Like using MIDI, ABBA, and 2000s pop stars, email marketing is cool again.
You might have noticed that the past few years have been full of musical comebacks. MIDI made its way back to the mainstream after decades of being associated with elevator music, ABBA released a stellar comeback album, and Natasha Bedingfield has a hit on TikTok with her 2000s banger “Unwritten.”
Let’s be real for a second, though—none of those ever really went out of style. If you want an affordable and versatile way to make music, you should buy a MIDI controller. If you want to write great pop hooks, study ABBA’s songwriting. If you want to listen to a phenomenal singer who writes catchy, feel-good songs, it’s hard to beat Natasha Bedingfield.
And if you want to successfully engage your fan base without spending a fortune, you absolutely need an email list.
If you’re a little wary about email marketing, I get it. It’s not fun to get a dozen emails a week from brands you bought one thing from ten years ago.
But ask yourself: do you feel the same way when you get emails from your favorite bands?
The most successful musicians have learned that email marketing is one of the most valuable tools a musician or band can have—and you’re about to learn the same.
In this article, I’ll highlight the biggest benefits of email marketing for musicians. I’ll even give you some real-world examples of how to use email marketing to engage fans and make money.
Your fans want to connect with you
Earlier, I asked how you feel when you get emails from your favorite bands. Personally, they’re the first emails I open, and these are the bands I care about the most. I follow a ton of bands on social media, but I save my inbox for my absolute favorites. I want the best tickets for their shows, I want to get first dibs on new merch, and I never want to miss hearing about their newest song.
If someone joins your email list, they’re officially superfans and WANT to hear from you. The trick is, they might not know it until you give them a reason to subscribe. Here are a few ways to get fans to join your email list:
- Trade a free song for their email address. You can use this free automation from ConvertKit to encourage them to download the full album later.
- Offer a one-time discount on merch. Add a pop-up form to your website with an offer to send a discount code for your online store in exchange for an email address.
- Have email list-only ticket pre-sales. Everyone wants to be first in line for the show—giving your email subscribers a head start on buying tickets is a great perk.
- Always announce through email first. Make it a habit to drop all of your biggest announcements to your email list first. Let your subscribers feel like they’re in on a secret.
Email is an owned—not rented—relationship
The fans you have on your social media profiles are essentially rentals. At any moment, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok could decide to completely throttle your reach and demand you pay money to get your posts in front of your fans’ eyes. In fact, that’s exactly what they've done, time and time again. The bigger your page gets, the smaller the percentage of your fans who see your posts without you paying to boost them.
Compare this to email marketing. Every time you send an email to someone’s list, you’re guaranteed that they’ll get that email in their inbox. Unlike social marketing, email marketing lets you own the relationship with your audience.
If social platforms let you reach everyone for free, they wouldn’t have a business model.
By now, most social media users understand that they’re the product. As a band with a “brand” page, you’re the customer. In other words, the major way social platforms make money is by convincing people who have branded pages to advertise to reach more fans.
Email marketing isn’t sneaky like that, but it also doesn’t promise built-in fans. You still need to attract subscribers in the first place. You’ll also need to nurture the relationship to ensure higher open rates. And with ConvertKit you don’t need to pay extra to guarantee you’ll reach the inboxes you thought you were emailing.
Own the relationship with your audience
ConvertKit helps you build a relationship with your followers and own that connection you make with them through your email list.Start a free 14-day ConvertKit trial
Those owned relationships also have a lot of value to labels and brands. That’s not to say having a ton of TikTok followers isn’t valuable—it is—but if you work hard and build up your email list, it’s another asset to bring to the table when you negotiate record deals or other partnerships.
It’s easier than ever to use email marketing software
As someone who’s done email marketing for over ten years, I’m not going to sugarcoat that email marketing used to be rough. I didn’t even have to struggle through the days of hard-coding campaigns and sending up a prayer that the email I looked halfway decent across dozens of different email providers.
These days, email providers like ConvertKit make every element of email marketing—from getting new subscribers to converting sales—a breeze.
For example, if you wanted to only send emails to certain geographic regions, you used to have to create spreadsheets and lists with different subscribers. Now, you can easily select different groups and segments directly from ConvertKit while you’re sending your email.
You also used to have to manually set up every email campaign. That would mean planning out Broadcasts over the course of weeks or days for specific promotions, like an album release. Now, you can incorporate automation into your album release cycle with the click of a button. I love this automation because it takes something that’s a huge process—promoting an album before its release date—and automates a huge chunk of the work for you.
Through this automation, you can collect email addresses through a landing page or through eCommerce (when someone buys your record in advance), sending them into the funnel. They’ll get an initial email letting them know they’re on the list, which you can customize with any other important information. You can even add hype-up emails in between when they sign up and the release date.
When your album’s released, everyone in your funnel will get another email, this time directing them to listen to the album. This is where things get interesting. After someone clicks on the album link in the initial email, ConvertKit will tag each subscriber as having “listened” or “not listened” to your record. Then, you can send customized emails to each group. You can nudge those who didn’t listen to give the record a spin, and you can ask those who did listen to rate and review, buy a physical copy, and tell their friends.
And the best part? You started that whole process with a single click. All you had to do was customize the emails and the dates.
Your email list has secret revenue opportunities
An email list is great to have, but getting the most out of it means being strategic. From selling records to starting a fan club, here are some ways to make money through your email list.
If you’re still recording your album and don’t have any merch to sell, you can still make money via tips. Instead of relying on a third-party service like Buy Me a Coffee, Venmo, or CashApp, you can ask your fans to send tips directly through ConvertKit’s Tip Jar.
To set up a Tip Jar, log into ConvertKit and Navigate to your “Earn” page. Select “Tip Jar” and, if you haven’t already, connect to Stripe for payment. From there, you can create your custom tip jar with a unique URL of your choice.
You can add this tip jar wherever you want to collect tips from your fans. Here are a few ideas:
No matter where you add your tip page, bring attention to it. It sounds obvious, but folks are more likely to do everything from join your email list to leave a tip if you ask them outright.
Record and merch sales
The Tip Jar is great even when you don’t have a record or merch to sell, but when you do, your email list is a great way to drive sales.
Your email list should be a crucial part of your album release strategy, but you shouldn’t stop pushing your record once it's out. You can continue to promote your record through your email list—even selling digital copies directly through ConvertKit.
To sell digital copies of your song, record, or other digital products through ConvertKit, navigate to the Earn page and select “Create a product.” From there, you can add details about your product and choose whether to offer your product as a recurring subscription, a one-time purchase, or let customers pay what they choose.
Next, add details about your product. Is it a digital download, a members-only newsletter, or something else? If you choose a digital download, you’ll upload the file that buyers will receive once they pay.
Finally, choose your exclusive domain name and design your landing page, checkout page, confirmation email, and receipt email.
As for merch, while you can’t sell physical items directly through ConvertKit, you can integrate ConvertKit with Shopify, WooCommerce, and other popular eCommerce platforms through your website. Send reminders to your fans when you have new merch drops or sales on existing merch, and ConvertKit can automate follow-up emails and more.
Fan club subscriptions
You might have noticed that one of the digital pricing options for ConvertKit was a subscription model. That might not make sense for selling your album, but do you know what it does make sense for? A fan club.
Fan clubs are a tried-and-true method of wrangling your biggest supporters to not only support you regularly, but also build a long-lasting relationship with them. Through digital subscriptions, you can set multiple tiers with different support levels, much like Patreon. ConvertKit even has a one-click free fan club automation template you can use to get yourself started.
Ticket sales are where having a big, diverse email list with geodata comes in handy. In the older days of email marketing, you’d have to ask fans what their zip code was. Now, if fans open your emails, you have a good idea of their location, meaning you can send them emails tailored to the shows closest to them without giving the rest of your list a case of FOMO.
When you first announce your tour, let your whole list know. As you get closer to each date, take a look at which shows still need an extra ticket push. Craft emails for shows that could stand to sell more tickets, and only email fans who could reasonably drive to those shows. That way you can still promote those shows without your entire list feeling like they’re getting irrelevant emails.
ConvertKit makes it easy to geotarget subscribers. When building a Broadcast targeting a specific city (aka market), craft your email as usual and then add one of the following options for filtering your subscribers by location:
- Within a country or region
- Distance from a city
- Distance from a postal code
Choosing a city will often be the easiest choice for your tour promotion, but try experimenting with cities or postal codes to see what drives the highest ticket sales.
Raise money to record your album
Remember in the early days of Kickstarter when it seemed like everyone was using the new platform to crowdfund their albums? Well, that’s fallen out of favor, partly because of Kickstarter’s higher fees. These days, bands can go directly to their fans to crowdfund their albums, and you can do the same.
If you’re curious about using email marketing to crowdfund your next album, ConvertKit can get you started. Check out their one-click automation template for album crowdsourcing that includes a donation page and exclusive content for supporters.
Ready to see what email software can do for you and your career?
What do MIDI, ABBA, and email marketing all have in common? People don’t realize how cool they are until they really dig in. MIDI can unlock incredible potential in your recorded and live music, ABBA can teach you how to write truly great songs, and email marketing can help you connect with fans in ways you’ve never thought possible.
Curious about more ways to earn revenue with your email list as a musician? Check out our article about how musicians are making money online.
ConvertKit audience-building software helps musicians like you grow your fanbase, connect with those fans to turn them into superfans, and earn a living with your music. Click the link below and start a 14-day free trial and start growing your music business today.