I’m sure you’ve heard music marketers talk about email marketing. “You have to ‘own’ your fans,” they say. “Social media algorithms come and go!” And I’ll be honest, the idea of bypassing the whim of algorithms sounds appealing. But is email marketing still worth it? Let’s crowdsource the answer…
Email vs. Instagram vs. Discord, Etc.
Someone on Reddit asked how musicians prefer to stay in touch with their fans. Social media? Email? Discord? Something else?
Here’s what musicians in the comments said…
Opinions AGAINST Email
Let’s start with musicians who are against email marketing, or at least put something else before it.
“1) Discord, 2) Email list, 3) Instagram”
Discord is a great place to have a communal conversation surrounding your music. It’s a way for your fans to interact with each other and with you. The interface is a little clunky, but many artists use it as a way to create a sense of community around your music and brand.
“I’m sorry but no one’s going on their email for new music”
This is true. But the thing is, that’s not the point of email marketing. The point of an email list as a musician is to connect directly with people who already know about you and love your music. It’s not a discovery platform, it’s a relationship builder.
“I have not read an email in 8 years…”
This is a crazy take. If you haven’t read an email in 8 years, you need to get your life together. You kind of need an email address to be able to do anything in today’s world.
Opinions FOR Email Marketing
Now for the comments in favor of email marketing for musicians. These were also some of the most upvoted comments on the Reddit thread.
“Email is still king”
Email is definitely more direct than social media, so in that regard, it is “king.” The average open rate (what percentage of people open your emails) in the music industry is just over 21%. It’s not amazing, but it’s still pretty good compared to the other industries!
“Email is the one that has stood the test of time”
This is true. Email came around in 1971. It’s now over 50 years old and still a very important part of our digital lives. I personally check my email multiple times a day, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.
“Discord and Instagram are not in your control”
We’ve seen social media companies change their algorithms. We went from chronological feeds to curated feeds, for example. And these platforms could change things again whenever they want. But email is pretty much the same as it was 10-20 years ago. It gives you direct access to your fans.
“If the long term is important, own your contact list”
“Owning” your fans just means having direct contact info for them. On Discord and social media platforms, you don’t get access to members’ email addresses. So if these platforms go away, you have no way to contact those fans after the fact.
How To Build Your Email List
Email is still important for keeping up with your super fans, so it would be smart to invest some time into building a list. Here are a few ways you can do that…
RSVPs to your concert
I like to play house concerts. And because I don’t want to share the host’s address publicly, I ask people to RSVP, then I send the address only to the RSVPers. This is also a way to collect email addresses. Everyone who RSVP’d is now on my email list and will likely be interested to hear what’s happening with my music career.
Sign-ups at your shows
If you don’t do RSVPs beforehand, like if you’re playing a traditional venue, you can collect email addresses at your show. For a walkthrough of how to do this, check out this article (yes, it’s nearly 10 years old, but it’s still good advice)
Offer unreleased music
If you’ve released a song that you know people like, it could be a good move to give the demo of that song to people who give you their email addresses. Or you could give them a song you recorded but didn’t make your album, or you could give them a song a month early. You can do all of this through the email automation of your email provider.
I personally don’t run pre-save campaigns nor do I pre-save other artists’ songs – I don’t want to add a song to my library if I haven’t heard it. But you may have the itch to try a pre-save campaign. If so, you will get the email addresses of every person who pre-saves your song.
Final word: email marketing is not dead (yet). It is still a viable way to converse with your fans directly without algorithms or other platforms getting in the way. That may not be the case in a decade or even three years. But we don’t have evidence right now to believe that email marketing will become obsolete any time soon.