Setting Up A Mailing List For Your Band

A mailing list should be your main strategy for making album, merch, or ticket sales.

Why? Because when you have a mailing list, you OWN that list.

TheRealMusician Recommends:

If you want to take marketing your music to another level, then I can't recommend enough John Oszajca's music marketing manifesto. My favorite aspect of his complete program was his stance on email marketing, where he really leverages the that "1000 true fans" philosophy.

His website is a bit hokey (Flaming guitars? Seriously?), but his program really shows independant artists how to get a leg-up on signed artists.

If you build a Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram following, you don’t own that following. If Facebook decides that they want to change their algorithms, you might find that your posts are shown to only 1/10th of your "likes" (this has happened several times before).

Anything could happen. You could have your page shut down for no reason, and you have little control over it. It's not that social media isn’t valuable, and it can certainly be used to BUILD a mailing list, but it shouldn't be your end goal.

With a mailing list though, you own it. There might be slight variations as to how people might receive your emails (like Gmail creating a “promotions” tab) but overall there’s very little that can be done to remove your list (unless you start breaking the law and send unsolicited spam).

On top of the “control” aspect of a mailing list, there’s another great benefit:

Fans buy albums through mailing lists!

Marketers and businesses have known for a long time that an email list (or a newsletter) is one of the most effective ways to sell to their customers. You should be running your band like a business. You should think like a business too.

When you have a list, you can send mail to your fan's personal email address. You could tell them about your new album (making your release a big hit), or a tour. You could also share some cool new tracks you’re working on, or whatever else you think will interest them.

Where To Start

If you don’t already have a list, head on over to Mailchimp and sign up for an account.

Most mailing programs cost a fair amount of money, starting at $30/month. Mailchimp has a free option until you have 2,000 subscribers. Some features are missing in the free version (the most important being an autoresponder) but it’s still a very functional mailer.

It’s also the easiest-to-use mailer on the market.

Getting Subscribers

Once you’ve got an account set up, you’ll want to put a signup form on your band’s website. Usually putting it in a right hand column is a good start.

I’d recommend you create some sort of incentive for a potential fan to sign up. For example, you might say “type in your email and we’ll send you a download for our new single, ______(your single name)”.

This gives them a reason to sign up, and will increase your subscriber rate.

Another thing you could consider is setting up a “squeeze page” for your newsletter. A squeeze page basically just has some information about your band, and a signup form. Squeeze pages typically don’t have links to anywhere else so all attention is brought to the signup form.

With a little split- testing, you’ll find that your squeeze page could convert very high. You’ll want to direct people there from your social media, as well as from your website (a link saying “free download” in your navigation is a good idea).

I know John Oszajca is able to around a 30% conversion rate on his ugly squeeze pages, which is very very high. That means that if 100 people look at the page, 30 of them sign up for his mailing list.

Not bad at all! Especially when he says that his simple right-hand column signup form (just on his website, not the squeeze page) only gets a 3% conversion rate

The point is, there are a ton of ways to get subscribers. You could:

  • pass around a signup sheet at gigs you play
  • tell your twitter, facebook, and website visitors to “get their free download” with a link to your squeeze page
  • do a joint venture
  • buy Facebook/Twitter ads and funnel potential fans to your squeeze page
  • advertise in a music magazine
  • add a “lightbox” pop over that tells potential fans that they can get a free download
  • put your songs up on YouTube and link to your squeeze page in the description (or in annotations)
  • really just a million ways that you can get subscribers

Once you’ve got the subscribers, you’re going to want to engage with them.

Setting Up An Autoresponder

Once someone is on your list, they are going to get a “confirmation” email automatically. I’m sure you’ve seen these before, where you have to “click on a link” to confirm your subscription.

After your potential fans confirm their subscription, they’re taken to a “thank you” page. This is the page where they’ll get their free download.

Now that they’ve confirmed, they’re officially a part of your list. Congratulations! You’ll want to follow up with them rather quickly.

You can do this by sending out email personally to every subscriber that signs up. Maintain your list and make sure you’re checking every few hours! I’m just kidding of course. It would be wildly ineffective to check your mailing list every day to see who had subscribed.

That’s where an autoresponder comes in handy!

With an autoresponder, you can make sure that every new signup automatically gets email sent to them. You can even send a sequence of emails, spaced out!

Set up your autoresponder to send out 3-4 emails out in the first 3-4 weeks. You want your new subscribers to remember who you are!

What should you send them? Something that they’ll love! A really easy idea is to just send them a few more downloads. Every week, send them another download of your next best single.

Because you only have to set up the autoresponder once, it makes total sense to put your best foot forward. After all, thousands of new subscribers will eventually receive these few key emails.

If you don’t like that idea, you can look ahead in this article to see my ideas for what to send your subscribers. Be free to come up with an idea of your own too - as long as you think your visitors will like it!

Sending Out Emails

Making regular contact with your subscribers is vital. And when I say vital, I mean “your mailing list will totally DIE if you don’t contact them regularly”.

If you get a subscriber, and don’t reach out to them for a year, they’re effectively dead. They’ve forgotten about you entirely, and won’t open your emails whenever you finally decide to get around to it.

How often should you send out email? That’s up to you, but I would recommend sending something out quarterly (minimum). I wouldn’t recommend sending more than 1 email per month though, as fans really don’t need to hear from you that often; it’s possible to provide “too much” contact.

Regular means consistent, not often. Sending out a quarterly email might be totally appropriate for you, or it might not. What's important is that you stick to a schedule. All mailers have a “schedule” feature anyways, so you can write your newsletters for the year all at once if you really want to.

Knowing Your Audience

The emails you send need to create genuine value and enjoyment for your fans. Although you might occasionally use your list for promotions, that should only come 10% of the time. The other 90% of the time you should be sending them stuff that they’ll love.

You’ll want to brainstorm about your particular audience - what types of things would they like to see?

I'm want you to do me (and yourself) a favor. Follow along with these ACTION instructions:

Stop reading right now, and set a timer for 5 minutes.

After that, get out a pen & paper.

All set?

Spend at least 5 minutes thinking about what your fans love. Every time you think of an idea, write it down. Don’t worry if the ideas are stupid, just get them down. Get your brain working, and make an effort to actually consider your audience.

What do they like? What websites do they read? Do they actively find new music, or are they just radio listeners?

Just keep those ideas on your paper, and leave them there. You don’t have to pull any marketing miracles here - I just want you to push yourself a little bit, and then I’ll hold your hand the rest of the way.

Once you’ve got a few ideas down, let them swirl around in your brain. They’ll continue to stir around over the months, and it will make a difference in the future as you continue to market yourself.

What To Send To Your Subscribers

Here are a few ideas that I have that you could send subscribers:

  • new songs
  • unfinished, unreleased tracks
  • b-sides
  • interviews with your band
  • interesting articles written about you (nothing that’s not interesting)
  • new artwork that’s being made around your music
  • promotions (duh)
  • other topics that fit with your band (if you’re System Of A Down, it’s likely that you might spread news about some political atrocity happening in the world, because those are huge themes in their music)

Just keep the value coming. Value could mean I:

  • enjoyed what I read (entertainment)
  • learned something new about art, music, or the world (education) listened to something new that I liked
  • was given an opportunity
  • was benefitted in some way for being exposed to your newsletter

When you regularly send out emails with value, you gain something called an “engaged audience”. When your audience is ENGAGED, it means that they recognize your emails and look forward to opening them.

So now that you’ve discovered the sunken spanish ships full of gold (engaged audience) what do you do with them?

Promoting To Your List

There is a fantastic method of promoting albums that John Oszajca uses with all of his clients. It works particularly well. Danika Holmes used it to sell over 1,200 albums even though her mailing list only had 3,000 people on it.

In includes part of what I've already told you, and some things I haven't. I call it "the musician's mailing list conversion funnel".

I’ll take you through how to make an offer with scarcity, as well as how to increase your sales by up to 50% using an valuable upsell.

Musician's Newsletter Checklist

I’ve gone through mostly everything required to run a profitable and engaging newsletter for your fans. By now you should have:

□ signed up for a mailout program
□ put signup forms on your website
□ created a squeeze page for your signup form
□ setup an autoresponder for new subscribers
□ decided on a mailing schedule (quarterly, semi-quarterly, monthly)
□ sent out your first mail to your subscribers - and started scheduling future messages
□ setup an offer that your subscribers can buy
□ setup an upsell that buyers will see after they buy

To maintain your mailing list, simply:

  • keep sending out email on your schedule
  • send out offers/upsells occasionally as you have something valuable to offer.
  • continue to promote your mailing list online, or offline at shows

It’s a lot of hard work to get started, but once you’ve figured out the entire routine it should be pretty easy, especially when you consider that you can schedule almost everything in advance.

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. 

I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.