As an avid user of Bandcamp, my inbox was flooded with a total of 376 emails telling me that Bandcamp was waiving their fee’s for a single day. ‘Now more than ever you should buy my music’ some proclaimed. The problem is – that’s the line everyone else was using too. Some artists really missed the boat altogether too so here are some of my observations about how all these emails came through to me. Full disclosure – I do offer small scale PR support – but these are all tips that anyone who wants to run their own campaigns can use.
Don’t send an email about it after the event… and remember global times!
16 emails came in up to 3 days after the actual 24-hour event telling me that ‘now was the time to buy their music’. It wasn’t – it had long passed. If you are going to do that, it shows disrespect to everyone’s time you have just wasted as they will know. They’ve been flooded with emails by artists on the ball. Similarly – if something is a timed event in a set location – the world is not on your time zone. Remember your 6 pm email from Canada has already missed everyone in the UK as its midnight here already. Similarly, Japan will be clocking into work at 9 am the next day. My message here? Be early and be global. Your email list should guide you with this.
What are you offering me?
Whilst the Bandcamp ecosystem generally draws people who want to support artists where possible to it, you are now battling for a prime time purchase at a time when bank balances are tight. This is the time to bring out the full discography discount, bundle discounts or even a coupon code for those only on your email list. If you aren’t able to do that – what else can you offer? A special edition with demos or outtakes? Stems if you in the remix space? This is a time limited event – you should have ready a time limited offer to weigh up my purchase to be more valuable than someone else’s.
This extends to record labels too. Many record labels decided to do discounts on their rosters or on all their 2019 releases for example. This is clever as you’ll get some chance buyers who will now also be on your email list and they are all potential new fans.
Be honest with what the usual fees are
One of the most interesting quirks was seeing various artists reporting Bandcamp’s fees at different percentages. As a listener – they are available on Bandcamp’s pricing page. Do not be caught out by artists claiming its 20% or 25%. As for artists – be informative. Seeing it misquoted has left a bitter taste in my mouth and I didn’t add anything of their onto my shopping basket.
Warm your fans up in advance but don’t beat them to death with it
Several artists and labels sent an email about a week or so beforehand, nicely timed around the end of the month for many peoples payday. That is clever as it helps people be aware and allocate the money aside for the day itself, where you can send an email to say the promotion is now live. A follow up thank you is lovely too.
Do not then proceed to do daily emails as some artists as it is overkill and people will tune out. That’s the kind of tactics you save for Twitter where your message is lost in the churn. Remember your platform and your platform frequency. One electronic artist I followed insisted on sending a message every few hours with things like ‘Holy shit – I can’t believe it!!!’ It got very old, very fast. Some people may get hyped with this tactic but they are going to be your tribal fans that will come with you for the ride anyway. If you want to spin the hype wheel – invite people to come to a private area with some incentives, a listening party – anything to stop the email spam to everyone else. There are some people I ended up unfollowing so I don’t have to get another one of their emails ever again. Love the music, not the drama.
Demanding and begging both fall on deaf ears
38 emails I received had ‘PLEASE!’ in all caps with at least one exclamation mark on. There are far more effective ways to convey why now is the time to support your art – begging does not create a bond – it creates an awkward disconnect between you and the consumer of your art. It also sets a low bar that you cannot then return to. If you beg again in the future, you’ll come across as insincere and dramatic. If you’ve helped one homeless person, you are statistically less likely to help the second beggar… even less the third and so on. You are going down a slippery slope of unequal returns. Your art becomes more attractive by how you frame it. Frame it in its best light by leading forward with confidence and personality where you can.
Similarly demanding purchases or being aloof to such a sensitive topic also comes across like you are being a bit of an idiot. I had 4 ‘buy something or whatever, I don’t care really’ emails come through. Fine, I won’t then – you are too cool for this email list. There were also a couple of very aggressive emails that implied if you don’t buy the music today, you are not supporting them or their world. Not only is that jarring but it also frames the purchase out of guilt if a purchase is happening at all. Guilt will not trade you any future purchases further down the line I can guarantee you that.
Make sure your special release is live before you email us!
Six times I went to wishlist or add something to my basket – there was an error and the release wasn’t even published. Remember – a lot of us get the notification that something has just been published and whilst its good practice to then follow it up with a message (with some actual substance) afterwards if you aren’t adding value – you are double handling. This is especially true now that you can add a message to the release now. I’ve got to know some of the artists I follow always just send a message saying ‘my new EP is out’ and that is all they put. I just delete them now without opening them. Add the value, sequence the flow, respect the inbox. Remember to include your Bandcamp label in that sequence too, otherwise, that’s three emails I’m getting all at once about a release and I’m likely to only read one…
Don’t then go dark until the next Bandcamp fee waiver day
It was funny how many emails I had from people I hadn’t heard from before. It is equally telling how I’ve not heard from most of them again and likely won’t do until June 5th – the next fee waiver day. This kind of email marketing is not going to cultivate an audience nor a tribal following for your art. Make sure you stay in touch. Use these days as a soft launch for a regular newsletter – maybe weekly or fortnightly – so you stay in touch and don’t leave the mind. You’ll be surprised how much that attachment and investment is worth come the next sale you want to pitch is ready.
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