The Importance of Marketing Containers (aka “Fish in a Barrel”)

Michael Whalen
4 min readMar 20, 2022

The age of social media is nearly 20 years old. And as producers and consumers of endless oceans of content have become evermore sophisticated and slick in how they present themselves, their products and services and brands on-line, one thing has not changed: marketing to your own community is vastly more effective than howling into the abyss to the world at large.

People in business school call these private communites “containers” as if your fans, friends, family and potential fans would all agree to live in some commune-type environment together. It’s simple: they wouldn’t. However, you having the ability to address each of these sub-communities directly or even personally might be the key to your lasting success.

Let’s welcome back a much maligned and misunderstood marketing tool into your tool box: The email list.

OK, OK… I hear you rolling your eyes and saying: “oh no, not this again.” However, mailing lists are effective for three reasons:

  1. These people have “opted-in” and want news about your music. This is important because people generally are confronted by spam dozens of times in a day. They are interested. This makes these people priceless.
  2. You can personalize your messages so its less about marketing and more about spreading the news to friends. Remember, you want to entertain, educate and inspire people with your messages. It can’t all be: sell, sell, sell! Take the opportunity to create a narrative that is compelling about you, the music, the creative process, etc.
  3. You can create the “specialness” of your emails, newsletters and offers such that people feel taken care of, part of a community and as close to you (the artist) as any fan can reasonably expect. Think of every email as a virtual “meet and greet” for your fans and listeners.

MAJOR STATEMENT ALERT: Aside from your master recording rights and your music publishing, your email list is THE most important asset in your professional music career.

Bands have broken up over mailing lists. Lawsuits filed. I am not kidding. If you do not see the value of these lists than musicians fighting over them is pure insanity. But if you don’t have a mailing list or even social media…

Michael Whalen

Emmy® Award-winning composer, record company executive, copyright expert, dad, dog owner and CrossFit newbie