[Editors Note: This article was written by Chelsea Ira of New Artist Model.]
Email is one of the most effective ways to promote your music.
But you’ve heard that a million times before, right?
So today let’s start off by talking about the why. Once you understand that, it will be much easier to come up with cool things to give away in exchange for email addresses – things that your fans will actually love and that will help you turn casual fans into buyers and super fans, which is really the name of the game in music.
The big question is, why bother with email when you have direct access to your fans via social media?
And there are a couple big reasons:
- On social media, the platform owns your connections. If that social network goes under so does all your connections with your fans.
- Many social networks are becoming over saturated, and as a result, they are resorting to algorithms to sort the content. More times than not, it means bands and musicians need to pay to reach their whole audience.
- On social media you have to conform your content with the platform’s posting guidelines. Email gives you a lot more freedom in terms of how long your content is, how you link, what you link to, and how you use images.
Now of course, we’re not here to bash social media. Social media is an incredible tool to connect with your fans on a daily basis and to grow your audience.
But, it’s important to understand that social media plays a role in your overall strategy – it’s not the end-all-be-all.
Think of your career as a big funnel. At the top of the funnel you have your new fans and your casual fans. At the bottom you have your super fans who come to every gig and buy your music. It’s your job to get fans from the top of that funnel to the bottom, and you do that by tier-ing your content.
The further down you go in the funnel, the more exclusive your content should be. This gives your fans a reason to become more invested in your career. If you want their increased support, you need to give them a little something extra.
So, with all that in mind, let’s go through a few things that you can give away in exchange for an email address to get your fans to take that next step down your funnel.
1. Exclusive Music
Of course, it’s pretty standard to give away free music for email addresses, but there’s nothing super special about that, is there? Anyone can go on YouTube or Spotify and listen to those songs for free, so why should they give you direct access to their email inbox for that?
You’ll probably get more people signing up for your emails if you trade an exclusive song or set of songs instead – something they can only get by joining your email list.
Things like an acoustic version of your most popular song, an unreleased set of tracks that didn’t make it onto your last album, a version of a song with a full orchestra, a live recording, or an extended version of a song with extra verses or instrumental sections.
Get creative with it and see if you can come up with something that’s really unique and exciting. And of course, make sure you have your email opt in form above the fold on your website homepage with an obvious headline telling fans exactly what they get for signing up. Something like “Sign up to get three unreleased tracks” would be perfect.
2. Early Access
People love to feel special and even though it’s a little silly, we all get that sense of pride when we get something first. And you can totally incorporate this into your email strategy.
The general idea is that before you release anything, be it a blog post, tour tickets, new merch, or an album, you give your email subscribers first pickings.
This is also a great approach for anyone who releases any kind of long-form content on a regular basis – think blog posts and YouTube videos.
For YouTube, upload your videos with the privacy setting as “Unlisted,” and share the direct link with your email list. Keep it unlisted for a few days and then change the privacy to “Public” to let the rest of your fans join the fun.
It’s pretty easy to add a link to your email opt in form in the description box of your YouTube videos. Include a simple call to action like, “Join my email list to watch all my videos a day before everyone else.”
3. Special Events
A more direct and personal connection to you as an artist is something a lot of fans want, and it’s an extremely easy, no-cost way to give your email list a fun reason to be subscribed. These events can be online or in-person, so get creative and experiment to see what your fans resonate with the most.
The key of course, is to create an online event that only your email subscribers can attend. Streaming on Twitch, or going live on Instagram or Facebook where anyone can join just won’t have the same exclusive feel.
YouTube is perhaps the easiest platform to set up private online streams. Just go to your Creator Studio, click on the Live Streaming tab, and set your Privacy to “Unlisted.” Share that link with your email subscribers and you’re all set.
Try monthly or weekly private streamed concerts. You could stream your band’s rehearsal or just put on a little hour-long acoustic set. Another option is to host monthly Q&A sessions with your email subscribers. You could even try hosting live guitar lessons on a stream.
If you prefer to do in-person events, try setting up email subscriber exclusive meetups before or after your gigs if you have the time.
Again, if you choose to use exclusive events as an incentive to opt in to your list, make sure you tell your fans right in the form. If you don’t tell them all the cool stuff they get when they opt in, they probably won’t sign up.
This is probably one of the easiest options, but hey, it works!
Essentially, you’re just setting up some sort of prize package, and in order to enter, fans must be subscribed to your email list. This can be a great way to push more fans to your email list and build up some hype in the weeks leading up to a big album release.
First, you need to decide what the prize will be. Remember your funnel – your email list is where you sort out the super fans from the pack, so try to offer a prize bundle a superfan would love. Things like signed merch, exclusive stuff no one else has, or direct access to you via a Skype or Facetime session will work really well.
Next, choose the start and end date and start promoting on social media; driving fans to your email opt in forms. At the end of the contest, use a random generator to choose a winner.
With contests, it’s very easy for things to get too pushy and promotional, so it’s probably something you only do every now and then to inject some excitement.
Hopefully these ideas have gotten the ball rolling in your mind. The key to growing your email list is to make sure you’re trading something your fans find really valuable. Every fanbase is a little different, so it will probably take some experimenting on your end to see what works.
Of course, once you have people signed up for your email list, you need to start sending emails. If you need some ideas to get started, try out these 10 free email templates.