For plenty of independent hip-hop artists out there, the whole online and digital world can be a bit overwhelming.

In between creating music and trying to make a living from their craft, independent rappers now have to master the digital side of things in order to promote themselves successfully.

There are so many online and social media channels out there that it can be tricky to figure out which one to focus on. In addition to the main channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, you now have Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and plenty more networks that no doubt drain your time and energy. 

The worst thing about having so many online channels is that it’s hard to gauge their effectiveness. What does a retweet or a Facebook like mean when you’re trying to build a real, organic fanbase?

That’s why if I had to pick just one channel to market to my audience, it would be my email subscriber list.

What many artists don’t realise is that your email subscriber database is probably the most valuable connection with your fanbase because these people are actively opting in to hear from you on a regular basis.

By signing up to your email newsletter, they’re saying – “Hey, please send us updates about your music because we want to know what’s going on.” Don’t you think that’s more important than having a ton of followers on Instagram or Snapchat?

Getting started with MailChimp

Setting up a subscriber list is just as easy as setting up an Instagram profile or YouTube account. I like using MailChimp – a super easy to use platform that comes in a free version and paid version, depending on which features you need for your marketing campaigns. 

Launched in 2001 and now being used by over 9 million people around the world, MailChimp is often the email marketing service of choice thanks to its user friendly interface and ability to manage subscriber lists, build email campaigns, and review campaign reports. 

Hopefully by now you have your own website – we already talked about how important it was for independent rappers to have their own website so we won’t go into that. After that, it’s just a matter of setting up an account with MailChimp and you can get started with sending out email marketing campaigns to your fanbase. 

Once you’ve got everything set up and you’re comfortable with sending out campaigns, here are a few tips on how you can grow your email subscriber list:

Social Media Promotion

You use Twitter, Facebook etc? Then you should be linking to your website all the time. It will be your main way of being heard and noticed for a start, and will provide you with an easier route forward in terms of how you will market your music and how you may feel moving forward.

One thing that always has to count, for example, is the power of using social media thanks to the fact that people will click through to your site from here.

So long as your site has your subscription list waiting there, then you can grow your list just by promoting your website. People will click through and sign up.

Guest Mailing

Go to websites and other artists who you are on good terms with and see if they have a mailing list. Sign up to that list and start listening to what they have to say and offer – it will take a bit of time to get used to, sure, but you’ll start to see how these people mail.

Do they talk about others much? If so, get in touch and see if you can get them to blast out your message in exchange for 10% of any sales made from the blasting or something. It pays to have friends, especially when building an e-mail list.

Get Blogging

People love an artist with a bit of style and personality and you can make that count for yourself by starting to blog. Create a blog and have every page linked up with your subscription list – just use the blog to talk about yourself, the industry etc.

Then, you’ll really start to notice the difference that getting into something like blogging can make. It gets you heard, and seen, and people will want to know more moving forward.

It’s all about being open, social and interesting – do this, and you can start to get noticed and watch that subscribers list as well.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.