Five Post-MP3 Era Ways To Build Your E-mail List

Unknown-650x650After a relatively brief run, the era of the MP3 is drawing to a close meaning that free downloads, one of the main incentives for getting fans to sign up for e-mails, no longer has much value. Here are a few other rewards that can be used to entice fans.


Guest Post by Chris Robley on The DIY Musician

Lately I’ve been referring to the years between the launch of iTunes and the launch of Apple Music as “the download decade.”

Music streaming is nothing new, of course. Rhapsody has been here for years; Spotify has grown so popular that its brand name is almost synonymous with music streaming; and giants like Google, Amazon, and YouTube have all entered the streaming game.

But now that Apple is in the race, things feel different. Apple is perhaps the one company that can shift consumer habits in a dramatic way, and in a short period of time (they already have 10 million users in less than a month, according to some sources), towards paid music streaming.

And when the whole history of recorded music is available to you on-demand for $9.99 a month, and when you’re already paying for a data plan to watch Netflix on your phone, it seems like the music download will soon become a consumer’s last resort.

I actually can’t remember the last time I paid for a download from iTunes (or anywhere else). Since Spotify came to the US, I’ve been either streaming music on my phone or computer, or listening to CDs and vinyl.

When’s the last time you downloaded something? It’s kind of a pain, right? File management!!!

So all this is my long-winded way of saying: MP3s aren’t worth what they used to be. When you want to incentivize someone to sign up for your email list at shows or on your website, simply offering an MP3 from your latest album probably isn’t good enough.

The quick-solution on my website was to offer THREE MP3s in exchange for an email address. Download inflation? Well, have more downloads then!!!! 

But what if you (or your fans) don’t want to bother with MP3s? What options does that leave you?

Here are five ways to get fans to sign up for your email list that have nothing to do with MP3s

1. Give away something tangible at shows

 Bands_MockupA sticker. A pin. A pen. A pick. A package of gum with your band logo on it. Whatever. Just a small (and low-cost) item that’s easy for someone to put in their pocket after they’ve met you at the merch booth, said hi, and signed your email list.

2. The straightforward appeal

Sometimes people just want to support you. Go figure! They don’t need a reward. Tell them (at shows and on your site) that the best way for someone to show their support is to sign up for your newsletter so you can keep them informed about upcoming releases, tours, and videos.

If you can show your audience from stage that you appreciate them (and your music rocks), something simple like this should have an impact: “Hey, we’d love to let you know when we’ll be back through town. With online communication spread out over so many social media channels, one of the biggest ways you can support the musicians you love is to sign up for their email newsletter. Our signup list is over at our merch booth, and we’ll be hanging out there after the show. Come say hi.”

The email capture tool on your website can convey a similar message (though hopefully with more brevity).

3. Offer a DIFFERENT kind of file

A6c116c8d033dcf4730898e16c17617eMP3s may have lost some of their allure, but what about an eBook (in PDF or ePUB format)?

You don’t have to be a novelist or poet — just keep a tour diary, or write some essays about your creative process, songwriting, or recording techniques, and then edit them together into a short book.

One of my friends has even written a cookbook with recipes and anecdotes from her life as a traveler and musician (and how the food and musical adventures are related).

If this sounds daunting, remember, eBooks don’t have a length requirement. Your PDF could be just a few pages long.

4. Give subscribers EXCLUSIVE access

One way of enticing fans to sign up is to promise that they’ll be the ONLY people who get to hear and view certain content. You could create a password-protected, subscriber-only area of your website giving them access to demos, stems, remixes, behind-the-scenes videos, and more. Or you could share this content via private YouTube videos or SoundCloud links — and then email those URLs to your subscribers as part of your newsletter.

 5. Give subscribers FIRST access

You might not have the time (or desire) to create a bunch of content meant to live behind a wall. If that’s you, there’s still a way to perfume those same songs and videos with a whiff of exclusivity — and that’s to let your subscribers have the first listen. If you share your videos and songs privately with subscribers for a few days or weeks before they go live, your fans will be psyched to have that early glimpse.

You can also give your subscribers special coupon codes for merch, early-bird ticket prices, and more.

Well, those are just a few of the ways you can work around the depreciation of the MP3 when it comes to building your email list. Got any ideas to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

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