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7 Ways Musicians Can Make the Most of Email Newsletters

You’ve started collecting addresses for your email list and signed up for an email newsletter management service.  Now it’s time to write an engaging newsletter for your fans. Here are 7 tips you and your band can use to build your email list and communicate with your fans:

Make it easy to sign up, and offer an incentive.

Put sign-up forms in plain view on your website and social media profile pages.  Also, consider offering some type of incentive to get fans interested in subscribing to your newsletter. Giving away an exclusive song in exchange for an email address is a great way to get something from fans that you need while giving them something that they want from you.  Everybody wins. To give music away when someone signs up, look for an email newsletter management service with an autoresponder feature.

Set expectations with subscribers.

On the sign-up form (or in the autoresponder message you send after someone subscribes) let your fans know exactly what you’ll be sending email messages for (e.g. to notify them about tour dates, share new music with them, premiere new videos).  Also, try to set up a schedule so fans know when to expect to hear from you (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).

Send targeted emails that give your fans relevant information.

Make sure you’re giving your fans information they actually want to know about.  One way to do this is by looking at open and click rates from previous email newsletters you’ve sent. If you notice that fans always click on videos you link to, try to include a video in each newsletter.  Also, collect geographic information along with email addresses so that you can send tour alerts to people when you’re in the area.

Write in your voice.

Fans subscribe to your email list because they want to hear from you, so make sure you’re authentic in your communications.  Treat your messages like any other conversation with a fan.  Don’t overdo the slang and remember to have fun when writing it.

Keep it simple.

No need to have a flashy design or embedded video in every newsletter you send.  A clean look that allows fans to read and access the information you’re sending will often get good responses.

Include a call to action.

Always include something that requires your subscribers to engage with the newsletter.  It should  be something simple that can be done in 1 or 2 steps, like pressing a button to share the email on social networks or buy a new single online. It should always be easy to find and close to either the beginning or the end of the newsletter.

Never betray your fans’ trust.

Don’t sell your email list to other people.  It’s not cool.

For more tips on email newsletters, check out these other helpful articles I found:

The Musician’s Guide to Social Media: How to Write a Good Email Newsletter – Amp Music Marketing (another list of tips)

Email Standoff: Bands and Musicians – Campaign Monitor (evaluates 3 different bands’ newsletter designs).



Digital Music Strategy: Beyond Marketing Music Online

When potential clients reach out to me, it’s often about trying to “market music online.”  The conversation usually begins with them looking to use social media to get more fans and sell more music.  This is a fantastic starting point, as there are numerous case studies of musicians using online marketing to their advantage, but I often steer the conversation away from the narrow topic of social media and look at the bigger picture.  I ask questions like:

  • What are your long-term goals for your music career?
  • Who do you see as your ideal fan?
  • How do you typically communicate with your fans?
  • How important is it for you to build relationships with your listeners?
  • How do you plan to promote your music and interact with fans outside of social media?

An effective digital music strategy goes beyond using tactics to market music online. Instead , it uses different tools to build a platform that allows musicians to recruit fans, build stronger connections with them, and profit from those connections. Each part of a digital music strategy plays a specific role while working with the other parts to create this platform. These components include:


The first component is not tangible, but it’s arguably the most important part of a great digital music strategy.  In order to create an engaging digital music strategy, you have to establish a few things, like who you are as an artist and how you want to present yourself to listeners.  You also have to have some type of idea of how you communicate best, as this is very important to having natural interactions with your fans.  Possibly even more important, you have to either have recorded music or be in the process of making recordings or performing live.  The whole point of building a strategy is to sell your music in some fashion, whether it’s recorded music or tickets to live shows. Without music, you’re not a real artist. Looking at the other components, it becomes clear just how important Authenticity is.


Communication involves how messages are distributed between different channels within your strategy and shows up in other components.  In particular, you will look to build four communication channels:

  • Artist <-> Fan
  • Artist <-> Non-Fan
  • Fan <-> Fan
  • Fan <-> Non-Fan
We’ll go deeper into these channels in a separate post. Just know that they each serve an important purpose and work in concert with the other components.


Promotion is the component we’re most familiar with. It includes your “online marketing tactics” like social media and advertising.  Fans will be doing a lot of your promotion, so it’s important to know what works and create a message that’s easy for fans to communicate to their friends.


Adoption and Permission were made popular by Seth Godin, a marketing guru who has written many blog posts and books on the subject.  This component requires listeners to accept your music and open their world up to you.  It’s the point where they convert from listener to fan.


Distribution refers to how you get your music and other tangible goods out to listeners and fans. You want to make it simple for people to both get your music and share it with others.


You want to build a community among your fans for many reasons. A strong community can serve a number of purposes, such a communication hub, and can offer benefits like support and brand evangelism.

Over the next month or so, we’ll take a look at what makes a good digital music strategy. I’ll break the components down and give examples of tools and tactics that can be used to carry out each part’s goal. I’ll also offer examples in case studies that show how artist have successfully built platforms using the elements described above. Tune in next week for the column on Authenticity.


Email Mailing Lists for Musicians and Bands

Building and managing relationships with fans is more important in today’s music industry than ever.  People have so many options to choose from when it comes to bands and musicians to support. Aside from creating music that people actually want to hear (THE most important factor to building a sustainable career as a musician), direct communication is a great way to connect and build relationships with fans.

Email mailing lists are an ideal way to directly connect with your fans for a few reasons:

They’re easy to set-up and maintain.

Setting up an email list is simple. You sign up for an email newsletter service (like MailChimp or FanBridge), collect email addresses using sign-up sheets at your gigs and sign-up forms on your website, and send emails out to fans.

They allow you to contact specific, targeted groups of fans.

When set up the right way, your email list can allow you to determine what information your fans find relevant and send out targeted messages when the time comes. For instance, if you collect geographic information (such as city and state) along with your email addresses, you can send your Memphis, TN fans a message the next time you perform in the area.

They give you an accurate picture of fan engagement.

Certain newsletter services allow you to see information such as who opens your messages, where they’re located when they open the message, and what links they clicked on within the message.  Having this information is beneficial when coming up with marketing campaigns and touring schedules, among other things.

Make sure you’re collecting email addresses at all of your shows and on your website.  To help you out, we’ve provided an email signup form you can use at live gigs. Download it here: Email List Template – Print (right-click)

We’ll spend the rest of the week focusing on email newsletters and mailing lists and illustrating some of the advantages described above.  Wednesday’s “The List”  will have a few tips a techniques for building and making the best use of your email list. This Thursday’s “Tools You Can Use” column will be all about email newsletter services like FanBridge and MailChimp.

How do you use your email newsletter? Let us know in the comments section!


We’re Back from Our Break

After an extended break, we’re glad to get back to publishing news and articles you can use on Go Forth Music and The Music Business Minute. Check out what’s in store for you in the coming months:

A New Publishing Schedule

The Music Business Minute Newsletter will only be published once weekly, beginning on Friday, July 27th. That means only one email from us each week. Here’s what you can expect from the Go Forth Music website going forward, beginning July 27th:

Mondays – Best Practices:

We’ll begin each week focusing on a strategy or technique you can use as a musician or music industry entrepreneur. We’ll look at what you can do to make the business side of your life either more effective, more profitable, or both and explore how you can implement them into your overall business strategy.

Tuesdays – Series of the Month:

Each month, we’ll focus on an essential aspect of a musician’s business toolkit. Next Tuesday, we’ll kick it off with our long-awaited Digital Music Strategy series.

Wednesdays – The List:

A brief post using lists to breaking down tools and strategies you can use to make your business run better. For example, check out 5 Essential EPK Components and 3 Lessons from Julia Nunes’ Kickstarter Project.

Thursdays – Tools You Can Use:

An in-depth look at a tool you can add to your arsenal to make business or creativity easier.

Fridays – The Music Business Minute:

A run-down of the week’s most important music business news, curated by Go Forth Music and sent to your inbox.

Other Columns:

We’ll continue to publish popular columns such as “The Legal Corner.” We’re also working on a new column, the “Independent Artist Spotlight,” that will present in-depth case studies of DIY artists who have achieved significant success. Hopefully, you’ll be able to learn from techniques that have and haven’t worked for them and implement some of their strategies into your own. Look out for that this Fall.

A New and Improved Go Forth Directory

We tried something a while ago, The Go Forth Music Store, that attempted to provide services from vetted industry professionals to DIY musicians at pre-packaged prices. It didn’t work, but we learned from it. Now, we’re working on the Go Forth Music directory. It’s kind of like an Angie’s List for musicians, and we’re excited about it! In one place, you’ll be able to find information and reviews on tools and services available to add to your arsenal. You’ll also be able to find listings from professionals in areas such as graphic design, mastering, mixing, recording, video production, publicity, and web design. It should go live in early Fall.

The Conclusion to the Crowdfunding Series

In October 2010, we started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter  for a compilation album, Hear Here. While the Kickstarter project was fully funded, we weren’t able to complete the album. One reason, which will be addressed in the series conclusion, is that we didn’t make our budget big enough. We’ll publish the conclusion to this series in September. Also, if you made a contribution to our Kickstarter project, look for a separate email from us next month.

Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter, the Music Business Minute, to get important music industry news stories and tips tailored to independent music industry entrepreneurs and musicians!

Sign Up For Our Newsletter, The Music Business Minute

Feel free to leave suggestions for stories in the comments section.



5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Sonicbids


Today’s Best Practices article is a guest post from Tess Cychosz, community manager at Sonicbids.

At Sonicbids, our mission is to Empower the Artistic Middle Class by helping every band get a gig. So, we want to highlight some of the major ways we can make your gig-getting experience the best. Check out a few tips here – and if you’ve found something else especially helpful for getting gigs, leave a comment and share the wealth!

1)    Make sure your EPK™ is 100% complete with your best work.

Maybe this is an obvious point to you and you’re already there. If you are – awesome. Feel free to move on to number 2. If, however, you’ve still got some blank sections on your EPK, or you don’t have your best song first, stop everything that you’re doing right now. Members with a complete EPK have twice the success rate of artists with an EPK less than 50% complete. Head to the “Edit My EPK” section of your account and make sure that you’ve got each section of your EPK filled out with great content. And yes, that includes past calendar dates. Check out this article all about Building a Kick A** EPK.

2)    Customize your Gig Notifications.

A gig notification is an email and our way of saying, “Hey, this opportunity might be a good fit for you.”  But, in order for us to recommend you the most relevant gigs, we need to know your preferences. For example, if you’re just a songwriter and you don’t perform live, you can choose to only hear about songwriting contents and licensing opportunities. You can tell us you only want to hear about gigs for rock musicians. You can even tell us how often and when you’d like to hear about them. Just login to your account and click on “Gig Preferences” under your Shortcuts Menu to customize your gig alert notifications.

3)    Use the Advanced Search in “Find Gigs.”

In the Find Gigs section, we have a very handy “Advanced Search” link. The Advanced Search helps you tailor your gig searches by things like submission fee, event date and location. This can be super helpful especially if you’re trying to fill in some dates for a tour (and when submitting, be sure to let the promoter know that you’ll already be in the area if you will be.).You can also check out just “Premium Gig Listings” or just “Musician’s Friend Token Listings” (which don’t cost you a penny to submit to).

4)    Use your Tokens every month.

If you’re a Sonic member you get 10 tokens per month and if you’re a Supersonic member you get 25. So, you have either 10 or 25 promoters in our network to send your EPK to at no cost to your membership each month. In other words: you’ve got nothing to lose! Currently, over 65% of the gigs on Sonicbids are Token based, courtesy of our partner Musician’s Friend, so it’s a great opportunity to experiment submitting to gigs you may not have submitted to if they carried a fee. Head to the Find Gigs section and check them out.

5)    Promote your Gigs.

We don’t want to leave you hanging after you got the gig, so we also have tools that allow you to connect with fans. First, you can manage all of your online profiles (Facebook, Twitter and others) from Sonicbids. This means if you get a gig, you can post it once on Sonicbids and it will sync to your social media sites. We also have a handy Facebook app called Sonicbids Artists Profiles that allows you to easily create a tab on your Facebook page with all of the content from your EPK (your music, calendar, bio, etc) on your Facebook page. Login and click on “Promote Gigs” in your navigation to see things like our Facebook App, calendar widget, and more.

Not a Sonicbids member? You can sign up for a two week free trial here. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Sonicbids – we’re tweeting daily about tips, awesome gigs and industry happenings.



In today’s Best Practices feature, guest blogger Laura Carroll of Next Big Sound gives readers some insight into how to use the popular music industry analytics suite to your advantage.

1. PINPOINTING YOUR FAN BASE – With the global nature of the internet, it is so incredibly important to recognize where your far-reaching promotional efforts are sticking and where they need to be reevaluated. Location-based information can be used to streamline promotional efforts, reach out to previously untouched markets, and to book tour dates that are much more likely to be effective and successful. Next Big Sound shows you exactly where your fans are, giving you a clear visualization of your following on a global scale.

2. ANALYZING YOUR ONLINE EFFICIENCY – With Next Big Sound’s Graph feature, you are able to track your presence on a variety of popular websites in real time. Having a breakdown of fan activity on each site lets you know which sites are helping you expand your fan base and which ones need to be revitalized. With the amount of information on the internet growing daily and exponentially, many artists end up beating the dead horse when it comes to promotional efforts. Knowing your online strengths and weaknesses is essential to successfully generating internet buzz and not getting lost in an ever-expanding sea of information. Next Big Sound gives you the information you need to make the most of all of your online resources and ultimately expand your internet following.

3. ASSESSING YOUR LIVE PERFORMANCES – With a day-to-day analysis of online popularity, you are able to find out how many new fans you are reaching as a result of playing concerts. As live performances become an increasingly important element in sustaining a musical career, it is essential that your concerts are connecting with people and increasing your fan base. Next Big Sound allows you to track fluctuations in your online following in relation to your tour dates, showing you just how effective your live show is when it comes to gaining new fans and strengthening bonds with old ones.

4. TRACKING YOUR BUZZ – With Next Big Sound’s Event Stream feature, you are able to track virtually any online activity surrounding your band, from blog mentions to album reviews and everything in between. Word spreads fast in the digital age, and being able to track online word-of-mouth can be extremely useful when it comes to capitalizing on the huge numbers of people that many online publications are connecting with. Reaching out to online resources that support what you are doing can get your music heard by a larger audience of listeners who are likely to enjoy it.

5. INCREASING YOUR INTERNET VISIBILITY – One of the simplest and most effective things you can do to optimize online effectiveness is to place your music on any website you can think of. Next Big Sound obtains metrics from several different sources, so if you find one that you aren’t using, start now! Many of these sites are free of cost and they all work to increase your visibility online. The easier you make it for people to listen to your music, the more people will listen to it (and ultimately purchase it).

Editor’s Note: Having used Next Big Sound for a big digital marketing campaign, I can verify that the tool is great for helping artists do everything Laura described above.  We used data gathered from Next Big Sound to help define our online audience, refine our marketing strategy, and assess how the campaign was progressing.  If you’re looking to improve and/or better understand your online performance, make sure to give Next Big Sound a try. Also, check out our interview with Next Big Sound’s founder, Alex White, for more insight into the tool’s benefits.


Best Practices for the New Music Industry

We’re excited to finally kick off our new column, Best Practices for The New Music Industry!

We are screening the best and most commonly used DIY music industry tools and techniques and writing articles explaining how you can make the most of them. Once a week, we’ll bring you new suggestions on how to implement the tools into your workflow to help you take care of your business and free up more time to focus on being creative.

We’re so excited about the column that this week, we’re giving you not one, but two guest posts from people who work at Next Big Sound, a leading music business analytics platform, and Sonicbids, an easy-to-use electronic press kit and gig-finding site. Make sure you tune into the series, and let us know if there are any music industry tools and practices you want us to explore for you!


In this week’s “Best of the Music Business Web”, we take a look at ways to monetize your music, how to save money at music conferences, music sales numbers fueled by the Grammy Awards and Whitney Houston’s untimely death, and other articles that the DIY musician might find helpful.

3 Ways to Monetize Music Using Networks and Communities – Hypebot’s Clyde Smith presents three strategies independent musicians can use to make money online with their music and music videos. Check it out to see if you can implement any of his suggestions into your digital strategy. Source: Hypebot

How to Save Money at Music Conferences – In another great Hypebot article, Dave Cool of Bandzoogle presents 7 no-nonsense ways to save money for the upcoming music conference season.  If you’re planning on going to SXSW or ASCAP’s I Create Music Expo, make sure to check out his tips. Source: Hypebot

Direct-to-Fan Marketing and Sales: Is It Effective? – Topspin Media’s Ian Rogers wrote a persuasive blog post addressing the accusation that direct-to-consumer marketing and commerce is a “rich band’s game.” While some think that only big artists can benefit from the platform, he argues that “it’s an important part of *every* artist’s revenue mix.” Source: Topspin

Adele Sees Big Sales Jump After Grammy Awards – Sales of Adele’s “21” came in at 237,000 units (up 95% from the previous week) and sits atop the Billboard Top 200 for the 20th week, partially due to post-Grammy buzz.  Her debut album “19” also got a 103% bump.  Her works are among the 20 Grammy-related titles in the Top 50. Source: Billboard.biz

Whitney Houston Re-enters Top 10 Singles List – Due to her unfortunate and untimely death, Whitney Houston’s hit single “I Will Always Love You” charted in the Hot 100’s at Number 7 this week.  Two other single, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “Greatest Love of All” charted at 35 and 41, respectively. Coincidently, Adele just tied Houston’s Top 200 #1 Streak Record with 20 consecutive weeks atop the chart. Source: Billboard.biz

Is Headliner.fm Worth Paying For? – Brian Hazard wrote an insightful article over at MusicThinkTank evaluating whether or not the digital promotion platform Headliner.fm is worth paying for. In the article “What Artists Should Know About Headliner.fm,” Hazard (who’s a working musician) chronicles his use of the tool. It’s great reading for the DIY musician or band manager considering using the site to get some buzz. Source: Music Think Tank

John Mayer Uses Tumblr to Tease New Song – John Mayer just used Tumblr to give fans a snippet “Shadow Days,” the first single from his forthcoming album, Born and Raised. It’s a great example of simple and effective use of a digital platform to build buzz. Source: Rolling Stone

Want to make sure you get our weekly rundown of the best DIY music business articles?  Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter, The Music Business Minute. Sign up here.


Do I Need Permission to Sell Songs on a Mixtape?


In a previous post about legal rights on mixtapes and compilations, we addressed a question about who held the rights to songs on a mixtape.  A reader recently sent in a similar question:

Q: Is it legal to download music from local artists and make mix cd’s for profit?

A: It is not legal to make a profit off of local artists songs without their permission and/or paying them a fee/share of the profits. After all, it is legally their song.

You have to obtain a license from an artist’s label to duplicate that song and sell it. If you don’t, you’re violating copyright and could end up in trouble. Just ask DJ Drama, who was the subject of the infamous Mixtape Raid in 2007.

Want your music law questions answered? Submit it here for a chance to see your answer in the next Legal Corner.

The purpose of this article is to foster an open dialogue and not to establish firm policies or best practices. Needless to say, this is not a substitute for legal advice. In any particular case, you should consult with lawyers experienced in the field you are in and licensed within your state. Depending on your specific situation, answers other than those outlined in this blog may be appropriate.


How to Trademark Your Band’s Name

Protecting your name with a trademark is very important in today’s music industry.  Acts are increasingly making more money with ventures outside of the traditional recording industry, and having a trademarked name increases legal protection (just ask Blue Ivy). One Go Forth reader sent in the following question about trademarking a name:

Q: How does one legally secure a band/artist name so that no legal issues arise when they become exposed/signed, etc.?

A: First, do a search on Google and the USPTO database to make sure that the name is not already being used. Secondly, contact an attorney to file for federal tradename/service name protection for the artist/band name. For more information on filing for a trademark/service name, see http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/process/index.jsp.

Want your music law questions answered? Submit it here for a chance to see your answer in the next Legal Corner.

The purpose of this article is to foster an open dialogue and not to establish firm policies or best practices. Needless to say, this is not a substitute for legal advice. In any particular case, you should consult with lawyers experienced in the field you are in and licensed within your state. Depending on your specific situation, answers other than those outlined in this blog may be appropriate.