Posted tagged ‘newsletter’

Learning Your Listeners

September 20, 2010

The saying goes like this: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Occasionally, when I’m at a show, or shortly after a show, I notice how various audience members respond to my merchandise table.  Here’s what I’ve observed…

Type A Listener
This individual likes what they hear. They buy the album immediately, sign the email list and pick up a card so they can go out of their way and check out your website when they get home. Type A is excited and fully committed to supporting you from the start. They’re the person who will tweet about you from their phone the instant they hear your music. They’ll share you with their friends, and come regularly to your shows. They’ll buy your album for friends and attend a few shows each year.

Type B Listener
This person likes what they hear and will likely stick around for your whole show. But Type B isn’t sold out on your music…at least not yet. It’s important to realize that you will almost have more Type Bs than Type As in your audience. Type B will sign your newsletter and will probably do so without you asking because they want to keep tabs on what you’re up to. They’ll go to your show, not because they need a fix of your music, but because it’s conveniently in their neighborhood. Make sure you get Type B’s email b/c even if they don’t buy your album, they will show interest in your music on special occasions (CD Release/major show) , and consider buying your album when you have a sale (maybe a Christmas discount).

Type C Listener
This person isn’t particularly interested in your tunes, but might just pick up your business card off the table at the very most.  In other words, because they don’t have your music, and haven’t given you their contact information (for your newsletter), it’s completely in their hands to stay abreast on your career.  They don’t hae any regular reminders, so your engagement with them will be slim-to-none.

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Do You Have Any Tips on Successfully Booking Shows?

August 23, 2010

Via Linota

THE ARTIST: Via Linota Lancaster, PA
THE QUESTION: My  CD release party is coming up and I’m going to need to start playing as many shows as possible to get the word out. I noticed you are booking a lot of stuff. Just thought I might write and ask if you had any suggestions for being successful on booking shows. If you have a minute to give me a few tips i would really appreciate it.

THE ANSWER: Congrats on the new CD! That question has so many answers.  I highly recommend checking out this former post: 5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show. But here are some newer thoughts on that matter that are maybe a little easier to digest.

1. Get other artists opinions on a venue before booking to see if it will be a good fit for you.

2. Decide what type of environment your music best fits. Are you cool with being background music (i.e. a bar)? Or do you want to play for listening audiences (i.e. listening rooms)?  Or both? I’ve personally decided that I don’t want to do background music shows anymore. They’re a waste of my time and they don’t help me build my fanbase b/c no one is listening. Just a thought. However, background music-type shows often pay the bills…so i wouldn’t write them off.

3. Always have an email sign-up sheet at EVERY show. Pass it around and get new subscribers as often as possible. This will give you the opp to stay connected with the people who like your music. If you’ve missed the opportunity to connect with them, you’ve lost a potentially long-term fan. See Mailing Lists & Social Networking.

4. Read your local city paper and find out what events are taking place. See if they need local music. You’ll be surprised at what you find out by reading the local paper, visit other musicians websites, and subscribing to community calendars. See Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go.

5. Play at local farmers market, gallery opening and anything that could benefit from music. Even if it’s not their original game plan to have music, ask them if they’d be open to the idea. Never underestimate the power of suggestion.

6. House shows are great…espec since Fall is around the corner. See House Shows – Small Crowd, Big Return.

This website also has tons of other posts on everything from booking tours to deciding what type of venues are best for you. Ch-ch-check it out 🙂

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Mailing Lists & Social Networking

June 28, 2010

Think of Your Mailing List as a Gateway Drug. If you’ve read Grassrootsy for any amount of time, you know we stress the importance of having a mailing list at your shows. Well, given the rise of Facebook and Twitter among musicians, your mailing might not be the most important way to communicate with your fans anymore (I can’t believe i just said that)!   However a newsletter IS still the best way of opening the door to more direct communication with your fans. Here’s what you do:

  1. Pass your newsletter around the room at your show
  2. Within a day or two, email everyone who subscribed, welcoming them to the list
  3. In your “Welcome” newsletter, make sure you include prominent links to your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and any other social network
  4. Emphasize the fact that fans can best stay in touch with you and your schedule when they follow you on FB or twitter

I’ve personally noticed that while the number of people reading my newsletters has statistically gone down, I’m communicating with fans more often and more directly via Facebook and twitter.


To see some past thoughts on the mailing list, see:


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10 Things I Learned from my 10-day Tour

June 21, 2010

Ok, so it was an 11-day tour, but 10 sounds better.

1. Think Locally. You don’t have to put 5 hours of driving between every show. That’s lame.  Put show 1, 2, or 3 hours apart. You’ll minimize your driving and have more time to lay low in between gigs. Just because you’re on tour doesn’t mean you have to hit up every major city. Pick a region and do it up!

2. Small cities are still where it’s at. Everyone always wants to play out in the bigger cities, but i still hold to the opinion that you get more bang for your buck in smaller cities. There’s less going on and more interest. It’s easier to get media coverage, and more people will come out because news travels fast(er). More on this: Big Fish, Small Fish.

3. Do two shows in one city. Play a gig and tell attendees you’ll be back in the area in a few days. Your first show will be a great way to promote the second one. Don’t forget to split gigs with local bands or singer/songwriters.

4. Pull out that email list! An email list is more important than ever when you’re touring. You drove all that way so make sure you get people’s emails. Follow up the day after by welcoming them to your newsletter and inviting them to connect with you on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. If you don’t get emails, you’ve missed a huge opportunity to stay connected with new fans.

5. Stop in and say hi. Visiting a new city? Take some time to stop into venues that you might light to perform at next time you’re in town. Scope at the space and be in the know so you’ll know what to expect. You can also talk to the management directly to get a better idea of what they look for when booking. But don’t forget to follow-up with an email.

6. You don’t have to book a show for every single day. Its pretty ambitious, after all the goal is to make the most of your trip. BUT, take a day off. If you’re on the road for 10 days, find one day in the middle to take for yourself. All that driving and performing can wear a body out. Take a day to rest up, wander around town, and hang out with people.

7.  It’s ok to do an open mic. It’s not an official gig, but with advance notice, you can be the evening’s featured artist. Just tell them you’re in town for the day and looking to learn more about the local scene.  And it’ll be a great opportunity to meet local artists that you can split a gig when you’re next in the area.

8. Consider sticking in at least 1 good paying gig even if you’re not so excited about playing it.  At least it will help subsidize your trip and pay for gas.

9. Give them a deal they can’t refuse. Have a few items on your merch table? Sell them in bundles. 1 CD for $10. 2 for $15. 3 for $20. Yea, this is a useful tip whether you’re touring or not…but you’ll be able to cover traveling expenses alot easier if you do bundle deals. More on this: Creating a Black Friday Buzz.

10. Take vitamins and drink alot of water. It might not be a marketing tip, but, like I said, touring really wears on the body. Keep your immune system up and ward off any sickness. And be careful of what you eat too…b/c you’ll probably be eating out every day.

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Why Won’t People Come to My Shows?

September 14, 2009


I dunno…
But lets try and figure it out.

In last month’s Grassrotsy Reader’s Poll, many of you said you’re biggest frustration as an artist is getting people to come out to your shows. I half expected the most popular answer to be money-related so I was definitely surprised.  If you think about it though, fans = money.  In other words, if you can get people to come to your show, you’ll eventually make money off these people –  door cover,  CD sales, etc.  Not to mention the fact that if more people came to your shows, your career as a successful musician might just be validated 🙂

That said, lets talk a bit about building your fanbase and help you ease your frustration.

Boycott Venues
Here’s an idea: stay out of traditional venues for a full month. But don’t take a vacation.  Spend that month playing out at as many community functions as possible.  There are things going on in your city. Just look for them! Overbook yourself until you’ve played for hundreds of new ears.  The idea behind this is that you’ll be playing to the people you someday hope to draw into a “real” show at a local club or listening room.  You’ll also have the luxury of having a fresh, built- in crowd w/out the effort of promoting.  In order to make fans, go to where the fans already are. Don’t try to bring them to you.

 I am convinced that engaging with the community you live in is the only sure-fire way to build a presence in that community.  And finding these events is only a matter of visiting your local online community calendar and emailing various event coordinators. Plan to work in adavance.  And be prepared b/c events like this won’t always pay and can sometimes be hit or miss. It’s the nature of the game.

Stop Missing the Boat!
I played at a huge art festival last weekend where the first band on the bill did not ask for a merch table to display their music.  Luckily the 2nd band asked for a table and by default band1 decided to put out their merch.  Can you imagine how much money band1 would have missed out on, had they not put out their CDs?  They nearly missed out on a very lucrative night.  There were thousands of people at this event. 

To top it off, a group that went on later that night sold its first 20 CDs in 30 minutes but had no newsletter signup page at the merch table.  I was observing this trying to figure out: ” how does this band communicate with its fans if  it doesn’t have a way to get ahold of them? And how will they hold on to the fans they’ve just made?”.  Their CDs sold so fast, it was kind of amusing to watch.

The big question is: why is a merch table the last thing most artists think about when their livelihood depends on it?

You Get Out What You Put In
Like Allison Weiss says, “Nothing bothers me more than a musician who swears off the internet”  Being techonologically saavy doesn’t just mean posting the event on your myspace calendar. These days anyone can do that.  Getting out what you put in means creating that facebook invite, having handbills at your Sept 1st show to promote your Sept 30th show, and using each of your social networking sites and the sites of others.

Things Happen
The fact of the matter is, sh– happens.  A bad rainstorm, a Steelers game (don’t expect anyone to come to a show in Pittsburgh if it falls on the same night of a Steelers game), a big event next door 🙂  There will be times that, no matter how hard you promote, you won’t get the expected turnout.  Just make the most of every show and never miss a beat in how well you promote yourself at the show…and then how well you follow up after the show.

And remember…
People Won’t Come to your shows if they don’t know you exist.  And if they do know you exist, but think you suck, well none of the above information matters.   Sorry.

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Getting People to Sign Up For Your Newsletter

May 14, 2009
Joel Rakes

Joel Rakes

The Newsletter is the single most important part of being a musicians (ya, i’ve only said that 10,000 tims in this blog).  Can you imagine what would happen if major artists didn’t have newsletters? They’d make only a fraction of their normal income.  For example, I get Death Cab For Cutie’s emails in my inbox all the time…and that’s the only way I find out about new CD’s, tour schedules, new music videos, and blogs.  Without that newsletter I have nothing to prompt me to visit the website.  Withought that newsletter, there’s no way for me to excited about their upcoming releases, or first dibs on concert tickets…etc.

You’ve heard me say it so many times on this blog, but you NEED a sign-up sheet at all of your shows. You need it on your merch table. You  need to pass it around.  Its better for people to sign you newsletter than to buy your CD.  An email last alot longer than $10.  If you get an email address, you have the chance to start a “relationship” with your fans.  The lines of communication are open and they will undoubtedly bring more income your way (wether that means buying your CD later, or paying to come to many future shows).

Now here’s some fresh information.  Here are some ways to build that newsletter other than what has already been mentioned…

Be Clear
People are hesitant to sign up for any type of newsletter these days…for the simple reason that there’s so much SPAM out there (see Email Marketing – A Few Things You Should NEVER Do). At your shows, take the time to tell people what they’ll be getting in their inbox.  Tell fans you’ll only email once a week or once every two weeks. If you have fans in several states, make sure they know you will only email them if you’re coming to their area.  And tell people they will be able to opt out of your emails if they decide they’re no longer interested.  And then…prove it.  Send meaningful information in your emails so people know they didnt sign up for crap!

Offer Incentives: Free Song(s)
Philadelphia Singer/Songwriter Joel Rakes has something he called “Free Refills”.  Any person who subscribes to his newsletter automatically gets free, regular downloads of new songs.  Promos like this are extremely effective. When people know they are getting something that others aren’t priveleged to, it adds value to the product.

Also check out the Getting Others to Help You Promote Your Music post for details on NoiseTrade.  Noisetrade not only collects a persons contact info in exchange for free music, but also requires that person to recommend 5 other friends who might like your music. 

Use that html code
Most Mailing List Providers help you generate email signup forms (html code) for your website. Put that code on your myspace, and on your website.  It might even be possible to put the form on every page if it works with the layout of your website.  If anything, its important to put the signup form on your homepage and/or themost trafficked page of your website.


If you have other tips or things you’ve done to build your list, please suggest them.

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Email Marketing – A Few Things You Should ALWAYS Do

April 29, 2009


Below are a couple things that I’ve found make for a more successful e-blast to your subscribers.  Be sure to subscribe to other people’s newsletters. You can learn alot from seeing what other people do.  And if you’d like more tips on Email marketing after reading the below, check out the Email Marketing – Making Sure People Read What You Write post. 


Remember that many people (especially those using Outlook) have a preview pane.  This means they will see the top portion of your email before they see the rest.  In addition to making the upper-most information in your email the most important, you always want to make it the most interesting…an attention grabber that will make readers want to open and read the full email.

Find Simple ways to Emphasize Important Facts
Are you highlighting everything, increasing font sizes, and using alot of exclamation marks. Just pick the most important fact(s) and do something to make it/them stand out?  Dont!  If you make that one piece of essential information stand out, people will notice and gravitate towards it…even if its at the bottom of the page. I find what works best is bolding something in redsee example.

Using Professional Mailing List Provider (MLP)
Use a professional mail list provider.  There are so many that are available for free or a minimal price.  My top picks would be Your Mailing List Provider or FanBridge, but don’t forget Constant Contact, Zinester, and Listbox.  If you’re more well-versed in web development (or have someone who is), try Phplist.  It allows you to manage your own subscribers instead of going through a mailing list provider. In other words, your newsletters are developed, maintained, and sent with your website having full control over everything. You wouldnt see another companies logo at the bottom of the email, and you’d be able to manipulate html to make your list behave exactly as you want Does that make sense?  No? Ok, head over to to read more.

One thing I like about YMLP is that people can check out your archives. So even if they are not subscribed to your newsletter, they can still gain access to your newsletter to see what’s going on (I’m sure other mailing list providers might allow this). Visit and click “Archives” see what I mean. 

 Using an official MLP will allow subscribers to easily unsubscribe or update their subscription info. People are less likely to do that if you are sending emails with no official system in order.

Check back on Monday for “Email Marketing – A Few Things You should NEVER Do“.


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