Preview Of Lesson 5: Setting Up Your Mailing List And Email Marketing Techniques

Setting up your mailing listThis week we’re going to be touching on something that will be central to your strategy: Building a mailing list & email marketing. Mailing lists are one of the most important tools any musician has available to them, but one that many independent musicians don’t even know about. The major labels know about using mailing lists however, and for good reason. With them, you can hold on to potential fans for much longer, and turn many more into real fans! You can also promote new releases with ease, increase fan interactivity, and make more money from your music. Sound good? Then read below for how to build a mailing list and set up an effective email marketing campaign.

Please Note: For anyone who hasn’t set up a mailing list before, this lesson may look a bit daunting. Once you get things going however, you should soon be able to pick up how to use the software and create a mailing list that will benefit your music carer greatly.

What Is A Mailing List

For those that haven’t heard of a mailing list before, let’s look at what one is. According to Ultimate Mailing List:

A mailing list is a list of people’s contact details, which is used by others to market to”

In other words, when we are building a mailing list, our aim it to collect people’s email addresses. We then use these email addresses to contact these people, mailing them information we feel they will find useful.

We collect people’s email addresses by putting an ‘opt-in form’ on our website, and giving people a good reason to sign up. We will be getting this opt in form from Aweber. Aweber is one of the top rated email marketing providers around.

While we are building up our mailing list, we will market to any subscribers via email marketing.

What Is Email Marketing

Email marketing is the process of marketing to the people on your mailing list. You send them messages, containing useful information, offers, and goodies. We will look a bit later at what things you should be sending to people who subscribe to your mailing list in the ‘What Your Should Include In Your Newsletter’ section.

The Benefits Of Having A Mailing List & Email Marketing

Having a mailing list.So what are the benefits of building a list and marketing to your subscribers? We look at that answer below. Remember, all of the below mentioned points will do a few things: Increase the amount of fans you have, help build a stronger relationship with existing fans, and essentially earn you more money from your music career.

Please Note: If the below list sounds familiar, that’s because it’s taken from a topic on the Independent Music Advice website (I won’t link to the topic as the rest of it isn’t relevant to the strategy in this course). The rest of the information in this week’s lesson is fully unique though, and offers valuable information not touched on anywhere else on the site.

  • It Builds Up A Strong Relationship With Fans & Increases Interactivity.
    When people first come across your website, they don’t know much about you or how trust worthy you are. They may download your free EP in exchange for their email address, but not really look to take that relationship any further. If you start sending them good content and freebies directly to their email address though, they may start paying more attention to you and gain trust in what you have to say and do. That makes it easier to convert subscribers into real fans, and have your fans promote you when something big is going on (E.G an album release).
  • It’s A Good Direct Marketing Tool.
    As mailing lists give you direct interaction with your fans, it’s an ideal way to promote your latest release or show. Most people check their emails daily, as all their accounts goes through there. It connects to their Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, their blog, and much more. Therefore, if you send someone an email, there is a good chance they will see it.
    If you’ve build up a good relationship with your mailing list subscribers, they’ll be more likely to listen to your suggestions or buy your products. Let’s say for example you’ve got a new gig coming up. You can always advertise your gig on your website, but not everyone will visit your website every day. If however your send out an email campaign, all your fans get word direct via email regardless of if they’ve checked your site in the last month or not. This of course increases the likely hood of ticket sales an in turn means more money.
  • You’ll Always Have Access To Your Fans.
    Mailing lists are one of the best way to keep in contact with your fans. While Facebook friends and twitter followers are useful now, what if one day everyone stops using these sites? You’ll have to start up all over again on the next big social networking site, which is a lot of time and effort. This is what happened with MySpace, many people have ended up with pages of thousands of ‘Friends’ which has no use to anyone. If you had a mailing list however, you could simply send a email out to all of your subscribers letting know how they carry on interacting with you. So no matter what site goes down, you’ve still got your list.
  • It Acts As A Reminder.
    Some people will really like your music, visit your website a couple of times and then forget about you. It’s not that they don’t like you any more, it’s just that there’s so many things to do on the internet it’s harder to keep people’s attention then ever before. If however you have a mailing list, you could email your list say once a week (Or whenever something big happens) and remind them that you’re still around. This will cause people to revisit your site and make sure you stay on their mind.

Setting Up A Mailing List

So now you know why we need to set up a mailing list, how do we go about doing that? Well, first of all we need to sign up for an account at Aweber.com. Aweber will provide us with all the tools we need to collect people’s contact details, store these details, and message them when we want. While I won’t be giving you a step by step guide to using all the features of Aweber (They have their own documentation on how to use all the features) I will give you a general guide to get you started. Here are some steps you need to take:

To Be Continued.

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Preview Of Lesson 4: Setting Up Your Website

How to build a websiteHi guys, I hope you’ve been learning a lot. This week, we will be looking at creating your website. Every independent musician needs their own .com website, so throughout this lesson we’ll be looking at why this is, how to set one up, and how to get the most out of it.

Please note that to make the most of this lesson, you will need to spend a little bit of money on hosting your website and your website name e.g. www.yourmusicname.com. If you haven’t got that money right now, still read this lesson, and come back to setting up your website when you have the finances.

Why Our Website Will Be The Base Of Our Promotions

So, why do you need your own website when you already have a Facebook and Twitter account? Well, there are a few reasons:

  • Your Website Isn’t Effected By Social Trends.
    Who remembers when MySpace was at the peak of it’s popularity? Every musician you knew was on MySpace, and it was an effective tool for networking with other musicians and gaining new fans. People used to spend many hours a day adding new MySpace ‘friends’ and commenting on people’s accounts. Then the change happened. General people stopped using MySpace, and it’s effectiveness dropped greatly. Over time, more and more people stopped using MySpace and switched over to websites such as Facebook. Now MySpace is about as effective as… Well, it’s not effective at all.
    My point is that all social networking websites have a shelf life. Over the years there has been many giants who we thought would always be in our lives, only for them to be surpassed sooner or later. If you invest all your time and effort into one of these sites then something new comes along, all your hard work will have gone to waste when it’s switch over time. If however you only use these sites to drive traffic back to your real .com website and get people on your mailing list, when one of these sites go down, all is not lost. You still have access to people on your mailing list, and fans still know your website url (Your website address). Then you can start using this new website to drive in fresh new traffic.
  • Websites Allow You To Do More.
    While websites like Facebook and Twitter do have their uses, both are quite limited in the sense that you can’t do exactly what you want to do. On Twitter for example, you only have 140 characters to say what you want to say. On your own website you can use as many or as few messages as you want. On Facebook for example, you can’t set up your own customised shopping cart and sell your music. On your website this is easily achievable. If you’re using WordPress to make your website (Which you will be, details on how to do this can be found in the ‘How To Build Your Website’ chapter below) you will have access to a lot of free plugins that will allow you to do a lot more with your website. We look at some of the best plugins you can use in the ‘Making Your Website Do More’ section a few chapters below.
  • Website Followers Are Usually More Responsive.
    With the online world moving as fast moving as it is, if people actually take the time to visit your website and interact with it, it shows they have a genuine interest in you. These are the type of people you want in your fan base, the ones that will stick around and spread the word about you. Get them on your mailing list, treat them good, and reap the rewards when it comes to song and ticket sales.
  • Website Messages Have A Longer Shelf Life.
    While messages you send out on Facebook and Twitter have a limited shelf life, the same isn’t true with your own website. When you post a message on Twitter, people who are online at the time will see it, but anyone coming online an hour later will have no idea you had sent out a Tweet unless they actually go on your page. The way a lot of people use Twitter however, this won’t often happen. While Facebook messages have a longer shelf life, the same rule still generally applies. It will appear on people’s home page for a while then disappear.
    With social networking sites, people want the news to be put in front of them on their home page. If it’s not there, it can easily be missed. People use websites differently however, and are accustomed to going on their to get the latest news. When they do go on, it will be all your stories they see, no one else’s. This minimises distraction, and allows your message to still be read a while into the future.
  • Those Accounts Aren’t REALLY Yours.
    Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts don’t truly belong to you, they belong to the owner of Facebook and Twitter respectively. They are simply allowing you to use these pages until they decide otherwise. I’m sure we have all heard of people who lose their Facebook and Twitter account and are left to start again? That’s because we haven’t got freedom to do what we want on them, and if you attempt to push the boundaries you’ve usually caught.
    These websites have very strict terms of service, and go against them in any way (Even if you don’t know you are) and you risk being banned. While these accounts are worth having in addition to your own .com website, it’s not ideal to base your entire promotional campaign on them.

Even if you have pages on other people’s websites, it is important to own your own .com website as well. You have a lot more control, and your own website makes it’s easier to collect and keep real fans.

Choosing The Right Website Name

Getting the right website namePlease Note: You can find out how to buy your domain name in the chapter below, but please read this chapter first so you know what you should be looking for.

The name of your website is all important. While you can always buy a website name in future and move your website over, this is not ideal. If you do this, you will lose all your rankings in the search engines. On top of that, it can confuse fans. They may look for your website, see it’s not up anymore, and not look any further then that. Both of these things lead to a loss of traffic for your website. Because of these things, it is important to get the name of your website right the first time around.

When it comes to buying a domain name, you will want your artist or band name in there somewhere. So say for example your music name is John Madamson, your ideal name would be www.JohnMadamson.com. I say .com because it is a widely recognised domain all around the world…

To Be Continued.

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Preview Of Lesson 3: Selling Your Music And Giving It Out

This week, we’ll be looking at how exactly we’ll be making our songs available to people. Some of our songs will be sold in the typical ‘exchange for money’ method, while others will be exchanged for mailing list sign ups and promotional favours. So get comfortable, switch your brain into learning mode, and let’s get started.

What Will Your First Release Be

first releaseAs we’ve mentioned in previous lessons, our strategy will be to release a selection of singles and promotional songs. The singles will have more effort put into them and sold, while our promotional songs will be used to raise awareness of our music, gain fan’s contact details, and generally get our name spread about.

So which should you release first, a single or a promotional song? Answer: A promotional song. The reason being because we want to raise awareness of ourself before we ask people to purchase our music.

On top of this, we want to take advantage of human nature. We as humans are more likely to buy off someone if they give us something for free first. We naturally feel like we owe someone something if they give us something for free, and feel like we need to do something for them. We can take advantage of this human trait by officially giving away some of our music free of charge, and watching a percentage of the people buy back into us at a later date.

The final reason we’re going to be releasing a promotion song first, is because we want to start collecting fan’s contact details. By giving people a free song or more for signing up to our mailing list, we are finding out the people who are really interested in our music. Furthermore, we are collecting their contact information, information that we can use to build up a relationship with them and inform them of any future releases.

Please Note: Doing a promo song release first is optional. If you have somewhat of a name from promotion you’ve done prior to this course and you already collect fan’s email addresses, you may want to go straight into a single release. This is down to you, and should be based on what stage of your career you are at.

The Singles To Promotional Songs Ratio

ratioSo, let’s get down to some numbers. For every single you release, how many promotional songs should you release? Well, this is hard to say. The thing is, promotional songs will be used in a number of different ways. You will have at least one on your website which will act as an incentive to get people to sign up to your mailing list, and you will be giving away a new song to anyone on your list either once a month or once every two weeks (We go into more detail on both of these and other ways in the below chapter).

Other then these two methods, the amount of promo songs you will need to give out will depend on how successful you are at the time. The better you’re doing, the less promotional songs you will have to give out. While you will always need to give some out for ‘free’ (Remember I mentioned how people feel more inclined to give something back if you give them something for free, it’s human nature), as you start getting a more established name and have media outlets coming to you, you should scale down the amount of free material you give out. This is to avoid over saturating the market, as if people hear a lot of you in a short space of time, they may get bored. On top of that, if they’ve pretty much heard everything you can do, they’ll most likely move onto the ‘next big thing’ after a while.

You’ll see this reflected in some hot acts of the moment. Record labels often like to milk a person for everything they’re worth, but only while they’re still hot. You see this person featuring on everyone’s songs, they’ll release a bunch of songs themselves, and they’ll appear on TV doing a mass of interviews. Fast forward a year however, and no one will be talking about that person any more. Instead, they’d be replaced with the next hot act of the moment. This is a very short term approach to your music career. It can work for some as it can make a lot of money while it lasts, but not over saturating the market and keeping the fans interested long term is a better strategy.

Please note that this ‘all guns blazing’ method doesn’t work unless you have vast resources and are already in the mainstream spotlight. In other words, don’t go trying this yourself.

If you’re just starting out, I’d say you should release say two promotional songs for every single. This is in addition to the promo songs that you include on your mailing list. This should be enough to help get your name out there, without over saturating the market with too much of your material. As you get more established, you can cut that amount down, and release say one promotional song for every two to five singles (Again in addition to the promo songs that you include on your mailing list). Once again this will depend on what stage you are at your music career, something you’ll have to judge as you go along.

How To Give Out Your Promo Songs

As I’ve mentioned before, these promotional songs are going to be free for your fans to get hold of. Having said that, you’re not just going to give them all away on your website for people to download as much as they like. In all honesty this wouldn’t do much for our music career, and most likely even harm it as people will see your music as cheap. If they see it as cheap, they most likely won’t buy our singles when we release them.

So how are we going to be giving out our music?

  • In Exchange For An Email Address.
    One of the main ways fans will be able to receive our promo songs, is by signing up to our mailing list. They will get a two to four track ep in exchange for their email address, meaning it’s win win for both your and the fan. In addition to that, you will be sending them a new song once or twice a month for their continued support and staying subscribed. This can be achieved by putting your free songs into an ‘autoresponder’, and having your mailing list software automatically send your subscribers specific songs once they have been on your list for a certain amount of time. Don’t worry if this sounds confusing, we will be looking at how to do this in our lesson on mailing lists (Week 5).
  • In Exchange For A Tweet.
    exchange for a tweetOne of the best ways of getting your music out there I via social networking sites. While many people use these sites wrong, if they are used correctly they can be a valuable tool for promoting your music.
    While we will talk more about social media promotion in a future lesson, one thing I want to touch on now is the idea of fans ‘paying’ for your music via a tweet. The idea is simple: You have a song that people can get free, but in order to get that song they first have to tweet about it.
    This will of course require them to have a Twitter account. Once they have tweeted your link, they will be given a link to download your music. Other people will see that person’s tweet, and hopefully go on to re-tweet your message in order to also get the free download.
    The benefit of this is that people will be doing all the promotion for you. In order to get the song, they must first let other people know that they are downloading your songs and that it’s great. When other people see that message, some will also want to hear the song, and in turn have to share that message with their followers in order to gain access.
    The best things about this is it’s all done on auto pilot. Once you have uploaded your song and the message you want people to Tweet, you sit back and let everyone else spread the word for you. You will need to get the link out there initially and let people know they can download your song in exchange for a tweet, but after that your work is done.
    A few websites offer this service, but one specifically aimed at musicians is Tweet For A Track. As well as letting people tweet your message in exchange for your song download, they also allow people to Facebook share your message instead, and collect the people’s email address for you to use. Great for adding new people to your mailing list (Which is one of our main aims, we will talk about this fully in week 5). They do however charge you to share the email addresses they capture, so unless you catch a lot, it may not be worth the price. But sign up to a free account (You can still get people to send the tweets for free) and see how things go. Even if you only use it to get viral tweets and Facebook likes it will be worth it.
    Other websites that allow you to ‘pay with a tweet’ include Pay With A Tweet, and Cloud Flood.
  • To Be Continued.

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Preview Of Week 2: What Product To Make

what product to make

This is a preview of week two’s lesson in this online music business course. You can see previews of other lessons here.

Ok, we’re back! This week we’ll be looking at one of the most important things you’ll need to consider before setting off on your journey: Which type of product you should be releasing.

I’ve briefly touched on this in the advice section of the Independent Music Website (Post entitled Single, Album Or Mixtape), but today instead of just looking at the options, I’ll be showing you which is the best path to take and why.

For those that haven’t already read that post, the main products you can release are a single, a mixtape, and an album (The post title kind of gives it away right). All have pros and cons, but there is only one we will be using initially during this course: The single!

The reason you should base this stage of your music career around single releases is this:

  • They’re Cheap To Produce.
    Where as creating a album or mixtape will require hours upon hours of studio time to produce, a single will require just one studio session to get complete from start to finish (Providing you done all the planning prior to taking your studio session). The less studio time you have to use, the less money you’ll have to spend. Remember, in this business time is money! This leads on nicely to our second point…
  • You Can Turn Over Your Projects Quicker.
    As you only have to record one song for a single (Instead of say a minimum of say 8 for a album or 10 for a mixtape) projects can be finished and put out a lot quicker. Not only will you save time on recording in the studio, but you will also save time not having to write lots of songs and putting an album or mixtape together. Albums and mixtapes usually also have features, and anyone that’s tried to get more then three features on any of their projects will know they can dramatically slow the process down. Not only do you have to find a time you can both write and record the song, but features won’t always be as dedicated to the project as you. Because of this, they may turn up late, reschedule recording sessions, or simply not turn up at all. This can be frustrating, but believe it or not it does happen.
    If you’re only relying on yourself for the recording of your singles (Or maximum one feature at a time) you should be able to get things done a lot quicker and with less hassle.
  • You Can Be More Adaptive To The Times.
    The music industry is always changing, with new genres coming out all the time. As I’m sure you may have noticed, there’s always a new craze where you can make a semi standard tune and get your name known. This is because there won’t be many songs in this genre already out. Djs will be competing to become the pioneer of this new scene, meaning they’d do anything to get as many songs as they can in that genre. Make a decent tune that matches, and you should get exposure.
    Now I’m not saying you should make sub standard songs, or even that you should follow a new music craze just to get known. IF you wanted to however (Follow the crazes that is, not make sub standard songs) a single release would allow you to quickly and efficiently adapt with the times. There’s nothing worse then recording a album of material, then realising it’s not what people want anymore. With a single you won’t have that problem, and can ‘roll with the punches’.
  • You Receive Instant Feedback.
    As a musician, you should always be analysing how things are going. You want to look at what fans like and dislike about you and your music, which DJs have played which songs, which of your song types have been received the best (Fast songs, slow songs, songs made for events / club, relaxing music etc), and anything else that can help shape your next move. With singles you can test what your audience wants, and get instant feedback off the back of one tune. If you have a new idea you can easily record it, put it out not too long after, and see the crowd’s reaction. If the reaction’s good, you can carry on down that road (If it seems there’s a long term market for that type of music). Alternatively, if the feedback you received wasn’t that good, you can try something else until you get it right.

To Be Continued.

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Preview Of Week 1: Getting Your Music Mentality Right, Paperwork And Professionalism

The Best Online Music Business School

This is a preview of week one’s lesson in this online music business course. You can see previews of other lessons here.

Welcome to the first week of The IMA Music Business Academy. This week, we’re going to be focusing on building a solid foundation to base your music career on. We’ll be working on getting your mentality and professionalism right, so it’ll be much easier to navigate your music career and get things done. A few things we’ll be focusing on include:

  • Giving you the right mentality for success,
  • Looking at why you need to keep paper work throughout your career, and
  • The importance of professionalism.

We’ll also give you tips and tricks on how to achieve all of these things.

Remember, this isn’t a music ‘game’ as some people like to call it, it’s a business! I will repeat that a few times in this lesson, as it’s something you need to remember from the beginning. In order to do well as an independent musician, you need to treat it as such. This part may be boring to some of you, but it is essential. I’d advise you read all the following points, and make sure you refer back to it every now and then.

Now, without and further ado, let’s get into it.

Getting Your Mentality Right

Before we get into anything even remotely musical, there are a few things we need to look at. In order to do well in music, we first need to look at the reasons why people generally fail in the music business. If we can understand this, it’ll become easier for us to avoid these pitfalls and in turn do well. It’ll also give us an idea of what we need to work on if we identify we have one of these failing traits.

From what I’ve seen, the three biggest reasons why people fail in music is because:

  1. A lack of talent,
  2. A lack of music business knowledge, or
  3. They have the wrong mentality.

mentality rightWith the first point, there’s not much I can do to help you. Either you have talent at this stage, or you don’t. If you don’t, we suggest you end your subscription to this course right now. This course is more suited to musicians with a good level of talent that perhaps need brushing up with their business skills. Alternatively, you can carry on with this course, and refer back to it once you have improved your musical ability.

The second factor is a major barrier for many people; they have talent but don’t know how to market, brand or monetize themselves. The good thing however, is these and other music business skills can be learnt. Throughout this course we will teach you good business practices that will help effectively push your music career forward.

The final factor is the biggest, and the reason many musicians don’t get where they could be; They can’t get their mentality right. Now this may not sound like a big thing to some, but without the right mentality you’re destined to fail.

But what do I mean by getting your mentality right? Well, it’s all about getting in the right frame of mind. If you only see your music as something that “Probably won’t work but you’ll do it anyway”, you’re not going to put as much effort in as you can. Furthermore, you’ll easily get demotivated and stop trying as hard.

In order to be successful, you need to adopt a certain outlook on your music career. Here is a few things you need to do:

Take Your Music Career Seriously

take job seriouslyOne thing you need to remember, is that music is now your job. This course is for people that have gone past the “music is my hobby” stage, and want to make money from what they enjoy.

Some people find it hard to grasp the concept that this is work, but if you want to be successful with your music you have to. I’ve seen a DJ turn up 40 minuets late to an hour long trial set in a club, and complain when they didn’t give him the free drink they promised. He also stated that he wasn’t getting paid to DJ, so why should he rush to get their on time? What he failed to see however, was that this was his job interview. If he performed well on that day, he would have been earning £50 an hour on a weekly basis.

You wouldn’t turn up to a job interview at Toys R Us 40 minuets late and think it’s OK because you’re not getting paid, so don’t do it in in music. Needless to say, this DJ didn’t get the job…

To Be Continued.

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