The State of Band Email Marketing
A few months ago, we stumbled onto Nine Inch Nails’ creative campaign. We wanted to see what other bands were doing, so we signed up for their emails. Well, they’re not doing much. Most of their messages are infrequent and uninspired. Worse, many bands haven’t sent anything at all. Why is this? I’ve got some theories of my own. And then I want to hear what you have to say.
By Amanda Gagnon February 24, 2011
A few months ago, we stumbled onto Nine Inch Nails’ creative campaign. We wanted to see what other bands were doing, so we signed up for their emails.
Well, they’re not doing much. Most of their messages are infrequent and uninspired. Worse, many bands haven’t sent anything at all.
Why is this? I’ve got some theories of my own. And then I want to hear what you have to say.
Pick Your Poison
Creating music takes passion. It takes energy. It takes creativity and focus. So it leaves independent musicians too drained to muster up much effort for promotions. Their emails are usually slapdash affairs:
[UPDATE: Post-publication, we found out this email didn’t display correctly for us. It does have more detail and personality. School of Seven Bells, I apologize. We’ll leave this version here as a visual representation of a sad message that SSB wouldn’t send, but other bands do.]
Emails from bands with record labels are almost worse. They’re slick and impersonal, straight from the marketing department.
They’re “from” the musicians, but there’s no actual content written (or sometimes, even seen) by the artists. And each one is full of requests and demands, without giving anything back.
And the messages look something like this:
Both situations are understandable, but unfortunate. By reserving email for new albums and tours, bands miss out on its greatest marketing potential: building relationships with fans.
The solution, as far as I can tell?
Don’t Write the Message; Be the Message
Musicians aren’t PR reps (unless, by day, they actually are). They’re artists. They need to be who they are and do what they do.
So that’s what their emails should share – who they are, what they do. Things like:
- Raw material that their readers can later recognize in finished songs.
- Clues about upcoming projects, a la Panic at the Disco.
- A Q&A section that answers fan questions (the work of talking to one subscriber with the impact of speaking to them all).
- Potential titles for that new track, asking readers to vote for their favorite.
- Fun group photos, or even better, photos fans send in after shows (like The Glitch Mob asks their fans to do.
The struggles and triumphs of everyday music creation, shared through email. Not only does this approach make message writing easier, it shows the band is still going strong while they work on their next project.
And most importantly, it establishes a deep level of community with fans.
Want to Learn More?
For more information on email marketing for musicians, view our complete Email Marketing for Musicians Guide.
Do You Know Any Bands That Do This?
There are a few bands out there with more involved email campaigns. The Static Jacks‘ New Years greeting was handwritten in marker on notepaper, and for Christmas, Coldplay sent a video of a recent performance, plus a chance to win free T-shirts.
Perhaps you know of some others? If you do, tell us who they are and what they do.
And cast your vote: would bands do better to email about more than new albums or shows? Or is that all their fans really want to hear about?