You got into this for the passion and the love of the craft, am I right? But somewhere along the way you’d probably like to make money from that passion too, right?

Well, making money can come from a number of places when it comes to the music business, but by and far the most effective way of doing this is through the successes of building a massive email list.

The two main arguments I’ve heard from countless artists about why they don’t want to do this are:

Excuse #1 – You don’t want to send newsletters because you don’t want to “bother” your fans.

Excuse #2 – You think you have “nothing to say,” and what may also be happening is you hate the way other artists communicate with their email newsletters, and you don’t want to be like them.

Am I right? (I know I am!)

Here are the real reasons why your newsletter is the most important thing to focus on:

This is the synopsis from a well-known McKinsey study:

“E-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined…That’s because 91 percent of all US consumers still use e-mail daily.”

Think of it this way: social media is like a cocktail mixer and your email list is an invite only hang with your bffs. Socials are great for casting a wide net and seeing who might be interested in being friends, but your email list is where your truest supporters live. Social media is still important for showing growth and engagement, but when it comes to income email is still the most vital asset you will build for generating revenue. You make relationships with fans on your social networks, but you turn those relationships into customers with email.

And then there is this:

I get constant feedback from artists who tell me that they have spent huge amounts of time and money growing their social media followings yet they STILL report that they can’t figure out how to monetize. 

This makes sense – while it IS important to have healthy social media #s, it is much more important to have direct communication with fans.  Once you establish this, create an actual rapport with your list; this does not mean blasting out email “newsletters”, this means actual exchanges where you respond to people who react each and every time to your emails. You need to take the time to build communications where fans can react, respond to, and answer them!

Understanding “Lead Nurturing” Is Crucial

Before you go ahead and start building a massive email list, make sure you think through what you want to say to new members of your list and how you want to strengthen existing communications. This will take time, but it is important.

Imagine you’ve just met a new friend. You’re eager to connect with them, to learn more, hang out a bit, but all of a sudden they go silent. Or start acting totally different than they did in person. Immediately, you become less interested. Email lists are the same, which is why you want to have an action plan for when people first come to your list.

The big picture is you want to take your fans on the journey through your Three Communities from Ambient (not yet on your list), to Engaged (On the list but maybe not yet really engaged), to Super (Fans who buy from you and support you!).

Step One – Create Your Email Automation 

This will take some doing. You need to create a few different series. Email newsletter management systems like MailChimp and Constant Contact will allow you to program these series and have robust tools for managing them.

Cheryl B Englehardt suggests that you create the following 3 first:

Welcome — these are the first communications that a new subscriber will receive saying thanks for joining my list – here is a little about me (and maybe even give away a few great tracks or exclusive videos)

Nurture  — these emails take your readers on a storytelling journey – you can talk about your history, tell compelling stories about certain songs or recount something meaningful that has happened in your career as an artist that defines who you are. This is where knowing your brand becomes SO important.

Monetization —Cheryl calls these the Rise series. This is a series that is designed to sell an individual product that you have created or a series that will get your fans to subscribe to your Patreon, or Volume Fan Club, or donate to your crowdfunding campaign. I give away a whole bonus pack of Monetization emails when you purchase my book CROWDSTART.

Step Two – Learn MailChimp or Constant Contact

Take the time to learn how to use your email list manager. MailChimp has a great guide – look for subscriber engagement segments. Constant Contact also will take you on a deep dive on how to set yourself up right.

Step Three – Building Your Massive Email List!

Technique #1 – Add Family, Friends, and Acquaintances

We all have huge inboxes stuffed with email from people we know.  Are they already on your email list? If not, email each of them and ask, “Is it okay for me to add you to my newsletter list?”

This process of building a massive email list will take time, but according to Bain & Company, it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.  So, consider those in your inbox “existing” and get to work strengthening your relationship with them. It will be well worth the effort.

Never, ever add someone without getting permission first, even if it’s a friend because that’s considered SPAM.  Legally, you must ask for the opt-­in. So by adding the link directly to your newsletter service you are making sure you are compliant!

Here’s a sample email you can send to nicely ask fans to join your mailing list (because you CAN’T just add then it’s Illegal!)

Dear [NAME],

(Start with something personal that connects you to this person here)

Would it be okay if I added you to my monthly newsletter list? (next explain the WIIFM “what’s in it for me” to your potential reader- so they feel compelled to sign up!)

Please let me know if it’s okay with you.

And I would love to share my (add a description of your fabulous incentive) with you as well (sentence about the music or something great someone has said about it)

(­Add opt-in link here­ [Set a link up through your newsletter provider])

I will never give your e­mail address to anyone else, and you can opt out of my list at any time.


[Signature File]

Technique #2 – Track Potential Subscribers With a Folder

Create a separate folder in your email inbox for potential newsletter sign­ups and name it, “Potential Newsletter Subscribers.”  Throughout the week, when you get an email from someone who you think would make a nice addition to the list, simply move them into that specific box.  Once a month, before you send out your newsletter, schedule an hour to sit down and invite those new people to subscribe using the formula above!

Don’t forget your sales email addresses.  People who have already purchased a product or service from you are more likely to buy from you again.  Go through your sales records (CD Baby has them all for you ) and email every single person who has bought from you on Paypal, Square or any other service you use with a personal note inviting them to subscribe to your newsletter if they are not already on it.

Technique #3 – Schedule a Set Time Each Month for List Building

Once a month, sit down and actively add the people you have met or corresponded with to your e­mail list.  You will be amazed at how many people you come into contact with whom you never add to your list simply because it slipped your mind.

TIP:­ There may be a pile of business cards sitting around or unanswered requests on LinkedIn to add as well!

Bonus tip: make a spreadsheet with the names, city, and any notes about these people. It’s a great networking tool!

Asking for emails on Facebook

 For Facebook, there are two strategies to employ:

  1.  Create a boosted post that highlights your fabulous incentive with a CTA to opt into your mailing list. Test effectiveness and track results to see if this strategy works for you.
  2.  Visit the personal profile of anyone that you regularly interact with, and send them a message asking if they would be interested in your fabulous incentive. Always make sure you send a personal note rather than a generic request.

Asking for emails on Twitter

For Twitter, it is important to ask for an email address at the appropriate time.  Once you have @ replied back and forth with someone multiple times, itʼs okay to direct message (DM) them and ask for their email address. Always assure them that their email address is safe with you and that you will never sell it or give it to another party.  

Technique #4 – Create Social Posts Incentives for Those Who Sign Up for your Newsletter.  

Use Canva and create some JUICY and fun CTAs as offerings. Create links to track your effectiveness.

10 CTA’s / Giveaways you can offer your fans in exchange for their email addresses 

Remember that some of these options may take some time, effort and even money to produce, but as the old saying goes ‘you have to spend money to make money’. This process is an important investment in the growth and success of your career:

1. Private Video of an Unreleased Song or a Cover

Set up a private video on Vimeo that requires a password and exchange the password for an email address. Make this video something special… like an acoustic version of a fan favorite, or a cool and unique cover of one of your favorite songs. This video could also be a ‘secret’ look into the recording process or behind the scenes look at a recent tour. The direction of this video truly depends on what your fans are looking for.

2. Exclusive Download of Remixed Fan Favorites

This is an easy win if you have the means of remixing a song. Choose a song that you know your fans already love and do something unique with it. Maybe you include new instruments and electronic elements to an otherwise bare song or maybe you include a feature from an artist in your scene that you know your fans will appreciate.

3. Exclusive Download of an Unreleased Song

Do you have unreleased music that was left over from a previous project? If so, take a song, or even a few songs and put together a package of unreleased music that you can easily give away for free in exchange for an email address.

4. Free Concert Ticket

If you and/ or your band is focused on performing live, give your fans a voucher for a free ticket to come see you live. Who knows… maybe you’ve got a lot of fans out there who enjoy your music but haven’t been convinced enough to pay to see you perform live.  Now, you not only have more fans who WANT to come to see you live, but you have their email addresses so you can contact them directly when you are performing in their area!

5. Free, Exclusive Merch

If merch sales are a big revenue driver for you, why not create something unique for the mailing list subscribers that they can get for free when they join? Word to the wise though, make sure this is something your fans will actually want, but always remember that a sticker or a button doesn’t cost that much to produce.

6. Add Fan Pictures To An Official Photo Album on Facebook or Instagram

This is a simple and free option that is a great option for anyone who is nurturing a community of already highly dedicated fans. At a higher level of dedication, fans will simply want to be acknowledged and feel as though they are an insider; someone who belongs to the fan community. Always remember to think about the exclusivity of your offer. The idea here is that their email address is essentially granting them access to the community, of which you are publicly showing your appreciation.

7. Access to Private Q&A / Song-Request Video Sessions

There are quite a few different streaming video services out there, such as Twitch, StageIt, Facebook Live, IG Live, YouTube Live , and our favorite, for livestreaming and Fan Clubs. These services will allow you to give private access to mailing list subscribers. Depending on what your fans would like from you, you can do quite a few different things, either speaking with them or performing for them. You can even monetize Instagram Live by posting in forums to exchange money for shoutouts. We suggest using Reddit.

8. Give Away an Entire Previous Album, or Your Whole Catalog!

This is especially effective if you are releasing a new album. While promoting the upcoming release, offer your fans the opportunity to get a previous album or even the entire back catalog of music for free in exchange for an email address.

9. Create A Live Music Compilation

If live music is your focus and is truly where you shine, use this free offer as an opportunity to not only gain an email address but also to increase the excitement and desire for fans to want to come out and see your shows.

10. Monthly Newsletter with Exclusive Music

More of a long-term commitment than any of the other options, the big benefit here is that it will expand the value of the offer far beyond the initial email exchange. In fact, if the music you are producing and giving out for free, exclusively through this newsletter is of a high enough caliber, this could be a great way to increase the dedication of your fans ultimately converting them to super fans. Use Volume’s fan clubs to support and deliver this option.

Technique #5 – Do A Giveaway At Every Show (Or If Your Fans Are Too Cool, Do it Digitally!)

When you are playing a show, hold up a CD, t-shirt, or any item of merch on stage and announce you are doing a giveaway. Have a friend sweep through the venue with a hat and have everyone drop their business cards into the hat. When the hat reaches the stage, pull a random business card out and do a giveaway. If your fans don’t have business cards, use note cards or post-its they can write on, or use a clipboard.

Have the winner come up to the stage and hold up the prize to show the audience. This is giving yourself and your merch a plug in front of everyone and is great subliminal marketing. Then, mention to the crowd that you’re going to add everyone in the hat to your email list. You’ve just collected a ton of new email names and addresses that you definitely would not have captured.

If your audience is too cool for this kind of thing ask them to text you or email a specific email address you created just for them and deliver any of the CTAs above digitally that you think your fans will love.

Want more tips on building your fanbase? Download our How to Identify Your Ideal Fan Freebie! 

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