Wednesday, January 12

10 Ways to Trade a Song for an Email Address

 I measure my success as a recording artist by the growth of my mailing list. The best way to get someone to subscribe is to offer something in return, and a great song is a powerful incentive. Here are ten techniques to negotiate that delicate exchange:

1. The classic squeeze page. You’ve probably stumbled onto one of these before: a fine-tuned infomercial-style pitch with a clear call to action and no exit links. The sole goal of the site, often just a single page, is to generate conversions. In our case, a conversion means “squeezing” an email address out of a potential fan. Seamus Anthony describes the method here and demonstrates it using his own music here. It may do the trick for first-time visitors, but returning fans have no clear path to explore the rest of your content.

2. The homepage squeeze. Identical to the classic squeeze page, except for a small link that takes you to the rest of the site. Returning fans are forced to opt out every visit – an annoying speed bump. Then again, if the free song is rotated often enough, it may encourage repeat visits. Theoretically, a site could use cookies to bypass the squeeze page for return visitors, but I don’t know of any service or WordPress plugin that does it.

3. The “free mp3 download” page. This is my current strategy, but there’s definitely room for improvement. An SEO friendly “” URL and clever use of keywords can pull in traffic from Google searchers trying to freeload your music. While a simple “free mp3s” link in your site’s navigation isn’t distracting for repeat visitors, it’s easy to overlook. Still, I’m not going to force my fans to jump through hoops every time they want to post a comment.

4. The fan club. Thomas Dolby offers two full EPs exclusively to registered members of his forum. This soft sell approach encourages die-hard fans to join the conversation, but I doubt it pulls in much new blood. If your focus is to satisfy your existing fanbase, fan club exclusives offer a surefire way to retain their love and devotion.

5. The widget. Your mailing list service should provide a widget to gather fan addresses (I use ReverbNation’s FanReach, but FanBridge is another great choice). You’ll obviously need it for the squeeze page of your site. If you’re still sporting a MySpace page, you’ll want to embed it there as well. On sites where you can’t embed a widget, you can link directly to the signup form. ReverbNation and FanBridge provide every artist with a landing page to send potential subscribers to (for example, mine is here).

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