#138: Roundtable – The importance of email marketing

email-marketing-musicIn the news, CD Baby gets featured in the New York Times. A study finds that 91% of people surveyed use YouTube to listen to music before they buy it. BandPage now allows artists to sell merch and more on Spotify. And CD Baby launches a new music player!

The Podcasters also discuss the importance of email marketing to the modern artist. Is building an email list still worth it? Is social media a replacement for email? What techniques should artists use to build and maintain an email list? Listen in and leave your feedback in the comments below!

  • Robert Lee King

    Good show. Though I think you guys collectively forgot an important distinction where email vs social media is concerned.

    Direct email, is essentially akin to a stream. One to one. A good thing to be sure, if you’re contacting a fan but, not so good when they just happened to be at your show one time or downloaded some freebie on your website.

    Social media on the other hand is much more like radio. You post something to a fan’s page or twitter feed and everyone who see’s that fan’s page or feed, also see’s your post.
    If that fan comments on your post, everyone of their friends see’s it and every one of their friends do as well.

    True, it is harder to gauge and even reach out directly with social media but, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Impressions are far more valuable on a mass scale than they are on a one to one level.

    I also think everyone concerned, has a basic lack of historical knowledge and understanding about the “story” side of things. The Beatles specifically, had already taken on the Beatle cut for their hair, the nehru jackets, peg jeans and “Beatle boot” fashion long before Brian Epstein ever came into the picture. They were performing and paying their dues all over Europe at a time when story really didn’t matter at all. The story came after they were already huge and was indeed largely manufactured. But, it was manufactured at a time when it was important that they be perceived as good guys. More or less clean cut young men who were almost seen as virginal until they opened their mouths and shocked millions… The others you mentioned were also of the same cloth. Dylan, Bowie, Zeppelin. Their stories came after they were already popular.

    The point is, the story didn’t make them popular. It built on their existing popularity and made them larger than life. We see this even today, “artists” like Marilyn Manson, Katie Perry, Cold Play, U2, Oasis, Green Day and so on. Yes, they have their persona’s, their “story” if you wish but, the music is still what sells them and keeps their careers moving.
    And in the beginning, every one of those “artists” payed their dues. Played tiny shows for little to no money and grew over many years. The story, came later and like those of the past is largely fabricated. The big difference, is today the fan doesn’t care which artist is sleeping with which public figure. The tabloids do, just as they always have but, to the average fan, that part of the story is meaningless. The soul exception is when an artist comes out against religion or sexuality and to a lesser degree politics. Sinead O’Conner
    and the Dixie Chicks practically killed their careers over politics.

    I also think the term “fan” is bandied about far too loosely. A “fan” today, is nothing like a “fan” of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or even as recent as the 1990’s. Those fans clambered after everything they could get of the artist they followed. They went to shows/concerts across state lines and even international lines to see that artist perform. They bought merchandise and stood in line for hours just to get into a show. Often times even longer to get the autograph of a member of the band. A lock of hair was a prized possession.

    Today, “fans” might buy a few songs by a particular artist. Seek out their videos on Youtube and may even go to a concert if it’s a reasonable distance from home. Gone are the days of driving from Connecticut to New York, or California to Las Vegas Nevada to see a particular artist perform. There’s no need anymore. The internet has taken that once or perhaps a few times in a lifetime experience and made it largely meaningless. Music and those who create and perform it has become a commodity. Much like bread or milk.
    Easy to find, easier to purchase and enjoy with no more effort than the click of a mouse or
    tap of a finger on a tablet or smartphone.

    This does not mean true “fans” do not exist. It does mean however, that marketing to “fans” is largely a waste of time. The days of sharing music with friends is largely gone.
    No-one sits around the stereo and plays their favorite band’s album for their friends and family. In most cases, it’s an .mp3 or a youtube video that gets shared and more often than not, the artist is largely forgotten the moment the song ends. The music has to do the work now, just as it did in the past.

    Case in point, have you heard the song “Jungle”? It’s featured in the current Dodge commercials for their trucks. The song is by X Ambassadors & Jammie N Commons. I don’t know anything about this artist, and don’t care. I like the song. And it was a Dodge
    commercial that introduced it to me.

    By the way, I know I am perceived as a joke or worse. I understand that, after all, my point of view isn’t from a marketing 101 perspective.

  • kbreuner

    If you use HostBaby web hosting, you get a free email service provider called ListBaby. Other services I would recommend are MailChimp, or FanBridge. Both have different options and pricing depending on the size of your list. I believe you can hook up your email address to them, but you would need to check each provider for details.

  • kbreuner

    Interesting. I wonder what the “Like” threshold is.

  • Zac Nelson

    Hey Robert Lee King, that was a great comment below, in fact I copied and pasted it and sent it in an email to my band mate. By the way it was an awesome podcast this week; lots of great advice.

  • PhilipClark

    Great discussion. Something I’m curious about and what I would have loved to have heard discussed: When you’re a small act, is it better to refer to yourself in the third person or as “I/me?” It feels weird to me to put, for example, “Go see Philip play at X-venue this weekend” in an email subject as opposed to “Come catch my show…”

    I don’t know if making the message more personal helps or hinders trying to put out a professional image. I see my colleagues split on the fence on this as well, and I’m wondering what all of you have to say about it.

  • kbreuner

    I would say try out both. The subject line is pretty flexible. People will usually see the subject line in their inbox as it’s own thing. It’s typically disconnected from the message until you open the email. From that point, people aren’t referring to the subject line. So it’s completely fine to talk about yourself in the third person in the subject line (to be give them better idea who is writing the email), and then switch to the first person for the body of the email. Depending on what email service provider you’re using, you might be able to do subject line testing.

  • PhilipClark

    I guess what I’m really asking is the tone of personalization the entire message should present. Is it more engaging to write in the voice of someone who’s writing something for the act or as a actual member of the act? I’m just wondering if writing like a publicist seems less engaging than writing as an artist trying to run his own email list. Does that make sense?

  • kbreuner

    I think you should write in a conversational tone as if you’re writing directly to one person. When someone opens their email, they’re reading as if the messages are for them (which they are). One mistake I see people make is they write email as if they are talking to all their fans at once. All your fans aren’t sitting around one computer reading the email from you together.

    If your emails sound like their more of a press release or an article about the band written by someone else, they won’t feel personal. That doesn’t mean your fans won’t enjoy the read, but they won’t feel like a personal connection was made.

  • PhilipClark

    That’s great advice. Thanks for the input, Kevin!