Email autoresponders for musicians

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How musicians can use autorespondersHow to get your newest email subscribers engaged with your music right away

[This article was written by Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music book, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.]

Just about anyone who has music available is using the song-for-email strategy. If you’re not on board, basically you trade music in exchange for an email address. It’s a great way to grow your list, and by now we all know that email is one of the best ways to stay in touch with your fans and push out news and offers.

However, for a lot of musicians, that’s where the strategy stops. The focus seems to be growing the list. What to actually send these new fans becomes an afterthought. Often, artists will just let those new email addresses sit and pile up until they have something new to send out. That means these new fans won’t hear anything from the musician for months. This is a wasted opportunity.

Don’t Block Your Own Leads

People don’t just give their email addresses out to anyone. With all the spam and junk mail flying around, we are all very wary of giving access to our inboxes, so the simple fact that these new fans cared enough to give you their email makes them a very strong lead. And they would probably do more to support you – if you gave them the chance.

I want you to think of this process as a conversation. They initiated the conversation by signing up for your list, but if you don’t give them the chance to engage further, you’re basically putting up a brick wall. You’re limiting how far these fans will go and you’re limiting the amount of sales you can make.

Using Autoresponders to Nurture a Lead

With that in mind, I’m going to show you how you can use autoresponders to continue this momentum with your new email subscribers. Because we’ll be using autoresponders, you don’t need to be hovering over your computer writing messages to all your new subscribers. It’s all automated and that means more time for your music.

Pretty much every email service out there has some autoresponder functionality. Basically you start by choosing a trigger. In this case, the trigger would be someone signing up for your emails. Then, you compose a message that goes out to anyone who activates that trigger. You can choose to have that message send immediately, or have it go out after a certain amount of time.

So now let’s go through an autoresponder sequence you can use to drive your new email subscribers to deeper engagement and even a purchase:

1. Shortly after someone signs up for your email list, you want to send them an email thanking them and asking them to share with their friends on social media. At this point they haven’t had the chance to listen to your music yet, so you shouldn’t push a sale, but sharing music is something everyone is usually down to do (after all, it’s free). Not everyone will participate, but I’ve found that simply asking people to share greatly increase the number of people who actually do.

2. Next, you’ll want to queue up a second autoresponder to go out a week or so after they sign up to your list. At this point they’ve probably had a chance to listen to your free tracks, so give them a link to buy your full album or any other music you have available.

As you can see, just from someone signing up to your email list, we got them sharing and even drove some sales, and it all happened automatically. Now keep in mind that this is just one example. There are a lot of other triggers out there to queue up autoresponders. For example, if someone buys a ticket to your show you could send an autoresponder with a link to your merch store or your VIP and meet-and-greet packages.

The possibilities are endless so get creative and start building out your own autoresponder sequences.


As you can see, jumping on a new lead can have a HUGE effect on your career and can result in more fans and more sales. In the New Artist Model online music business programs you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – a business where you are in control! You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you’ll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.

If you’d like more strategies like these, you can download this ebook for free. It will take you through some of the best strategies for indie musicians to help you grow your fanbase and your career.

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[Image via Kevin Fitz]

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  • I definitely recommend sending out some links your music in your first autoresponder. Think of it like a “reward” for signing up. The links don’t have to be free downloads, but they can be Youtube Videos or behind the scenes stuff. Also, don’t forget to plug your social media. The moment someone signs up for your email list is the moment you have a very engaged fan. Plug your social media so they can connect with you in different ways.

    my 2c anyways 🙂

  • Dora Dragos

    I “love” how this so called “marketing gurus” are trying to sell you this idea about email marketing. But in reality, NONE of these self-appointed gurus have a music carreer. Dave, how many CDs do you sell with email marketing? How many fans do you have on your email list? How many fans do you (your music) have at all? Because I didn’t find ANYTHING about you as a musician in Google.

    I make a living at a small company as a marketing manager, and I use email marketing for 6 years now. When I first read about this “email marketing for musicians” idea 3 years ago, I thought it is a great idea. Because it sounded great in theory… So I said, great: I am very good with email marketing, so I will also use this with my new band.

    I started my band two years ago (actually restarted after a few years of break), and started to grow our email list. After 2 years, lots of money and work spent on growing the email list, we have like 800 subscribers… which is very little, considering I’m very good in marketing, and I built several lists of 40-50 thousand people in the past at our small company.

    Last year we published a new album, and guess how many people bought the album from our email list? Maybe five or seven sales. 5 digital album sales and 2 physical CD-s. That means HUGE negative ROI.

    And again, I make a living as a marketing manager, so I know how to make landing pages, use remarketing, make money from an email list etc… but most musicians are not so smart about marketing.

    And no, our music does not suck, because we have LOTS of sales from iTunes, CDBaby, Bandcamp etc. But not from our email list! And one would need a HUGE marketing budget to grow an email list with significant amount of subscribers… but again… that would be a huge negative ROI, and also most of the independent musicians doesn’t have that resource of money.

    After several months of trying, I realized that this “email marketing for musicians” idea ONLY come from people who do NOT make a living from music sales. You almost never see any professional band using email marketing.

    I’m not saying that email marketing is useless, but these guys are trying to sell you something they never made money of…

    • I can tell you from experience that it does work.

      Like Dave, performance is not my specialty in this biz, marketing is. But to be clear, I am definitely a musician. However, I have not only seen, but have been instrumental in developing and managing email campaigns for musicians that have been quite successful.

      And as for NONE of the “marketing gurus” (I don’t use the term guru to describe myself or any of my peers) having any actual musical experience, I recommend Googling John Oszajca. Not only is he an accomplished musician in his own right, he is a luminary of teaching effective email marketing techniques to indie musicians.

      Wishing you better ROI with your future endeavors,


    • Mixtape Cover King

      Email marketing works I work with thousands of clients on their music graphic design projects major and indie and I also help artist with email marketing and it is the smartest way for an artist to build their fanbase.