Online music marketing etiquette: tips for email, social, and YouTube

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Good behavior and proper etiquette isn’t just polite practice for your online music marketing, it can help you achieve better results

online music marketing etiquette

While the Internet and new technologies propel online music marketing ever into the future, I’m amazed by how many of us have the etiquette of a caveperson. Seriously, I just got an anonymous link posted on my social networks with the blurb, “Yo, check my song out.” Two seconds later, I got a friend request from someone with no profile picture other than that creepy, default blank head.

While the following tips are not groundbreaking, they serve as reminders that just might help us all to be a little more mindful the next time we get online. And like mother always says, “Better behavior, gets better results (i.e., loyal fans, better gigs, more placements, etc.).” Enjoy!

Email etiquette

When creating and sending emails, use the following five tips:

  1. No unsolicited blasts.

    Only send emails to people who have requested your band info (or have granted you permission), and always include an unsubscribe option at the bottom of the email.

  2. Personalization.

    Address the receiver by name, and don’t ask them to come to a gig in NY if they live in LA.

  3. Remove From List.

    Don’t get mad if someone sends an angry “remove from list” message. While they probably signed up for your list at your show and don’t remember, you might, if anything, send a polite reminder of who you are and how you know them, apologize for the inconvenience, and remove them from your list.

  4. Write relevant (and enticing) subject lines.

    Don’t use vague subject lines like, “Yo Everyone.” Instead, be specific and stress the benefits of whatever it is you’re selling. For instance, you might use the following subject: “Hey Bobby / VIP Halloween Gig Oct 30 / Free After-party with Lingerie Costume Contest / RSVP Today. In short, attract attention and engage the viewer to read on. But of course, always tell the truth.

  5. Newsletters.

    Don’t send newsletters that contain blocks of text. Instead, send short digestible intros with links to detailed information for those readers who want more. Also, avoid making your newsletter all about you. Provide your readers value by sending a list of the hottest open mics in your area, upcoming seminars, links to articles that might appeal to your fan base, and then sneak in a little info about your band.

Social network etiquette

When engaging social media marketing and networking, remember these five tips:

  1. Tags.

    Don’t photo tag people if they have nothing to do with the photo or the event. Unless the person is a rabid fan of yours and they’ll love you no matter what, this tends to piss people off. Though having fans tag themselves could be a way to increase fan engagement.

  2. Personalization.

    Address industry folks by their names when sending a message or a link to one of your songs, tell them how you know them, and give them a reason how clicking on your link and listening to your song will benefit him or her. As I suggested in my opener, sending a link with the line, “Yo, check my song out” is unacceptable and will likely get deleted immediately.

  3. Problem posts.

    Don’t let yourself get dragged into an argument by the “haters” (those angry people online who hide behind anonymous user names). If you notice someone criticizing your posts, or even using profane language, and these actions have no real benefit to your readers, either send them a message with some posting guidelines, or delete the post and block that person for good.

  4. Transparency.

    Don’t hire people to handle your social networks and let them pretend to be you. Fans are not as stupid as you may think. Be honest instead.

  5. Profile pictures.

    Unless you attend parties regularly with a bag over your head, don’t send me friend requests if you don’t have a profile picture. As previously stated, that blank default head creeps me out and is totally impersonal. At the very least, use your band logo or album cover.

YouTube etiquette

And finally, when creating and sharing videos, consider these five tips:

  1. Titles.

    Don’t use misleading titles. If I click on the line, “Exclusive New Video By Beyoncé” only to find you sitting on your bed playing a cover version of the song, I’m gonna’ be pretty pissed and will likely move on no matter how good the video may be. No one likes to be tricked.

  2. Annotations.

    Avoid placing annotations where they cover your face or other important parts of the video. Instead, place them strategically to the side and/or place them only at the beginning or end of the video so that they are not too distracting and annoying.

  3. Actor or not?

    If you are going to act out the lyrics of your songs, then learn to act, or hire trained professionals (or students in training) to do it for you. No explanation is needed here, I hope.

  4. Video ads.

    If you are going to film short video ads for your shows or releases, then learn how to write ad copy. In short, don’t say that you’re the best thing since sliced bread. Instead, turn it around: Tell me why I should care about the event. What mood will your music put me in? Will there be drink specials? Is there free parking? Will there be beautiful people in attendance? In other words, sell the benefits and answer the question, “What’s in it for me.”

  5. The shoot/edit.

    If you’re going to film yourself sitting on your bed playing a cover, you might at least want to tune your guitar before you start, make sure your phone isn’t going to ring while you’re playing, and avoid potential distractions (like mom calling you for dinner). While this can sometimes be charming and rather raw and real, it can also be annoying to the busy industry professional who wants to get to the point. Either prepare your shoot or edit out the distractions before posting.

Online music marketing advice from Bobby BorgA renowned drummer, teacher, consultant, and Disc Makers contributor, Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Limited Budget (September 2014, Hal Leonard). The book is available on the Hal Leonard website,, or at

The contents of this post are © 2014 by Bobby Borg All rights reserved. Not to be posted, printed, or used in any other way without proper attribution to Bobby Borg and Disc Makers.

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11 thoughts on “Online music marketing etiquette: tips for email, social, and YouTube

  1. Timely article. On the one hand, a truly egalitarian society would be good to have, but we can only pretend to be there yet. While I don’t like to think of myself as a snob, I must confess that I find excessive familiarity from stangers ( from whatever social stratum ) to be grating. I think that the lackadaisical approach is at least partially a product of social media, and the pretend “friendships” spawned therein.

  2. Thank you Bobby!
    This is a well written article full of intuitive information. I completely agree with everything that you have written. If we have a less selfish approach and instead of trying to obtain exposure for our music the whole time, but instead exercising genuine care for the audience or the person who we are contacting, then our music will grow and market itself. A genuine concern for others, placing their interests as higher than our own, and remembering that these are people with whom we are engaging, is an excellent premise off which to launch our music and communication endeavours. Well written bro! Please keep helping us with this super info!
    Sean Charteris

  3. Hello Stewart, we would love to know precisely why you did not like the article. Additionally, we would love to read your online “etiquette tips.” Looking forward to learning from you. Cheers and happy holidays. Bobby Borg

    1. Thanks for your comment Capt. Jack. We would love to hear more specific feedback as to what you found useful. Also, please indicate what you’d like us to write about in the future. Cheers and thanks.

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