PROFESSOR PIZZA PUTS THE FANS FIRST

How Axeslasher learned to loathe social media, grow their email list, and more!

Ahoy, HEAVY METAL EMAIL folks!

This week we welcome Professor Pizza of Axeslasher, a thrash-tastic band from Denver, Colorado that leans heavy into horror, gore, and other delicious death-metal themes.

But we’re not talking about any of that. Oh no, we’re talking about email marketing! Social media! Bandcamp!

Yes, we’re talking about how the heavy metal sausage gets made on the internet here in 2021, which helps get people to come to your shows, to buy your shirts, and listen to your new music. This is what you signed up for!

Oh, you’re reading this on the web, and you’re not signed up? Subscribe today so you don’t miss out on the next email I send out!


You told me a bit ago, "I've been testing every avenue we've used for the last 10 years. Guess which one generates the most traffic and revenue,” with the answer being email. Can you speak a bit to how much WORK goes into email campaigns?

I'd start by saying we're not particularly adept at email marketing. I always kind of considered it old-fashioned but knew we should be doing some form of it. Axeslasher rode the wave of social media really well until recently. Back in the days of chronological sorting we were able to find an audience quickly, especially on Instagram. I'm a super visual person and focusing on creating killer images really appealed to me, and when it was actually getting shown to our audience we caught lots of traction. 

Additionally, we were able to really take advantage of paid marketing1 on social media to increase our reach. There was a time where I could consistently count on a 2:1 return on marketing dollars spent to revenue made. 

But, that's not the case any more.

Algorithmic sorting and the sheer amount of people paying for ads now has caused that reliability to plummet. Creating on those platforms feels an awful lot like working for Facebook and not myself2. The mental math equation went from "What do I think our fans would like?" to "What do I think will break through the algo that our fans will tolerate?"

“The short answer is you have to start looking at and leveraging trends, which by-in-large, are fucking lame.”

We're a thrash band comprised of ghosts of vengeance. We shouldn't be doing funny hand dances, or the running man.

All that pre-amble is leading somewhere, I promise.

In regards to how much effort it takes to create an email campaign, I'd say it's slightly more. I'm not a great writer so it takes me a little longer to craft longer-form messaging to make a marketing email worth reading. However, the whole time I'm doing that, I'm back to thinking "what will our fans like?" Which is exactly the head space I want to be in. 

How long have you been managing an email list, and how do you get new people onto your email list in this digital and social media age?

We've been tepidly maintaining an email list since 2012. I say tepidly because we've really only been sending three to six emails a year. However, over time, that list has grown to about 1,200 subscribers. It's not the world's biggest list, but the way we've built it has made it extremely valuable and effective. 

The main source of email subscriptions is through online sales. On Bandcamp and merch.axeslasher.com folks who buy our merch have the option to opt-in to our email list3.

The key here is that they've already shown major interest in the band by putting their hard-earned dollars into the equation. By opting-in at purchase, the audience on that list is much more engaged and more likely to be interested in things we do in the future4.  

I got your recent October Horror Marathon email on October 1st. The last email was from July 31st. Is there any set schedule you stick to with these things?

Nope, and I feel like that's something we need to be better at5. Until recently I've always looked at email as an additional boost for announcements. New merch, new music, festival appearances. Things like that. 

Lastly, you use Mailchimp, which I recommend to a lot of folks. Do you have any one little secret tip or "hack" you picked up over the years with using it?

I love Mailchimp. The UX of creating, sending, and measuring campaigns is top-notch.

If I had one hack, it'd be to connect it to your online store6. You can start to see things like how much sales revenue your campaigns generate, as well as let you segment your list by amount spent. You can basically make a segment of your folks who are most invested, literally, and hit them with special offers or poll their opinion on what merch to make next. They're the ones spending their own money on your dream -- give them what they want!


Give your fans what they want, indeed! Like a new Axeslasher song called ‘Boomer Entomber,’ which came out on Halloween - go listen!

Oh, and if you didn’t notice, there are FOOTNOTES throughout this interview, which go a little deeper into some of the things Professor Pizza mentioned. Click around, and reply to this email if you got any questions, and I’ll try to answer them in a future email.

If you dig HEAVY METAL EMAIL, tell a friend, and if you’d like to buy me a coffee, that’d be wonderful: buy Seth a coffee via Ko-Fi ☕️


FOOTNOTES 🪦

1

Paid marketing is paying to promote your posts to a larger audience, as the social media overlords limit your reach. See ‘Paid Social Media: Worth The Investment?’ from HubSpot.

2

“Spotify pays you $0.001 - $0.005 per stream. FB ads cost you up to $1 per new listener. This is an unsustainable ROI,” says Amber Horsburgh who has worked at Downtown/Interscope, Atlantic Records, Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube Music, Sonos, and Google Play.

3

How to build and run a mailing list with Bandcamp and Mail Chimp’ - it’s from 2013, but a good read to get started, and ‘How do I collect emails?’ from Bandcamp.

4

‘A repeat customer is easier to sell to,’ from smile.io, and ‘What is customer retention? 11 examples and strategies to retain customers’ from ZenDesk.

5

‘Email cadence: How many emails should you send per week, month?’ - from MailerLite, and “sending out a weekly newsletter is what most audiences want,” says Campaign Monitor 😮

6

Check out ‘Connect Your Online Store to Mailchimp’ for more info.