Whether you are relatively established, or just starting out, marketing is a vitally important aspect of a band’s day-to-day operations. For the vast majority of bands, the best place for marketing is the internet and, despite the rise of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, email and newsletter marketing remains one of the top ways to promote your band’s music online. The benefits of email and newsletter marketing include the ability to reach a wide range of people easily, and to build a community of people with a genuine interest in the band’s music.
However, it is important for musicians to realise that email and newsletter marketing involves more than just spamming the inboxes of as many people as possible. In actual fact, this form of marketing can require a lot of work. For a band to expand their fanbase and truly maximise their audience, it is important for them to research mailing list providers, obey certain marketing etiquette, learn the most successful marketing strategies and become as creative with their marketing as they are with their music.
Yet, despite the amount of work involved, the rewards of a successful email and newsletter marketing campaign completely justify the effort involved. Newsletters can help to advertise live shows, promote new music or ensure that the band remains fresh in the minds of its fans. This is the reason why many of the most successful bands in the world, like Nine Inch Nails and Panic! At The Disco, continue to use this method of marketing, even after achieving huge success.
Choosing the Right Mailing List Provider
After deciding to start a newsletter, the first major choice to make is which mailing list provider to use. This is an important decision for many reasons, not least because switching provider down the line can be a major hassle. For bands who are just starting out, the decision often comes down to choosing between FanBridge or MailChimp, two of the best-suited providers for band marketing. Both services are useful for bands who are just starting out and for more established musicians, but each have different pros and cons.
FanBridge is a service which is specifically aimed at musicians. The service is free for up to 400 emails a month, making it useful for bands just starting out, although the free service lacks customisation options and analytics. As your fanbase grows, you can upgrade to the paid services. The Silver price plan is $19.99 a month and allows for 20,000 email sends per month. The different pricing strategies are tiered from there, with the Platinum service costing $129.99 a month.
MailChimp, on the other hand, offers a range of customisation features and is perhaps better suited for long-term use as well. The service is free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers and allows up to 12,000 emails to be sent per month. This means a band can send six emails a month to a fanbase of 2,000 people, for free. By the time a band has more than 2,000 subscribers, they will likely be making enough money to justify the paid options, which start at $30 a month for unlimited emails to 2,500 subscribers.
Collecting Email Addresses
After choosing a mailing list provider, the next thing your band needs to do is collect email addresses for the newsletter. The best approach to this, contrary to popular belief, is not to just spam as many email addresses as possible. Generally, people will not open emails unless they have an interest in the subject and people will become annoyed if they receive unwanted emails. It is, therefore, best to target existing fans and to create an incentive for signing up to the newsletter.
"What you need to do is this - give your music away as high-quality DRM-free MP3s. Collect people’s email info in exchange (which means having the infrastructure to do so) and start building your database of potential customers," explained Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails. "Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make them limited editions / scarce goods."
Many bands promote their newsletter on their website or social media accounts and make it clear that subscribers will get exclusive content. From here, subscribers will hear music and discuss it with friends, or talk about it online, which will hopefully encourage new subscribers. This method of gathering emails ensures that you are targeting your content towards people who are actually interested. The incentives you offer will also ensure that people continue to open the emails you send, which is essential when it comes to promoting tours and albums.
Additional Newsletter Tips
Research into email and newsletter marketing has uncovered a number of interesting trends about the type of content which works best, the ways to increase the amount of people who open your emails and about the campaigns which have proven successful in the past. It is important for bands to gain a basic understanding of what does and does not work, in order to avoid the pitfalls of email marketing and to maximise what the band gains from the marketing campaign.
One common problem with band marketing is that the content of emails tends to be overly promotional. While the purpose of the newsletter is to promote, it is important that your newsletters do not to come across as solely promotional, or readers will start to feel like they are not involved or valued. The bands who use newsletters to the greatest effect try to include their readers in the emails. Panic! At The Disco, for instance, found success by leaving clues about future projects. Other bands operate polls, or run Q&A sessions.
Finally, first impressions do count. The first thing readers will see is your email subject line and this will ultimately decide whether or not a subscriber opens it. Research has found that short, snappy subject lines of 50 characters or less tend to result in higher email open rates. If possible, it is best to avoid using obvious promotional words, like “Free” or “Reminder”. Finally, do not re-use a subject line for multiple emails, as people will assume the content is also recycled.
Image Credit: Esparta