Making a List: Music Success in Nine Weeks – Week 7

So like wow…I’m really DOING it. I’ve thought about doing all this stuff: Getting an online presence, twittering, bloginating, designing a newsletter, getting out of bed, etc. I’ve thought about this stuff A LOT. But I’m finally doing it. This “build up a music business by the numbers” thing really works!

Now I come to the Week 7 assignment: How to Build Your Mailing List. When I went to the ASCAP Expo last spring, I heard over and over and OVER that the most important thing you can do is build up your email list. It is your most important asset. So, okay, yes I totally get it. I’m a believer. I have drunk the Kool-Aid. Now you may ask, how exactly does one build up an email list? Simple:

One person at a time.

Thanks to the free song giveaway, I am already getting a respectable handful of people signing up for my newsletter. I also went back through my CD Baby sales reports and gleaned the email addresses of my customers. I sent them a personal email and asked if they would be interested in getting on my list. Another respectable handful of people signed up. I have a couple of gigs this week and it finally occurred to me to have a signup sheet at the table where I sell my CDs and to practice real live networking. What a concept!

One person at a time. Instead of this mass-market broadcast mentality, I realize now the importance of building this thing one brick at a time. And I am enjoying it.

Do You Know What Happens When Someone Signs Up?

I happen to be the type of person who has to research and analyze and ponder EVERYTHING before I make a final decision. (It’s why we still haven’t purchased laminate flooring yet.) True to form, I analyzed the various mail list management providers. Besides testing to see how easy it was to manage mail lists, I also tested how easy it is for a person to signup for the email list and get their free song download. So, here is a comparison of the steps a person needs to go through when they are presented with a download widget by the three providers I have used:

ReverbNation BandCamp FanBridge
  1. You get to hear only a 30-second clip of the free song
  2. Click on the Download widget
  3. Enter Email address
  4. You receive an email giving you a link to confirm your email.
  5. You are then taken to a form asking for various information like name, address, which is all optional, but you have to enter your birthdate.
  6. You then get a Download button for the free song
  7. Then you get another Download button.
  8. You get the standard Windows “save or open” popup or, for Mac, the standard download list.
  1. You get to hear the free song in its entirety
  2. Click on the Download widget
  3. You are taken to the BandCamp page where you enter your Email address.
  4. You receive an email giving you a link to get your free download.
  5. The link takes you to the BandCamp page with the Download button.
  6. You get the standard Windows “save or open” popup or, for Mac, the standard download list.
  1. There is no song snippet to listen to, so you don’t know what you’re getting.
  2. Click on the Join List widget.
  3. You receive an email giving you a link to get your free download.
  4. You click the download button.
  5. You get the standard Windows “save or open” popup or, for Mac, the standard download list.

What observations did I make from this? Although I had the ReverbNation free download widget on my site far longer than the BandCamp widget, I got more signups from the BandCamp widget. Why? I think because of two reasons. First, because you can hear the entire song on the Bandcamp widget instead of just 30 seconds. I think people feel a bit ripped off when they’re just getting into the song and it stops. But I think the biggest reason is that it is just too painful to complete the signup process through ReverbNation. It takes eight steps to get a free song, really? In (Reverbnation) step 4 above, the email that was sent out when my wife tried to sign up got sent to her junk mail folder. Not good. Then in step 5 it makes you enter your birthdate. Your birthdate? What’s that all about? If I got something in an email that took me to a form that required my birthdate I probably wouldn’t click on it.

I am managing my email list with FanBridge. I think the tools are the easiest, although not as easy as having a service like Band Letter manage your list for you. Since I am also using ReverbNation and BandCamp (for different reasons), I have to get new signups from their sites and consolidate it with the FanBridge list. If I do all this stuff just once a week, like I’m supposed to, then I don’t think this will be too much of a bother.

Building this business is going to take a lot of hard consistent work. While at times this seems overwhelming, I now have the tools and I can see better how it all fits together.



Filed under Music Success in Nine Weeks Blog Challenge, Work

3 responses to “Making a List: Music Success in Nine Weeks – Week 7

  1. Hey Kelly,
    We really appreciate the analysis and constructive criticism you have provided here. We were actually just talking about the 30 second sample issue internally and may make a change there, but we seem to have just as many Artists who like the ability to play only a sample as those that do not. It may be something we allow the Artist to choose between in the future.

    If I may, I’d like to point out that on your FanBridge process you do not have a separate step for ‘entering your email address’ like you do for the other two services, yet I’m sure this is still a requirement.

    With regard to the age verification issue, it is our current belief that requiring age verification before someone can join your list is currently the most appropriate/conservative interpretation of COPPA compliance (the law that aims to protect minors under the age of 13 on the net). While it is admittedly a hassle, we feel that this is currently a best practice. That is not to say in any way that the other services are doing anything wrong. Our practices in this area just differ in that regard.

    I am absolutely going to investigate the issue around having to go through two download buttons in a row. That doesn’t seem necessary for any reason.

    Again, thanks for posting this analysis. Feedback from our users is critical to improving our products and this was a particularly helpful post.

    Jed Carlson
    Co-Founder, COO,

    • Hi Jed,

      Thanks for your comments. And for the explanation about requiring a birthdate. That makes perfect sense. Might I suggest that you provide some type of explanation on your form about why you request birthdate? This may put people at ease about entering it. Just a thought.



  2. Hey Kelly! Great post! I found your link to it on Ariel’s mastermind site. I have a question for you, if you don’t mind!

    When you say you use all 3 of them for different reasons, what do you use them for? It sounds like maybe you use Bandcamp to collect addresses, but then you put them into Fanbridge? If that’s so, does Fanbridge require all the people that already signed up to re-confirm? I’ve been using reverbnation for all my collecting and newsletter management, and I’m unhappy with it for some of the reasons you stated, as well as others. But I am afraid to switch all my addresses over to another management system (say Fanbridge) because when I switched over to reverbnation, I LOST some previous subscribers (who had already confirmed on my site) because reverbnation requires them to confirm again. I understand this for legal reasons, but it is a hassle when you just want to switch already-confirmed members to a new system.

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