I’ve been hearing from a lot of bands who’ve had it with Facebook. These groups have spent years (and lots of money) using the platform to build a community of 1,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 Facebook followers. Now Facebook wants them to pay more money in order to reach the very same people that’ve already liked their band page — and usually the bigger your fanbase, the more you have to pay.
We’ve been saying this for years: your band’s Facebook page is not a website. Social media trends come and go (remember MySpace?) and you don’t want to spend all your marketing time building connections that are lost the minute people stop using a particular social network. YOU and your fans should be in control of your relationship, NOT some company that suddenly has to appease stockholders and drastically changes their platform.
That’s why your #1 music marketing priority should be to build your own email list. People don’t change their email addresses nearly as much as they used to. So in many ways, an email is forever. With email, YOU get decide when and how you communicate with your fans.
Here’s how to build your band’s email list without spending lots of money
1. Put an email signup box on your website — Place the signup box in a prominent place on your website so all your visitors will see it.
2. Put clear calls-to-action on your website — It’s not enough to have an email signup option on your website. You have to make it obvious for visitors what you’d like them to do. Something simple, like “sign up for my monthly newsletter” or “get email updates about our music.” Also, let them know what the benefits of subscribing are: that they can keep up with all your band news, concert dates, and more.
3. Give something in exchange for an email address — Most email marketing programs, such as ListBaby, will allow you to offer your fans a free download after they sign up to your list. So give away an MP3 of your best song, or perhaps a PDF with sheet music, or an eBook of your tour and recording diaries.
4. Give your email newsletter subscribers access to exclusive content — Let your subscribers know that in your world, they’re VIPs, deserving of the special treatment. They get to hear your new music first. They get to listen to demos that aren’t made available elsewhere. They get behind-the-scenese glimpses that nobody else does. Make them feel like insiders.
5. Prominently feature your email signup list at your merch booth — Create a template in Word (or whatever word-processing program you use), print some out before every show, and bring them to your concerts. Put the same call-to-action that’s on your website on this sheet, make the benefits clear, and then be sure to draw attention to it, pass it around, announce it from the stage. Don’t just hide it in the corner and hope folks will sign up.
6. Give something away for free at shows in exchange for email addresses — The same idea as with the online signup form: give something in order to get something. Maybe you trade a guitar pick, poster, or sticker for an email address.
7. Hold a raffle — Warning: this isn’t legal advice, and some companies shy away from these types of online giveaways since they can be construed as lotteries; however, if you’re an independent band just talking to music fans, you should be ok — as there’s no legal precedent to punish this kind of thing in the indie music world. For more info, check out THIS article.
Anyways, here’s how it’d work: you tell your friends and fans (via social media, at shows, etc.) that you’re having a raffle and all they have to do to participate is sign up to your email list. Promise, of course, that you’ll never do anything sinister with their email information, and have some fun!
8. Use social media to get your followers onto your email list — Ok. I know this post started off talking about the decline of Facebook, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore social media altogether. Encourage your social media followers (those that can still see your posts, of course) to sign up for your newsletter, tell them what they’ll get in return, and link them to your signup form.
9. Use your blog to get more email subscribers — Your blog readers are already engaged with your content. They may be the MOST likely people to sign up for your email list. Consider putting a signup box at the bottom of every post.
10. Trade emails with another artist or band — Do you know any other artists that actively manage their fan lists? Do a trade. You email your list on their behalf with an incentive to sign up to their list — and vice-versa. Everybody wins.
11. Create great content — This is the key to building your subscriber list. Provide the best content you can. For starters, it’ll keep your subscribers from hitting that dreaded “unsubscribe” button. Second, they’ll share your content with their friends, which is always a big bonus.
12. Get your fans to contribute —Can you involve your fans directly in your newsletter? Of course you can! Whether they’re contributing the content (a photo, list, essay, etc.) or you’re featuring them in some way (fan of the month, a photo of them in the audience, winner of a contest, etc.), that fan will show your newsletter to many of their friends, and your other fans will be psyched to see you showing your appreciation and sharing the love.
Do you have any ideas for growing your fan list? Let us know in the comments below.