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All I’ve been doing lately is trying to promote my upcoming shows (July 31 Ottawa! August 7 Toronto!) Previously I’ve been lazy about show promotion due to insecurity and shame but desperation has once again won out.

I’m pretty sensitive and protective towards people who subscribe to my mailing list. I don’t want to piss them off with bullshit updates or waste their time. This is mostly an issue when I have an occasional show – nobody cares if there’s a show far away from them that they can’t attend and it’s annoying to get those emails. So I built this mappy email signup thing which you can see on my live page.

I’ve built up a good number of email addresses in there and they’re targeted nicely. Anyone in there has specifically entered their email address and selected their location. That’s about as opt-in as it gets in this world. “Please contact me if Brad Sucks is in this area, no fooling.”

So while I went about contacting folks I tracked the event detail clickthroughs with a url shortener and the results were disappointing:

Listmessenger Ottawa 8%
Listmessenger Toronto 16%
MailChimp Ottawa 10%
MailChimp Toronto 3%
Eventful Ottawa 0%
Eventful Toronto 0%


First I sent email the way I usually do — I use Listmessenger from my server. I’ve had suspicions for some time that my mail was not getting to most people on the mailing list but I didn’t have anything super important going on so I didn’t stress about it.

The clickthrough rate for Ottawa was 8% and 16% for Toronto. From what I can see that’s not a bad rate for your average semi-spammy email list. But again – this one is as targeted as it gets. Why isn’t it much, much higher?


I have a decent number of demands over on Eventful. I’ve bitched before that they don’t give me access to my demanders’ email addresses (and was laughed at by the CEO for the suggestion I should have them if Eventful gets access to them). I sent out mail to my fans in areas in and around Ottawa and Toronto. For Ottawa and Toronto both I received zero clickthroughs. For Toronto I got 1.

I’m pretty shocked at that. What’s the deal? Did the emails bounce? Are the addresses invalid? Are the Eventful emails getting marked as spam? I have no way to know. You fire your message to people who have demanded you in the area and that’s that. Hope for the best.

Anyway I’ve put the Eventful widget up places (including my live page) thinking it couldn’t hurt but I think I’m done with that. No point gathering fans through a service if I can’t reach them.


Frustrated with these results I signed up for MailChimp. It’s a pay mailing list service that’s been highly recommended to me and they appear to have a great reputation. My best guess was that ISPs were maybe shitcanning my emails? Anyway, I bought some credits and sent out apologetic new versions of the emails to the same lists (removing anyone who replied that I knew had received the emails).

This time Ottawa got a clickthrough rate of 10% and Toronto got 3%. So it got me some extra eyeballs but it wasn’t a huge improvement.

In the end


Out of all the fans in and around Toronto and Ottawa who voluntarily gave me their locations I have been able to contact only 5%. Awful.

Of course I feel bad for selfish reasons – I want these shows to go well, I want lots of people to come out, I want them to be a success. I’ve rented the club in Toronto and I’d like to not lose money. And psychologically a lot is riding on them for me. These will likely determine if I go ahead with some tour plans next year.

But I also feel like I’m letting these folks down. They’ve specifically asked me to tell them if I’m playing near them, which is such a nice thing for them to ask. I’ve promised to tell them when I’m in town and now I feel like I’m not able to hold up my end of the deal. That sucks and I have no idea what to do about it.

Posted on - July 22, 2010 [at] 12:35 am by Brad
Tagged in - , ,

14 Comments on this post

Louie on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 12:45 am

I really wouldn’t mind getting info on all your shows, even if I have no chance of going to them. Whenever i see a tweet from you it reminds me of your music, and I usually end up listening to some of it. Emails would push those reminders too.

And if you ever make it out to Edmonton, beer’s on me.

MC Jack on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 2:11 am

try asking your subscribers to white list you. it might be that you are getting flagged by their ISP as spam.

Karen turner on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 6:12 am

Keep in mind that open rates depend on images being enabled and the email being fully opened (not just viewed in the preview pane). Both of which do not need to happen to have peeps read your email and see your message about upcoming shows. Your best bet is to keep using social media to promote and ask people to share/RT for you. Word will get out.

aharden on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 7:08 am

I wouldn’t mind more emails either.

Knowing what I know about your history and fan base, I’d think this might be a job for Twitter (or and hashtags.

Matthew Larsen on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 7:19 am

As a music fan, if it’s a band or musician I like, I kind of like getting a digest email promoting maybe 3-5 shows at a time, even if they’re nowhere near me. If I know they’re playing and I have friends in that city, I can give my friends a heads up… “hey, Brad Sucks has a show, you should go see it!” Clickthrough rate is sort of a so-so indicator. Plenty of people still read the emails even though they don’t click or download the images.

dria on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 7:39 am

MailChimp is a great service, yeah, but the problem here is that email has become a gawdawful wasteland that, for me (and I have more stringent mail filtering than many) is mostly just garbage. Unfortunately, no matter which email-related system you use, you’re hobbled by the fact it’s email.

I don’t really have any better suggestions, however, so I’m not really helpful here. Facebook has its advantages, but it’s also terrible in a lot of ways. Twitter is great but ephemeral — too easy to miss messages as they rush past in the stream.

You could attempt the grass-rootsy word-of-mouth sort of thing — ask your fans to help promote upcoming events through twitter, facebook, etc., provide them with handy-dandy printable materials (posters, stickers, postcards, (w/ urls! free downloads!) & etc). Deploy your army of fans to help guerilla-market your indy-self.

I bet you’d get some great and creative people stepping up to help you out.

Crystal on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 7:49 am

I found out about your Ottawa show from Twitter!

Josh Woodward on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

It sounds like you’re just talking about clicking the link inside the email. That number wouldn’t include the people who already knew about it, or that saw the email and went to look for information on your website or elsewhere (I know I sometimes look for redirector links in emails and skip them). Don’t feel down yet!

Rahul Talluru on Contacting fans is hard
July 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Like dria said, postcards are a great way to personalize a message and show you care. There are sites like that enable you to do just this. You can upload a promotional image, tailor a message, and send/print them out in bulk or individually. Very cool way to connect.

Wayne on Contacting fans is hard
July 23, 2010 at 2:16 am

One problem with eventful is that it’s inherently spammy by default. I am so used to getting weekly promises of performers “in my area” (but not really) that I just mark it archived and move on.

Julien Lamarche on Contacting fans is hard
July 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I think I did get your eventful e-mail, but didn’t follow through because I was already subscribed on your Facebook event. Too bad, I like the concept behind eventful.

Which I’ve been sharing with *everyone*

I know the feeling. I try to get Fair Vote Canada supporters out to Fair Vote events. If its not in reaction to some major event like prorogation or because we don’t have some high-profile speakers, they don’t come. And even when they do come, it’s for the speakers, not for the cause.

Darryl Glen on Contacting fans is hard
August 2, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Hey Brad!

Have you tried using FanBridge before? I’m not going to pretend that I’m super experienced and successful, but I like FanBridge. Their model is free/cheap and they have a lot of options for customizing/testing mail and providing analytics, etc.

Blaise Alleyne on Contacting fans is hard
August 20, 2010 at 3:26 am

I’m another interested fan who wouldn’t have been a click-through. I got super excited when I saw2 you were coming to Toronto, but I was an my honeymoon that week, and as much as I would have totally convinced my wife to go, being out of town at the time would have made it a challenge. So, I was definitely interested and appreciative of the email, but didn’t click through because I knew I couldn’t make it.

Also, didn’t you send out Facebook updates? I could be imagining things, but I think I remember hearing about the show through other sources as well (another reason not to click through — I’d seen the notice elsewhere first).

Don’t be discouraged! Hope the Toronto show went well!

julie skye on Contacting fans is hard
September 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Please post videos and pictures of the live shows! thank you!

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