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my career tips  


Yan and Boris host this bi-monthly series.

my career tips is about web 2.0 artist image and communications management.

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the power of newsletters
fans newsletter

Art piece by Thomas Koenig

Everybody's talking about Radiohead those days. The band just launched its new album "The King of Limbs" online. Very basically, the launch consisted in a last minute 100% online information release (this sabotaged a bit the work of traditional music critics), using social media as leverage (twitter, youtube, ...). The album itself is available in several versions (wav, mp3, deluxe and classic retail CD). If you want to read something about the music, Pitchfork is a good source. If you want to know nore about the launch, there is a cool ReadWriteWeb article about it.

Everything has been said about Radiohead and its revolutionary launches (specially "In Rainbows" and its "pay-what-you-want" model), but I want to add a little something here, that does not focus on the launch mechanism itself, but on the multiplication of products available.

In the electronic music scene, it's quite usual to have several quality formats (with several price levels) available (LP, CD, various bitrate mp3, wav), thanks to the DJs (who prefer better quality). Some artists also do Deluxe editions, so there is nothing new here.

However, what I have been seeing is that if artists, labels and managers have a clear strategy about product diversity (from a crappy mp3 to deluxe digipack LP) and - most of the time - a good appreciation of which retail outlets should host which product version (i.e the deluxe thingy in the small record label, the wav version on beatport or juno, the mp3 version on itunes, etc.), most of the time, the way direct fans are managed looks like big bulky "one size fits all" initiatives.

Direct fans are those with whom an artist can talk... well, directly (rocket science, huh?). On one side you got all the social media platforms that enable conversations and on the other you have the quite traditional but still effective newsletter. And there we come. Newsletters are perfect in order to talk with and classify your fans.Why? Because email is not dead yet. It is even fairly stable and enables you to communicate in a clean and controlled manner with the people who love your music.

You should watch this video to know more about email marketing for musicians:

3 Email Marketing Tips For Musicians from Greg Rollett on Vimeo.
(if you prefer reading, a transcription of the video is available here)

Let's come to fan classification now. Most online newsletter services enable you to classify your fan base according to response (I personally use bravenet). Basically, it a YES/NO game :

  • Send your newsletter according to the principles seen in the above video, your call for action should be about buying your music, in a quite classical format

  • Check for answers or reactions, for the actions your newsletter triggered : did the fan buy? YES/NO

  • You can then propose more to the YES fans, i.e. the Deluxe Digipack version

  • To the NO fans, you can try out with a cheaper item or maybe a free song

  • And so on and so forth... you will end up with several subscriber groups (i.e. the hardcore fans, the loyal fans, the occasional listeners, the discoverers, ...), to whom you are going to propose different offers, at different prices

And because radiohead has been my alibi to today's post, here's the band latest video :)

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