We know that many of our promoters have a core, loyal audience - many of them their subscribers/members - who will be missing their regular dose of live music, and of meeting their friends at concerts, whilst lockdown is on.
But there are ways that you can keep in touch with them and your wider audience, to let them know that you haven’t forgotten about them and encourage them to come back when all this is over. You could even use this unwelcome and unpleasant situation to start building a new audience too.
Send an email newsletter
A regular email newsletter will help to keep you in your members and audiences mind, and can build your relationship with them by sharing content that reflects your shared interests. 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.
- Remember the data protection and email communication regulations. Mass emails should only be sent to those who have explicitly opted in to receive them. There has not been a slackening of these regulations during the corona outbreak: if you do not have an explicit opt-in you should not send mass emails. However, given the unprecedented situation and the increased isolation people are feeling, 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 send these people a personal, individual email 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.
- In all mass emails 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.
- 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.
Firstly think about what you want to achieve with the newsletter, e.g.
- friendly cheering up communication to your members/subscribers/audiences who are missing their social interaction at concerts
- providing nice musical content for everybody to enjoy in their lockdown
- reminding everybody what lovely concerts you have organised in the past and what they can look forward to at the end of this
Being clear about what you want to achieve will help you write in the right tone and decide what content you want to include. e.g.
- Social: If the social element is important, then include a short chatty paragraph about yourself and invite them to email you their news, and maybe photos, or to interact with each other on your Facebook page or via Twitter
- 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, maybe inviting views on which is the best/what your readers have enjoyed most, to stimulate interaction.
Follow our Facebook or Twitter, or have a look at our Staying Connected resource for links to content that may be of interest to share.
- Musical content specific to your group:
- Review the concerts from the last season and/or the ones you have had to cancel – are there clips of those artists available on their websites or YouTube that you could share with your readers? Remind them of the concert that the artist did for you and write a couple of sentences about it (‘remember we were all blown away by her performance of xx – you can hear an excerpt of it here etc.)
- Point forward to concerts planned for the next season and send your readers links to those artists’ websites and any available content, 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 your group:
- You could include an invitation to your readers to come up with suggestions for future concerts,
- 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 free tickets
- Interviews: Can you do a phone or Zoom/Skype interview with one of your past or future artists and include the result, or a short video clip, in your newsletter?
- 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.
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. fortnightly 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 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 an open Word document go to ‘file’ then ‘new’)
- You could include a written or typed up interview with one of your artists, talking about how they became a musician, their favourite music, future plans and much more.
- You could team up with some of your past and current artists to send CDs in the post – perhaps you could create a special offer?
- If printing and sending a mailing poses practical challenges, there are companies who can handle this for you. There is a cost of course, but if you do have funds available you can save yourself time and keep to social distancing and isolation rules. Costs vary depending on how many you order, but 50p to £1 per copy is reasonable. Google ‘mailing houses’ to find some options.
- Encourage your postal audience to explore your online offering, getting themselves onto email and social media so that you can keep in more regular contact with them. The coronavirus outbreak has led to an increase in digital activity by those who had not previously ventured online, and they may now welcome an email from you. Ask them to phone or email you to be added to the email list, you can note their response as permission to use their email.
Don’t forget that you can also share much of this content on your social media channels and use it to boost your online presence, encouraging people to sign up to your newsletter in the process. Check out our social media resources for hints and tips.
As well as an email or postal newsletter, you may want to organise an online social gathering, with drinks if you wish! Have a look at our How to Zoom guide to find out more about setting up online meetings.
We know that our member groups are thinking all the time of creative ways in which they can stay engaged with their audiences at this time – if you’ve tried something else that we haven’t mentioned here, please get in touch to tell us about it.
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.