Spotify Marquee

I Take Back Everything I Said About Spotify Marquee

When Spotify launched Marquee two years ago, I was positively giddy. My first post on the subject proclaimed that it was even better than Meta ads.

Finally I had a way to reconnect with my listeners on Spotify, or at least those deemed part of my “reachable audience.”

That reachable audience quickly climbed from 2.1K to 4.4K listeners in the US. Despite the small audience size, I routinely managed to spend over $200 at $0.50 per click.

Today that same audience of previous listeners hovers around 23K, but Spotify no longer refers to them as my “reachable audience.” And for good reason! They’re no longer reachable.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

In January of 2023, with 28 Marquee campaigns under my belt, my follow-up post declared the contest between Marquee and Meta ads a toss-up.

I continued to pair every new release with a Marquee campaign, aiming for at least 2.5 streams per listener and a 25% or greater intent rate.

Today there’s no contest. Meta ads win by a mile.

If you’ve read this far and don’t know what Marquee is, it’s this:

Spotify Marquee

I describe the campaign type in excruciating detail here and share a monster spreadsheet of my results here.

When I saw Marquee had expanded it’s targeting options, I couldn’t wait to test it.

I’d been so busy with mixing and mastering work that I hadn’t written a new post in nearly two months. The combination of guilt and curiosity led me to splurge on a $500 campaign.

My results? Seriously disappointing. Why?

Spotify removed the ability to target my previous listeners.

When Marquee first launched, you could only target people who had already heard your music.

Today I have to target every Spotify user in the selected country. In other words, I have no targeting options at all.

Previously I was able to target an audience as small as 2.1K listeners. Now a custom audience of 90K in the US isn’t big enough.

Whichever combination of boxes I check, I’m met with “there aren’t enough listeners in your selection to meet campaign requirements.” I’m left with an audience size of 55.2 million.

55K previous listeners in Brazil and 33K in Mexico don’t cut it either, so I’m stuck with audiences of 18.6M and 15.1M respectively.

But hey, now I can customize the background color.

So it’s basically a wash, right?

That’s not to say previous listeners are excluded. Presumably Spotify tries to reach them. It just does a far crappier job of it than it used to.

Which brings me to my $500 campaign. Here’s the track if you’re in a contemplative mood:

And here are my results:

So much for splurging! Spotify only spent 10% of my $500 budget.

It’s not just me, either. My friend Dr Chrispy said he has a bunch of campaigns completed at $26, $42, etc.

Maybe, like with Discovery Mode, Marquee has gotten progressively worse due to high demand and limited supply.

My audience of 90K wasn’t big enough to meet their campaign requirements, but only 459 people saw the ad? Something doesn’t add up.

So roughly a 50/50 split between new and previous listeners, or in advertising parlance, cold and warm audiences.

87 out of the 459 people who saw the ad went on to stream the song.

What isn’t explicitly mentioned is that only 87 of the 148 people who clicked on the ad listened to the song, which means I paid for 61 worthless and likely accidental clicks at $0.35 a pop.

That brings the cost per listener to $0.60. Can I do better with Meta ads? Easily.

1.4 streams per listener with a 15% intent rate is far below the 2.5/25% intent rate benchmark I set in my previous post on Marquee. Keep in mind that users are being directed to my official This Is playlist (as opposed to my fake one), where even free listeners can easily stream more of my tracks.

On the other hand, the streams per listener for my other releases seems unbelievably high! 43 listeners x 19.35 streams per listener = 832 streams.

Contrast that to the 125 streams of the release I’m actually promoting.

To be fair, the numbers for “Disappear” aren’t drastically different than my previous campaign for a sonically similar single.

Thoughts Can’t Hurt You” garnered 1.52 streams per listener with an intent rate of 18.75% reaching previous listeners only.

The difference? Spotify spent $202 of the $250 budget for 336 listeners.

One could argue that not spending my entire budget was a blessing in disguise, but I see value in reaching previous listeners beyond just the streams they generate.

Marquee, for me anyway, is now mostly indistinguishable from Showcase, except the latter will quickly blow through any budget you set (UPDATE: nope).

Should you bother with Marquee?

If you can still customize your audience, absolutely.

If not, you can always test a $100 budget on Marquee and/or Showcase, and compare that to your cost per conversion with Meta ads.

But it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. With Meta ads, you’ll also get streams on other platforms, Shazams, followers, engagements on your posts, and the ability to actually retarget.

That said, some people never click on Facebook or Instagram ads, but will happily click on what appears to be a recommendation from Spotify from within the app.

Personally, I think I’ll reserve Marquee and Showcase for albums, where I always get the best results.

Are you using Marquee? Showcase? Meta Ads? Share your thoughts and strategies in the comments!


  1. Interesting – as Marquee is still not available here in Germany, I was unfortunately unable to test it (we’ve already discussed this).
    Do you have a link on how to create a Meta AD, as you mentioned in this post (step by step)?

    1. Hard to believe it’s still not available over there! I don’t believe I ever walked through Meta ads (I would’ve called them Facebook ads) step by step. Even if I did, things are always changing and it probably wouldn’t apply anymore. I’ve just added it to my list of post ideas!

  2. I second the request for a Brian-no-nonsence-easy-to-digest FB ads article as still battling with it! Marquee not available for me either (Cyprus)! I would also love your take on Chartlex…

    1. Demand is rising! The only issue is that Ads Manager will change a week after I write the post and the screenshots won’t match. But that may not be the end of the world.

      I took a quick look at Chartlex and don’t see anything that separates it from dozens of other Spotify promo services. With all the streaming fraud mayhem going on, I’m only willing to work with companies I trust, and at the moment that’s Moonstrive Media and Playlist-Promotion.

  3. Good to know. I tried both Playlist and Moonstrive and whilst there were streams there was no long-term benefit (numbers dropped the instant the songs were taken off the playlists). I have been trying Chartlex and you get the streams but for the life of me I cannot work out how they do it (may be obvious to others but I am not clued on on the inner workings of these things!). It is different from the other services as it directly goes for the algorithms (plays are exclusively on Spotify editorial playlists, radio, release radar, Discover Weekly, Your Daily Mix, On Repeat and official Spotify playlists and NOT on user/curator playlists like Playlist and Moonstrive) and in America only. It is an interesting one albeit the end result of numbers dropping once the campaign ends is the same as all other services. And so, FB ads seems to be the most effective long-term solution I guess (but I still cannot learn how to use them properly!!!).

    1. I’d expect your numbers to drop precipitously the moment any playlist campaign ends. Hopefully you held onto some listeners, or got some new followers, or have something to show for it other than a meager return on investment in the form of royalties a few months later.

      As for Chartlex, a friend used another company that boasted about how they “trigger the algorithm.” It was obviously bots, and those botted streams did actually generate legit Radio streams.

      I’d be willing to bet Chartlex is the same. The botted streams aren’t tied to a playlist, so it’s accurate to say that the only playlist streams come from Spotify.

      Obviously I would NOT recommend it!

  4. I hear ‘ya! *sigh*. I’m never gonna master any kind of marketing and am not prepared to be a social media slave-to-the-grind, posting myself, so I’ll just keep making music that only I will know/hear and hope that one of your articles eventually reveals the Holy Grail of easy, effective, guaranteed music marketing! Or a big pot of cash to fall in my lap so I can pay someone else to do it… (thanks again for all the valuable insights you provide to the community). Onwards and upwards!

    1. I’m confident that paying someone else to do it isn’t the answer either. Hopefully you’re making the sort of music you want to hear, and enjoying yourself in the process!

  5. Thanks Brian, your honesty and transparency on these issues is much appreciated. I’m keen to know if you have adapted your fb/insta strategy in the last couple of years and have you tried using TikTok ads at all?

    1. My social media non-strategy is to share the non-personal bits from my email updates to socials the day after. Admittedly I’m doing the bare minimum here. As for TikTok, I did try ads. The cost per conversion was through the roof and the targeting options were pathetic. Maybe it’s gotten better, but as I’m not active there anyway, I’m not inclined to try it.

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