Newsletters are an extremely powerful tool for musicians. Communicate with and engage the fans you already have – they deserve your attention and are hungry for information. Grow your fan base by making it easy and appealing to join your community.
If you have a large mailing list you should be using a paid service. You might be familiar with email marketing newsletter services like Constant Contact, Vertical Response, or newcomer Contactology. While some people have great results with these services, people in the music industry should consider using a music oriented service. Some great options to explore include: Fan Mail Marketing, Band Letter, Champion Sound, and Reverb Nation’s FanReach.
Once you’ve chosen which service to use and are staring at a blank template, you might be wondering what to include in your newsletter? How do you make yours stand out? Think carefully about your messaging and your tone. Make your newsletter a reflection of your (or your band’s) identity.
What to include in your newsletter:
– Any relevant news, i.e. tour schedule, album release dates, new music video, link to article mentioning your band etc.
– Something free – and exclusive – like an unreleased song or recording from a live show.
– Invite your fans to interact with you via things like remix competitions, voting on the title for your upcoming album, or submitting art for a band t-shirt.
– Multimedia. Use photos and video to make your newsletter more colorful and interesting.
– Unsubscribe link (any good email marketing service will include this).
Ok, so you’ve got a great design, great content and no one to send it to. Now what? How do you find more fans? How do you make them sign up for your mailing list?
How to grow and manage your mailing list:
– At every live show, have a clipboard with a newsletter sign-up list available. Sweeten the deal with a raffle at the end of the night, e.g. winner gets a copy of your CD.
– Make it easy and appealing to sign up for the newsletter online. The first thing a visitor to your website should notice is a place to sign up for the newsletter. Incentivize them by offering a free download, exclusive track etc.
– Include an automatic thank you page that welcomes each new subscriber.
– Include a link to sign up for your mailing list in your email signature.
– Make it easy to share. Include links or buttons to forward to a friend, share on facebook, share on twitter etc.
– Don’t send out a newsletter more than once a month. It’s annoying.
– Get personal. You are a band (or musician) not just a brand. Your fans want to know about the intimate details of your day-to-day.
– Keep the design and content clean and basic. You don’t want your newsletter looking like a pimped out MySpace profile from 2005.
– Be consistent and be patient. Send out a concise yet engaging newsletter once a month and watch your community slowly take on a life of its own.
– Analyze your metrics. Learn from them. Make improvements and adjustments as necessary.
Of course, if your mailing list/fan base is not large enough yet to justify spending the money on a paid service, you can send out newsletters as bulk emails instead. Just BE SURE to put email addresses in the bcc field and give readers the option to unsubscribe (this is usually done by asking them to respond with an email with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line).
Remember that building a mailing list takes time and patience, but it’s worth every minute. Think of every email address as a real live member of your music community. You want to treat them with the respect they deserve (no spamming), keep them entertained and engaged, and turn them into loyal fans.