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Indie Email Marketing: Real World vs. “Experts”

Do you have an email marketing plan? Experts say you should. But I’ve long suspected there’s a large gap between indie music “experts” and the people who are making it work.

Advice Is What It Is

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In present times, people are often skeptical of those who give advice. You may be, too. In so many indie and general marketing guides, I’ve read/heard that having an active email list is crucial.

On the flip side, marketing can feel like “putting myself out there” to many unsigned musicians. If I’m going to do that, I want the return to be worth it. Sometimes social networks can give that feeling. Similarly, email marketing often feels very vulnerable.

Yet so many marketing avenues can seem like a huge vacuum. Sending a tweet or a toot can be much like sending a shout into the void. Real-world examples show that responses or engagement on social media can be less than 1% of your following. Even paid ads can seem to produce too little to make their expense worthwhile. (And don’t even get me started about how much the statistics provided by social networks are skewed.)

Email Truth

Email marketing is very similar. Typically, estimates range from 15-35% for how many recipients will open a message. Even worse, people who will click a link or reply to you drops under 5% on average. That does not seem like a great return.

At the same time, the effort to create an email message with potential impact can be very challenging. All of this makes email marketing seem unappealing.

Peer Confirmation

I wondered if other unsigned musicians had similar experiences. Do most of my peers send regular newsletters? I was doubtful.

Sure enough: when I asked my indie musician friends, they confirmed my doubt. Both informal queries and polls on a few social networks verified that indies don’t email. 91% of the musicians I polled said they never or rarely send email. In fact, 41% don’t have an email list at all.

Email Payoff

Does this mean I’ll never send another email to my fans? Of course not. However challenging it may be, the real return is the interaction.

Email icons floating into a big red mailbox

It’s true: I send an email to my fans about once a quarter. And it does take me a while to create the message. Another time-consuming effort is getting the courage to press send. (OK, I’m half joking about that.)

Even so, every time I send one of these, I start to get the replies. And that’s when I remember why I keep sending out my little announcements. Because I enjoy those responses so much. Even when I only get a few notes back, that connection makes the message sent feel worthwhile.

Image of emails going into a mailbox is by Tumisu via Pixabay.

4 thoughts on “Indie Email Marketing: Real World vs. “Experts””

  1. Hi Stan,

    Love the post and would agree that the 5% may hardly seem worth it. But like you said, interaction and connection is really worth it.

    Have a great one and take care.

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