Guide to Effective E-mail Promotion (For Musicians and Others)

What, you're still plastering posters all over town?!? The easiest, cheapest and thus most effective way to communicate with your screaming mass of fans is by e-mail. It's essentially free and very targeted. Add an "e-mail" column to that ragged clipboard that you pass around at shows to create a very valuable asset. But, if you screw it up you'll do more harm than good...

There are a few VERY important group email netiquette rules to follow, or people will get really pissed and curse your name for eternity.

  1. Always add a phrase like this to the end of every group email, and mean it:

    "To be removed from this list, send a message with the subject 'remove' to: <>

    To be added to this list, send a message with the subject 'add' to: <>"

    Without these options, some will dismiss your info as SPAM, and in some states it's now illegal not to offer this "opt-out."

  2. NEVER let any recipient see the whole list. Always put email addresses in the "BCC:" (Blind Carbon Copy) field of your e-mail program. This hides the rest of the list from each recipient. The "BCC:" field is usually the third address entry field, after "TO:" and "CC:" (Carbon Copy). Put your own address in the "TO:" field.

    This has these benefits:
    • It keeps the addresses from being reused by someone else. Why give it away?
    • You don't violate your fans' privacy and make them hate you.
    • Replies come only to you. Everyone hates getting dozens of replies not intended for them.
    • It keeps your message from looking like it was sent out to a billion people. Your message is much more personal and effective.
    • (For more on BCC, read this detailed tip on mailing lists.)

  3. Don't overuse the list. More than one or two emails per month will turn people off. If you've got a bunch of shows in the coming weeks, list them all in one less frequent e-mailing, or rotate between sections of your list to prevent recipient burnout.

  4. Don't let each bandmember keep a separate list– create a central list on a web-based system (such as GMail, YahooMail, etc). All of you have access, but pick a list manager to actively manage the list, honor "remove" and "add" requests, clean up duplicates, etc. Advanced users should set up an automated list server.

  5. Triple check details before sending. Your impact is lost if a "correction- forgot to include the date" e-mail shows up two minutes later. Amateur!

  6. Avoid attachments of band flyers or pictures, even if they are really tiny. Use plain text instead of HTML email, which usually looks cheesy.

  7. Don't troll other lists to find more addresses for your list. That's counter-productive, completely inexcusable and grounds for an ass-whuppin'.

Also check out these tips on using BCC and these tips for Microsoft Outlook Express and Entourage.

OK, school's out. Go write at least one new song before emailing anybody!