Email Marketing for Musicians: How to Build a Mailing List
How to set up a mailing list for your music
Why do musicians need a mailing list?
Email offers direct access to your audience, which isn’t always the case when it comes to social media. With Facebook, you generally have pay (in the form of a “boosted post”) to reach your entire audience. On Twitter and Instagram, you’re fighting for your followers’ attention against the hundreds of other accounts they follow and see in their feed.
With email, your messages are much more likely to be seen. That’s why it’s vital to place a high importance on building your email list and sending awesome emails to fans. You can also look to send cold emails to potential bookers and promoters.
Once you’ve collected your fan’s email addresses, you control what to do with them, how you send messages to them, and so on. Whereas social media platforms have control over their own networks and how they want to show your posts to fans
So with that being said, I’m going to show you how to get started collecting emails from your fans, how to create and build your list using one of the best email services, and more.
Let’s get to it...
Use an email marketing platform to set up your mailing list
Before you start collecting your fans' emails, you will need a way to manage and keep track of all of their addresses. You will also need a way to send bulk emails all at one time.
To do this, you will need to use an email marketing platform. There are a ton of email marketing platforms out there and they’re all designed to help you to collect and manage email addresses. They will also allow you to send out emails to all of your contacts at once.
Feel free to shop around, but my suggestion for most bands and artists is MailChimp.
MailChimp is free to use as long as you have 2,000 or fewer email addresses and send out 12,000 or fewer emails a month.
So theoretically, you could have 2,000 fans and you could send an email 6 times a month to your entire list before you would need to upgrade to a paid plan.
At that point, once you have more than 2,000 fans signed up to your email list, you can decide to upgrade to a paid plan on MailChimp or look into another more affordable service.
Another reason I recommend MailChimp as an email marketing tool for musicians and bands is that it's easy and simple to use. It’s the simplest platform that I’ve ever used and MailChimp’s drag-and-drop email builder is one of the best out there.
You don’t need to have any web design, graphic design, or coding experience to use it. MailChimp makes it super easy to build awesome looking emails and send them out to your list all at one time.
Collect emails on your website
If you're a band or musician who's serious about your music and you're trying to make a decent living in the music business, you should have your own professional website with a relevant web domain (ex. www.insertyourbandnamehere.com).
If you don’t have that yet, this guide will show you step-by-step how to build a website using WordPress. I recommend using WordPress versus using a website builder like Wix because you will have more control over your site, more flexibility (since added functionality can be implemented by using a free or paid plugin), and have more control over costs.
Now, to collect emails on your website, you will need to set up a signup form for visitors to fill out. This can be done in a number of ways with MailChimp.
The easiest and least time-consuming method is to navigate to your MailChimp dashboard, find the list you’d like to create a form for and embed it on a page on your website.
To do this, first create a list in MailChimp. Login to your MailChimp account and navigate to the Lists tab:
From there, click “Create List” in the upper right-hand corner:
You can then name your list, set the default 'from email address' and name (this will be the address and name shown in your fan’s email inbox), and create a description for the list:
Note: You can create multiple lists without needing to upgrade your plan. So you could create a list specifically for email signups and another specifically for email signups from shows.
With your list created, navigate to the Signup Forms page.
If you don't see this, head back over to the Lists page (by clicking "Lists" in the top menu), find the list you want to add a form to your website for, click the dropdown arrow to the far right, and click "Signup forms":
You will then be presented with a few options for different forms. Click the "Embedded forms" option:
You will then be directed to the Embedded forms page:
Here, you can choose a few different styles of simple forms and select which options you want to use. If in doubt, just leave everything as is and scroll to the bottom to find the embeddable code:
Copy everything in this box and paste it into the code view of your webpage. If your site is built with WordPress, navigate to your site backend and find the page you’d like to add the form to.
Make sure you are on the Text editor for this page (by clicking the "Text" tab) and paste the entire code on the page where you'd like the form to appear:
Then update the page to add the form.
Here’s an example of how the form appears on one of my sites:
Obviously, this is a very basic form. But, it will get the job done. If you’re on WordPress, there are free plugins that you can integrate with MailChimp to create a more aesthetically pleasing form.
One of which, MailChimp for WordPress, will allow you to sync your MailChimp account and setup customs forms with a few pre-built form themes.
Collect emails manually and import them
Of course, collecting emails on your website isn’t the only way to get your fans’ email addresses. You'll want to use every last way you can think of to try to build your list. Growing your list means growing your fan base and the number of people you can advertise your music to. This is a great step towards creating a stable income for your music.
So that means not only collecting emails on your website but collecting emails at shows. You should have some kind of signup sheet for fans to write down their email so they can be added to your list. This can be as simple as a pen and paper, or maybe a tablet.
Keep it at your merch table and ask fans to sign up when they visit or make a purchase. Better yet, offer a free incentive to sign up like a band sticker or pin. Something that doesn’t cost you a lot to hand out but will entice people to sign up.
After your show, you’ll then need to take that list and import it into your email database manually. In MailChimp, this is fairly straightforward.
Login to your MailChimp account and visit the list you’d like to add your emails to:
You’ll then be directed to the main page for that list. Click the dropdown arrow next to “Add contacts”:
You have two options. You can add subscribers one-by-one by clicking “Add a subscriber” or you can import a list of emails by clicking “Import contacts".
When importing a list of emails you have a few options. You can import a CSV (a type of Excel or Google Sheet) with all the emails, or you can copy/paste them into an input box:
If you choose the copy/paste option, you can also simply enter the emails manually, adding an email per line:
Once all the emails are added, you can import them to add the emails to your list.
Other ways to build your mailing list
Other than collecting emails on your site and at shows, there are still plenty of creative ways to ask for your fans’ emails. Here are a few other places to consider:
- Ask the followers you already have on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to sign up for your email list too. Let them know the advantages of doing so; like being able to see all of your important updates on upcoming shows and album releases.
- Offer exclusive music and content to fans who sign up.
- Ask friends and family to sign up.
- Ask a similar band to email their list with a prompt to sign up to yours, and vice versa in return.
- Start blogging. Blogging can be a great way to attract new eyes and ears to your music.
These are just a few other ways to collect emails and continue to grow your email list. Of course, you want your list to be legitimate and actually have people on there who are genuinely interested in your music, but don't be afraid to get creative and try new ways to collect more emails.
A great email mailing list and a clever marketing campaign can have a huge impact on your career as a musician. Having your fans’ emails allows you direct access to their inbox and ensures your messages are almost always seen.
Make sure collecting subscribers is a priority on your website, at your shows, and anywhere else you can get hold of your fans' emails addresses.
This is a guest blog by Cody Slingerland, the owner of Infamous Musician, a blog with tips, tutorials, and reviews for musicians. He has many years experience in building and managing email marketing campaigns for clients.
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