If you don’t already have a mailing list, you’ve probably at least heard of them and you may be wondering why they are so often recommended to artists. But do you really need one? Can’t you just use social media to communicate with your audience?

While social media is important, an email list can be the best way to reach your audience directly. Email and social media can play different roles and having a direct channel to your listeners and fans is incredibly valuable. Let’s see why it’s so important.

An email list allows you to send personalized messages to different groups of people. If you are touring and you don’t want to blast all of your Twitter followers with the news about every show, you can easily break up your email list by location so only people in a certain city hear about the shows near them. This can avoid spamming your followers’ feed with news that isn’t relevant to them causing people to unfollow you.

You own your email list and you don’t have to rely on a social media platform to deliver content. Let’s face it, social media comes and goes; think about MySpace (younger readers might have no idea what that is). Facebook, although a media giant, may someday become obsolete. If you rely exclusively on these types of media to reach your fanbase, someday it could all disappear. There is a lot of research indicating that email isn’t going anywhere. Also, you often have to pay to reach your followers on social media, email is free and you own your list.

Email is universal. Not everyone uses social media and especially not every platform, so you may find yourself posting the same content in a dozen different places online to reach everyone. While not everyone uses email, most people at least have one and they can easily be synched to display notifications on a phone. You can save a great deal of time sending one email to everyone rather than posting endlessly online to cover all the bases.

A couple of things to note about using an email list:

Make sure you have a professional artist email (this is important for many reasons). Email addresses are free from many providers so grab one that is relevant to your art. People might not want to see something from weirdguy845@blahblah.net. It should be succinct and simple like yourname@gmail.com or bandnamemusic@yahoo.com.

Collect people’s emails whenever you can! The most obvious place is at your performances. Not everyone will go and follow you on social media after a show, even if they liked you. If they leave without getting some sort of contact info, you may have lost a potential fan forever. But if you can grab that person’s email address, you can now send them music or offers and remind them about your art. Don’t make them search you out, deliver the content to them! Get a clipboard and print out a form or use graph paper and get busy.

Offer something in return for email addresses. People can be very hesitant to give out personal info and often need a nudge. Offer stickers, cds, download cards, or other goodies as an incentive. You will be much more likely to receive if you are willing to give. If people flat refuse to give you their email, be cool about it and never be pushy.

Don’t abuse the mailing list. This is a big one! If people have trusted you with their contact info, you need to be responsible with it. Never give away people’s email addresses for any reason or send them correspondence outside of what they were expecting. No plugging your buddy’s tech repair business or trying to sell your used guitar to people via email. They signed up for notifications about your art, keep it that way.

Don’t use email for everything; remember that email and social media play different roles. Have a big show coming up? Put it in an email. Wanna share a selfie from band practice? Probably best to keep that on social media and not fill inboxes with that stuff. You are most likely to retain followers on your mailing list if you keep the emails consistent but not too often. Once or twice a month, once a week maybe if you have content worth sending, but don’t send something every day. Keep that on social media.

Get a mailing service. Don’t just type something up and send it. It will look amateur and most people don’t want to receive a block of text in their mailbox. I recommend Sumo but there are many such services and they all have value. They will allow you to build a newsletter with pictures and media, not just block text. It will save time and keep you organized. If you have a website, these services may also offer a plugin for your website to collect signups online so you don’t have to lift a finger once you set it up. Cool, huh?

So get to it! Create a form or find a template online, print some out, grab a clipboard and pen, offer an incentive to sign up, collect some emails, send out notifications and news, and grow your fanbase. It may seem like a hassle to set up, especially if you’re married to social media, but a mailing list might be the most valuable thing you ever build as an artist.

Speaking of mailing lists, sign up for the Squatchful mailing list to receive our free e-book guide to growing your music career, and follow us for articles in your feed.


Educated but self-effacing, opinionated but reticent, and unabashedly eccentric; Alex aka Squatch is the lead writer for Squatchful.com. A life-long musician, he founded the blog in the interest of helping independent artists gain exposure and to provide insight into navigating the creative arts industry.

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