And how they can reach their highest revenue driving audience, easily.
As a music industry professional working in Digital Marketing, I’m asked time and again by artists, managers and labels the best ways to drive streams, build following and develop authentic fan relationships online. The only answer that hasn’t changed with the real-time effects of Instagram algorithm updates or the migration from one social media platform to the next is email marketing. And it’s painfully simple.
If you don’t believe me, or you haven’t already, look to the newsletters of major record label signed artists, Sigrid, Mahalia and Blossoms. These three artists are brilliant examples of how to effectively engage fans through a medium that is 100% free and reaches 100% of their audiences.
On average organic posts on Facebook reach 6.4% of an artists following; much like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. This dynamic of low level content distribution is used by social media platforms to encourage artists, brands and companies to spend money advertising on their services.
Whereas, email marketing will reach 100% of an artists audience, is free and creates a direct path of communication with an artists highest revenue driving audience; the super-fans, also known as, the email database. High numbers of revenue is why email marketing is a key part of the major label marketing arsenal, and entire teams at Sony, Universal and Warner are dedicated solely to email marketing.
1. The Landing Page
If you’re wondering how an artist can automatically generate email data, your first port of call will be the landing page, or the artist website. Scour the websites of artists such as Lil Nas X, Billie Marten and Harry Styles and you’ll see two things in common; direct access to social media channels and immediate opportunities to sign up to their email database.
Advice that I often give to artist teams is that the experience of the user needs to be as direct and smooth as possible. Ideally we are aiming to create a single page that features as the navigational centre for all of an artists online activity; easily directing users to socials, streaming platforms, merch, tour pages and newsletter sign ups. Consider this to be your artist directory. You can see a great example of this above for Harry Styles by Columbia Records. Once an easy to access website is created, you can start collecting email data from fans organically, by adding the landing page to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify profiles. Your highest engaging fans will sign up with no incentive, and before you know it you’ll have a database of super-fans that you can message directly. If you’re a developing artist however, with little to no budget for web designers, hosting bandwidth and domains, there are many free alternatives. My favourite is a classic, Mailchimp. Within the Mailchimp platform you can create sleek looking landing pages and collect email data all for free. See below an example of an artist landing page that I made in less than 15 minutes on the site.
Now that you have a dedicated landing page to build your email database with, your next move should be to cross promote your landing page on your social media channels.
This next step is one of the easiest and most underused techniques for collecting email data.
Within Facebook there are multiple ways in which you can subtly encourage fans to join artist databases. Look to the below highlighted sections from Unloved; the ‘call to action’ section and the ‘about’ section. Once located, update each section with a link to your landing page.
A simple trick, but one that I’ve seen grow databases exponentially ahead of artist campaigns. Particularly when fans have never seen a clear path to sign up prior.
Instagram is one of the most visually expressive social media platforms around, and so presents artists with unique ways to creatively generate email data.
As Instagram’s only way to direct users out of platform, the precious real-estate that is ‘the bio’ is often reserved for high priority links; notably releases, touring or merch.
However, there are methods for maintaining the crucial bio link promotion, whilst also directing fans to email sign ups.
A great option is within the ‘highlight’ section, and this has been brilliantly exemplified by Alternative/Electronic duo Zero 7.
For new profile visitors or fans re-visiting the bands home page, they will find a creative beneath the ‘Follow’ button instructing users to ‘Join’. Once clicked through the user is presented with a vertical Instagram Story creative encouraging them to ‘Swipe up’ in order to ‘hear the latest from Zero 7’. In turn, cleverly directing users to an email sign up landing page.
For artists without verified status, or swipe up functionality, another method of directing users to newsletter sign ups is just as efficient and cost effective. Try using a link generator such as Linkin.bio.
Linkin.bio is a platform that offers users the ability to collate multiple links within one landing page, in a visually engaging manner. Simply create your Linkin.bio homepage and add it to your Instagram bio. Allowing artists the capability of directing fans to music, merch, live dates and email sign ups.
See a brilliant use of a multi link landing page from the Instagram of Crack Magazine below.
Make your email newsletter feel like an exclusive members only club through creative fan experiences. Two great examples of incentivising email sign ups can be found from and The Black Keys.
Being a member of both of these newsletters are very rewarding experiences for fans.
The Nordic pop sensation Sigrid offers an incredibly personal experience within her newsletter. Often writing letters to fans in a diary like manner. Expressing gratitude to fans by giving away free stickers, behind the scenes content and exclusive opportunities through the platform.
The Black Keys, on the other hand, provide a literal fan club known as ‘The Lonely Boys & Girls Club’ offering early access to shows, meet and greets and fan first competitions; encouraging fans to sign up.
Utilising music activation's by subscribing to services such as Feature FM is an industry standard technique for collecting email data. In Feature FM there are three great ways in which you can achieve your email activation goals seamlessly.
Firstly, an artist can create ‘multi-retail’ link’s directing fans to Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and more, featuring a handy email sign up at the top. This feature provides users with a clear opportunity to sign up to an artists email newsletter, whilst also directing fans to an artists latest single, album or playlist.
Additionally, there is the ‘Pre-save’, popularised by Laura Marling and Kobalt in 2016. The Pre-save is much like a pre-order, but for streaming platforms. A user can opt-in ahead of a release to receive an album or single instantly upon the day of its release.
In this process login information is required to activate the mechanic. By abiding with GDPR regulation, and supplying an additional check box for the user to confirm that they would like to sign up to the artist newsletter, an artist can send music directly to a users streaming service and collect email data.
Unique to Feature FM there is the ‘action page’. The action page is a landing page that provides direct actions for users to follow, subscribe or add to playlist on platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. When a user follows any of these actions, their data can be automatically collected in a way similar to pre-saving; perfect for collecting email data outside of a release cycle.
Finally, there are a few ways of collecting email data in person that don’t require equipping a friend or intern with a clipboard and pen.
Firstly, there is the live incentive, a tactic I’ve seen performed incredibly successfully on stage. When reaching a shows peak an artist can direct the audience to their website/landing page, offering a gift to new email subscribers of an exclusive live recording, or unlisted YouTube video, of the show; creating a unique and engaging fan experience. The amount of people you’ll see reaching for their phones will surprise you.
Additionally, an artist can also offer discounts or free stickers at the merch stand in exchange for newsletter sign ups.
Lastly, synchronised social handles and communication are key. During a show, an artist’s backdrop should feature a username that is the same as their website, social and online channels. You can find a terrific example of this from Domino signed artist Georgia below.
Presented with the problem of marketing an artist with an incredibly difficult name for the optimisation of online search results, Domino where quick to update all of Georgia’s handles and website domain to ‘GeorgiaUK’.
Now when performing live Georgia can direct her audience to ‘GeorgiaUK’ in order to mitigate their search engine problems and drive fans to all of her online platforms, in person.
Lewy Lytton is a freelance Digital & Creative Manager working alongside artist managers, independent music organisations and record labels to enhance artist and user digital experience and strategy.
Lewy has previously worked with and for artists and organisations including Universal, Domino, Netflix, Arctic Monkeys and many more. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org