Smallfish Artist Management Agency

email list post smallfish

Email list : Your best ally to grow your fanbase

Nowadays, I still come across a lot of artists not having an email list and instead keep just focusing on their social media.

If you are an artist or a band and have not started a mailing list yet, let me try to convince you why it's super important in the development of your career to have one.

Let's look at some factors:

FACT 1 - Data ownership

  • How do you contact your community/fanbase if Facebook/Twitter/Instagram closed your account or for some reason lost all your data.

In fact you don't own the data on Facebook or Instagram, Youtube, or twitter or any social media platforms while by having an email list you are owning it.

Not convinced ?

Check what happened to Myspace when they lost all user content after a faulty migration. You can check this article from The Guardian.

Guardian - Myspace - email post

Fact 2: Open Rate

If you are sending a newsletter, you may expect an open rate of 20/25% while on Facebook, if you publish a post, you may expect 6% of your followers will see it. Your reach through email is 3 to 4 times higher.

I recommend to check this benchmark study published by Mailchimp.

Mailing List Mailchimp Email list Blog post

Fact 3: Confusion around Social Media

Another observation I made which makes me believe there is a confusion about the purpose of  social media platforms among young and emerging independent artists, and believe me, I don't blame them, I went through the same pattern.

I see many emerging artists or bands who literally publish sales post content to cold audience such as:

  • Buy my new Tshirts or CDs/Lps
  • Go to Spotify and listen favorite my songs
  • Check my latest video on Youtube and leave a comment

Unsurprisingly, those types of posts have low responses and poor results. Seriously, when was last time you made money with such a post ? 

Imagine for a second that a total stranger knock at your door and try to sell the latest solar panel. Before he knocked at your door, you were having a nice time eating with your family or close friend. Disruptive right ? Not the right approach !

If there is one key element I remember from a workshop I attended and which was organised by Facebook in Singapore last year: You don't sell on social media platforms but you reach and engage instead.

In fact, I do recall their different panels of speakers were insisting that Facebook has to be seen as a community platform. In other words you build a community and engage with them in order to establish a relationship.

3 Steps to Focus when building a mailing list (high level)



Build a community on social media around your band.



Keep providing relevant & creative content in order to warm your audience



Once you get the attention of your audience, invite them to join your mailing list. 

My key takeaway here: social media platforms and email list are complementary with each other.

Definition of a mailing list:

An email list is a special list of names and email addresses of people (called subscribers) who gave you permission to send them updates and promotions from your business.

What it means is relatively simple: each subscribers who joined your email list, agreed (through a double opt in) to provide you their email and they allow you to send them emails about your bands activities (tour, new releases, special sales..).

Advantages to have a email list:

  • Email is personal. The subscriber receives in his mailbox a direct message from you. It can look like a one to one conversation.
  • Email has a clearly defined goal: subscriber who joins your mailing list is interested about your content (commercial or not)
  • Email brings a cold audience to an interested audience and eventually lead to a powerful Fanbase
  • You can have a better understanding of who is your audience based on segmentation (location, age, music platforms they use..) and provide a better user experience to your audience
  • You own your mailing list (which is not the case of your audience on Social Media).

What solution should you use to build a mailing list:

Well, to be honest and if you are really on tight budget you can start with a simple XLS file or sign up for one of the numerous email marketing solutions such as:

I have been using Mailchimp for some years now and also have a XLS file just as back up. 

Where do you capture email ?

  • Through a Facebook post ( Run a survey/contest or even a call to subscribe to your mailing list by using Facebook Lead Generation)
  • Opt -in on your website (check below this post, there is an opt-in to subscribe to my newsletter for instance)
  • Opt-in in your bio in Youtube/Faceboo/Instagram
  • Bot messenger (Facebook, Manychat, Chatfuel, Mobile Monkey..)
  • Smartlink ( through third party company such as Soundplates, Hypeddit, Feature FM)
  • Ticket platforms such as Eventbrite or Ticketmaster
  • On your Merch Store
  • On Tour

As you can see emails can be captured not only on your contact page of your website. In fact, there are multiple ways to capture email and fill your email list (I just listed some of them):

Let's review some of them:

Optimise your Website

  • Contact/About page of your website
  • Newsletter Page of your website. Check the example below:
Email list - IWE - Opt in
  • Optin/popup scattered across your website. For my WordPress website, I’m using Thrive Leads to build and set opt-in. This is not the only one, you have a large choice such as: opt-in Monster, Bloom, Convert Pro, WP Subscribe, Mailchimp for WordPress.
Email List - Optin - Smallfish

In fact you can use an opt-in on your website in various forms (ribbon form, lightbox form..) but also in various purpose such as:

  • Inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter
  • Inviting people to unlock content on your website (it could be access to a private video, a track that you are currently working on, your latest blog post, well you name it)


Another great way to capture email. You can place a link in the About Section (or in comment also when appropriate) that point to your mailing list.

Email List Mika

But also, you can place link in the description of your video. 

Check the video of Mika - Dear Jealousy. You can see that he put a list of links in his description which are clear Call To Action.

Mika email list description

Bot Messenger:

To define a bot messenger, I would simply qualify as an automated responder that you can set with defined parameters. It can be as powerful as your email marketing tool. 

If you have a bot messenger in place such as Manychat, Chatfuel, ActiveChat (just to name a few). it will allow you to set up a flow to capture email through that service.

I’m using Many Chat for some time now and find it relatively effective. There is a free version available. if you are interested,  it’s very easy to set up with your Facebook page.

If you are interested about ManyChat, I would recommend to start using their Facebook Comment Growth tool and start capturing emails. 

The way it works is very simple. You link the Facebook Comment growth tool to one of your post in Facebook.

Once someone comments on the post, it will trigger the growth tool and the person will get a message from the Bot and will be added automatically to your Messenger subscriber list and mailing list (through your google sheet or even Mailchimp).

Keen to learn more, I recommend you check this link:

Many Chat Bot Messenger - Email list - Blog Post
Some real advantages of using a Bot Messenger:
  • Available 24/7 (through automated sequences) for your audience
  • Better Audience experience in terms of engagement
  • Easy to set up
  • Higher opening rate on messenger (80/85%) vs email (25%) vs Facebook post (6%)
  • Great way to collect data about your audience
  • Push in just a few clicks content (links & downloads) to your audience
When should you use a bot messenger:

To push content to your audience (new release, new gigs coming..). 

To run some sales actions (new t-shirts, limited edition of your LP) for your warm audience

To run a survey with your audience (where you should tour, their favourite music streaming platforms..)

I'm using a bot messenger with several artists mainly as an additional source to capture email and push content but also to diversify interaction with an audience. 

Imagine Dragon - Bot messenger - Email list blog

You want to get some examples of artists using a chatbot, check this link:

Use Case with THOT:

Finally, I wanted to illustrate this post through an example of artist using an email list. The Belgian band THOT keep building a solid relationship with fans across Europe for years.  See their feedback below:

THOT 2020 - email list post
  • How the email list helped you to grow your relation with your audience ?

I've started this list with a few friends and people I knew from our live concerts. I always had a paper form where people can write down their email address, at the merch table.

  • Since when do you have one and wow was the evolution of your email list ?

My email list has been built with emails collected on Bandcamp, since 2010. Since streaming became more popular with platforms like Spotify, I've noticed that people are less downloading, so there are less emails collected

  • What do you do to keep your mailing list alive?

I try to send newsletters once a month at least, whenever there's a release or to give an update of the band's activities

  • Can you give us an example on how beneficial an email list can be .

Mailing list is of course really useful for touring. For each email, I know the country of origin, which allows me to target people when we go on tour nearby.

  • Would you recommend any artist to have one ?

Of course, even if it's hard labor!

  • I saw a post that you are currently working on a new album DELTA through Patreon, could you tell us about it ?

Patreon is an exciting way to tighten you relationship with your hardcore fanbase, being creative more than ever to greet them for the financial support they give you. However, this funding system is not very popular still, and the actual situation is difficult for everyone. But it's worth trying and once again, it's an excellent creativity booster.

Link of the project can be found here:


Final word

I hope this post was useful enough to give you some fundamentals around how you can build your mailing list. 

As you know now, building a list is not over complicated. There a re various tool available for every budget.

You saw in this post that there are multiple ways to collect email.  You noticed as well that email marketing is somehow connected with social media platforms and this is an important factor you need to take into consideration when you build your strategy.

Now it's your turn.