Spotify Marquee vs Facebook Ads

Last May I said I’d pick Spotify Marquee over Facebook Ads.

Now I’m not so sure.

With 28 Marquee campaigns under my belt, I’ve got a lot more data to draw conclusions from.

I’ll share all the important metrics and compare them to my current Facebook Ads campaign below.

For a detailed explanation of what Spotify Marquee is and how it works, please see my previous post on the subject.

My Spotify Marquee Results

Without further ado, here are the results of all my Marquee campaigns, newest first:

Spotify Marquee results (click to enlarge)

We’ve got the number of listeners multiplied by the number of streams per listener to give us total streams, then the cost of the campaign divided by streams to give us a cost per stream.

It would be easy to dismiss Marquee outright by comparing the cost per stream to Spotify’s payout per stream, but that would be short-sighted.

We also need to factor in Intent Rate, which is the percentage of listeners who saved or playlisted at least one track. Those actions demonstrate an intent to listen to your music again.

To calculate the true cost per stream, we have to make some educated guesses. If we assume that a user showing intent will stream 10 more tracks, that could effectively cut the cost per stream in half.

How did I come up with 10 more tracks? I pulled it out of my *ss. They may not stream any tracks at all, or they may become your biggest fan.

Let’s just stick to what we can actually measure…

Obervations & Considerations

Previously Marquee campaigns only ran to US audiences. Today many more countries are available (36 to be exact), but you need a certain number of “reachable listeners” in a country to launch a campaign there.

I was able to promote my top-performing song “Trick of the Light” to 9 countries, but today I only have the option to launch campaigns in the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. The latter two each show a reachable audience of around 750-2200 listeners, to give you some idea of where that lower threshold may lie.

Just looking at my US campaigns, my cost per stream has increased from a low of $0.07 all the way to $0.50 with my latest. I pulled the plug on that one after only two days!

My cost per stream is lowest in Brazil and Mexico, proportional to what Spotify charges per click and the royalty they pay on the stream. Yet with “Trick of the Light” I still paid less per click in the US than Brazil.

The more tracks on the release, the better it performed. The Skeleton’s Closet is an 11-track b-sides collection. By definition, not my best stuff, but it got the best results!

One other factor is the click destination. You can send users to the track, the album or, for singles only, to your This Is playlist (if you’ve got one). You’ll absolutely get more streams per listener by directing them there, and playlist followers to boot!

Last but not least, my results varied depending on when the campaign was scheduled. Launching on release day yields more favorable numbers, but you end up paying for people who would’ve listened anyway.

The pop-up isn’t supposed to appear to anyone who’s already listened, but earlier this week I saw one for a track I’d not only streamed, but added to my playlist. Hmm!

My Spotify Marquee Game Plan

Going forward, I’ll continue to launch Marquee campaigns for every release, at least in the US. Since I can pull the plug at any time, there’s little risk.

One exception: I don’t think it’s worth it for singles unless you can direct users to your This Is playlist (as an example, here’s mine).

Based on my history, I’m looking for at least 2.5 streams per listener and a 25% intent rate.

If I don’t see that in the first few days, sayonara.

My Facebook Ads Results

For a long stretch, I was only promoting my Vocal Synthwave Retrowave playlist through ads. I figured I was already spending enough on promoting my tracks on Spotify through Rise.

That changed in early December when I wanted to give a joint release an extra push. I started by sending people to the release, but later pivoted to my self-made “official playlist.”

I placed the new release at the top of the playlist, but used a tried and tested track for the ad. It worked like a charm! Since then I’ve been reliably using one song to promote another.

When users click on the ad, they’re directed to the song they heard in the ad within the playlist, courtesy of a “deeplink” generated by Hypeddit, which looks something like this:

https://open.spotify.com/track/5WiGGc9jGxrg06vJ0dRMfw?context=spotify:playlist:1Iu6xlknndrTdoe55ZY9DQ&si=f164650e7a6244aa

Yes, it’s big and ugly, but that’s because it’s two links in one: the track and the playlist. If you click on it and allow it to open the Spotify app, it’ll automatically play the third track inside the playlist.

The deeplink only works on mobile, not the desktop web player. Which is fine, because the vast majority of my conversions are on mobile. On desktop, it opens up the track in the browser, but not the playlist.

You don’t need Hypeddit to do the dirty work for you, though it’s certainly convenient. Just duplicate the syntax above with your own playlist and track links.

Here’s what the ad looks like, directing here:

Here are my results in Ads Manager for the last 28 days:

And here are my results in Spotify for Artists over the same time period:

As you can see, it’s now my top playlist, with 11.5 streams per listener!

Prior to the campaign, it saw no action. Zero.

My previous post on Spotify Marquee assumed one stream per click from Facebook ads. I was only off by an order of magnitude! Nor did I factor in 200 new playlist followers.

The Winner: Neither. Both?

So which is better, Spotify Marquee or Facebook Ads?

Cop-out time! I honestly don’t know.

I’m not sure it’s even possible to know. There are just too many variables to account for.

That didn’t stop Spotify from declaring Marquee 10x more effective than social ads.

Remember that Marquee is retargeting past listeners only. It’s not a way to make new fans, unless it triggers more algorithmic streams I suppose.

If I could only choose one, at this moment in time, I’d go with Facebook Ads.

Not only because my last few Marquee campaigns performed poorly, but because advertising on Facebook and Instagram has side benefits, like engagement, follower growth, and the ability to retarget.

Reach a different conclusion? Spot any interesting trends in my data? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

19 Comments

  1. Hi Brian
    Great post as usual. I am encouraged to at least try Marquee.
    I have a couple of questions i need help on:
    1) I tried deeplinking using url genius and then putting it into the Spotify section in hypeddit and it didn’t work. How did you get this to work as a deep link on hypeddit?
    2) I tried the link to Spotify and it did play the third track. Again, how did you get it to play at track 3 – why doesn’t it play the top?

    1. Thanks Paul!

      Maybe the post could use some clarification, but I created the deeplink using Hypeddit’s “Spotify Playlist Deeplink Builder.” You don’t have to though – you can just copy the syntax from the long link I posted.

      That’s how it’s playing track 3 instead of track 1 (but only on mobile).

      A URLgenius deeplink is different. There you’re not trying to link to a song within a playlist. Rather you’re hoping that the track will open up in Spotify without the user being asked if they want to launch the app.

      It’s been a couple years since I used URLgenius. Last I tested it, I didn’t see any difference vs linking normally.

      1. Thanks Brian!
        I had no idea that hypeddit had that service! Thank you as always – will investigate.
        Great work as always

  2. Thank you, Brian! Hoping to leverage this post’s and many others of yours’ insights when I finally get around to launching my first paid promotion campaign for my first completed track, hopefully in Feb. Really appreciate the guidance. As someone with zero history in Spotify, Facebook sounds like the best place to start…from scratch. 🙂

    1. Glad to be of service! I do think that Facebook Ads is the best place to start. You might consider starting with a “fan finder” video views campaign to build up some interest and engagement. Not that I’ve done one in years, but when I did it racked up a ton of likes, shares, and comments. Then I invited all those people to like my page with a Chrome extension!

      1. Hey Brian, very very interesting post, especially the double deep link item!!! Genius! Do you recall which Chrome extensione you used to invite people to like the page?

        1. It’s called “Invite post likers for Facebook” but now I can’t seem to find the exact one. There are others that do the same thing, but be careful!

  3. I’m ready to abandon marquee. Whether I use marquee or not, the % of listeners of the new track remains largely the same. Within the US, at 50¢ per click (and not all of them even proceeding to listen), I’m struggling to justify it’s cost effectiveness. It’s marginally better in Brazil and Mexico as you mention, but I had more success doing something similar to you (e.g., directing them to a playlist with the new song at top). If you have a large catalog, I’ve found a number of conversions that just sit there and leave the playlist full of your songs on, and at 10¢ a conversion via IG/FB ads, while it’s still not break-even, is still better than marquee.

    1. I believe it!

      Though I did notice when I went to create a Marquee campaign today that the price per click in the US dropped to $0.35.

      It would be nice if they only charged for a 30-second listen, kind of like TrueView YouTube ads.

  4. Love this fam. 2 questions for you:

    1) Can you clarify what you mean by:

    “I don’t think it’s worth it for singles unless you can direct users to a This Is playlist.”

    what do you mean This is playlist?

    2) You say you cancel the campaign if its not achieving 2.5 streams per listener and a 25% intent rate. Does Spotify give you the intent rate? or are you manually calculating that in real time?

  5. Thank you Brian as always. Always interesting to see all the data.

    That is a nice trick with editing the link to direct to a specific track within a playlist. From my understanding, the “This is Playlist” starts when an artist has around 50 released tracks. Will be awhile before we get there. But we started our own similar one of those. Perhaps we will experiment once we have more released tracks with our version of it. Will be a bit before we meet the Marquee threshold as well.

    1. Thanks for the insight!

      50 tracks seems like a lot, but seeing as my This Is playlist is exactly 50 tracks long, I’m inclined to believe it!

      UPDATE: I just noticed that PRIZM only has 14 tracks in theirs.

      But they do have over 50 tracks total. Hmm…

      1. So I was testing out that jumbo link you provided for both the playlist + track. Desktop it does open the track like you stated. Mobile it does open the playlist instead, but does not play anything for me. On mobile, is it supposed to play the Trick of the Light track within the playlist? Maybe I missing something there.

        1. That’s correct! It was supposed to play “Trick of the Light” within the playlist on mobile. And it should now!

          I just released a waterfall single with an updated version of the track, which I swapped in the playlist. So that link was pointing to the old version.

          Thanks for letting me know!

  6. Hey Brian,
    I hope you are doing great.
    I ve been following your blog posts for a while. Love the analysis you make based on data and the different experiments (Meta Ads, PlaylistPush, SpotifyAds, etc) you have done since you started. This blog is actually a goldmine for artists that want to learn how to promote their music and how not to.
    I am really looking foward to chat a little bit more about actual promotion services available for independent artists and small labels, and a proposal I have for you. I hope you can give me your email since I could not find it yet.

    Best Regards,

    Gerard.

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