How Many Email Subscribers A Musician Really Needs

In an age where we’re constantly bombarded by an endless deluge of content, email newsletters have remained one of an artist’s best tools for sustaining a following of fans. Here we look at just how many subscribers it takes to make a mailing list ‘work.’ (Hint: it’s few than you might think).


Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

Everyone is suffering from content overload, but email newsletters remain one of the strongest tools in any musician’s marketing arsenal.

In the age of abundance, how much is enough? How much money do you need to achieve stability? How many songs do you need to write a track that people will love? How many song streams will pay your rent? How many followers do you need to build a sustainable career? What is an ideal number of email newsletter subscribers?

There is no clear answer to any of these questions. The answer is different for every person or group, even if the goal is always the same.

One thing is sure: The number of subscribers (or followers) needed to build a sustainable career is smaller than you think.

Social media has trained us to dream big when it comes to fans. The names everyone knows have millions of online followers. Thousands upon thousands of people engage with every post a celebrity makes, and they, in theory, support every announcement that person of interest shares.

But you don’t need one-million people to support you to have a full-time career in music. An audience of one-thousand can make a more significant impact as long as they are engaged with your art. 

Ask yourself: Do my fans see themselves as individual supporters, or are they part of a community built around your artistic output? 

If the answer is the latter, you’re in a good place.

When artists can cultivate a community around their music, anything is possible. An email newsletter with one-thousand engaged subscribers who want to support your continued success will bring in more money and meaningful support than a million people who never buy a shirt or catch a tour. Any follower is sweet, of course, but unless they take the extra step to support you financially, their interest in your art does not help your bottom line.

If you don’t have a community around your music, then consider this:

What can I do to make people feel more involved in my music? 

There are many ways to engage your audience, but making people feel involved in your career comes down to whether or not you take an interest in who they are as people. Where do your followers live? Why do they like your music? What do they want more or less of? What are they doing this weekend? Do they have families, or are they in school? 

When musicians understand their audience, they can engage with them in a meaningful way that leaves followers feeling seen and appreciated. If you can make people think that way about you and your music, the community aspect will begin to take shape. Followers will follow one another; they will plan ways to attend your shows and arrange meet-ups in cities where they live. Your music will have a life outside your own, one that gives it added value to the people who enjoy it. 

When people care about something, and I mean care about it, they will go above and beyond to see it continue. This is true in life and relationships and art. Don’t underestimate the value of making your fans feel good about being your fans.

So, don’t worry about reaching one million followers. Don’t even worry about hitting ten-thousand. Focus on building meaningful relationships with everyone who cares about your music and getting them to join your mailing list, and if that is one-thousand people, great! If it’s thirty, that’s good too. Don’t worry about the number of people engaged as much as you do making them feel important. If you can make them feel as good as their support makes you feel more followers will come in time. 

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

Share on: