Mailing lists: are they dead? This simple question sparked a funny exchange on one ofthe panels at this year's SXSW.  As soon as one of the panelists declared them dead and buried, another panelist jumped in to say he uses theirs all of the time. In fact it was the most effective way to message their fans. So which is it? Are they dead or indispensable? The answer, of course, depends on...

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Mailing lists: are they dead? This simple question sparked a funny exchange on one of the panels at this year's SXSW. As soon as one of the panelists declared them dead and buried, another panelist jumped in to say he uses theirs all of the time. In fact it was the most effective way to message their fans.

So which is it? Are they dead or indispensable?

The answer, of course, depends on your circumstances. And, it will depend, in part, on these three questions:

1. Does your income justify a mailing list?

Thanks to spammers, only certain sites are whitelisted to allow users to send out mass emails. This means if you want to have a mailing list, you'll need to pay third party services like MailChimp and ConstantContact to do so. While these services have limited free options, typically they cost about $20-$45 a month, depending on the number of people on your mailing list. The main question then is whether you can make more than you spend on the list. If you can afford it, then it may be worth it to get and maintain a list.

2. Do you play live?

Live bands have a strong reason to have a mailing list. In fact, the panelist who was in favor of the mailing lists was a live show promoter. A list can get people to shows, which can boost your live show income. If you've created a killer live show -- whether it's on stage or online -- your fans will want to know when and where you're playing, and they'll be happy to receive the email when you do. Especially if you're selling out your live shows. And, the amount of people on your list can serve as social proof of your potential draw, which venues are always interested in.

3. Do your fans use email?

It's possible the best way to get a message to your fans isn't via email. Younger people are far less likely to use email while older people do since they tend to live on email for work. If your fans are younger, you may be better off using social or mobile media or other messaging systems.

Keep in mind people are spammed by retailers and other sources on a daily basis, so if you decide to have an email list, make the subject lines intriguing and the content on-target. Also, don't mail more often than you need to. If you play live, then your mailings should be triggered by your show calendar's needs.

Most importantly, if you decide to maintain a list, always be building it. Naturally, you'll do this on your website and through social media, but also don't waste the opportunities you have when you're in person, in front of your fans. Ask people to join your mailing list in the real world as well as the web.

Related:

#marketing #mailinglist #email #newsletters #socialmedia #faninteraction

Photo credit: Bogdan Suditu