Essential Email Marketing for Musicians

Check out this great guide to email marketing from the Musicians' Union...


For musicians and artists, email marketing is an extremely effective way of directly reaching your fans and updating them on any exciting announcements. 

That could be a release, an event invite to a gig/tour, or even behind the scenes update on your activity. It's a great chance for you to communicate with your audience online, away from the pressures of social media.

Here's how to get started...  

Building contacts

To create an audience for your emails you'll need to build a database of contacts and get them to subscribe to your mailing list.

Promote your mailing list subscription through your website and social media. When you’re networking or gigging, take business cards with you to exchange details with potential subscribers."

Consider creating a competition where those that sign up are put into a draw to win a prize, such as access to an exclusive track, album pre-sale or tickets to your next gig. Be creative in building awareness and getting more subscribers.

The legal stuff

Make sure you allow people to opt-in and out of your emails. Do not add anyone to your mailing list unless they have provided explicit consent for you to do so.

This will not only decrease the chance of your email going into the recipient’s spam, but also mean you are following GDPR regulations.

GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation) is the law surrounding data protection. These govern the way you are allowed to store and use personal information.

It's important to make yourself aware of these regulations, so you keep in line with the relevant laws when using and storing contact data. Check out the MU’s GDPR guide here.

Email Service Providers (ESPs)

An Email Service Provider (ESP) offers a range of useful services when promoting yourself through email.

Look into those built for sending bulk emails and marketing, such as MailChimp, AWeber, or Constant Contact.

Those ESPs provide a platform to build templates that look professional, manage your contact database and track behaviour and engagement. 

ESPs are also handy for segmenting and personalising your emails, as well as providing options to automate. 

Automated emails can be useful when you get new subscribers as they allow you to send a 'Welcome' message without you having to do it manually. These emails are important when providing an initial introduction. They will let you highlight what the subscriber can expect to receive from you, along with both the links and content already available to them.

Make sure you use a 'subscribe' button on your website. ESPs provide the HTML code you need and automatically store any new subscriber contacts. You can also add email addresses manually into your ESP as long as you have the recipient’s consent. Remember to include an 'unsubscribe' link (which an ESP can provide) at the bottom of your emails too.

Insights picked up by bulk email and marketing ESPs include a breakdown of which links were clicked, who opened your email, and who subscribed or unsubscribed. This information is useful for planning your next email and gives you an idea of what is and isn’t appealing. 

Take the opportunity to consider the email design, layout, content and copy, which could all impact the behaviour of your audience and the success of an email. Is there anything you can change to improve the next one?"

Another advantage of sending emails through an ESP is that emails come from your domain name. This not only looks more professional but also means your email is less likely to go into the recipient’s spam.

Get writing

When writing an email to fans, first take time to consider why you are doing it. Make sure you have a purpose and something relevant to tell your audience. Look at the emails you receive or sign up to those on offer by relevant musicians to you, so you can get an idea of what works well and what doesn’t.

Subject Line

Your subject line is the first thing the recipient will see and is key to encouraging them to open your email. So make it good!

It should be compelling and provide urgency but must be relevant to what will feature in the email copy.

Make the reader curious about what will be included in the email, so if it’s an announcement, make sure that it is expressed in your subject line.

Body of the email

Take time to draft well written copy for the body of the email or people will simply stop reading. Ask yourself the following and make sure that information is included:

  • What are you trying to tell people?
  • what are you promoting?
  • why would they be interested and what is in it for them?
  • what action do you want the reader to take? (Buy tickets? Visit your website? Listen to your latest release?)
  • are you delivering on what you promised in the subject line?

The main message of the email should be clear. The copy should also be suitable for the reader to scan across and find information of interest to them.

It sounds obvious but check for spelling and grammar mistakes before sending the email and get someone to double check it for you where possible."

People have short attention spans. So, the longer the copy takes to read, the less likely it will be read. You can always link the reader to your website for more information if you need to.

It is important to include a call to action in the email when relevant. This is basically something that will prompt a response from the reader to click through. So, this could for example be 'stream here' for a release, or 'tickets' for a gig.

Designing your email

Think about the look of the email but also the user experience.

Use both imagery and text in your email, with the rule of no more than 25 percent image and 75 percent text. Overusing images can land your email in the recipient’s spam, and you should also be careful with the size of the image files as some email providers will cut images that are too large (Gmail - around 102kb max).

It is always good to send test versions of emails to yourself, so you know for sure that your content is viewable through various email providers.

Make sure the content is clearly split and use headers to make it easier for the recipient to take in all the information.

If you are sending a regular newsletter, be consistent with the design and layout so the reader becomes familiar with your brand. What colour palette and imagery might your audience already associate with you from viewing your website and social media platforms? Consider relating your newsletter to those design features.

Include your logo at the top of the page and your social media handles at the bottom, near your signature.

Your design will need to be suitable for both desktop and mobile. Luckily your ESP should give you an option to preview your draft on both devices, so checking is easy.

Assess how quickly the reader can access your music or anything else you are promoting. Make it too complicated and you’ve likely lost their interest. 

Get the recognition you deserve

The power of email marketing should not be underestimated in promoting yourself and expressing your art. Remember that those you are contacting have subscribed, which means you have consent to communicate with them through email.

More importantly, they’re hoping to hear from you and are interested in what you do as a musician. Keep them interested in the great work you create, but without bombarding them!

Find out more about the MU and how it can support you via

You can also stay up to date with the latest MU news, events and campaigns via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Thinking about joining the Union? Full-time students can join for £19.60 a year.

Image credit: Designed by pikisuperstar / Freepik

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May 9, 2019
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