bulk email newsletters: a necessary evil of the indie rock musician?

Here are my kids on the stage of the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis last week. Apparently, one of the prices one must pay to enjoy a career on stage is to utilize the bulk email newsletter marketing tool.

For those of you who are subscribed to the Jonathan Rundman email newsletter list, please accept my apologies: I do believe that earlier this evening I sent out many hundreds of messages announcing my newly updated bulk email system, only to find out that there was no text in the body of the message, AND no functional page for recipients to unsubscribe. Teetering at the brink of spamming is bad enough, but it's worse when the newsletter is text-less and non-functioning.

I'm trying out a free service called PHPlist, because it's free and I've seen other bands use it correctly. I certainly have not got it right, however, so I'm gonna keep tweaking in the hopes of making it work. Sorry, again, for any unwanted and unusable emails you may get from me.

This reminds me in the earliest days of my bulk email newsletters in the late '90s sometime. I had sent out a newsletter update with a few hundred email addresses in the "To" window, and not blind carbon-copied. Man, did I get a chewing out from that! (Rightly so.) It's tough being a non-techie, low-grade internet user, and trying to figure out everything myself. I'm like a baby at the wheel of a snowplow.

Other musicians I know have excellent and professional email newsletters courtesy of services like Constant Contact and My Newsletter Builder, BUT both of those sites require payment! It would work out to about $20 a month for me to send messages using a pay service...and I'm just not sure it's worth over $100 a year to have this kind of communication. Plus, I'm already paying to host www.jonathanrundman.com, plus a PO Box, and a bunch of other lame businessy expenses. Makes me want to quit everything except the free sites like MySpace and this blog, and keep my costs lean and mean.

This annoyance makes me want to say "Screw it! If people really want to find out what I'm doing, they can just come to my webpage, read my blog, and search me out themselves. Everybody hates piles of junk email anyway!" But of course, marketing research would say that folks like me need to constantly reach out to their audience, remind them that I'm on tour, have a new CD, whatever. Aaaagh! I'm sick of trying to figure it out.

The last time I whined about the music business on this blog, a reader (anonymously) posted some scolding comments like "Stop your complaining and be thankful that you can even work as a musician....most musicians have day jobs to finance their music dreams, which they do for the joy of it" etc., etc. And I see that point, so I'm hesitant to write a post like this, but I figure, hey, this is one aspect of what musicians struggle with in reality, so I'll just throw it out there. If you don't know me well enough to know how grateful I am for how things have gone, then we'll both just have to live with it.


Huh. I'm often clueless, but I got the blank email and figured that it meant that I was still on your list.

And, you're right, most of us just check the website or the blog.

Fear not! It would take more than a blank email to scare your fans away.
Anthony said…
i'm an artist, not a musician, but there is some over lap, complaining about the mechanics of doing buisness is a good thing:

1) it means that people who have better information can give it to you
2) it means the provider of a service can improve it
3) it builds communities (much of the work done by indies, esp. indies in the mid west (i am in edmonton) is profoundly boring and isolating, so writing about this problem, might mean that others have a similar problem, or that they can talk about the problems with bulk mailing,or what ever.
4) it provides catharsis
5) it suggests you are human, people fuck up, its all okay.

thanks for the blogs, and for the mp3s.

i came from this site via the radosh blog, and bought the sound theology album right away, i found the mp3s on the blog moving and would love to write about yr work, most likely for left hip.
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