Using Bandcamp To Build Your Email List

Internet-mailBy Dan Adler (@EDM_Hero) of the indie EDM business blog EDM Hero.

So you’ve got someone to your Bandcamp page, they’ve streamed a track or two of yours and decide that they would like to download it. They click “download,” get your track, add it to their collection of many other thousands of tracks they have amassed. Maybe it will be added to a playlist, maybe it will be forgotten. Unless you have absolutely blown this particular listener’s mind, guess what else will be forgotten—your website URL.

I believe it is always good marketing practice to never rely on a listener to pro-actively take the initiative to bookmark your page or otherwise remember to check back for new releases. Always assume the listener is a lazy, forgetful, and fickle being who will wander away from your grasp due to even the most minute of distractions or difficulties receiving your communications. This is why you should GET THEM SUBSCRIBED to you at all costs! Be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud, or a mailing list, get them hooked!

Your goal is to set up your listeners so that they can receive your communications passively. Nobody but the most passionate fan is going to remember a web URL and check it every month or so for your latest news or new releases.

An essential tool for catching and retaining listeners is Bandcamp’s ability to require an email address to download a track or album. You can effectively build up a quality list of emails with this tool. In the few years I have been running an email list for my music, I believe roughly 3% have signed up via the form on my website and the rest are from free Bandcamp downloads. Combine this with a snazzy mailing list service, and you have an extremely effective way to retain interest.

Number of subscribers over time:


How to build and run a mailing list with Bandcamp and Mail Chimp

I use Mail Chimp to run my email lists. This service is free up until 2000 subscribers. Once you get up to that number, it is likely you’ll find their service or a competitor’s service worth the money. I haven’t used any other mailing list services, but Mail Chimp is really impressive, easy to use, and has a lot of features. It gives detailed reporting stats on how many people opened emails, clicked a link, and more. I’m not associated with Mail Chimp and I don’t participate in their referral program at this time. It’s just what I use and it is working well for me so I can speak about it. Here is a list of alternatives.

Now, everybody hates spam or even receiving too many emails from somebody you’re actually interested in. I email less than once a month, and only when I have something cool to offer my listeners like a new track. You are just a single EDM producer—how much do people need to know about you via their email inbox? If I have multiple newsworthy items, I’ll mention them all together in a single email. Those that want more frequent updates can subscribe to your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I mention in most emails that I email very infrequently (a decent portion of the list is new subscribers every time) and thank them for staying subscribed. Most people that provided their email did so because they wanted the track, but only about 5% those emails from Bandcamp have unsubscribed after receiving the first email.

You should make sure to run your email list from a service that will allow you to place auto unsubscribe links in your messages. You could just BCC your whole list from your Gmail account, but not giving users an auto method to unsubscribe is a little shady, particularly if you are obtaining their emails from something that is not directly a voluntary email sign-up form.

Bandcamp isn’t the main place people find my music

Bandcamp_logoBandcamp isn’t the best site for discoverability of music (though it is improving), so you probably have a lot of people finding your work on sites like Soundcloud and YouTube. Soundcloud allows downloads of music, but if you are trying to push a track as an email harvester, you may want to refrain from allowing downloads from there. It is becoming fairly common to place text such as “download available in description” on Soundcloud tracks, and from there you can link over to your Bandcamp page for the song. You can place prompts about where to find the download link in the description on YouTube directly in the video you uploaded or via YouTube’s annotations function.

Putting information in annotations is key because your videos may be embedded onto websites where the full description is not available. Alternatively, make the URL easy to remember by creating a custom TinyURL like “tinyurl.com/YourTrackName” and place them directly in the video.

Leveraging content you create that you can’t sell

Do you make bootleg remixes or mashups? Maybe you like to include a lot of samples in your music that you can’t clear. You can’t legally sell this stuff but people really like it. Consider making this the content that you require an email for. Songs (and plenty of other types of creative work) that includes something else that is already popular are the easiest to get attention on and to “go viral.” You can’t sell it, but there isn’t a rule against offering it in exchange for a listener’s email. Read more about remixes.

It’s evergreen

An email list is an extremely important tool for keeping both hardcore fans and semi-interested fans in the loop. Not everybody uses Facebook and Twitter, and those that do aren’t always on there 24/7, so there is a good chance listeners will miss important updates through those channels. Twitter moves so fast, users can’t ever see every single tweet, and Facebook’s algorhythm decides not to display your updates to the majority of those that like your page unless you pay to promote (see this article for more). However, everybody has an email, and at least all email subject lines are seen.

Email is universal and is not going anywhere soon. Unlike certain social media sites, Email is not a medium that has no chance of losing it’s userbase, so your big list will always be valuable and a worthwhile investment.


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