[This article was written by guest contributor Anthony Ceseri.]
There are several topics songwriters should be familiar with: songwriting, stage performance, recording, knowing your instrument, and much more. But one topic that often gets overlooked by songwriters is marketing. Marketing your music may even be the most important piece of the puzzle if you want to get anywhere as a songwriter or a performer.
One of the best tools you can use to market yourself as a songwriter is your email list. The social media sites are great too, but they come and go. Email is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Think about everyone who had 10,000 fans on their MySpace pages. What good are those fans now? Had those fans been email addresses, not only would they still be valid, but they’d be able to get direct emails, as opposed to just status updates.
Email is a direct way of communicating with your fans by sending them a message to their inbox. That’s more than you can say for the social networking sites, which come off more as blasts to whoever happens to be viewing your feed at that moment.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have both an email list and a social media presence, because having both is ideal. But you also need to realize that having a Twitter or Facebook page shouldn’t be a replacement for an email newsletter. Having said that, let’s look at some things you should and shouldn’t do as you build your email newsletter.
Things to Do
* Offer a cool incentive for people to join your email list. This could be something along the lines of offering your latest music for free. Make sure it’s something of value to your fans. Put yourself in their shoes. What would get you to sign up for an artist’s email list, if you were them?
* Give value in your emails. You want people to want to open up and read emails from you, so give them stuff they’ll care about. If you’re a good storyteller, maybe you can share an embarrassing moment that happened to you onstage. Or maybe you’ll share articles you found online that you think would be beneficial to your readers. Only you can know what’s best for your fans. Get creative and make it about them as much as you can.
* Have a “call to action” in your emails. That means specifically telling your fans what you want them to do. It can mean telling them to come to a show, buy a CD, or vote for your song somewhere online. Don’t be afraid to ask. Just don’t be as vague as saying “check us out.”
* Use an email autoresponder service so people can unsubscribe from your email list, if they decide they no longer want to receive it. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.
* Give your email newsletter a cool name. Maybe instead of just calling it an email newsletter, you can call it your Backstage Pass Club, or something like that. Kick around some ideas that would work well for your genre and your fans.
Things NOT to Do
* Don’t spam. That means don’t put people on your list who didn’t request to be there.
* Don’t send out messages through a personal email service. If you’re just bcc’ing a lot of people through a personal email account, it’s likely you’ll have your email account suspended. Plus it gives no way for someone to opt-out of your mailing list.
* Don’t be dishonest. If you tell people your newsletter is monthly, don’t send out an email every day. It’s the fastest way to lose the trust of your audience and get people to unsubscribe.
* Don’t use your newsletters for promotion only. While it’s an approach some people use, it’s just not as effective as offering content in addition to promotion. While direct email is the best way to get your fans to come to a show or buy a CD, if that’s all you ever ask of them they’ll get tired of it fast. Provide them something of value, in addition to asking for a call to action.
More Autoresponder Tips
If you’re unsure about what an email autoresponder is, it’s basically online software that lets you send out emails to whoever you have on your email list. The advantage it has over traditional email is you can track the performance of each message you send. That includes knowing how many people are opening your emails and clicking on links in your messages. This way, you know how well your messages are performing. From there, if you’re getting low open rates, you can change your approach to increase your readership. An autoresponder also gives people the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter directly on your website or social media site via a sign-up form. Additionally, it offers the chance to unsubscribe from your list in every email you send, so your fans are not trapped into receiving your email if they no longer want to.
Now that you know the power and benefits of building an email list, start collecting email addresses at your shows and online to build a strong and worthwhile relationship with your fans.
For a lot more useful information about writing songs and building your fan base, grab my free EBook here: http://successforyoursongs.com/freeoffer/.
[Email image from Shutterstock.]