The lists that never end

This is the first in our new Marketing Mondays series, appearing two or three times a month, and designed to give a pep talk to our readers and encourage you to be more proactive about promoting all of your projects.  Have ideas or things that have worked for you? Please comment — we’d love to hear from you.


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So you’re a solo artist.  Even if you spend most of your days working in ensembles, performing at other people’s gigs, your career and your following are still your own.

For this reason (and many others), there are two lists every artist should maintain on their own, and throughout their careers:

  1. Mailing list:  The list of email, mailing addresses and phone numbers (with “text OK?” info) for the people who care about your work.  You probably already have some version of this.  Let’s make it official.
  2. Media list:  The list of local, online, national and even global news contacts that you would send press releases to.  It needs to be fairly organized, as you’ll probably send each announcement to a different combination of contacts.  Include links for online submissions (if that’s what they prefer), deadline information (so you can stay ahead of the game), and personal contact information for the reporters, bloggers and editors you’ve worked with or followed.

Both lists are easy, if you keep up with them: it can probably be done in 10-30 minutes a week, and probably less.

Keep your lists in just about any secure format you wish:

  • Add a separate category for each list in your digital address book — a new group in Google Contacts will do the trick.
  • If you must keep the lists separate from the contacts database you’re already maintaining (we hope), setting up an Excel file (or a spreadsheet in Google Docs) will give you lots of flexibility in how you use and sort the information — use separate tabs, Pivot Tables, color coding and more to create the file you want to use.
  • Store the file in the cloud, so you can access it from anywhere.  Be sure to encrypt the file before uploading, to keep your contacts’ information safe.
  • Are you a Luddite?  Fine — buy an address book that has replaceable pages, and makes it easy to update entries.  Pick whatever you’ll use and update.

Most importantly, be prepared to adapt as needed.  Lists will need to evolve into new forms from time to time.  Just keep up the good work!

The Rules

  1. Do not share, rent or sell these lists.  They’re yours, and they represent not just information, but the relationships you’ve developed over time.  Respect the privacy of those included and the work you’ve done by keeping the lists to yourself.
  2. Your mailing list must be permission-based.  This means that you do not add people without their OK.  Even better, encourage them to sign up on their own, and make it even easier for them to unsubscribe, anytime.  This is part of complying with the CAN-SPAM act (yes, it’s a real thing), but mostly it’s just good business.  Take care of your people by taking care of their info and giving them the power they deserve.
  3. Update regularly — a weekly habit makes it easy.  For a lot of things (e.g. new name, new email address), making the change immediately is best.  For everything else, a weekly habit makes it easy.  Put a basket on your desk and drop notes, envelopes, etc. in one place, so you can tackle it promptly. This can include notes such as “submit event listings three weeks ahead” (for a media contact) or “moved out of the area” (for a fan).  Use a Notes field for these reminders, and CHECK THEM when you prep a mailing.

That’s it.  Really.  If you keep up with this, you can send notes to fans and press whenever you’re working on something special.  Be organized, so you can be ready when it matters.  You’ll thank yourself later.


This week’s goal

Get started.  If you don’t have a mailing list and/or media list, start one now.  Line up your existing contacts (with their blessing) and gather their current info.  Just start setting it up, and lay out a plan to get it organized over the next month or so.  Get some help if you need to.  You can do this!

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