In a world where hundreds of musicians seem to blow up overnight and thousands more are still waiting for a big break, what everyone needs is a steadily growing base of loyal fans. They provide support and are what keeps most acts going.
But how do you build and nurture more profound relationships with fans? Especially now, when live concerts and meet-ups are not a possibility? The short answer is email.
I decided to write a quick guide to email marketing for musicians after many conversations with industry experts, artists, bands, producers, and their marketing managers. Whether just starting out or very experienced, they all seem to agree that email marketing is the way to go.
So, without further ado, let’s learn about the benefits and the how-to’s of email marketing for musicians.
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Email marketing tips for musicians
How do you email as a musician? It’s similar to how other brands do it – follow the simple basics and let your talent and charisma shine through.
Here’s a quick 4-step email marketing guide for musicians:
1. Build and grow an email list
The first thing you will need to start email marketing campaigns will be an email list. There are a few ways to build one and combining them will be your best bet. You can offer your fans a lead magnet – something in return for signing up. A good lead magnet to use for a musician or band would be an exclusive recording, sheet music for your songs, studio outtakes, a sample of an upcoming single, unreleased album art, or even a quiz on your website where the fans will give you their email in exchange for the results.
You can promote your mailing list like a product, and even use the magic of paid ads and social media to gain newsletter subscribers. See our guide to Building an Email List from Scratch to learn how you can grow your list in 9 easy steps.
To collect emails, you’ll need a signup form on your website or on a dedicated landing page. It’s best to outline the benefits of joining your email list, like getting updates, tour dates, merch coupon codes, etc. My advice would be to collect only the crucial data, like name and email, as more complicated forms might seem intimidating at first. Here are some examples of artists’ signup forms and what happens after you sign up.
Above is an example of a signup popup from Jacob Collier’s website – the headline is inviting and the form is simple and short. Right after you subscribe, you get a welcome email that is a recommended nice gesture to say ‘hi’ to your fans. Sending such an email is very easy to set up, with the help of marketing automation. The subject line was “Welcome to the Jacob Collier family!” and here’s how it looks:
Below is an example of a signup form from Lawrence, a NY based band:
The form is a bit longer, but filling out the fields with your location is optional. The form’s copy even states the purpose of collecting data with the subscriber’s location – to receive location specific announcements. There’s also a consent field which reassures subscribers they can easily unsubscribe at any time.
There are many data protection laws around the world, and a simple way to make sure you’ve got the subscriber’s full consent to send them email updates and store their data, is to send a confirmation email. Here’s how it looks:
Read more about confirmation emails here: Confirmation Email Templates – 12 Examples + Tips
Social media presence is pretty much essential these days for any musician or band. It allows you to gain exposure, engage with fans, get new opportunities – you get the gist. You can also utilize the platforms for building an email list. And here’s how:
If you offer any extra content that can be gated (requires signing up), promote it in posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Add CTAs (call-to-actions) like “Sign up” where you can – in your YouTube video’s descriptions, Instagram bio, etc. Link them to your website or landing page with an email singup form. You can use an incentive like “sign up to get my sheet music” or “sign up to get a discount code”.
Run contests on your social media channels that link to a landing page and require an email address to participate. (Remember to follow appropriate rules for contests and giveaways.)
Take advantage of lead-generating Facebook Ads, attract the exact demographic you’re looking for and convert them.
Encourage your YouTube subscribers not only to “hit like and subscribe” to your channel, but also include a line or two in your script where you describe the benefits of joining your list. An end screen with a link would also be a great idea.
2. Prepare your emails
You now have a list of people who want to get emails from you/your band. What’s next?Well, the next step is crafting your first email campaign. There are, of course, hundreds of ways you can engage with your fans through email, so let’s go over the most popular types of email for musicians.
What types of emails can musicians send?
These are the most popular emails musicians can send:
- New music/ music video/ merchandise announcement
- Gig or tour dates
- Album pre-sale info
- Autoresponders, order confirmation/ details
There are also automated email sequences that you can set up beforehand, like welcome emails.
Read more: 30+ Automated Email Responses
The ‘announcement’ type of emails usually requires the least amount of effort to create, especially if you have all the assets ready (like graphics and short copy). Upload them into an existing email template and you’re good to go!
You can send these emails a few days before your music drops on streaming platforms, a day before you upload a music video to YouTube or on the day you release new merchandise, so that your subscribers are the first ones to know about it. The most engaged fans love being the first to hear about your new releases, and more subscribers will come through word-of-mouth advertising.
If you collect data about the subscriber’s location, when you announce gig or tour dates you can set up an automated email campaign that first reveals the big news and then sends reminders that you’ll be playing in their nearest venue soon.
Many popular music distribution platforms, like CD Baby, offer album pre-sales on iTunes or Amazon Music. There’s also an option for an ‘Instant gratification track’ which lets people purchase or stream one track during the pre-order period, whether or not they pre-order the full album. You can use this feature and send out emails that share the news or links to streaming services.
Newsletters give you the most freedom when it comes to the content you send. In a newsletter you can share any news, updates, behind-the-scenes footage, stories, videos, photos, interviews, etc. Share the exclusive content to make your audience feel like VIPs. Newsletters are also a great opportunity to earn money – sprinkle some call-to-actions in the email, like ‘buy tickets’, ‘buy merch’, or even ‘stream our new single’.
The example below is an email from Billy Strings. In the email, there’s a video of Grammy celebration, a show announcement and presale tickets, a tour update video, dates for upcoming streams, etc. The email’s copy is written in a very conversational tone which brings the artist closer to the fans. It makes people want to root for the artist and support them even more.
The key to success with newsletters is being consistent – not only with the tone of voice and branding. Send emails like these at least once a month to stay on people’s minds.
No extra content and no big announcements? No big deal. Share fun stories from rehearsals or ask your subscribers to share their stories with you. Maybe you’ll feature these in your next newsletter?
To make sure you design great emails, read Email Design Best Practices for 2021.
3. Set up your first campaign
As I briefly mentioned before, you don’t have to send every email yourself – most campaigns you can automate. It’s all thanks to marketing automation.
Marketing automation is a very powerful tool that makes email marketing a breeze. Basically, it’s connecting actions and their triggers into a workflow that, after setting it up, will do all the work for you (so you have more time to play your music).
Read our Guide to Marketing Automation to learn how workflows work and what you can use them for.
For example, you can send welcome email series. Let’s say someone visits your page and signs up. Set up emails that are sent out every week after the signup where each of them offers content that introduces you piece by piece to your subscribers. Offer fun activities and opportunities so that your fans can consistently engage with you.
You can use marketing automation to score the engagement, tag and segment people to send them more personalized campaigns. Also, use automation to send purchase details if you offer merch. Want to wish happy birthday to each of your fans? You can do it automatically.
Here’s an amazing example of an email from automated email series:
The email is a third email from a longer sequence – the series was set up to offer fans an opportunity to buy a new, unique, limited-edition poster design every night of the tour. They give a secret, subscribers-only link and a secret password, and the offer is available for 30 minutes only.
The only limits to using marketing automation are the limits of creativity.
To send the best campaigns, check out Email Marketing Best Practices for 2021.
4. Measure your results
To stay in control of how well your marketing efforts work, you need to measure the results and tweak the email campaigns accordingly.
Luckily, the stats are usually self-explanatory and easy to understand. Some of the most important metrics and KPIs for your campaigns include:
- Email open rate
- Click-through rate
- Click-to-open rate
- Bounce rate
- Unsubscribe rate
- Deliverability rate
- Spam complaint rate
- Average revenue per email sent
- Email campaign profitability
Compare your results and data with the email marketing benchmarks for the Arts & Entertainment industry. If you’re not satisfied, it’s time to take a deeper look at your email list and campaigns to see why your rates look different. You can, for example, A/B test the emails you send to see what performs better and stick with the winning tactic.
For an in-depth look at the metrics, check out 17 Email Marketing Metrics & KPIs for Measuring Campaign Success.
Why do musicians need email marketing?
If you already have a presence on social media, streaming platforms, etc., and manage it yourself, you’re probably wondering, “Do I really need to do more? I’m a musician, not a marketer!” It’s a common thought, and it’s understandable. However, email marketing benefits outweigh the cost and time it takes to set up email marketing campaigns.
Let’s quickly go through what makes email the top choice of communication for artists.
1. Creating campaigns is super easy
You don’t need to be an expert in coding, marketing, design or copywriting to send great and effective emails. All you need is good email marketing software that provides you with lots of options. Ready-made templates, drag-and-drop editors, and features like autoresponders will be a lifesaver. You just pick a template, upload your own images, colours, a bit of copy and you’re good to go!
Similar to creating emails, setting up automated campaigns and automated email sequences is simple, especially if you use premade templates.
2. The Return on Investment is insanely high
Email marketing’s ROI (Return on Investment) is the highest among all marketing channels. In 2019, a study by DMA showed that email’s average return on investment is 42:1. So, for every dollar spent on email marketing, statistically you can earn $42.
It’s a statistical average, but you can track your ROI if it’s below average and see what works in your campaigns and what doesn’t. Important factors that affect the results include the quality of your email list and content, the call to action you provide and the design and copy of your email.
The cost of professional email marketing software is low and most platforms, like GetResponse, offer different plans for different list sizes that accommodate your needs. You can also test and practice creating campaigns for free on software that offers free trials.
3. Email is universal and personal
Email is the most universal channel you can utilize. 4 billion people use it, there are 7 billion email accounts, and 95% of consumers check their email every single day.
Social media platforms come and go, but email? By this point, email seems almost untouchable. It’s safe and essential to create any accounts on the Internet. (So, to have a TikTok/Instagram/Facebook account to go and follow your favorite creator, you need an email.)
We check our emails, because they’re personal. They appear as if they were specifically crafted for our eyes only. It’s part due to personalization – like using the recipient’s name in the subject line and copy – and similar techniques of data-driven marketing. For example, “Hi John, did you stream my song today?”
It’s also because we see the Facebook and Instagram posts being liked and commented by millions of people and then buried by other posts on the feed. But, an email lands in our personal inbox, like any personal message sent by a friend or colleague, and we can read it (and engage with it) anytime, anyway we want.
4. Full control over the medium and audience quality
Email gives you endless opportunities when it comes to presenting your brand as a musician. No restrictions for the format, like it is on Instagram. No character limit, as opposed to Twitter. You can place multiple links in your content, unlike on TikTok.
Also, apart from following simple rules to not land in the spam folder (nobody wants that, anyway) and regional laws when it comes to collecting your subscribers data, you don’t have to worry about ever-changing social media policies. Or, about a social platform simply being taken down.
Many musicians, especially newcomers, fear going viral on social media for all the wrong reasons – like dozens of hateful comments by anonymous trolls. That’s luckily not a thing with email.
That brings me to my next point – you control the audience quality. When collecting emails you can target a specific audience, your fan community. Every person who subscribes to your list wants to be there. That’s the support you need!
If you’re dissatisfied with your contact base, maintaining list hygiene and list management are just a few simple extra steps to take to ensure the quality of your audience.
5. It’s much more than just emails
When using online marketing software, you can do much, much more than send email campaigns. Doing it doesn’t require more money or more of your time you could spend playing music.
Take GetResponse, for example. You can create complex automated online campaigns, integrate your account with hundreds of apps, build websites, track your website visits, create paid ads, and more.
You can even host webinars! As a musician, you can host private Q&A sessions with fans, play small ‘secret concerts’ or teach your talented fellows what you’ve learned about the entertainment business throughout the years.
You can easily sell your music knowledge with software like GetResponse. Take Alex Terrier, for example – a jazz musician who offers online music courses to great results. See his case study here.
If you want to test all the options yourself, sign up for a 30-day free trial!