You’re more comfortable with chords than campaigns—but for indie artists, music and marketing go hand-in-hand.
But building your newsletter merely scratches the surface of all the different ways you can use email marketing to find new fans, sell more albums, and connect with your audience.
Musicians who want to grow their fanbase without cutting into essential creative work time can turn to automated emails to put marketing on autopilot. Taking a few minutes to set up newsletter automation before your next album release can make it your best (and easiest) launch ever.
Why you need to use automations for your next album release
Pure talent isn’t enough to put your music on the map—you have to think like an entrepreneur because you are one.
Being a musician today, you have to realize you're also an entrepreneur and you have to wear a lot of hats by default. If you are an independent musician, you're also your marketing department, you're also your own booking agent. You have to either learn how to do it yourself or you have to have a team behind you who's going to help you do that.
-Ryan Baustert, Throw the Fight
When you’re responsible for most of your marketing and booking (or you’re working alongside a small team), you have to be strategic with how you spend your time. Engaging with newsletter subscribers is rewarding—but spending too much time on manual marketing tasks leaves less time for creative work.
Here’s what you stand to gain from setting up emails like album release sequences to run independently.
Spend less time on promotion and more on creation
Setting up automations once lets your newsletter work for you while you’re away. A little work upfront means you can get back to creative tasks without skipping out on promotion.
Connect more deeply with fans even as your audience grows
Creating relationships with your audience and seeing the impact of your music is rewarding. Still, it becomes harder to interact one-on-one as your audience grows. Automations help you deliver a personal experience to more people.
Make more money
You make music because you love it, but even artists have bills. Automations make it easier to promote your music, merch, and paid communities to fund your next album. Setting up automation to crowdfund directly with fans could help you avoid taking out a music loan for your next project.
The 8-act musician newsletter automation lineup your fans will love
You wouldn’t go from the garage to The Garden in a day, so don’t worry about trying every email automation strategy at once, either. You can start simply and add more automation as you learn and get comfortable.
Each automation strategy we’re about to review has a free template (score), so you can get it up and running in a few clicks as a ConvertKit user. Take each automation template for a test drive, get comfortable, make it your own, and then add more automation sequences as you’re ready.
1 – Welcome new fans
Every new subscriber is cause for celebration, and an automation that welcomes new fans is perfect for marking the occasion. Your welcome email series introduces new subscribers to your band or background, promotes your social accounts, and gives new readers access to your music.
Throw the Fight uses ConvertKit landing pages and Automations to offer a free album download. After someone signs up for the newsletter, they automatically receive a welcome email.
Throw the Fight’s welcome email lets new subscribers know what types of content they’ll receive through email and invites them to check out the band’s latest single. Later emails in the welcome series promote music videos, merchandise, and more. If you’re curious, you can check out the band’s entire welcome automation strategy here.
Make it your own:
- Add a landing page. Your landing page or form is among the most important pieces of the process. You can use a general landing page that introduces your work or a form that offers free content as an incentive to sign up.
- Write a welcome email. You can start with a single welcome email or create a set of messages to excite new subscribers.
- Add new subscribers to your newsletter. Once a person goes through your welcome automation, you can automatically move them onto your newsletter.
2 – Crowdfund your next project
Creating an album is expensive, and your fans may be willing to chip in to support it. An ongoing automation helps remind your audience to help without having to remember to send a manual email. You can either send the sequence to all of your subscribers or trigger it to send after someone follows a link to watch your music video on YouTube.
Your main pitch email or sequence can include links to buy merchandise or donate in exchange for a shoutout on social media. If someone doesn’t donate, you can “downsell” them to a tip jar. This means you offer a less expensive option where people can choose how much they contribute.
Make it your own:
- Decide who you’ll pitch. You can either send crowdfunding emails to every subscriber once they’ve been on your list for a few weeks or target people you know have listened to your music.
- Write your offer email. Asking for a standalone donation keeps your request simple, but you may want to offer an incentive to donate, such as a social media shoutout. Think of this automation as setting up a Kickstarter campaign for your next album.
- Decide how to follow up. You can follow up with those who donate, and also those who don’t. If subscribers choose to donate, it’s nice to send a thank you message. If they don’t donate, you can pitch them again in a few months or offer other (cheaper) ways to support you.
3 – Promote your merch or events
If you sell merch or have upcoming events, you can use an automated email series to keep subscribers in the loop.
For example, you can direct people to your merch store after they’ve been on your list for a month. If you have a concert coming up, you can even filter subscribers by their distance from a city to promote the event to locals and offer presale codes.
Make it your own:
- Pick what you want to pitch. You can customize your automation strategy to fit your needs. Start by considering what you want to sell or make sure your audience sees.
- Create an email. The basics your pitch email needs are the what, why, and how.
- Choose a trigger. A trigger is a catalyst that tells your email automation to begin. It can be time-based, happen after a subscriber action, or go to everyone with a tag.
4 – Sell more albums
There are plenty of creative ways to promote your work, and an automated email series guarantees you can make the most of each of them without ongoing work. Your automation can give new subscribers a free digital copy of a song as a sample or include a behind-the-scenes video series to build excitement for the album.
If you have a diverse library of music, you could even create multiple album sales automation series. For example, you could promote one album at a time a few months apart. Or, you can send a sequence that shares related songs if someone expresses interest in a particular piece.
Make it your own:
- Pick what to promote. Do you have a particular song, EO, or album you want to use to boost sales?
- Decide when to send the email. You can always send your sales pitch to new subscribers after someone goes through the welcome series. Playing around with audience segmentation lets you create a more personal experience, though.
- Offer an incentive. You may want to pitch your work first and follow up with exclusive bonus materials or access if someone doesn’t convert.
5 – Release a new album
You’ve put months (if not years) of hard work into every album release—you want to give your release the attention it deserves. An album release automation lets you set up a series of emails that will go live once the record is out, so that you can focus on other promotions and celebrations.
Kick off the automation with an email or series that builds excitement. Share your inspiration, process, or teasers, along with information about the release date. Once the big day arrives, your automation picks up again with an email with links to stream or buy. If someone doesn’t click on your album release email links, you can automatically follow up to make sure they don’t miss it.
Make it your own:
- Write a pre-release email series. Create a few emails about your upcoming project to maximize your audience's chances of reading at least one message about it. Use a countdown timer to amp up the excitement!
- Create a launch email. Your album release email needs a clear call-to-action button to let people know how to access your music. Adding link triggers enables you to track who has and hasn’t checked out the album.
- Decide how to follow up. If someone clicks on the link to stream or buy your album, the subscriber can pass Go and collect 200 gratitude points. If they don’t click, you can send a follow-up message if they just missed the first email.
6 – Start a paid newsletter
If you love creating unique content, did you know you can use a paid newsletter to smooth out revenue between album cycles? Setting up a paid newsletter gives you recurring revenue and fans access to more content.
A paid newsletter for musicians can have tour diary videos, song covers, Q&A sessions, lyric breakdowns, exclusive photos, and opportunities to vote on album artwork or titles. For The Record is a paid newsletter by artist Thao Nguyen that offers a way to connect while Thao can’t tour.
Make it your own:
- Pick your offer and price tiers. You want to differentiate your paid newsletter from the free version, so you’ll need to come up with unique content for paying subscribers. The type of content you deliver, how often you release your paid newsletter, and your income goals can impact how much you charge for it. Check out this calculator if you want to see how much you could make with a paid newsletter.
- Write a pitch email. Let your fans know what to expect if they sign up for your newsletter and include a CTA to visit your product page to make the purchase.
- Add subscribers to your paid newsletter. Tagging anyone who buys your paid newsletter makes it easy to send exclusive content only to paying subscribers.
7 – Set up a fan club
More big-time artists are setting up paid fan clubs, and you can automatically pitch yours to email subscribers. You might opt for a fan club if you want to offer content or merch outside your newsletter or if you don’t plan on sharing as often as you would via email.
Like a paid newsletter, your fans pay a monthly or annual fee to access exclusive content. Your fan club could even be a one-time purchase that grants fans early access or discounts for years to come. If someone doesn’t convert, simply end your automation by putting them back into your newsletter. You can always keep a reference to your fan club at the bottom of your newsletter emails.
Make it your own:
- Choose a format. Do you want to offer a one-time joining fee or a monthly subscription? What will happen in the fan club? Ironing out the details first makes writing your emails quicker.
- Create an introduction email. You’ll need to write an email that tells subscribers about your fan club and how to join. If you’re considering the idea, you can create a link trigger and ask people to click if they’d be interested in joining. This way, you have a segment of interested fans if you decide to set up a fan club.
- Make a fan club landing page. Setting up a dedicated fan club landing page gives you a place to lay out all the details.
8 – Encourage your fans to share your work
Suppose your fans have similar music tastes as their friends. Why not ask them to share your music? Tapping into your current audience to find more people who might like your music helps you grow your audience.
While some people may refer you just because they want to, setting up incentives can help encourage those who might be on the fence. You can give subscribers exclusive songs or access to Q&A sessions for referring a few friends. If someone introduces you to many new subscribers, you could even set up a private virtual concert.
Make it your own:
- Decide on your incentives. Newsletter referral incentives come in all shapes and sizes, but chances are you already have content you can give away. Setting up referral tiers gives subscribers something to work towards.
- Write an introduction email. Let subscribers know about your referral program, what they can gain, and how to share with friends.
- Set up the reward email. There are a few extra automated emails you can set up, including one to deliver the incentive once someone makes referrals.
Grow your fan base with ConvertKit
What looks like overnight success is usually the culmination of years of consistent work. ConvertKit can make growing your fan base easier by integrating multiple business tools into one platform. You can create landing pages, offer free downloads, send newsletters, and sell subscriptions all in one place.
You can also connect merch sales platforms to see all the data for your business in one place. The faster and easier you can manage your business, the more time you have to write and record new songs.