.32cents (cost per click) / 0.20% (click thru rate)

      So the stats aren’t right at tonden?
      I mean, it is not costing me 0.15cents a followers, as i have received only 75 clicks?
      Organic growth is kind of messing up the stats right?

      What’s your click thru rate guys?
      I find mine horrible but is it the way to go?

      Thanks

    2. Hey Andre. Those are some really good results. Congrats! Yeah, if you do the math manually the cost per follower numbers (and most of the other Toneden stats – now that I think about it) don’t really add up. Mine’s weird too. I’m not sure why that is…they do have quite a few display bugs still (which their support admitted to when I spoke to them) and this might be part of that? Regardless…

      I’ve gotten my cost per follower down from over a dollar when I started to about $0.70 (US) – about 5 weeks in. Narrowing my targets helped me. I’m curious if you don’t mind sharing…how many targets/interests did you add to your campaign? Did you go narrow like Brian or did you mostly follow the recommended Toneden amount (of around 14 interests including artists and genres). Also how many videos (did you A/B test)?

      Oh and seeing that you asked, the click through rate on my best performing campaign is 0.56%

    3. Only one video ad so far (no testing) I added only 3 main artists: Inxs and? Heck i don’t recall but it gave me a couple of matching artists from the eighties. I thought i could give a shot at this niche first. We are probably paying a lot more per follower than we think as i’m getting more and more traffic from playlists and other places. The problem with toneden is that we cannot know exactly

    4. That’s a Spotify reporting issue if anything. If they really wanted to, they could report where our traffic and followers are coming from. Toneden at least tracks your Spotify growth, whereas on Facebook you can only track clicks (conversions).

      CA$0.15 per follower is a steal! Even if only one of four followers is actually from your campaign, that’s still good.

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Brian Hazard is a recording artist with over twenty years of experience promoting eleven Color Theory albums, and head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.

His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion.

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