A few weeks ago, our good friend Wes Davenport put us on to a new service called ‘Conversion In a Box‘, which is a simple email-for-media form creator aimed at helping musicians to easily create a newsletter sign up form for their website that offers a download in exchange for an email address.
While most email services offer some sort of opt-in form, and many do also include an e-for-m option, it’s not always the easiest thing to set up / customize. For instance, Mail Chimp offers a great newsletter service but won’t allow you to upload a song directly to their server so if you are going to offer a song download in exchange for an email address, you’ll have to find somewhere else to actually host that song.
Conversion In a Box on the other hand will host your files, allow you to set up a highly customizable sign-up form in mere minutes that can be embedded to any website with ease. And for those of you who already have a newsletter set up through another service, the email addresses you collect here can be easily exported in .csv format and imported back into your newsletter service.
There is no doubt that Conversion In a Box serves a great purpose for all of you musicians going down the D.I.Y road so we asked founder Mark LaFay discuss the inspiration and genesis of his new platform below…
About 12 years ago, I was working furiously to break a young band from Carmel, Indiana called Haste the Day. We put songs up on MP3.com for people to stream and we were doing our own outreach to outlets like ThePRP.com and such.
It was 2002 and believe it or not, the Internet was still very much like the wild west. There weren’t a lot of rules, the spam act was coming down the congressional pipeline but wasn’t yet approved and for the most part, people were writing their own rules. The post-Napster concept of internet privacy wasn’t even a consideration yet. This was somewhat freeing for us because Schools posted student directories online and emails were easily scraped for use.
So scrape and spam we did!
We emailed 10’s of thousands of college students and asked them to listen to the band’s songs on MP3.com. Slowly the play count ticked up and we were filled with a feeling of accomplishment. The problem, though, is that we didn’t know who was listening and whether or not the spam email approach was effective.
Fast-forward to today, bands have several tools at their disposal that are useful tools for identifying, building, growing and harvesting their fan communities. With all of the intelligence available to musicians today, it’s still somewhat mind-blowing that the tactics of 2002 are still alive and well in 2014.
I don’t know if it’s ego, pride or naïvety but we, humans, tend to get distracted by vanity metrics. You know… numbers that don’t really matter but they tend to be the biggest— things like:
Take the last one, visits to you website for an example. We all get enamored by the number of people that visit our website. But Why? What does that number really mean?
Visits to our website is like people walking past our merch-table at a show. We kind of know that they are interested in our music, but unless they buy something, or unless they sign-up for our fan mailing we really don’t know anything about them. And once they walk by without a connection or transaction of some sort they are gone forever. Just someone who happened to walk by.
When it comes to the web, this connection or transaction is called conversion and it is the single most important step in internet marketing and promotions today. And if you get nothing else out of this article, I hope you get that.
There is no arguing that the power of the internet, the pervasiveness of digital connectivity, and the promise of social media has totally transformed the music industry. The way we promote ourselves, sell our music, and connect with our fans is completely different than what it was just a few short years ago.
There is a revolution going on in the music industry, but unless we start the process by making a digital connection with our fans in identifying who they are then we also miss out on all of the spoils of this revolution.
Despite this, band after after band continues to begin the promotion of their new release by giving away songs online without asking for anything in return, happy with only a vanity metric of “downloads’” they miss out on the opportunity for “conversion.” Instead of simply putting their music online for people to stream anonymously, they should of qualified their audience by requiring them to give them their email in exchange for downloading the music.
It was this dilemma that was the genesis for a free and easy-to-use web tool called Conversion In a Box (CIAB). CIAB is focused on doing one thing and one thing only: make it easy for musicians to use their music to gather fan email addresses.
The approach is simple. Upload your song to CIAB, select what info you want to gather, customize an email message that gets sent to each subscriber, copy your form code and paste it on your website, blog or Facebook. Then you can promote your new music by driving people to your form.
Its time to for today’s band or musician to join in the revelation. And the first step is not just getting your song out there. Its conversion.