Week 7 in Ariel’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks” is arguably the most important section of the entire book: Getting your fans to sign up to your mailing list.
At first, it can be really hard to ask anything of your fans. It was for me, anyway. I was just grateful that people showed up to our gigs, and I used to be content with just that. However, I quickly realized that by not asking them for their e-mail addresses, I was missing out on a huge opportunity to keep in contact with our fans, connect with them, and eventually ask them to purchase our music and merch.
One of the first things I did to try and break my fear of asking fans for e-mails was to walk around and mingle with everyone after the show, but while holding a pen and a clipboard with a few signup sheets. We would just talk about music, I’d thank them for coming out, and I’d ask what they honestly thought about that night’s set. I wouldn’t even mention the clipboard in my hand, but I usually wouldn’t have to because they would ask me about it first! Then, finally, I would mention the mailing list, and a few benefits they would get for joining (free songs, secret show tickets, whatever).
That worked out pretty well for a while, but sometimes fans wouldn’t even ask about the clipboard, or notice it because the venue was too dark. The next step I took was to quickly mention the mailing list once or twice during our set list, ensuring them that they would only be updated a couple times a month, and would not be spammed. Then, while talking with fans after the show, I would subtly try to work in the idea of joining our mailing list if it wasn’t already brought up in conversation. After talking and connecting a little bit with fans, they seemed much more willing and interested in keeping in touch with us. We were actually getting e-mail addresses, and we were stunned. What a confidence boost!
Getting more fans onto your mailing list
If you’re just starting an e-mail list, it’s best to approach family and friends first. If you already have their e-mail addresses, ask them if it’s cool for you to to add them to your list. They will probably all say yes/ok/fine. If they don’t though, honor that request, otherwise you won’t have that friend for much longer.
After you’ve rounded up your buddies’ e-mails, try to make it a habit to always be thinking about building your list. I guarantee you have missed dozens of opportunities for getting an e-mail address, and you don’t even realize it! I didn’t at first, but after reading Ariel’s book, I had one of those “DUH!” moments. Whether you meet somebody new at a party, or go out to a concert for one of your favorite bands, or stand in line at the DMV, these are all great opportunities to start talking to people and exchanging contact information. This is where a nice business card or download card can come in handy. Give them a card with instructions on how to download a free song from you (preferably by visiting your website and entering an e-mail address), and watch the e-mail addresses rack up.
Also, for the people that stumble across you online, include a mailing list signup form on your website that gives clear and easy instructions on how and why they should sign up for your mailing list. With a service like FanBridge or Reverbnation, you can set it up so that your fans are instantly sent an e-mail with a link to download a free song, album, .pdf, or any other electronic file that you want to give away.
There are just some ideas that I have tried out with my band to build a healthy list of e-mail addresses. What have you done? Any interesting ideas out there?