Email Marketing: The most overlooked strategy for musicians

Considering that email marketing is one the most effective ways to reach your audience, it’s actually one of the most overlooked marketing strategies used by musicians right now. Creating and using an email list could be the key to your success.

Think of it this way; use your social media to grow your brand and build trust and awareness throughout your online community. Use your email list to grow your revenue. So, whilst social media has its place, email marketing is one of the best ways to get in front of your fans.

So rather than spend your time fighting for visibility and attention on various social media platforms with the hundreds (if not thousands) of artists around you, why not look at email marketing to reach out directly to your followers.

Now, I’m not saying forget about social media completely. I have tonnes of blog posts and videos on how to utilise each social media platform to best serve you. But what I am saying is — most musicians are overlooking email as part of their online strategy — so join the few that are and stand out further online.

There’s a full module all about email marketing as part of my SMART launch club. You can get personal help from me on your next campaign.

Email lists = direct access

The chance to have direct access to your fanbase doesn’t come around very often. We know that organic reach on social media is declining these days. When you post something online, you have no control over who sees it. And like I said in a previous post, platforms like Instagram are probably only showing your new post to 10% of your following.

So you start to boost your posts and put a bit of money behind them, just so they get seen.

The reason you can’t get your content in front of 100% of your fans is because you simply don’t own the data. It’s not like you can download your follower list and upload their details to another platform or to a spreadsheet. And because of that, you cannot guarantee that each and every one of them see’s your content. With email — YOU CAN!

Having your own email list means that you own 100% of the data. Once someone has subscribed, they have intentionally made the choice to accept emails from you. Directly into their inbox.

This means that you have free reign to email them whenever you like. And they will receive it 100% of the times that you do. This is direct marketing. You own the data and you can speak directly to them in the form of email marketing.

Taking a break

Have you seen someone take a break from social media before? Shutting down their socials and ‘disappearing’ offline for a while?

Have you ever heard of anyone taking a break from email?

No — I didn’t think so.

Email is so very different from social media. It’s a completely different avenue to reaching fans that most musicians don’t take notice of. But not you.

Imagine if you had an email list of 10,000 people. Every single person on that list (as long as their email address is still valid) will get that email into their inbox. 10,000 people will at least read the subject line.That subject line will determine whether the person will open the email and read on.

Now, imagine if you sent out an email blast to those 10,000 people on launch day containing a link to your track. If just 10% opened the email and went over to Spotify to listen, then you’ve got an algorithm boost right away! This boost could be the catalyst needed to start trending, and you could make it onto an algorithm-based Spotify playlist.

I’ve shared with you before my beginners guide to email marketing and how you should set it up for your brand and your music. I cover the various tools available to you and how to start collecting email addresses and building your list. But since then, I’ve been receiving questions about 2 areas specifically.

  1. How to grow your email list, and
  2. What do you send in an email blast?

So, with that said, I wanted to dig deeper into these two points.

Side note: you’re going to see phrases like ‘sign up forms’ and ‘landing pages’ within the next section. If these seem foreign to you, I recommend going back to the beginners guide for email marketing to get the full set up.

How to grow your email list

At the beginning, it may feel a bit discouraging if you only have 5 or so emails on your list. So, the first thing to do is grow it.

What I see musicians typically doing is this. They create a signup form on their website and hope and pray that people will go there on their own accord and sign up. With no incentive. That’s not going to work.

You have to treat it the same as your social media. When you plan your content each week, you should also plan 1 activity that’s going to grow your email list.

Here are some ideas on what you could do:

1. Give something away for free

What can you give to people, for free, in exchange for their email address? Maybe you have an unreleased song? Or if you’re a music educator, for example, you could put together a simple beginners guide that you send subscribers, for free, if they sign up to your email list.

Once you’ve decided on what you want to give away, create a landing page where the main focus is your free item. Then all a person has to do is input their email address in exchange for your free product. It’s as simple as that!

You can choose to upload the gift onto the thank you page, or send it to them in an email once they’ve signed up. Whichever you choose, the more automated this whole process is, the better. You can set up automation in your chosen email programme (Mailchimp, Klaviyo etc). You don’t want to have to physically email each and every person that signs up.

Don’t worry — I cover email automation and the importance of your welcome email in my beginners guide — so make sure to check that out.

2. Create an event they have to register for

These days, it’s easy to create an exclusive Zoom concert for your fans. And to build your email list, all you have to do is get your followers to register for it using their email address.

Obviously, when live gigs are happening again, you can collect email data through ticket and merchandise sales. But, as we are in the midst of a pandemic, creating an online event is the next best thing.

Instead of going live on another social media platform and giving your performance away completely for free, you can use Zoom and build your email list at the same time. It’s a win-win. You could even sell virtual tickets to make some money!

3. Start a conversation in their DM’s

I’m sure that you get a few messages in your DM’s from fans who like your music. Instead of sending a basic ‘thank you’ message back, why not invite them to become part of your family online? Thank them and ask them to join your email list. If you’ve got your free gift set up, then you’re giving them an incentive to do it as well.

But please don’t start spamming your whole follower list with DM’s! This is not effective and will more than likely get you banned for repetitive behaviour. Instead, build a rapport with your followers and start a conversation before asking them to subscribe to your list.

Consistency is key

You should be thinking of an activity every single week that will actively grow your email list. Start treating email marketing the same way you do social media and use it to grow your followers online. Utilise the visibility and connections that you already have on socials and move fans and followers over to your mailing list

Once you start growing your list and are sending regular emails, you will see that some will unsubscribe. That’s OK! Those that you are left with are your true fans who are open to receiving your content directly into their inbox.

At the end of the day, these are the people who will listen to your music and buy your products.

What to send in an email blast

Email marketing has gotten such a bad rep over the years, simply because email marketers have misused the format over and over. Every email has been ‘sell, sell sell!’ with no real thought behind the content.

You have to remember that you have an advantage here. Being in someone’s inbox means that you’re speaking to them directly. Yes, you may be competing against emails from other businesses, but you are a musician. You’re a person and therefore you can be personal. You should be personal!

Think of your email list as a group of friends. They’re already your fans. They signed up because they wanted something more from you. You’ve triggered their interest. So now it’s time to get personal and really take advantage of email marketing.

Use your emails in different ways. Of course you can blast out an email when you have a new song and you want your followers to listen to it, but there are much more effective ways to reach and engage your audience.

Give more of you in email, as these people WANT more. They don’t want to be sold to. They want to interact with you as a real person. As their favourite musician. As a friend.

The goal here is to create a community, so think about sharing more of you.

But what you have to remember is this. If you’re at the very beginning, you might only have 5 subscribers on your list. They don’t know that you only have 5 people on your list. They could think that you have 5,000. So whether it’s your first email blast or your 50th — put some thought into it.

Content ideas for email marketing

1. Personal letter

Are you going through something that you want to share with your followers? Maybe a creative process or something completely life changing. Share your news like you would when sharing it with your friends.

You don’t necessarily have to link to anything or promote anything. Just share. Give value and don’t ask for anything in return. This will increase your credibility with your followers, and give them a little insight into your life. Imagine if your favourite artist did that with you.

Plus, you could always really easily link your latest track into the text of the email when you’re talking about it if you wanted.

2. Your view on a relevant topic

Has something happened recently in your niche that is relevant? Let’s say you have an opinion on some pop culture news. Write up your thoughts on the subject and send it out to your email list.

Make sure to include the topic in the subject of the email. A higher percentage of your subscribers will open the email if they know what it’s about.

Bob Lefsetz sends out several emails a day sometimes with his thoughts on a specific subject. His WAP emails talking about Cardi B’s & Meghan Thee Stalian’s video, for example. He even started sending out his responses to people who have emailed him back. To his whole email list. What a way to get noticed, right?!

You’re probably already highlighting a few topics within your music or lyrics. Why not give your thoughts on them through email marketing as well?

3. Behind the scenes

What’s happening in your world as a musician? Are you working on something new? Maybe you’ve got some cool collaborations going on that you want to share to your exclusive community?

These people have signed up to your email list to find out more about your ideas, how you work and even your struggles. The more real, the better. Always remember that you’re talking to your friends here.

4. Present your music

Can you see that the first 3 ideas I’ve written have given value to the reader, without asking for anything in return?

Now, when you have a new music launch or new video launch — you can freely blast this out to your subscriber list without feeling like you’re spamming them.

Even if you are doing a pre-save of your track or premiere of your music video you should present the song itself at the beginning of the email. The purpose, story and why you created it. Remember to stay personal.

5. Sales emails

Are you selling something? Maybe you want to release tickets to a show, or launch a new merch line. Anything that you’ve created for your fans to purchase, you can sell through email marketing.

Even though the majority of your emails you send should give value and simply connect to your fans, it is absolutely fine to send a sales email once in a while. I’d suggest 1 out of 4.

If every single email you sent was a sales email, people would simply unsubscribe. People are sick of being constantly sold to, especially over email. They want more from you than just asking them to part with their hard earned money. So add value as well as selling. This is proven to be very effective.

When it is time to sell, be very clear on the purpose of the email. Both in the subject line and in the content. I just sent out an email where I A/B tested the subject line. Email 1 had ‘LIMITED OFFER’ in large letters and the other had the value that the reader would receive from my offer. Basically ‘get more results from your ad spend’.

The subject line with the special offer converted higher. This is because the subject was sales focused, clear from the start, and those that opened the email understood this.

The reason my sales emails convert so well is because I usually add so much value within my overall email marketing strategy. Free tutorials, downloads, checklists etc. My readers get tonnes of value from me, so when it’s time for me to sell to them, they’re tuned in to go check out the deal. And just for reading this, you can download my free ebook here.

6. Educative content

If you are an educator in the music business, you should focus on continuing your education through your email marketing campaigns.

Every week I share a tutorial. Whether it’s a new blog post or YouTube video — it’s something I have created that will help the viewer with something specific.

How often should you send?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer for this one.

You need to start testing different formats, and choose a frequency that you can commit to.

Personally, I send out at least 1 email per week to my whole list. I also have several sub-lists that will get additional emails based on the group that they’re in. Some people get up to 4 emails each week from me, but most get 1–2.

Essentially, you have to create the content that goes into the email. So, you need to choose a number that you can commit to. Remember that you should not be selling in every email — so if you only send one email per month — you best make it damn good!

And I’ll circle back to this. Don’t worry too much about the un-subscribers. As you are working on growing your list through freebies and value, you will see that some will not be your ideal fanbase. That’s absolutely fine. The ones who are left will be your true fans. Focus on them.

Conclusion

A great email list and a smart marketing campaign can have a huge affect on your career as a musician. But SO MANY artists overlook this strategy.

You should make it a priority to collect email addresses on your social media, landing pages, and at any gigs that you are able to do. Having the email addresses of your fans means that you can contact them directly and grow your community like a group of friends.

Get creative on both the way that you collect email addresses and the content that you send out to your subscribers. This could be the key to your success.

An Ibiza based ex-tech-marketing guru turned ‘Audience Queen’ working with musicians on digital marketing and strategy

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