Written by Kyle Kraft of Krafty Entertainment
Krafty Entertainment is a music business development coaching company dedicated to providing guidance to musicians (and their teams) on how best to nurture supporters and profit from doing so. Krafty Entertainment’s founder Kyle Kraft has over 20 years experience in assisting both developing and established artists in substantially growing their net income from their music. Interested in working with us? Let’s talk!
When utilized properly, email lists can be a primary source of an artist’s income and also a key reason their career has longevity regardless of how much new attention they’re getting. Emailing engaged supporters is one of the best paths to making sales (of physical products, show tickets, etc), and to retaining interest in your music over time.
While it may seem like social media should be a primary means of communicating with people who are interested in your music, the reality is that once you start building an email mailing list that becomes a MUCH more effective way to actually reach your supporters. Not only does social media only share your posts with a small percentage of the people who follow you unless you pay for ads to have your posts reach more of your existing audience, but that also depends on people being on social media around the time you’re posting in order to see your posts in most instances.
It takes a substantial amount of intentional engagement to be built with a listener to get them to be wiling to sign up for an artist’s mailing list, adding to the clutter of their overflowing inbox. It takes even more intentional nurturing and carefully following email best practices to get your emails to show up in their inbox (as opposed to going to their spam/ junk mail folder) and to get people who sign up for your emails to open them regularly.
Regularly providing value is key, both to get people to sign up in the first place and also to keep them on your mailing list. Having “lead magnets” or “bribes” (consisting of exclusive content and offers/ early access/ discounts/ or ideally all of the above) is a MUCH better means of growing a mailing list of the people that interact with your social platforms, videos, website, and so on than simply providing a form for people to sign up for updates (which very few people want).
Ensuring most of the emails you send are providing value (in the form of content they would be interested in) to the reader as opposed to sales messages. If you focus too heavily on selling in your emails, you’re going to get lots of unsubscribes and have a low open rate for your emails. If you don’t send regular emails (at least monthly, but ideally more frequently) to your mailing list, your list is going to go cold and become way less effective at helping you generate income.
Inversely, if you don’t make semi-regular sales offers with clear calls to action in some of your emails to your mailing list you won’t generate nearly as much income as you’d otherwise be capable of making. With the aforementioned value/ offer balance in mind, offer your supporters physical and digital products (highlighting bundles with multiple products to increase your income!), tickets for performances, the opportunity to contribute to crowdfunding campaigns you run, and more BEFORE you make non-subscribers aware of those offers. Letting non-subscribers know that subscribers get the first opportunity for offers you make (especially with limited quantity offers which you should have) will not only incentivize your supporters to subscribe, but also incentivize subscribers to stay subscribed.
Email mailing list engagement is very much a quality over quantity game. Your emails appearing in subscribers’ inboxes as opposed to their spam/ junk folders is directly affected by how many people actually open your emails, how many unsubscribe, how many people report your emails as spam, etc.
A healthy mailing list of engaged readers should be your goal, not “hoarding” subscribers that aren’t opening your email. If someone isn’t opening your emails for months on end, you’re better off putting them into an automated email sequence to try to reengage them, and if they still aren’t opening your emails then unsubscribe them from your list yourself. You can still keep them in an advertising audience of past mailing list subscribers to try to reengage them, but having a subscriber that has gone “cold” hurts the deliverability of your emails to the rest of your subscribers.
There is no time like the present to set up an email mailing list. While you might be inclined to start with a free option like what Mailchimp offers, know that they are not the best platform to be using due to higher costs when you have more subscribers and also integration problems with other elements of your online presence that you should be developing (ie your online store, your Facebook Ad Manager, etc). Mailchimp’s free tier also doesn’t allow for multi-step email automations, which are otherwise a great tool to help you nurture your subscribers and move them down the sales funnel from subscriber to customer. Drip is one of the better email platforms at the moment.
There is definitely pushback from younger audiences that they don’t use email often and prefer to communicate via mobile text messaging. Depending on the artist’s audience, it may make sense to also have an mobile text messaging platform to build an SMS texting mailing list as well as an email mailing list. Some options out there include Community, or the one that Drip offers (in addition to their email mailiing list services) though at the time I wrote this Drip only allows messaging to American numbers whereas Community also allows messaging to Canadian numbers as well. In any case, starting with an email mailing list is definitely the move and once you have great sales with that it may make sense to expand to also building a texting mailing list as well.
The nuances of email mailing list best practices have been well covered in the following courses offered by Indepreneur:
This information was compiled by Kyle Kraft of Krafty Entertainment. Whether you are an artist who is in the early stages of building your career and have next to no money to invest into it looking for the best paths to generating income, are an artist that has established a following and are interested in getting assistance with securing tens of thousands of dollars in funding to further your career, or are an artist or collective with an extensive fan base that would like assistance with increasing the efficiency of your business development, we can help you.
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