Music Business

This is the must-have music marketing tool of 2022

With more tools and services promising to help musicians grow than ever, you might be surprised to learn that the best marketing approach is also one of the oldest.

A guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix.

Every musician faces the same problem: How do I reach my fans? 

Answering that question has never been easy. Before the internet, artists had to get on the radio or appear in a music magazine to have national coverage. The musicians able to establish a fan club did so without the assistance of a third-party platform or service. Bands like The Monkeys, KISS, and The Beatles would physically mail fans updates about new music and tours, which could end up costing a ton of money in shipping and handling that other, smaller acts couldn’t afford.

Now we live in the digital age, which supposedly brings us closer together, but finding and reaching your fans has never felt more difficult. Finding your fans is hard enough between the multiple social media platforms, streaming services, forums, and other random corners of the internet, let alone getting a message to them. Facebook, for example, only allows Page owners (artists/groups/labels) to reach around 5.2% of their total following. More can be reached, of course, but only if the artist is willing to pay for boosted promotion.

Buying ads to reach your fans is a surefire approach, but what about the artists and labels that don’t have a large advertising budget? How can everyday musicians hope to reach their fans in an increasingly expensive and corporate-controlled world? 

The answer you’re looking for is a mailing list. Maintaining an email list offers the highest probability of reaching your most engaged fans at the lowest cost. There are several mailing list services (MailChimp, Substack) with free tiers for those just starting. You may need to spend money in time, but you can reach hundreds, even thousands, without spending a cent. All you need is an email address, and everyone has an email address.

Let’s say you have 1,000 Likes on Facebook and 1,000 subscribers to your mailing list. A single FB post announcing your new tour is only guaranteed to reach 52 people. You don’t know who those people are, and you have very little control over how the content is distributed throughout the Facebook ecosystem.

If you send that same announcement to your 1,000 mailing list subscribers, you can rest assured every last person will receive that email (unless there is an issue on their end). Thanks to email analytics, they might not all open it or click the links inside, but you will know how fans engage with your announcements. You will be able to see, often in real-time, what content your fans engage with the most.

From there, the possibilities are endless. You can use the most successful content to create ads that draw in new fans, all of whom you will work to convert to newsletter subscribers in time. Your mailing list will become a marketing funnel unto itself, with your most devoted fans identifying themselves their behaviors you view with analytics.

In an age of endless options, artists need a way to communicate with fans that guarantees reach without high costs or exhaustive effort. Email is the answer. Don’t waste another day. Start your email list, engage your audience, and take back your ability to communicate with fans.

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.

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