Everyone should know by now that mailing lists are extremely important. Whether it’s in the music world or in the world of marketing, an email is the golden ticket to direct marketing that everybody wants.
As a musician, you principally want two things: people at your shows, and people viewing and listening to your content. This is what you’ll be mostly using your mailing list for – and it’s very effective.
Secondarily, you’ll also be using your mailing list for crowdfunding, selling your merch, and otherwise connecting with your fans. It doesn’t matter how big your mailing list is, you need to start building and using it now.
In this guide, we’ll go over the most effective ways to build your mailing list and how to use it.
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Build Your Mailing List As A Musician – Three Ways
1. Get Emails Via Live Shows
The principle way I’ve built my mailing list to over 2,000 emails is live performance. Showcases, gigs, festivals, whatever. I always go with my mailing list in hand. In fact, if I had to choose between bringing my signup forms and bringing merch, I would choose the mailing list every time.
After a great show, I literally go around to people at different tables, chat them up and get them to sign up for my mailing list. Typically I offer a free download or something similar in exchange for an email. I print all my “download cards” on cheap business card paper, so it costs me nothing.
I doubt that many people even download the song – it can be streamed online so easily. However, it usually provides enough incentive for someone to sign up for the list.
In a live setting where the audience is totally captive, like a small ticketed event or house concert, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get every single person on your list.
Sometimes, I will pass around the mailing list during the last three songs of my set. I do this with a sense of humor and the understanding that not everyone will want to sign up. But they usually do.
After a live show, I usually end up with anywhere from five to 30 emails on the list. With live shows, I make a point of adding them to the mailing list that night or the next morning, and personally send them a quick email saying “thank you”. It goes a long way, trust me.
2. Via Your Website Or Social Media
The other way I get people on my mailing list is through call to actions on my website and on social media.
On every single page of my website there is a signup form for the mailing list. Just having it there gets a few more people every week.
You can also put an email list signup call to action on Facebook. It goes right front and center on your profile. Interestingly, you can see how many people clicked the button and signed up every week.
By far the easiest way to add people to your list is at a live show. The personal connection is right there and frankly people need a little push to give up their emails.
3. Offer A Download In Exchange For Email Addresses
Just like offering a download card in exchange for an email at a show, you can also offer an online download. This is very common practice. Many online stores offer promotions in exchange for signing up for their mailing lists.
It’s quite easy to create a landing page on your website that offers a download for an email. Make sure that the landing page is similarly branded with the rest of the site or it could end up looking sketchy and obtrusive.
It’s also possible to do this with Facebook, although it is a little more difficult.
Make Good Use Of Your Mailing List
Don’t Send Updates Too Often
Number one way to get people to unsubscribe from your mailing list is to send too many updates. This is why people are wary of signing up in the first place. They’ve had too many bad experiences with companies and even bands that send them too much stuff.
I’m super conservative with my list. Possibly too conservative. I send an update once every two months; basically whenever there’s something really important I want them to know.
If I’m on tour, I might send two updates: one at the start, and one that is directed at a specific area. But that’s pretty much it.
The only other time I would send updates more often is if I was doing a crowdfunding campaign. Even then, it would still be two updates per month, max.
It’s important to respect people time, so it’s worth considering if your really need to send that update.
Make Sure To Get Name, Email, And Location
It’s incredibly useful to have a specific location for every email. This way, you can let a certain number of people know about a show happening in their area. It actually makes a huge difference in attendance.
I’ve also heard of bands using area-specific mailing lists to find accommodations and even get help when their vehicle breaks down.
Include One Call To Action In Your Emails
Don’t be afraid to include a call to action in your emails. Something as simple as: “Like our band on Facebook!” with a link to your Facebook page can work pretty well.
Common wisdom suggests not putting more than one call to action in an email; it’s too many choices. I’ve stuck with including one call to action in every email, and varying it up every time. It works quite well for things like getting views on music videos, letting people know you're on Spotify, and getting people to follow your social media pages.
Put A Little Thought Into The Design And Content
With Mailchimp, designing a really nice looking email is quite easy. Spending a little extra time on the aesthetic and content of your email is worth doing. You look more professional and you’ll be taken more seriously.
Also, for heaven's sake, proofread the email. Get rid of spelling mistakes and grammar slip-ups that will make you look like an amateur.
Don’t Let It Lapse
It’s important to maintain and constantly add people to your mailing list. It makes a huge difference at shows and gives you a lot of marketing power. Have fun with it!