• Phil McDonald

The importance of a website and mailing list.

This week I'm going to look at one of the most, if not the most important tool available to you. It's often overlooked but is so important. It might sound obvious but having your own website is a bit of a must. It's a central place for both you and your supporters and one which you can use for a number of functions. Although it's perfectly easy to function without a website, having one can make all the difference. However, let's step back a few years before the rise of Facebook and other platforms.

With the rise of social media, traditional websites have taken a bit of of a back seat for local bands and gigging singer-songwriters. I remember back in the early 00's bands would compete to see who could have the best website, the most flashy graphics and the holy grail, a message board. Oh and that little visitor counter which you could fiddle to make it look like your site had received thousands of visits already. Artists would use their sites for news, gig listings, and fan interaction. You would also have some of your songs on there if you were serious although with dial-up internet connections getting them to play was another battle altogether.

Jump forward a decade or so and Facebook pages were all the rage. Prior to this Myspace had been the thing but died a death and the unstoppable march of Facebook continued. As practically everyone had a Facebook profile, setting up an artist page was easy which enabled the same functions of the old school website, news, announcements, gig listings etc. So for a lot of people building (and paying for) a website went out of the window in many respects. The Facebook page was easy to maintain and easy to grow both organically or with paid adverts. So with all of this in mind, why the need for a bespoke website?

In one word, ownership. I mentioned Myspace earlier, younger readers probably won't remember the buzz that was Myspace but musicians flocked to it and set up profile pages with news, and music etc and promoted the page as much as possible. People followed pages and as an artist, it was easy for you to send out a message to all your followers with any big announcements or gig news for example. And then, practically overnight, everyone lost all their followers. Including famous and semi-famous artists. Some change or problem at Myspace wiped them all out and the platform never recovered. The point here is that many artists went from having the ability to contact many many fans easily to having no ability to contacting fans. Do you see the problem?

With your own website and mailing list, you maintain control of this. It's your site and assuming you have a separate, properly administered mailing list, you have the ability to send out communications to all of your supporters. Facebook doesn't let you do this incidentally, and after a recent algorithm change, Facebook's organic reach now only goes to about 13% of your followers. Facebook can and do change the rules whenever they want meaning in order to reach more people, you have to pay. Maintaining a mailing list is easy using one of the many providers out there such as Mailchimp or Convertkit. You can easily integrate a signup form into your website and start building your list from day one. You then have the ability to send stuff out whenever you like to people on your list.

To conclude, having a website and mailing list is a must, it's not just a great promotional and marketing tool, it's great for selling your records and merch and is a focal point for your supporters. Websites are so easy to build these days thanks to the likes of Wix and Squarespace amongst others, and adding a mailing list sign up form is also very straightforward. Gone are the days of having to know or pay a web designer or needing to have in-depth knowledge of HTML in order to have your own website. It's never been easier to do it yourself so what's stopping you?

Have you got a website and mailing list? Do you use it to its full potential?

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