Look, this isn't the first time we've talked about why artists need an email list, and it certainly won't be the last. But it's definitely going to be the most blunt.
If you don't have an email list, you're leaving money on the table at best. And running the risk of never owning your fan relationships at worst.
Who Uses Email Anyway?
Half of the people in the world use email. And in the United States, upwards of 90 percent of people aged 15-44 (aka your fans, probably) use email.
Compare that to 67 percent of people aged 18-29 and 47 percent of people aged 30-49 in the U.S. who use Instagram. Yeah, it's kind of a head scratcher it takes so many artists so long to create an email list.
But it's not just the fact that nearly every person in your target demo has an email address. It's the fact that you can be sure they almost always will have an email address.
Social media trends come and go, even if Instagram is proving particularly resilient. But eventually, Instagram won't be what it once was. The same way Facebook pages are pretty much worthless for organic reach (but still important for data collection and advertising). The same way MySpace went from an A&R hotbed to an Internet footnote.
Email, on the other hand, has survived just about every trend — and has only gotten more important as a virtual identity.
Ok But I Don't Subscribe To My Favorite Artist's Email List / Have Never Gotten An Email From Them
Yeah, cause the music industry historically sucks at leveraging email lists. The same way artist websites are utterly boring and the e-commerce experience is lacking.
But you don't have to make that mistake.
When used properly, email lists become tangible assets that you can use to leverage not just for more revenue, but for more opportunities. The smartest bands, managers, and marketing companies can actually break down their email list into how much money it makes them per user every year.
At the same time, pitching the size of your email list to potential press outlets, brand partners, and others can help you land articles, placements, sponsorships, and more. If you're able to tell Rolling Stone you'll send that nice blurb about your band to your email list of 10,000 fans with a 35% open rate, they know they can expect hundreds, if not thousands of clicks to their site from your list directly.
And that's as important to them as something like your streams are to you.
Isn't It Expensive To Maintain An Email List?
It doesn't have to be. In fact, you can get started with most sites for free. Mailchimp is a market leader in email so they're an obvious place to look, but there are literally dozens of other platforms with competitive offers, too.
And here's the rub: if you're using your email list correctly, the money you make from sending offers to fans will far outpace the monthly subscription fee you pay.
Until you get to that point where you're able to monetize your list, you can build it for free. There's no reason not to start right now, even if it's only with a few dozen people.
Compare that to all the time (and probably at least some money) you spend building your social media following. When Instagram is no longer the place to be, you might be the proud owner of an account with thousands upon thousands of people who won't ever see what you post.
But you'll always own your email list.
The best part about email is you have the ability to essentially control a fan's experience with you. In other words, you can create automated emails that go out to every fan based on time, clicks, or other triggers. And you know they'll get them in the order you want. (Whether they open or interact with them is a different story and a different article).
With social media, it's almost impossible to create a "journey" for your fans. Outside of Instagram stories. Which last 24 hours.
So you can front load a bunch of work to create a series of emails that give new subscribers interesting insights and prompt them to interact with you more. And then once that gets set up, it's on autopilot for every person who enters the list.
This is how large companies scale their digital presence. It's kind of "customers 101" in the age of digital commerce. And it's absolutely mind-boggling that artists (and most likely their record label) consistently fail to set this up for fans.
So What Are You Waiting For?
If you don't have an email list, set one up now. And then give yourself a high five, because you're ahead of the curve.
In upcoming articles we'll dive a little more into some do's and don't's of your list and talk about some nice benchmarks and content ideas.