Can you legally text your fans?

There are a number of high profile lawsuits from consumers annoyed with receiving unwanted texts. We often hear from Artists asking us whether they can legally text message their fans? Before we tell how and when you can text your fans, it’s a good idea to get a little background on the law that determines whether you can text message your fans legally or not.

There's a law about this. It’s actually a federal law, called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which is governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). While you may hear about CTIA or Mobile Marketing Association when researching best practices for SMS marketing, the TCPA is the only actual law when it comes to whether you can text message fans.

Since we're talking about fans that have expressed an interest in receiving texts from you (by texting your bandname to 444999, joining a contest, etc.) we're really interested in what the TCPA says about whether or not you can text messaging mobile phone numbers that you’ve already collected from your customers.

It’s actually pretty simple, if when you collected your customer’s mobile phone numbers, you disclosed the following two things to them in a  “clear and conspicuous” manner, you can text message those customers.

What does  “clear and conspicuous” mean? It means that the disclosures were displayed in close proximity to wherever you were asking customers for their mobile phone numbers. If you did not disclose the following two thing to customers when they gave you their mobile phone numbers, or you didn’t disclose these things in a “clear and conspicuous” manner, you cannot text message them.

Here are the two things you have to tell them:

  • By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an automatic telephone dialing system.
  • Consent to these terms is not a condition of purchase.

The great benefit of the Adva Mobile Service is that we comply with this law "for you", meaning that, when a fan first texts in, we send them a text telling them they can expect to receive additional texts from you. And we provide them a link to Terms, where the second requirement is met.

As you can imagine, most Artists, when they’ve collected their fan's mobile phone numbers in the past (through a sign up sheet at the merch table, for example) have either not disclosed the above two things, or haven’t done so in a “clear and conspicuous” manner. So we tell Artists to get fans to text in, and then everyone is compliant.

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