Forget Facebook, Your Band Needs Email Marketing

karnivoolemailBands have a lot of different attitudes when it comes to how they use Facebook.

You’ve got the guys who don’t like to fill out any information. Then the ones who prefer to post vague and mysterious, almost nonsensical blocks of text. You’ve also got overly gracious bands that thank fans for being at shows or buying an album or posting on their wall.

Most, though, reserve Facebook for just a few things: behind-the-scenes photos, concert pictures and announcements.

That’s usually the case whether your band’s Facebook Page has 10 Likes or 10,000. The real curiosity, then, is why all those Likes don’t translate into something more tangible a lot of the time.

Every band has been there: You post something about an upcoming show, sit back and… no one likes the post. Or comments.

Why? The truth is that only 15 percent of your fans see your posts. If the average band has about 200 Facebook fans, that means 30 people see that you’re having a show.

What’s the solution? Get email addresses. And keep getting them.

The big email inbox in the sky

As a music fan who knows that emails are a better way to keep track of bands, I give away my email pretty liberally. It’s nice, because bands don’t spam you – they send you emails when there’s an upcoming show or album or tour.

Emails that you send to your fans are guaranteed to get to them. Even if Gmail shoves newsletters into the “Promotions” tab, the fact is that people check their email more than they check Facebook.

Emails are personal and they’re not as distracting as Facebook, too. Rather than scrolling mindlessly in a Newsfeed full of horrendously sensational news stories about Miley Cyrus, indignant social media posts about politics that allow people to feel politically active and photos from friends trying to create an image of just how great their life is, an email isolates the fan from the socially anxious detritus of Facebook and gives you their undivided attention.

Email newsletters let you get in touch directly with fans with whatever messages you want. The top email is  a tour announcement from Australian band Karnivool. Here’s one promoting merchandise and CDs from another Australian band, Dead Letter Circus:


Now, as someone who has been doing professional email marketing for two years, the color schemes and general lay-outs of both of these emails make me cringe a little. But who cares? They get the message across.

I sign up for Australian and UK band newsletters all the time, because that way I can be sure that I don’t miss a tour if they ever dare cross the Atlantic Ocean to the unwelcoming bars and ramshackle venues dotting our fair country.

The features for email are really cool

What else can you do with email marketing?

  • Track which fans are most likely to click merch, tours, etc. and create separate email lists for them when there’s more merch available
  • Announce secret events
  • Raise money through Kickstarter or PledgeMusic campaigns
  • Promote social media channels
  • Share cool pictures, directly
  • Ask for fan information like zip codes or city, so you can create separate lists for geography and send out local emails for upcoming shows or promotional needs

There is really NO good way for casual fans to get informed about local shows. They’re not active advocates for your music, which means you need to be able to convince, remind and entice them to come.

Pandora needs band pages. Ticketmaster needs a better email marketing system (although it’s getting kind of good). Most of all, local venues need to get their act together (literally) if they want people to come to shows.

They’re not going to do that, because they outsource that stuff to local promoters. Local promoters… well, they need to figure out how to help bands actually promote rather than dictate how many people bands need to get to venues. But that’s a problem for another day.

Building your email list

My friend, Tim, is in Doze, an alt-metal (though they don’t want to call themselves that) band in Boston. We just put an email sign-up on the band’s site. But guess what? Very few people sign up online.

That’s because it doesn’t occur to most people that email is better than Facebook. Really, for their purposes, it might not be – giving away an email is a big commitment.

To really get email addresses from fans, bands need to ask for them in exchange for albums, either online or at shows. That way, you can build up a reliable email list of people who are listening to your music and are most likely to be interested in future shows.

Curious about where to turn for email newsletters? If you’ve got $15 a month to spend, I’d go with Constant Contact – it’s really easy to create something really fast. MailChimp is free, but I hear it’s harder to learn.

Whatever you choose, remember that getting those email addresses is key. Having an incentive – whether it’s a piece of merch to a CD to whatever else – is going to help push people into giving away their precious email addresses.

The next step, of course, is to design an email worth sending and have something worth saying.

Learn more by reading my case study about the band Earthtone9, visiting my For Bands tab or downloading my free guide on blogging

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