Stay in touch with members and audiences (performing groups)

We know that many of our performing groups feel like a family or close friendship group, and their members will be missing their weekly meet-ups and often various additional social occasions, too, which so many groups organise.

Furthermore, some groups will have a loyal audience who will be missing their regular dose of live music, and meeting their friends and group members at concerts, whilst lockdown is on.

Online meet-ups are something many groups have experimented with (see our How To Zoom guide) but another good way to keep in touch with both members and audiences, to let them know that you haven’t forgotten about them and to encourage them to come back when all this is over, is by newsletter.

Send an email newsletter

A regular email newsletter will help to keep you in the mind of your members or audiences, and can build your relationship with them by sharing content that reflects your shared interests. It can also be used to encourage and inspire group members to keep singing or playing, and to take advantage of (potentially) more time on their hands to really nail a particular technique or develop their learning by ear. Could you even use it gently to persuade some to give the online world a try?

Some things to consider:

  • Emails could be weekly, fortnightly, monthly – you decide what is achievable for you and your group.
  • The format could simply be a ‘normal’ email using your usual email package such as Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo that you format with bold text headings, paragraphs and links.  But if you want more design or to make it look more professional, you could use a bulk email tool to create your newsletter.
  • Bulk email tools such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact or MailerLite provide email templates, data management (ensuring recipient data is kept private, and they always have the right to unsubscribe), scheduling, and often have a free plan or charity discounts available. If you have a list of subscribers (e.g. in a spreadsheet) you can normally bulk import them into your chosen email tool rather than adding them one by one. You can find out more about setting up an email platform in our Email Marketing Top Tips.
  • Remember the data protection and email communication regulations.
    • In all mass emails, however sent, you should always include a route to unsubscribe if recipients would like to.
    • If you use your own email to send from, ensure you place all recipient addresses in the BCC field so that no personal data is shared.
    • Mass emails should only be sent to those who have explicitly opted in to receive them (unless they are administrative); there has not been a slackening of these regulations during the corona outbreak. However, given the unprecedented situation and what may be considered a legitimate interest by those who have engaged with your group in other ways that they are no longer able to, you might decide it’s worth finding ways to try to include people you don’t normally email:
      • People you have always emailed: if you have always emailed people, then it is fair to assume you can carry on emailing people as you always have.
      • People who have specifically asked not to be emailed: if they have opted out in the past, then you should respect that and not send them the newsletter. But if you think some people might be glad of some contact at the moment, you could use your judgement on a case by case basis and contact them individually explaining you are starting a newsletter and would they like to be included? Make clear it is only temporary whilst the current situation lasts.
      • People who you don’t normally email who have never explicitly opted in or out: without explicit opt in you should not send a mass email, but given the exceptional circumstances you might consider sending a first email to these people with an introductory note explaining why you are contacting them now and that they can opt-in if they want.
      • It should be noted that the last 2 points above do carry a small risk that they could offend people and lead to complaints, so you should balance that against the potential gains.

You may want to consider two different newsletters depending on whether you are communicating with your members, or your audiences. 

Firstly think about what you want to achieve with the newsletter/s, e.g.

  1. friendly cheering up communication for those who are missing their social interaction
  2. providing resources for everyone to keep singing or playing during lockdown, e.g. links to videos or practice apps, or exercises, or the music for the next concert!
  3. providing nice musical content for everybody to enjoy in their lockdown
  4. reminding everybody what lovely events you have organised in the past and what they can look forward to at the end of this

Secondly, you will undoubtedly write in a different way to your group members who you will probably have known personally, often for a number of years, than you will to your audience members who you may be unknown to you, apart from a name and an email or postal address.

Both those things together – understanding your audience and being clear about what you want to achieve will help you write in the right tone and decide what content you want to include.

Content – for group members

  • Social: If the social element is important, then include a short chatty paragraph and invite them to email you their news, and maybe photos, or to interact with each other on your Facebook page or via Twitter or WhatsApp. You could offer to help anyone who finds it difficult to get online/use Zoom.
  • Musical content: lots of professional organisations are providing free archive recordings or timed streamings of operas and concerts, e.g. the Berlin Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera etc. Enjoy yourself finding some highlights and sharing one or two in each newsletter; or follow our Facebook, Twitter, or Staying Connected resource for content ideas to share.
  • Practice content: ask your MD what they can provide to keep group members working on their singing or playing – exercises for the flexibility of lips, how to improve reading music or sightsinging, apps that help develop technique, musical challenges etc.
  • Musical content specific to your group:
    • Can you find professional groups or artists performing some of your best-loved repertoire?
    • What about links to amazing brass players/singers/violinists/ukulele virtuosos?
    • Remind group members of your glorious past events – write a couple of sentences about the last Christmas concert/bandstand event in the pouring rain
    • Point forward to events planned for the future – if possible, ask your MD to decide the programme now and get members practicing.
  • Reader contributions: Asking your readers to engage and contribute is a good way for them to feel more connected to the newsletter and your group:
    • Include an invitation to come up with suggestions for future songs/pieces to rehearse and perform
    • Ask for ideas for future newsletter content
    • Ask for specific content such as 100 words on their favourite musical memory or how and what music is helping them through lockdown
    • You could run these as competitions – best entry wins… a term’s free subscription?
  • Fun items: there is plenty of scope for small fun items to keep people entertained. There are lots of online quizzes (music related or not) you could point people towards and you can also build your own word searches using free online tools.

Content – for your audiences

  • Starting with a short chatty paragraph about the group, its members and how they are faring in lockdown will help convey the human face of your group.  
  • Musical content: as above, there is much content to be found and shared. This content could be ‘general’ or specific to the genre or type of music your group performs, e.g. jazz or early music, Barbershop etc.
  • Musical content specific to your group:
    • Remind your audiences of the concerts from the last season and/or any other highlights. Do you have clips of your group performing any of the repertoire that you were going to present at any events that have now been cancelled? Or maybe you can find other groups’ videos online of songs or pieces you have also performed?
    • Point forward to concerts planned for the next season and send your readers links to those pieces or songs, explain why you are choosing certain pieces – what are the challenges and rewards? You want to whet their appetite and encourage them to buy tickets!
  • Reader contributions: Asking your readers to engage and contribute is a good way for them to feel more connected to the newsletter and to your group:
    • You could include an invitation to your audiences to suggest pieces they would like the group to perform in future
    • Ask for specific content such as 100 words on their favourite musical memory or how and what music is helping them through lockdown
    • You could run these as competitions – best entry wins free tickets!
  • Fun items: As above, there is plenty of scope for small fun items to keep people entertained.

Remember, this is a slow burn, so don’t give them all your content in week 1; plan it over a number of weeks, e.g. monthly between now and beginning of September.

Stay in touch with your postal mailing lists

We know that some groups keep in touch with some of their group members and audiences by post, and although everything seems to be going digital at the moment, it’s important not to forget those who prefer their contact the traditional way.

  • Create a postal newsletter using some of the content from your email newsletter. You probably won’t want to send this as regularly as an email newsletter – your postal version could even be a one off! – but your postal audience will feel loved.
  • To give this a more designed look you could use one of the newsletter templates in Word (to find these in Word go to ‘file’ then ‘new’).
  • Encourage your postal audience to use this downtime as an opportunity to explore your online offering, getting themselves onto email and social media so that you can keep in more regular contact with them.
  • You could offer specific help to members with getting online – someone on the phone for 20 minutes could transform their life, especially during lockdown, and especially if they are living on their own.

Don’t forget that you can also share much of this content on your social media channels and encourage people to sign up to your newsletter/s in the process. Boosting your online presence at this time will also help you to reach out to potential new members and start building a new audience. Check out our social media resources for hints and tips.

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.