Hot Tip For Bands: How To Beef Up Your Mailing List

I know a lot of great bands that scoff at the idea of putting together a mailing list. They've convinced themselves that all they have to do is put up a Facebook page, get a Twitter account, and fans will come to them by the thousands. A year later, they're still playing to 35 people on a Wednesday night while another band, with a proactive approach to adding names to their mailing list, is headlining packed clubs every weekend.

Q: How did they do it?

A: When they realized that the bigger a mailing list was, the better it was, they got creative. At some of their early shows, they had set out a notebook at their merch table asking fans to jot down their name and email address. A few people obliged, but the whole process lacked a degree of enthusiasm. Their first solution was to ask their merch seller to actively ask people to sign up for the band's mailing list. The merch seller was happy to oblige, but was sometimes too busy handling sales transactions to do the "hard sell" of getting fans to join the mailing list.

That's when the band came up a great idea. They got a medium-sized cardboard box, cut a slit in the top, and wrote "Enter your name and email address for a chance to win a FREE T-shirt after the show!" They then placed a stack of 3 x 5 cards and a box of those little pencils you see at putt-putt golf courses.

About halfway through their show, they reminded fans about the contest and that they'd be announcing a winner at the merch table after the show. Being a somewhat humorous band to begin with, they then announced they were going to play a slow song, which would give their fans time to wander over to the merch table, fill out the card, and toss it in the box. Then they would commence rocking.

There was a palpable buzz in the room as people realized that they actually had a chance to win something and immediately took action.

Most recently, the band played a multi-band show at Reggies Rock Club and saw that 140 cards had been filled out by night's end. By employing this new method, they'd added more names to their mailing list in one night than they'd accumulated at all of their previous gigs combined, and all for the cost of a t-shirt.

Of course, what a band chooses to give away is entirely up to them (CD's would work well, too) and this is a method just about any band can use to great success.

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