Musicians - Proven ways Mailing Lists Smash Social Media

Tony Davies - 31 May 2023
Person with phone recording video of band.jpg

Admittedly, we're not quite comparing apples with apples here, but I think social media and email marketing are closely related enough (in the context of promotion) to justify an article showing why creating a mailing list may be time really well spent.

Social media has become a promotional tool for just about every artist, band and business alike.

It’s undoubtedly very useful for interacting with followers when you want to update them with news, events or the odd informal joke.

You might be wondering why you should bother with a mailing list. It’s important to remember though, mailing lists offer several advantages over social media. Read on to discover why your very own mailing list is a great marketing move for musicians.

Social media posts often go unseen

Posts seen by Facebook users ~5.5%

In the good old days, social media sites would push promotional posts to a lot more of your followers than they do today. You’d always get great interaction. This is not the case anymore.

How many followers receive your posts on Facebook in their feed? Sources often give a figure of around 6%. Paid promotion is the only way to boost this.

Even the followers that get your post may not see it. News feeds are filled with posts from all over the place.

Compare this to email. Every person that subscribed to your mailing list should get your email. Instead of being one amongst hundreds, in some cases it may be the only unread message in the user’s inbox.

An email is a message personally sent to the user rather than a continuous monologue of posts in a social media space.

With social media though, you are limited to the constraints set by the platform.

You have no control over social media sites

What would you do if your favourite social platform decided tomorrow they were only going to allow bands and artists one free post a month? Anything extra will now cost £15 per post.

This is very unlikely but shows how a simple update can make a site virtually worthless. The fact is you have no control over social media sites. They’re updated all the time and one day something could be changed that causes you problems.

A mailing list on the other hand is yours and a far more stable marketing strategy to use in the long term.

Social media sites may fall out of favour

Graph showing site traffic decreasing

At one time MySpace was huge. Now you rarely hear of it. TikTok on the other hand seems to be used constantly by youngsters. Websites come and go. Spending years building a huge following may be worthwhile but you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. Get these people onto your mailing list where possible.

Email provides best Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment (ROI) - Email 3600% - Social networking 280%

People expect promotional content when you sign up for a newsletter. People on social media on the other hand are there for various reasons and may have little or no interest in your post at that time, if they see it at all.

In marketing, the acronym ROI measures the cost you put in compared with the money you get out of promotional material. Email clearly wins in this department with some sources stating an impressive $36 returned for every $1 spent. Social media on the other hand has been touted at around $2.80 for every dollar spent.

You may be wondering what this has to do with artists. Well these figures from the business world give a good indication of how different marketing routes will perform for us musicians.

Email is ubiquitous

Nearly everyone uses email. Social media is more nuanced. TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram tend to have younger audiences. It’s a bit more mixed for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Let’s say you’re targeting your average follower. Person x! They’ll almost certainly have an email address but will you find them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. That’s less certain.

Statistic: Percentage of internet users in the United States who use e-mail as of November 2021, by age group | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Emails can be designed exactly as you want them

Emails can be designed and styled using the branding you have set up for yourself or your band. The number of links you add, the amount of images and length of the content is more or less down to you. With social media though, you are limited to the constraints set by the platform.

Emails are direct and personal

It’s pretty powerful to be able to post straight into someone’s private messages, Knowing they're a fan is better still. The users’ inbox might have a few other promotional emails you have to compete with but I bet it's far less than the hundreds of social media posts a user will often get every day.

Emails can be targeted

Archery target and arrow

Mailing lists can really excel in this area. Targeting involves sending emails that are personalised for the user receiving them.

Mailing lists are a great way to promote a gig or tour so, let’s say we’re emailing everyone in to let them know about a load of shows we have lined up in Leeds.

The first paragraph of the email for people in the area might read “Exciting news. We’re coming to your backyard! Come and see us at one of the venues below”

For everyone else (not living in Leeds) “We’re gigging in Leeds this month. If you happen to be in the area, come and see us at one of the venues below”

In addition to targeting, mailing services allow you to:

  • set up different email campaigns
  • specify a time the email is sent (to maximise effectiveness)
  • set up A/B testing
  • review performance reports
  • see a history of user interaction

Another example of email targeting frequently used is to only email people that don’t interact with your messages. The email content would be designed in such a way as to ‘reawaken’ them.

200 email subscribers are going to be worth more to you than 200 followers on a social platform.

Bonus but not unique to email - performance can be measured

You might think there’s no way to know if a user read an email or clicked a link within it but as touched on above, this is not the case.

Email marketing services generate various reports showing you how your email campaign performed. These are usually based on the following:

  • emails read
  • links clicked
  • bounce rate

It’s true that social media platforms will have similar performance metrics but it’s important to know email campaigns are not a fire and forget type of system.

Should I close my social media accounts?

Social media is a great tool for reaching out to a new audience. Think of your mailing list as a source of your most loyal followers. Think of social media as a tool to find new followers.


Email marketing may feel old fashioned compared to the modern world of social media but, maybe surprisingly, it’s actually more effective. 200 email subscribers are going to be worth more to you than 200 followers on a social platform.

This article highlights the many benefits of creating your own mailing list but remember to use social media where to 'spread the word' for best results.

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