Mailing lists are a key to your band that I haven’t really discussed before because they are the sort of thing that I, quite frankly, have always taken for granted. You shouldn’t though, because perhaps the only rule that the ever changing landscape of the internet has taught us is that email is eternal. Whereas I think we are all consistently shown that while various social media platforms are fairly ephemeral (Though it looks like Facebook might end up staying around for realsies) we mostly maintain the same email addresses for years if not decades. On top of that – it’s easy to hit these people up, there’s a million services like Mailchimp out there. Hell, if you’re really DIY you can just fucking use BCC. We all know people who have had the same address for at least twenty years and it’s only becoming more and more like that. Hell, I’m still basically a kid and I’ve had the same email for a third of my life. The point being, if you’re not taking advantage of a mailing list then you’re not really pushing yourself to the level of success that you really deserve and which makes sense.
So how do you even build a mailing list? Now this is a tricky one and I’ve seen a lot of bands fairly fruitlessly try to grow their mailing lists at their live shows but I think that in most cases that really only leads to trying to read bad handwriting and even good email addresses getting ruined by beers getting poured on them. You don’t really want to be hitting up drunk people for their e,ail addresses. You don’t really want to be hitting up drunk people for anything when it comes down to it. What you should do though is spend some time setting it up so that you offer free music in exchange for an email address, or offering some other perk in exchange for an email. This is the most tangible way to grow your email address. It’s how you show people that you’re not just another silly band but one who is going to follow up on the relationship that is created once they start by downloading your music and which hopefully turns them into hardcore fans.
Of course there are other great ways to grow your mailing list too. I am a fervent believer that pretty much any resource that is supposed to be an official resource for your band should have details to join the mailing list. This should include your website, an app on your Facebook page, regular links to a landing page where fans can do this, and all that other goo stuff. If you’re familiar with the concept of funnel websites used by a lot of marketing corporations to get their mailing lists expanded you should be looking into that. Because at the end of the day if people are falling into your funnel of music and understand where you are coming from then the odds are that they are going to be exactly the sort of people who you want to invite to a show at some point or who you are going to want to be aware that you have a new and exciting set of merchandise options cooking. If no one cares, then the people who show even moderate interest need to be catered too.
I think one of the keys for your mailing list too is to collect the zip codes of everyone. Odds are, if you’re an independent band you’re still operating on a local, or at least national level and this is great way to figure out where in your region or country you need to be playing. I know that if you’re at least somewhat aware then you are going to end up knowing which regions you are popular in, but it’s still nice to have a quantifiable proof of where is best for you and on top of that it’s always good to have the occasional surprise. Maybe someone cool in Texas has started tweeting about you without you even knowing it! Well, I guess you had better go show up and give them a little bit of love! Beyond that, there are definitely promoters out there who it will help to convince to book you by clarifying you have a lot of legitimate mailing list followers in a certain region. That might not be the end all be all, but every little bit counts.
Of course, you also want to make sure you emails are compelling and powerful. Why this is an entire other article unto itself we can go over a few key bullet points right now. Their are a few key numbers to keep in mind first of all. While you should expect most people to delete your emails right away, since we all get too many, if you start dipping below say 25% then you are going to want to re-evaluate things. Similarly, while you should certainly expect certain people to opt out of your mailing list, it’s more than a 5% dip than that’s more than statistically insignificant and you need to really make sure you’re not fucking up too hard. A final key that I think is especially helpful is to use capital letters in the first letter of each word of your subject lines. Otherwise, follow the same rules you use to create compelling content, lead with a hook and pack the stuff for the hardcore fans a little deeper. Time is a currency and you need to reward it.
Point being, I’m tired and about to get on a plane and might just be rambling, but it seems to me that emails are the only consistent currency in the world of the music industry and if you don’t honor them and work hard to create the sort of things that a lot of people are going to want to connect too then you’re really just shooting yourself in the foot. This isn’t a kind industry nor is it one that honors people who don’t capitalize on opportunities. There are certain things that suck and feel kind of lame that you still need to take advantage of. This is one of those things and it’s something that we all need to embrace because if we do there might be true success.