Zero To Hero, Part 9: Why The Humble Newsletter Is A DJ’s Secret Weapon

Lauren Andio
Read time: 5 mins
Last updated 11 April, 2018


By now (if you’ve executed on everything in this series), you’re getting there financially thanks to micro income streams, and producing quality content is second nature, meaning you’re attracting attention to your DJing.

People recognise you on the street thanks to your aesthetic, and your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts are buzzing with activity. Heck, you’re on top of your game because you know how to manage it all!

Yet everything we’ve done on social media so far won’t mean much if you can’t contact your best fans when you need to get the word out, whether that’s a massive gig announcement or a tune you’ve been working on for months.

Problem is, on social there are algorithms and extraneous variables outside our control that heavily influence our success. But a newsletter? Social networks can’t touch that!

Email is still the best way to nurture relationships beyond the obvious platforms. The people who sign up are the ones who will wear your T-shirts, buy your music and go to your gigs. You need to do this – so read on for our email best practices…

Get fans on the list

Before you can send a newsletter, you need people to send it to. The best way to achieve this is by giving them immediate value. In the marketing world these are called “lead magnets”, but we’ll just call them “gifts”. A link to exclusive mixes or cheaper tickets to stuff are a good start (more later).

Give them something

It’ll be tempting to snag every email address you see, though keep in mind you can only legally send emails to addresses that people voluntarily give away and know what they’e signing up for – in the EU the law has tightened considerably, so follow the best practices of the company you use.

Anyway, it’s bad etiquette to do otherwise and you’ll get thrown in the spam folder (or worse)! Your first task is getting those addresses, but how? Honestly, bribery works best. Think how often you’ve given away your email address for nothing in return. Now think how easy it is when there’s incentive. So easy!

Bribery shouldn’t be ill-intentioned of course; it all goes back to the value first approach. What will your fans want up front, so they can join your newsletter and continually receive awesome stuff? Give them that. For DJ/producers such as yourself, it’ll likely take form as a free track download or new mixtape not available anywhere else. The important part is exclusivity. They want something no one else has, and it’s your job to provide it. Should be pretty easy if you’re creating content, yeah?

Get those email addresses

Great! You have your “bribe” in mind and it’s perfect. There’s still a crucial step before you can send it to them. Your audience has to opt in. They can do this at your gigs or online, it doesn’t matter, as long as the destination is your newsletter and they did it on purpose.

If you have a website, put a form on there (instructions come with services such as MailChimp, mentioned later); they’re on your site already, so there’s a decent chance they’ll want more.

You should also have a Facebook Page by now where you can add a tab for “email sign-ups” and utilise the audience you’ve built there for more newsletter friends.

Playing a gig? This is one of the best places to get email sign-ups. Then again, the accuracy of the addresses depends on their inebriation level, but alas, people will love you most during and straight after a gig, so ask them. Have a signup list near the booth or have a friend nearby to help. Something like “Want to know about future events, secret parties, and get a free recording of tonight’s set?” should work.

Come up with a catchy title for your newsletter and let your fans know what it’s about. This is an example of the TinyLetter sign-up page your future email friends will see, so customise it and make them click “subscribe”.

Take it a step further and pose for photos with the audience, then let them know the picture will be featured in your newsletter later this week. Keep good on your promise of course, but few people can resist a cool photo of them hanging out with the talent, especially if it’s featured somewhere.

Give away small ticket items too: stickers, pins, and patches with your branding on them are small prices to pay for an email address. Plus, people love free stuff and they’ll put it on their things. That means you get free advertising, so it’s a win for all.

Start and maintain a regular newsletter

Sign up for a newsletter service

The one we’re using as an example is TinyLetter (by MailChimp), however feel free to use whichever service fits your needs and style. They’re all relatively simple to set up and walk you through sending your first email from start to finish. Try one or a few out for free and choose your poison. You’ll be using this service regularly; don’t skimp on the decision process.

Keep the design simple

As with every other platform discussed, keep your branding consistent with your newsletter. People subconsciously associate designs with certain brands as long as it’s a regular thing. Be one of those brands. With that said, choose simple fonts and don’t overdo it.

Break up your sentences into paragraphs, use headers, add a few high quality images, and most importantly make it an email you’d want to read. It needs to be scannable, as most look through each email within a minute or less. The majority will read this on their phones, so a mobile friendly design is a must. Don’t forget to add links to your social media pages, website, Mixcloud, and so on to maximise cross promotion.

Choose your content wisely and be consistent

Take what you learned from YouTube and treat your newsletter as an ongoing series. Whether it’s once per month or twice a week, send out your emails on a regular schedule. Your readers will start looking forward to it and make it part of their routine. Give them something interesting each time and keep the topic specific. Event announcements, track previews, discounted tickets, opinion pieces and industry news are just a few areas you can discuss. As long as you aren’t overly promotional every single time and the content is educational or exciting, you’re good to go.

Look through your inbox. There’s a lot competing for your attention, but you click certain ones quicker than others. Which ones are they? Your email subject is the only way to get readers intrigued, so pick something on topic and catchy; something you’d click on scrolling through your email. Once they click through, make sure what they’re reading is actually what the subject promised, and avoid spelling and grammatical errors. You’ll also want to give them a clear unsubscribe option, ideally one that prompts them to reduce the frequency (rather than break up with you completely).

Lastly, write content in the first person so it feels more authentic. More than anywhere else, your readers want to feel like they’re part of something important and that you’re talking only to them. If they respond, take the time to give them something back. They’ll only care if they know you’re available on the other end.


You’ve built quite an audience, and now you have a compelling newsletter to cultivate that relationship beyond social media. Keep at it and you’ll have a healthy email list full of superfans in no time. Next up, we’ll show you how to use mixtapes, podcasts, and radio shows to spread the word.

Here are the other parts in this series:

What email newsletters do you subscribe to? What subject lines have made you click instantly? Share your thoughts with us below! 

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