You have a lot going on. Maybe you're recording an album, or booking and playing shows, or juggling tours for three acts you manage, or making videos, or signing multi-million dollar recording contracts. How do you keep track of it all? How do your fans keep track of it all? MailChimp's tools make it fun and easy to send email newsletters, manage your mailing lists, and track your performance.
Do you have a new song or video to share? Are you hoping to grow your email list through Facebook, Twitter, or live shows? MailChimp can help. Curious about where your most loyal supporters live? You can find out with just a couple clicks. In this guide, we'll cover all those features and more, and we'll show you how to use them effectively.
This is an introductory guide to MailChimp's features for musicians. We’ll cover the topics you’ll need to get started here, but if you have any questions about our other features, we have a lot of additional resources available and a support staff that can help as well.
Now, let's get started.
Build Your Mailing List
The foundation of great email marketing—no matter your industry—is a clean, up-to-date list of subscribers who have opted in to receive your email campaigns. MailChimp makes it easy to present your fans with a variety of methods to sign up and receive email updates so they know about your upcoming shows, album release dates, or free song downloads. In this section, we’ll cover the different options that you have available for creating signup forms and growing your list.
When you create a list in MailChimp, we will automatically generate a hosted, customizable, mobile-responsive signup form—along with an entire series of other forms and response emails—for you. You can share the link to this form on your website, across your various social media channels, or even with a QR code. Here’s how to create your form in MailChimp:
- From the MailChimp dashboard, click the Lists tab.
- Choose which list you’d like to work with, and then select Signup forms from the list options.
- Select General forms
- Next, customize the details of your form. Use the Build It tab to determine what information you collect in the form and the Design It tab to change the colors, add a header image, and more.
- When the form is finalized, copy the Subscribe form URL located in the middle of the page, and link to it from the website you choose.
When you create a signup form in MailChimp, we’ll provide you with several customizable Embedded forms as well. Creating the code is easy, and it'll make signing up for your newsletter even easier for your fans. From the Lists > Signup forms page, select the Embedded forms option.
MailChimp has a few different embeddable form options for you to choose from—just grab the generated HTML code and copy/paste it into your site.
Would you prefer to design and host your own signup forms? Learn more about that here.
Subscriber popup form
The subscriber popup is a customizable form option that automatically displays a MailChimp signup form in a popup modal on your website shortly after someone visits the page. The form can be designed, previewed, edited, and updated directly though the Form Builder, and all of your changes will be reflected in real time.
Signup form plugins
Do you have a website or blog that’s powered by WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr, Moveable Type, Expression Engine, or Drupal? There are MailChimp signup form plugins available for these (and many other) programs that can help make integration a breeze. Visit our Integrations Directory for all the details, as well as download & installation instructions.
Facebook signup form
Social media is a vital tool for keeping in touch with your fans, and MailChimp makes it easy to add a signup form directly to your Facebook page. First, you’ll need to connect your MailChimp and Facebook accounts. This can be done from the Account > Integrations area of your MailChimp account. Keep in mind that the initial connection will need to be made with a “personal” Facebook account. Once connected, the MailChimp form can then be added to any Facebook “page” that you administer.
After the accounts are connected, you’ll be able to customize and assign signup forms to your Facebook pages directly from the Facebook section of the Integrations page. In the Page to use drop-down menu, you’ll select which Facebook page you want to configure. In the List to use drop-down menu, choose which list's signup form you want on the page. Then, to activate a Signup form tab on the Facebook page, select the Yes radio button.
In the Form theme drop-down, choose which form style you'd like. If you choose My List's Theme (default), your signup form will look like the MailChimp-hosted form you’ve designed. If you select Facebook-esque, your form will blend more naturally into Facebook's overall appearance.
Looking for an easy way to collect email addresses at your shows? MailChimp Subscribe, a free app available for iPad and Android tablets, collects email addresses and stores them locally, even if you're not online. Later, when you connect to a wifi or cellular network, the collected addresses will be automatically uploaded to your MailChimp list.
Once everything is set up, you'll be ready to collect new subscribers at your next show. Just don't forget to toss your tablet (gently, now!) into the van when the tour starts.
Importing your list
- Uploading a CSV or tab delimited text file.
- Copying and pasting your list from Excel.
- Importing contacts from your Mac Address Book with the help of our OSX app, MailChimp Import.
- Importing directly from a third-party application or program that integrates with MailChimp. Full more details about our available integrations, visit our Integrations Directory. If your contacts are stored in an application or program that doesn’t currently integrate with MailChimp, refer to that program’s support documentation or customer support team for assistance in getting a CSV file of the contacts.
- Importing contacts using MailChimp’s API. The API is for experienced programmers and developers. If you don’t currently have someone that can assist with this, consider reaching out to one of our for-hire third-party MailChimp Experts to lend a hand.
If you only need to add a single email address to your list, you can do so by clicking the add subscriber icon on the Lists page.
Stay in Touch With Your Fans
Building up a list of loyal followers and fans is a great start, but now what? MailChimp offers a variety of options for creating beautiful email campaigns so you can stay in touch with your fans and provide them with all the latest news surrounding you and your music. In this section, we’ll focus on a few of the tools that can be especially valuable for musicians.
Thanks to our integration with CASH Music, a nonprofit, open-source tool for musicians, you can incentivize your fans to sign up for your email list by offering them a free download in return. By integrating your MailChimp list with a CASH account, you can immediately deliver your fans a download of your choosing whenever they sign up for your MailChimp list. Let’s face it, everyone loves free stuff.
With the help of CASH's simple mode, available in the public beta of their hosted version, if you've got a MailChimp account and five minutes to spare, you can set up your own email-for-download campaign. Read our blog post for more information.
If you ever need to send a quick photo-based message to your subscribers—to announce a last minute concert or show off your newest merch, for example—check out MailChimp Snap for iPhone or Android. Once you’ve downloaded MailChimp Snap and connected it to your MailChimp account, you’ll take a photo (or select an existing photo from your camera roll or Instagram account) and add a quick link, title, message, and call to action button to your campaign. Then, select one of the available layouts, choose your recipients, and you’ll be ready to send the campaign. Once it's been sent, you'll have the option to share the campaign across your social media channels from directly within Snap, and the campaign will appear within both the Campaigns and Reports pages of your regular MailChimp account so you can track its progress.
Create an RSS campaign
If you have a tour diary or another blog connected to your website, you might want to set up an RSS campaign to help automate the process. RSS stands for “really simple syndication,” and it’s an easy way for people to follow your blog updates without having to check in routinely on your website to see if you’ve posted anything new. A blog can be a great tool, but many people prefer to read updates in their inboxes instead. MailChimp’s RSS campaigns provide an easy solution for automatically sending your new content via email. Here’s how to create one:
From your MailChimp dashboard, click the Create Campaign pull-down menu, and choose RSS Campaign.
Enter the URL of your RSS feed.
Decide how often you want the campaign to be delivered. You’ll have the option to choose between daily, weekly, or monthly updates, you can choose the day(s) and time you’d like the campaign to be sent, and you can choose to automatically resize your RSS feed images so they fit within your template. Click Next.
Choose the list and/or segment (we’ll explain more about these later) that will receive the campaign. Click Next.
Name your campaign, give it a subject, and review the additional options on the preferences screen. There’s also an option to auto-tweet or auto-post the campaign to Facebook from this screen. Click Next.
Choose a template for your campaign. MailChimp offers a variety of Basic templates and Themes in each account. If you’d prefer to design the template yourself or have custom HTML that you’d like to upload, you can do that here as well.
- Basic templates provide you with a highly-customizable blank layout, so you can easily add your own styles and content using the drag and drop functionality of our Email Designer.
- Themes are predesigned, preconfigured templates that don’t require any programming or design knowledge to get started. Simply pick a Theme, plug in your content, and you’ll have a beautiful campaign. Themes come in two varieties—“drag and drop” and “classic.” Drag and drop themes offer functionality similar to that of Basic templates, while only the color and content of the classic templates will be editable within the Email Designer. The template type will be displayed below each Theme, so you can easily differentiate between the two.
Use our handy merge tag cheatsheet if you want to customize how your RSS feed is displayed in your campaign. Click Enter Preview Mode under the Preview and Test menu to pull in live content and see exactly how your campaign will look when it’s delivered. You can also use Inbox Preview to see how your campaign will look across more than 40 different email clients, send tests of the campaign, or use our link checker tool to make sure all the links in your campaign are valid from this menu. After you’ve completed the campaign design process, click Next.
Confirm the details of your campaign, send one final test, and if everything looks good, click Start RSS. Your first campaign will be delivered after your next blog post and at the frequency you determined during setup.
RSS campaign FAQs
Why should I use MailChimp instead of FeedBurner for RSS-to-email newsletters?
FeedBurner is a great product, but we can do some things that it can’t. We provide tools like fully customizable templates, open and click tracking, bounce management, list cleaning, and spam-filter check. You can auto-tweet your campaigns from MailChimp; you can tie your Google Analytics account to MailChimp and see how your site traffic is affected by your email campaigns; you can even send email in a mobile-friendly format for people who read on their phones. Need more convincing? FeedBurner doesn’t allow you to choose when you send your RSS updates, but you can choose when to send by hour with MailChimp. You can personalize your newsletters with MailChimp’s merge tags; you can segment your campaigns by frequency and interests—and it’s completely free for lists under 2,000 subscribers.
My RSS feed isn’t working. Am I doing something wrong?
If you’re seeing a message that says your feed is invalid or the feed doesn’t seem to be pulling the expected content into your campaign, there are a few different factors that could be at play. This article covers the most common problems that folks experience while setting up their RSS campaigns in MailChimp.
Note: Sometimes, even when you've been careful to avoid all the common RSS pitfalls, a temporary connection-related issue will crop up just as you're ready to send, preventing the delivery of your campaign. So, when an RSS campaign fails to send due to a connection-related issue with the feed, we'll attempt to send the campaign 3 additional times. The first retry attempt will occur immediately, followed by 2 subsequent attempts in 20-minute intervals.
Will my old posts be emailed out in my first campaign?
When you first set up an RSS campaign, we show the last post that was added to your feed as an example. For daily sends, we won't send an email to your list until you post something new. Likewise for the weekly sends; if you've not posted for over a week, we won't send a weekly post until you make a new post. And similarly for monthly scheduled RSS campaigns in that if you've not posted for over a month, we won't send a monthly email until you make a new post. If this is your first send, we only send the posts from 24 hours before your campaign was activated for daily, from the last 7 days for weekly, and the past 30 days for monthly.
Will my campaign go out if I haven’t posted anything?
Nope. We only send campaigns when there’s new content in your feed. If you’ve set up a daily RSS campaign but didn’t post anything today, a campaign would not go out tomorrow.
How can I update, edit and pause my RSS campaigns?
To update, edit, or pause your RSS campaign, visit the Campaigns page in your account. Click the Filter button and choose RSS campaigns from the Type drop down menu. Locate the campaign you want to update, and click Edit to make changes. If the campaign is currently active, you’ll need to Pause it before you can make any changes. This can be done by clicking the drop-down menu next to the View Report button for the campaign you’d like to edit and choosing Pause. Keep in that mind once a campaign has been paused, you’ll need to revisit the Confirm step of the campaign builder and click the Start RSS button before it will start sending again.
Automation is a feature that's available in all paid MailChimp accounts that allows you to create a series of targeted emails that automatically send when triggered by a date, event, or subscriber activity. We've built several Automation workflows that are designed specifically for musicians and record labels, so you can get in touch with your fans at just the right time. Here's a quick recap:
- The Download workflow is used to send an email or series of emails when a listener purchases or downloads your music. This makes it easy to thank fans for their support or suggest to other songs that they might enjoy.
- The Fan Orientation: Band workflow is used to send an email or series of emails to welcome fans to your band’s email list, share news, and offer free downloads. This workflow can make it easy to share all of the latest news about your band and offer an exclusive download
- The Fan Orientation: Record Label workflow is used to send an email or series of emails to welcome fans to your label’s email list. This workflow is designed to help record labels introduce fans to artists on the label and offer exclusive downloads from the most popular acts.
Social networking can be an excellent medium for promoting your content and connecting with your audience. Through the use of our sharing features, merge tags, and integrations, MailChimp makes it easy for email marketers to use social networks to their advantage.
Use merge tags—along with the Social Share and Social Follow content blocks in our Email Designer—to give your subscribers an opportunity to share, like, or follow your content and activity across various social channels.
Social Profiles is an optional paid add-on for lists that gathers publicly available social data about your subscribers that can be used to send targeted emails to them based on their age, gender, or their presence on social networks.
Share Your Music
We’ve already covered the CASH Music integration, but what if you want to share a song or music video in a regular campaign?
While we can’t let you attach files to your emails and send them to thousands of subscribers, we have a fast and simple way to achieve the same effect—we’ll host the files for you and link back to them in your emails, all from inside MailChimp.
To include a file in your MailChimp campaign:
Highlight the relevant text in your email. For example, you might highlight a sentence like “Download the new song” or “Check out the video.” We suggest indicating the size and file type as a courtesy.
With the text highlighted, click the Link button.
From the Link to drop-down menu, choose the File option.
Click Upload and choose a file from your computer.
Once the file is uploaded, click the Insert button.
MailChimp will host the file for free on our CDN servers and track how many times it was clicked. We’ll even let you know who clicked to download in your campaign reports. For more information about our File Manager (including how to access and organize files), refer to this article.
Share Your Videos
As a musician, there will probably be times when you’ll want to share a music video or a video of a live performance directly within your email. Embedding video into HTML email can be unreliable, but MailChimp offers a few easy workarounds.
If you're building a campaign with one of our drag and drop templates, the Video content block will allow you to easily share and add captions to videos; we'll even automatically pull in a thumbnail image if the video is hosted on YouTube or Vimeo.
Our video merge tags—available for popular video hosting services like YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, Blip.tv, or Vzaar—will automatically generate an image of the video player and link it to your video online. When a subscriber receives your email and clicks the image, they’ll be able to watch the video in a new browser window.
Once you’ve uploaded a video to one of the aforementioned video hosting sites, grab your video ID. The video ID will consist of letters and/or numbers, depending on the service provider, and can be usually found at the end of the video’s URL.
Paste the video ID into our video merge tag.
For example, here’s the YouTube merge tag before we included the video ID:
Let's say that the full URL of your video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ. When we grab the video ID from the URL, the merge tag will look like this:
That’s all there is to it. MailChimp will find the video, take a still image, and overlay a few video-control elements to make it look playable. When subscribers click on the image, it will take them to the YouTube-hosted version of the video.
Target Your Audience
MailChimp makes it easy to get the word out about upcoming tour dates to the fans who want to know. If you’re playing a show in Atlanta, for example, you can send a targeted campaign exclusively to people near Atlanta, rather than sending to your entire list.
Segment by location
If you’re collecting location data from your subscribers as they sign up, then you can easily segment and send to your list based on those identifiers. It’s perfect for concert announcements. Here’s how:
From the MailChimp dashboard, click Create Campaign.
Select which list you’d like to send to and select Send to a new segment.
The segmenting options available will ultimately depend on the fields you’ve set up in your list, but potential options include segmenting by city, state, and proximity to zip code.
Once a segment has been created, the list count will update to reflect the number of people that the campaign will be sending to. Now, you’re ready to create a new campaign let your fans know when you’re playing near their town.
Looking for another great way to segment by location? With our Geolocation tool, you can set up a campaign to send to anyone on your list within a 200-mile radius of any point on the globe. Here’s how:
- Segment your list by specifying a location.
- Select a radius of 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, or 200 miles around that location.
- Click the Validate location button to verify the location on the map. Click Use this location.
You can segment by lots of other criteria, too—anything that you have set up in your signup form can be used to segment your list. For example, if you’re playing an all-ages show, you can segment by age to let your younger fans know that they’ll finally be able to see you live. You can also segment by Date Added to send a thank-you note to everyone who signed up at your last show.
If you want to target your list subscribers with even greater precision, check out MailChimp Pro's exclusive Advanced Segmentation feature. Advanced Segmentation allows you to combine any and all logic in a single segment; create complex segments based on purchase history, email and website activity, demographics, and more; and incorporate as many combinations of this data as you need to define a specific group of customers and fans.
For more information, refer to our Advanced Segmentation Guide.
Case Study: Learn how Rockhouse Partners uses geolocation to promote music festivals.
Engage Your Fans
As a musician, your mailing list is a valuable resource. Your subscribers care enough about what you’re doing that they want to be regularly updated, so it’s important to track your interaction with them. MailChimp has several features that give you a better idea of where your fans are located and how your campaigns are reaching them.
Tracking Facebook "likes" and Eepurl activity
MailChimp’s Social Stats allow you to watch your campaigns make their way around Facebook. To find out how many people have Liked your campaigns, visit the Reports section from your MailChimp dashboard. Select a campaign and click Social.
Like stats are located under Facebook Activity and organized by subscriber. You can see how many times each subscriber liked your campaign, and how many other likes they generated.
You’ll also notice an EepURL Activity section on the Social page of your campaign reports. When you auto-post or auto-tweet your campaign, we’re sharing a shortened EepURL link instead of a long campaign archive link. We’ll track all of those clicks and display the top ten referrers generating traffic to the link as well as where across the world those links are being clicked.
Click performance and click mapping
A great way to measure the engagement of your subscribers is to track which links they’re clicking within your email and how often they’re clicking them.
Visit the Reports section of a recently sent campaign.
The Click Performance tab will provide a list of all links present in your campaign and show you the number of total and unique clicks.
The Click Map tab will display an image of your campaign and provide a visual representation of all links that are present.
This will allow you to experiment with different link styles and locations to see which are more successful in your campaigns. Do people respond better to links near the top of the email? Do they like to click on images? Try different layouts—using features like MailChimp's standard A/B Testing or MailChimp Pro's Multivariate Testing—to discover what works best for you.
Lots of great music folks use MailChimp. Below are a couple examples. Visit inspiration.mailchimp.com for many more.
In this guide, we've discussed many of the features and tools that can help musicians get the most out of MailChimp, but there are a few more important topics left to cover.
Make sure the intent of the signup form is clearly stated. All potential subscribers should understand that, by submitting their contact information through the form, they are agreeing to receive bulk email from you.
“Contact Us,” “Apply For A Quote,” or “More Information” forms are not considered an acceptable opt-in method for bulk emails. These forms generally indicate a one-to-one email, not permission to be added to a bulk mailing list.
Email addresses collected verbally, from personal address books, from business cards, or from social media/LinkedIn followers are not considered viable opt-in methods, due to their lack of tangible, verifiable proof of consent.
We do not allow any kind of third party lists in our system. This includes publicly available, purchased, rented, or partner lists.
The CAN-SPAM Act requires that a physical address be present in all sent campaigns. This can be a challenge for artists and musicians. Since you probably do not want to use your home address, it’s often better to use the address of another person or organization that you’re affiliated with. We recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any specific questions about the validity of a potential address in regards to the CAN-SPAM laws, but below are a few ideas that have worked for MailChimp users.
- Do you have a manager, a lawyer, or representation of some kind? They may have a PO Box where you can receive mail and may allow you to use their address as your address.
- If you practice at a rehearsal studio and they accept mail on behalf of bands, you can use the main address of your practice space.
- Are you an artist in residence at a club? If they can accept mail for you, you may be be able to use the club's address on your campaigns.
- Do you teach guitar lessons at a local music store? If you receive mail at the store, you may be able to use the store's address.