Email Marketing For Musicians
Why (and how) independent artists should grow their mailing list
There are two ways I could write this article.
First, I could list some tactics to help you grow your mailing list.
The Internet is full of similar lists, but, since you’re here, I have a feeling none of them helped you reach your goal.
Today, I decided to write from a different perspective, instead.
How would a mailing list benefit both you and your fans?
What keeps many musicians from investing their time in email marketing? And what keeps many fans from joining their favorite artists’ list?
To answer these questions we must take a step back first.
We call it email marketing, but I find this terminology a bit confusing.
Sure, as an independent artist (and solopreneur), you have to promote your music. A mailing list, in this sense, can be seen as another marketing tool to advertise your songs and get your biggest fans to buy your products.
However, this is not the most effective way to treat emails.
Email marketing is a tool to build a relationship rather than simply promote something. First of all, you want to create and nurture a bond. You want to offer value. You want to ask for feedback and be open to your fans’ messages and ideas. The promotion of your music and your other products should be a natural consequence rather than the ultimate goal.
For example, I offer a lot of freebies to my mailing list subscribers. I let them access songs and other content I don’t publish anywhere else. I ask them for feedback and I personally reply to any email I receive from them. It is a rewarding process, yet a lot of fellow independent musicians overlook this tool. Why? Here are some of the reasons I came up with.
I can reach all the people in the world through social media. Why bother with emails?
Unfortunately, many artists think that social media is enough to build a following or a fanbase. Social media can have a major role in your promotional strategy, but it is not enough to thrive. In fact, you cannot control the effect of the algorithms on your content.
I can hear your objection already: but I cannot control how people will respond to my emails either!
Sure. Yet, your email will get in their inbox. It will be their decision whether to open it or not, but you know that (deliverability issues aside) your content will almost surely reach them.
With social media, instead, your content may or may not appear on your fans’ screen, depending on the algorithms.
There are some additional points to consider about social media.
Your account may be hacked or suspended
Let’s face it: nobody is really safe online. Accounts can be hacked and social media platforms can decide to kick you out. As a result of any of these scenarios, you might lose a big part of the fanbase you worked hard to gather through your content. Inviting people to join your mailing list is a way to make sure you will be able to stay in touch with them. No matter what.
The social platform of your choice may run out of business or become less popular among your target audience
Once again, you cannot control the destiny of another business. It is hard enough to control your own! If a social media platform declines, you may lose most of your fans. It is way better to keep your contacts with you.
I don’t have time for emails
I get it. Email marketing requires a lot of time.
As I highlighted in the introduction, your main goal should be to offer value to your subscribers. You will have to work hard on the content specifically created for them to achieve that.
However, I have two objections to this.
First of all, this effort will be paid back in the long haul, as you will nurture a bond with your biggest fans.
Secondly, there are now tools that can help you save time through automation. This way, you can concentrate most of the work in a limited amount of time and send it out later or whenever anyone subscribes to your list.
What if nobody subscribes?
This is probably the most sensible objection. It is indeed hard to gather subscribers for your mailing list. It is a constant effort that requires different strategies and tactics.
There is one point to keep in mind at all times: it is better to have a list of 100 people interested in your music rather than 1000 who don’t care that much. This last objection leads me to another point of view.
Plenty of articles out there can teach you all the strategies you need to build your list. Yet, almost nobody takes into account the flip side of the coin: what do fans think of email marketing?
Here are some objections I heard from music fans who are not very keen on emails (and my response to them).
All the music I want is available online without having to share my email address
This is not completely true. To access online streaming services, you usually have to set up an account and share some of your data. In this case, you are sharing your email address with a big company rather than with a small artist, but you are sharing it anyway!
On top of that, the algorithms governing these platforms could prevent you from discovering some music you might enjoy.
I can keep in touch with my favorite artists through social media. I don’t need to join their list
Once again, if you are on any social media platform out there, you have already shared your email address with those companies. Why not make a little extra step and join the list of your favorite artist too?
As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, accounts can be hacked or suspended. Social platforms can go out of business or decline. There is no certainty you will be able to stay in touch with your favorite artists and keep accessing their content unless you have a direct relationship with them. Joining their mailing list is the best way to do that.
My mailbox is jam-packed!
I understand. We receive tons of emails every day. It is important to be selective about what lists to join. Otherwise, you may spend your day deleting content you are not interested in. But I’d like to give you a new perspective. What if the lists you subscribed to provide the best content you can access? What if being part of those lists is actually a way to navigate the enormous amount of content out there? After all, if what the artist has to offer you is not your cup of tea, you can always unsubscribe!
These are a few objections musicians and fans may have about email marketing.
As independent artists and solopreneurs, it is our duty to run healthy and interesting email campaigns. We must respect our subscribers, and offer them value.
As music fans, we may miss out a lot by not joining our favorite artists’ mailing lists. This could be the best way to stay in touch with them and make sure we keep accessing their content at all times!