If used properly, a performing songwriter's most valuable marketing asset can be his email list. A lot of songwriters put all of their promotional efforts into the latest social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and ReverbNation without considering the benefits of having an email newsletter. Admittedly, ReverbNation provides the most proficient email service, it does have its' restrictions.
Due to the unfortunate trend over the last few years, there is an increasing trend of musicians following musicians. This leads to musicians email being blocked up with emails from a host of other musicians with little hope of addressing every email and thus decreasing their email stats and 'band equity' on the site. It is for this reason that I shall shortly be advising my email list on ReverbNation to join my own official letter. I am hoping that this will attract 'true' followers. Time will tell.
The main advantage of my new official email list, is that it's a direct way of communicating with my followers, by sending them a message to their inbox. That's more than you can say for the social networking sites, which come off more as blasts to whoever happens to be viewing your feed at that moment.
The other main advantage of this email list over social networking sites is social media sites come and go (along with the fans attached to those pages), while email isn't going anywhere in the foreseeable future. Think about everyone who had 10,000 fans on their MySpace pages. What good are those fans now? Had those fans been email addresses, not only would they still be valid, but they'd be able to get direct emails, as opposed to just status updates.
That's not to say that I shouldn't have both an email list and a social media presence, because have both is ideal. But you also need to realize that having a Twitter or Facebook page isn't necessarily a replacement for an email newsletter.
Having said that and after some lengthy research, I have discovered some dos and don'ts to get you started with your email Newsletter.
1. DO Offer a cool and exclusive incentive for people to join your email list. I give subscribers either a free music download and/or a free mobile app on Android. Make sure it's something of value to your fans. Put yourself in their shoes. What would get you to sign up for an artist's email list, if you were them?
2. DO give value in your emails. You want people to want to open up and read emails from you, so give them stuff they'll care about. Maybe you can share an embarrassing moment that happened to you onstage, if you're a good storyteller. Or maybe, you'll share articles you found online that you think would be beneficial to your readers. Only you can know what's best for your fans. Get creative and make it about them as much as you can.
3. DO have a "call to action" in your emails. That means specifically tell your fans what you want them to do. That can mean telling them to come to a show, download an album, or vote for you somewhere online. Don't be afraid to ask.
4. DO use an email autoresponder service so people can unsubscribe from your email list, if they decide they no longer want to receive it. I'll talk more about that in a minute.
5. DO give it a cool name. Maybe instead of just calling it an email newsletter, you can call it your Backstage Pass Club, or Musical Notes or something like that. Kick around some ideas that would work well for your genre and your fans.
1. DON'T spam!!! That means don't put people on your list who didn't request to be there.
2. DON'T send out messages through gmail, ymail, aol, or any other personal email service. If you're just bcc'ing a lot of people through a personal email account, it's likely you'll have your email account suspended. Plus it gives no way for someone to opt-out of your mailing list. And that's not cool.
3. DON'T be dishonest. If you tell people your newsletter is monthly, don't send out an email every day. It's the fastest way to lose the trust of your audience and get people to unsubscribe.
4. DON'T use your newsletters for promotion only. Timely humour works well...for you and your subscribers. Keep things 'light.' While it's an approach some people use, it's just not as effective as offering content in addition to promotion. While direct email is the best way to get your fans to come to a show or buy a CD, if that's all you ever ask of them, they'll get tired of it, fast. Provide them something of value, in addition to asking for a call to action.You can sign up for my official email list below. "Thank you" in advance.