Sophie Tucker (1886–1966) was a Russian/Ukrainian-born American singer and actress. Known for her stentorian delivery of comical and risque songs, she was one of the most popular entertainers in America during the first two-thirds of the 20th century. She was widely known by the nickname "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas." Her song, My Yiddische Mama, was banned by Hitler...which made it even more popular.
Tucker's early career consisted of playing piano and singing burlesque and vaudeville tunes, at first in blackface. She later said that this was at the insistence of theatre managers, who said she was "too fat and ugly" to be accepted by an audience in any other context. She sang songs that acknowledged her size, such as "Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, But Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love".
She made a name for herself in a style that was known at the time as a "Coon Shouter", performing African American influenced songs, but not content with performing in the simple minstrel traditions, she hired some of the best African American singers of the time to give her lessons, as well as African American composers to write songs for her act.
That's what people think of when they think of Sophie Tucker... But what most people don't know is what a great marketer she was.
As Sophie toured the United States she would take down the names and addresses of the people in her audience. Before she would come to town again, she would send people a personal postcard, letting them know when and where she would be performing.
Here is a postcard from her later years, promoting a show in Las Vegas...
It's a good "trick" to let people know what you're up to and it still works today. In fact, it works better than ever today, since much of our "postcard" communication has been replaced by emails, text messages, and phone calls and it's easier for your message to stand out.
Email is easy to delete...and that assumes it gets opened in the first place. Text messages all look the same. And who is going to call every single fan to come to a show?
Postcards allow you to get your message out, quickly, easily, and cheaply. A postcard is something that can sit on a table for days (or even weeks), reminding somebody to come to your show. And it's not as easy to throw away as hitting the delete button on an email...
Does it cost more money than an email? Yes. But it's not how much something costs that matters...it's how much it makes you. And postcards make musicians money!
So do it!