There’s a great blog post on TuneCore about the importance of email that echoes many of my own thoughts: Email, Email, Email: If You Make Music You Have to Be Able to Tell People About It. I’ve added some of my own thoughts here.
I enjoy social media as much as the next guy. Facebook has enabled all of us to have easy access to our friends, family and colleagues. We can interact with one another quickly and painlessly.
However, there’s a reason why I have always encouraged artists to get their own dot com domain name(s) and hosting plan. Social media is great for engagement marketing, but it isn’t set up to be your home on the web. Here’s why:
- Social media platforms can get shut down. If that were to happen, you would lose your ‘likes’, followers or subscribers.
- Many social platforms are inherently bogged down with status updates, alluring ads and a host of other things that could distract the user away from your page.
- You don’t own the content on your social platforms.
If I were to claim that as an original thought, surely I would be lying. It was probably Derek Sivers that I first heard it from.
If you’ve been a part of the social media scene for a while, surely the MySpace example isn’t too far from your mind. While MySpace wasn’t “shut down” when it started losing ground to Facebook, we are seeing new things happen with MySpace today that could have a significant impact on users that still manage and maintain their profiles there.
With That in Mind…
It may seem like common sense, but if you don’t own the content you publish to your various social channels, you don’t own the messages you send and receive either.
Most social platforms have some kind of private messaging function, and that is all well and good, but if that site ever got shut down, you would lose all your private messages along with everything else.
Email is not going out of style. In fact, I believe it is still one of the most powerful tools available to musicians today.
Some people seem to feel that email is going to be rendered obsolete because of how convenient social media is. I highly doubt that. Just because a new platform fills an existing need doesn’t mean that the previous tool was flawed.
Emily White has even said that an email list is an artist’s retirement plan. I believe you should put high priority on your mailing list over social media.
There are many great tools available, but I recommend using iContact, MailChimp or AWeber to grow your list and send out your campaigns. This will make managing your list so much easier.
Be Smart About It
Now, as to whether or not an email marketing platform could shut down… That is not outside the realm of possibility. I would recommend keeping a copy of your fan list on your hard drive and also printing out a hard copy to avoid that problem altogether.
However, when all is said and done a list of emails is much easier to manage than a list of names, some of which are probably aliases, some of which probably aren’t managed by real people. Imagine having to recover your fan list that way (i.e. your Facebook friends list)… In one word, painstaking.
So let me get to the point. Email is considered the expected format for promotional messages. That would make it the most effective also, because fans are actually expecting to receive messages about your new releases and tours that way.
Additionally, email addresses have greater leverage than a names list. If you have the names, addresses and phone numbers of all your fans that’s great; but it’s another matter altogether if all you have is names, for reasons already noted.
Finally, it’s about ownership. If you don’t pay for it, chances are you don’t own it. Your fan list is your fan list. Guard it with your life.