Why social media is DEAD for music marketing (and why email works)

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Is social media dead for music marketing?It’s hard to believe it’s been over 12 years since the launch of Facebook. Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. That’s good news for marketers, musicians, and entrepreneurs. You have this incredible platform to reach every one of those followers you painstakingly cultivated. Or do you?

Organic Reach is a Harsh Reality

If you’ve been paying attention to the recent developments in social media, you know the rules have changed for business pages and profiles. Now you have a choice: You can post for free, and reach an infinitesimal amount of people within your massive group of followers, or you can pay for exposure. So here’s how it goes down: You get the sound and lighting just right. You shoot an amazing video and take some awesome pics. You sort through the best of them, edit your video, and remove the red eyes from your photos. Everything’s cut, polished, and pretty enough to present to your fans. So you craft a clever headline and upload. Then you wait for the likes, shares, and comments to come… but they don’t. Or they do, but the numbers are puny. When Facebook suggests you pay for more reach, you know you got punked.

If you continue to post on social media without paying, it’ll be like setting up for concerts, pouring yourself into the music, playing your rockstar best, and then you realize the room is mostly empty, the sound is off, and there’s just one row of seating anyway.

What’s The Solution?

So maybe you give in and pay Facebook to reach your existing fans. And that’s great, because advertising is rarely free, so why should social media be any different? But there’s a better way. There’s a more effective tool you can access that successful artists are already using – It’s email marketing.

Surprised? Did you think that email marketing was obsolete? Research says it’s 40 times as effective as Facebook and Twitter combined. Tweet that! Or don’t, because it’s really just a waste of time. Here are the facts when it comes to social media versus email marketing…

Social Media Versus Email Marketing

Don’t get me wrong, social media is useful and you should have an online presence if you’re an artist or business. Try to grow your followers, and don’t stop posting fresh content. But don’t rely on social media as a sole means of marketing, and do yourself a favor: Use email to drive sales.

How Do Fans Rate Email Marketing?

A study by ExactTarget says 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications in their inboxes over other advertising avenues.

How Does Email Marketing Rank in Terms of ROI?

For every dollar you spend on email marketing, the average return is $44.25.

Read that again. For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect to receive an average of $44 back in return. Social media can’t even come close!

What Are the Odds of Reaching My Fans Through Email Marketing?

Ninety-one percent of consumers use email every day. Your odds of reaching your fans with email: pretty damn good.

What’s it Worth?

Wondering if email marketing is really worth the effort? Statistics prove consumers spend 138% more when they receive an email offer.

We could go on, but why bother? You’re smart enough to know now that email marketing trumps social media when it comes to connecting with your fan base. So what now?

Use Email Marketing to Build Your Fan base

So where do you go from here? If you haven’t already started building an email list, it’s time to get cracking!

How exactly do you get people to give you their email?

It’s easy. Instead of offering a free download through SoundCloud, ask people for their email address to receive the song. There are many great tools to help automate this, like DropTrack, FanBridge, and ReverbNation. (Note: Never just ask for an email address, but always offer something in return, like free downloads, promotional content, or tickets to shows.)

When it’s time for your next release, you can spread the word by sending out an email to your fans!

Ownership Is Where It’s At.

Unlike social media, with email marketing YOU own the data. You are in control. So what exactly does that mean? According to Blue Hornet, it means opportunity. Because 72% of consumers sign up for an email list with the intent to get discounts, there’s your cue to give the people what they want. Send them an offer they can’t refuse, and chances are, they won’t. Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, and consumers prefer to communicate with brands by email.

Give The People What They Want: Promotional Content via Email

If they’ve given you their email address, they expect something in return. When compared to social media, email users have a higher tolerance for promotional content. When they’re logged into social media, they’re probably connecting with friends and family or scrolling through posts and memes. When it comes to email, users are more likely to be hunting for offers, taking care of business, and handling correspondence that isn’t necessarily of a social nature. Social media can only take you so far. And with Facebook limiting your organic reach, the message is clear: it’s time to master the art of email marketing and start making essential connections.

About Paul Loeb: Paul Loeb has been at the intersection of music and tech for 20 years. He is founder and CEO of No Ego Records and DropTrack and a prolific producer currently operating under the name Really Cute Cats. His goal has always been to give musicians like himself the tools to stand out from the rest, get heard, and get deals.

About Drop Track: DropTrack is music marketing software that helps artists manage their relationships with music industry contacts and provides a complete toolset for sharing and marketing digital music. DropTrack offers a selection of tools for music producers and record labels, including a platform for uploading and storing music, then accessing it from anywhere. DropTrack’s customer management system, download gate, shortlink URLS to playlists, and other features make creating successful marketing campaigns simple and precise. Instantaneous feedback and analytics complement branding tools to promote music in a more personal and professional way.

Marketing your music 101: 
essential tips for getting your music out there

[Gravestone image from Shutterstock.]

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Join the Conversation

  • Chacho Dci

    does Drop Track has a download gate tool?

  • Bandtraq

    It may sound like a shamless plug but I think it’s relevant to the topic. I represent Bandtraq, an aggregation service focused on music news. Our service helps to keep tabs on what musicians post on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in one place. For musicians, it means that everyone following them on our service will see everything they post on Facebook. You can check it out here: http://bandtraq.com

  • Dan Heimbrock

    Email is the most powerful marketing tool ever invented and its only problem is that too many people are too lazy, too busy or too stupid to use it properly to build direct-to-fan relationships. Our company has been working in the music email marketing space since 2004 and we have seen it all. Most impressive are bands and managers that truly understand the value and power of a strong and connected fan base. They respect their fans and strive to send them messages and appeals to buy stuff that helps the fan, not annoys the fan. A great example of a band that does this very well is Umphrey’s McGee who over time has built a passionate fanbase that gladly spends money on the band whenever possible and through a wide range of channels: records, digital downloads, concert tickets, VIP extras, festival experiences, merch, and even “couch tours” where fans pay to watch a live stream of live concerts around the country. Without a direct connection to the UM fans, the band would likely make a lot less revenue and likely have fewer super loyal fans. So baby bands if you question if building an email fan base, just look at the bands that are most successful and follow their lead. Know your fans, love your fans, respect your fans need for relevant information and your fans will love you back with their dollars. Dan Heimbrock – FanMail Marketing

  • As an oft recipient of music marketing emails, they are a “yay, he remembered to email me. He is selling something again” experience. (Even from artists whom I follow.) If there is an elegant way to market music by email, I’d be really interested to see an actual example.

    • I wan’t to see this as well, let me know if you find anything.

  • Screw that I’m not paying money for facebook promoting my music. Try craigslist , its free publicity anyway so what’s the harm? For anyone that likes to know myspace is still around.

    • I have never gone to Craig’s List for anything except Motor Homes, housing for rent and garage sales. Craig’s List is, imo, not a very good venue.

      Try YouTube.

  • Oh man, I think you just described my email marketing! ; )


  • Linda Vee Sado

    Noisetrade has been good for picking up fans. When you give away a song you get the downloader’s email. I have also gotten $3.40 in tips so far for 71 downloads. So some people will pay you for your song or even entire album if you should want to give that much away.

  • BoboSwenson

    In the opening example, couldn’t it also be that their music sucks and they need to work a lot more on it?… that seems to be the much more common issue.

    • Robyn Loxley

      Lots of famous music making loads of money sucks. Its all about marketing.

    • Robyn Loxley

      Lots of famous music making loads of money sucks. Its all about marketing.

  • Zen Dog Music

    Well my page got 100,000 hits on FB when my dog went missing and he is still getting 2/3,000 hits when I put up a photo

  • As a consumer I ignore anything that comes into my email box that is not specifically what I asked for. Sometimes I get so much from one person/artist/company that I configure my email program to automatically put it in the trash bin. Being taken off their email lists just don’t seem to work. I get several hundred emails per day and they are all things that I am interested in. For most of the emails, I just scan them to see if information that I need is in them before either deleting them or moving them to its own folder to use when I need it.

    For instance, I get email from an alternative building site. We will be building a home in SW New Mexico soon and I want it to be built in adobe. The area and climate are perfect for it. However, most of what I have been getting are articles and photo’s of buildings about everything but adobe. Alternative housing style is corn cob, bails of hay, etc. None of which I am interested in. They simply get deleted.

    I don’t know if social media includes YouTube. I watch a LOT of YouTube video’s. When Steve Cash’s cat Gibson died, I sat here and cried along with thousands of other people. BTW, SC is also a musician/songwriter/singer. You should look him up – stevecash83- I think that he is very good. When it’s a performance or song that I have been looking for, I not only download it I purchase a right to a copy of the song. BTW, I do not distribute anything that I download. It is for my personal use only. And some albums/songs are completely out of reach and have been for years. The only place that I can find them is on YouTube, but there is no link to click to purchase a copy, like Secretariats’ Triple Crown Races (I remember them, and how thrilling they were. My whole family, 2 parents and 3 sibs, were on our feet screaming during the last part of the Belmont Stakes). I will go back and find the races of Seattle Slew and Affirmed, too. I already have American Pharoah’s races.

    What I am saying is that email is not always a great way of contacting the fans, like myself. YouTube is great, if you ignore the negative posters.You will get people who are actively looking for you. Plus, you may reach people who can actually help your business. Neal Schon found Arnel in a YouTube video. And Justin Bieber was found on YouTube. I may not like the young man but he has done very well career-wise. He just was not mature enough to handle it, or the hangers’ on.

    I have had people ask me how to NOT drift from one video to another. I tell them to not, for any reason look at the right side-bar. Of course, that is impossible.

    If you decide to put your video on YouTube make sure that it has very good search words so it can be found and so it can be properly grouped on that side-bar. If you don’t put the accurate search words in, then that side-bar will not know to add it to similar music.

    Do not put search words for your video that do not pertain to it.

    If you are doing a cover of a song, make sure your title says that it is a cover. I have a whole list of people that I will never click on their video because they were not honest about it.

    There are a lot of people on YouTube that seem to really get off on disparaging other people’s work. I do recommend that you read the comments, even print them out, so you can find out the technical tips that the real fans/prospective fans give you. There are a lot of them that are, or have been, in the music industry. And there are a lot of us that were brought up with music and had the fine and broad points taught to us. We simply love music.

    I’m sorry this is so long.

  • I find the less marketing you do these days with social media the more people seek you out by doing nothing but being yourself.

  • You’re totally right – email marketing has one of the highest ROIs and is a great addition to every marketing strategy. That being said, I don’t think it’s totally fair to say that social media is dead. True, Facebook doesn’t allow you to organically reach your audience as effectively as it once did, but the cost associated with Facebook advertising is very low! When an artist has a single being released or a new music video, it’s so worth putting a bit of money towards it, AND sending out the email blast.

    Facebook also isn’t the only social network out there. Instagram is one of the greatest platforms for our industry, and it’s moderately easy to grow your audience and reach the masses. There are also other great social platforms out there that are perfect for the music industry.

  • Tj99

    In India artists are getting excellent support to get visibility and promote their work through LOCALTURNON which does a very collaborative professional work with bands and musicians. Just one look at their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Localturnon says it all.

  • Tiffany

    I was just watching a TedX talk about an author who has never used social media and has still been able to be successful at it. And I don’t dispute the power of e-mail communication but everyone I have heard from on this topic fails to clarify an important element for me. So, I’m hoping someone here might be able to offer some insight.

    Now, keep in mind I am a more of a composer and author and don’t go touring around or anything like that. Okay, so, you want people to sign up for e-mail communication. How do they do that? They have to know about you and find your website. How do they learn about you and find your website if not through social media? That’s the missing key – how do you get people to your site to begin with? I have had a website for years and, while I know at least some people have found me through it, I have yet to have a person sign up for e-mail communication. That being said, I absolutely understand the frustration of creating videos etc. that get few views.

    Any insight or suggestions would be hugely appreciated! Cheers!