If used properly, a performing songwriter’s most valuable marketing asset can be his email list. A lot of songwriters put all of their promotional efforts into the latest social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and ReverbNation without considering the benefits of having an email newsletter.
The main advantage of an email list, is it’s a direct way of communicating with your fans, by sending them a message to their inbox. That’s more than you can say for the social networking sites, which come off more as blasts to whoever happens to be viewing your feed at that moment.
The other main advantage of an email list over social networking sites is social media sites come and go (along with the fans attached to those pages), while email isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. Think about everyone who had 10,000 fans on their MySpace pages. What good are those fans now? Had those fans been email addresses, not only would they still be valid, but they’d be able to get direct emails, as opposed to just status updates.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have both an email list and a social media presence, because have both is ideal. But you also need to realize that having a Twitter or Facebook page isn’t necessarily a replacement for an email newsletter.
Having said that, let’s look at some dos and don’ts to get you started with your email Newsletter.
DO Offer a cool incentive for people to join your email list. This could be something along the lines of offering your latest music for free. Make sure it’s something of value to your fans. Put yourself in their shoes. What would get you to sign up for an artist’s email list, if you were them?
DO give value in your emails. You want people to want to open up and read emails from you, so give them stuff they’ll care about. Maybe you can share an embarrassing moment that happened to you onstage, if you’re a good storyteller. Or maybe, you’ll share articles you found online that you think would be beneficial to your readers. Only you can know what’s best for your fans. Get creative and make it about them as much as you can.
DO have a “call to action” in your emails. That means specifically tell your fans what you want them to do. That can mean telling them to come to a show, buy a CD, or vote for your song somewhere online. Don’t be afraid to ask.
DO use an email autoresponder service so people can unsubscribe from your email list, if they decide they no longer want to receive it. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.
DO give it a cool name. Maybe instead of just calling it an email newsletter, you can call it your Backstage Pass Club, or something like that. Kick around some ideas that would work well for your genre and your fans.
DON’T spam. That means don’t put people on your list who didn’t request to be there.
DON’T send out messages through gmail, ymail, aol, or any other personal email service. If you’re just bcc’ing a lot of people through a personal email account, it’s likely you’ll have your email account suspended. Plus it gives no way for someone to opt-out of your mailing list. And that’s not cool.
DON’T be dishonest. If you tell people your newsletter is monthly, don’t send out an email every day. It’s the fastest way to lose the trust of your audience and get people to unsubscribe.
DON’T use your newsletters for promotion only. While it’s an approach some people use, it’s just not as effective as offering content in addition to promotion. While direct email is the best way to get your fans to come to a show or buy a CD, if that’s all you ever ask of them, they’ll get tired of it, fast. Provide them something of value, in addition to asking for a call to action.
With all that in mind, here are a few additional tips on having an email autoresponder.
If you’re unsure about what an email autoresponder is, it’s basically online software that lets you send out emails to whoever you have on your email list. The advantages it has over traditional email, is you can track the performance of each message you send. That includes knowing how many people are opening your emails and clicking on links in your messages. This way, you know how well your messages are performing. From there, if you’re getting low open rates, you can change your approach to increase your readership. An autoresponder also gives people the chance to unsubscribe from you list in every email you send, so they’re not trapped into receiving your email if they no longer want to.
If you’re a songwriter new to having an email list, the best place to start, in my opinion, is ReverbNation. If you don’t already know, ReverbNation is a social media site specifically designed for music acts. You can attract music fans, post your music, and network with other artists on the site. But the best part is, they have an email autoresponder built into their site. It’s Called FanReach. And aside from it being integrated with your ReverbNation music page, it’s free (if you’re email list is less than five hundred people). So, it’s a great place to start. Since its integrated with ReverbNation’s social networking music site, you can easily add your music, show dates, and other cool stuff into the emails you send out. And if you decide to stick with them past 500 email subscribers, their monthly rates are lower than a lot of the other email autoresponders out there. You can check out FanReach here:
I know that sounds a bit like a commercial for ReverbNation, but I assure you, it’s not. I don’t get anything for promoting ReverbNation, or its autresponder, FanReach, I just think it’s a great free place to start when building an email fanbase for songwriters. If you‘d like to review some other options, simply do a Google search for “autoresponder software.”
So start building your universe of fans, one email at a time. And I’ll be hearing from you soon!