As an independent artist, your mailing list is your lifeline. It is your direct connection to your fans. Whenever you want to reach them, they are only a few clicks away. These are the very people who have committed to supporting you and the best means to interact with them is through your mailing list. This is how you tell them you will be performing soon or that you are releasing an album. The people on your mailing list are mostly the ones who will come out to your shows, fund your crowd funding campaign, fill out your surveys, and buy our latest album.
Having a solid mailing list has helped me in a few different ways. It has helped me identify and build relationships with my super fans. It has helped me fill seats at my shows, fill empty tour slots, as well as sell my music and merchandise. My mailing list keeps the train moving. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to maintain a forward moving career.
More importantly, without continually growing my list, I wouldn’t be able to develop into the artist I eventually want to become. In my experience as an independent artist, here are a few methods I use to grow my mailing list:
1. Collect Names/E-mails at live shows.
This is the all time best way to get e-mails and grow your mailing list. The people who have just watched you perform live are going to be the most enthusiastic about hearing from you again, especially if you gave them a great show. Always, always, always put out a mailing list sign-up form with a pen next to it on your merchandise table. Try being proactive by asking people if they have signed up to the list if they talk to you about the show. Tell them why they need to sign up. I observed one artist designate a person to walk around with the sign-up sheet and a clip board asking people to sign up. The designated person may have even gotten a gift based on how many sign-ups she had received. What I like to do is run a short giveaway contest in between songs during my sets where I get people to fill out cards that I pre-made. I put the cards together, put them in a bowl, pull a card and announce the winner. It’s a lot of fun for the audience because it breaks up the monotony of listening to song after song, plus it is suspenseful and engaging.
2. Collect them one at a time.
When meeting someone new, do they ask you when you’re playing next? Do they ask you to let them know the next time you have a performance? Now is the time to grab their e-mail address. They’re asking you to keep them in the loop. Don’t miss this opportunity. Even though these are individuals and only help you add one e-mail address at a time to your mailing list, they add up at the end of the year.
3. Ask for them on social media.
Ever week I figure out a clever way to ask for e-mail sign-ups on my social media accounts. I post about an upcoming song or big announcement that will be included in the next newsletter to my “VIP Subscribers.” I also include a link to the sign-up form. I normally get 2 or 3 people to sign up as a result. Again it’s not a lot, but it adds up.
4. My website.
People from all over the world visit my website on a daily basis. They listen to music samples, find out when I’m performing next, and also come to check out what’s new. Either way, it would be a shame if I didn’t use the opportunity to capture e-mails. I offer a free song download in exchange for their e-mail address.
5. Host surveys.
Another thing I do to add e-mails to my list is host surveys. Sometimes, I use the survey in conjunction with a YouTube series I host. The survey respondents are entered into a monthly drawing where I select one winner and announce it on my YouTube video. There is a question asking for their e-mail address and their home state. It works like a charm.
I love using Mailchimp! It is free-ish and is very easy to use. There are other platforms such as Aweber and Constant Contact, which I know nothing about but have seen some musician friends using them as well. Whichever one you use, make sure it has the capability to auto respond, meaning it automatically sends out mailings to a select group of people based on pre-arranged criteria. This is helpful when you want to send out customized messages to people on their birthdays or free songs to new sign-ups and so forth without you having to manually do it yourself. It saves time, plus it gives your fans the added bonus of having you remember their birthdays or feel special because you took the time to write them personally.
A musician’s mailing list is critical to his/her success. I try to include my mailing list as a part of everything I do because of how integral it is to my bottom line. If you are looking to build a fan base and establish a platform of support, growing your mailing list is mandatory. How do you grow yours? Post in the comment section and let us in on your ideas!