Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
We all know by now that being a musician in today’s world goes hand-in-hand with being business- and tech-savvy — which includes knowing how to navigate social media. Thankfully, most platforms allow us to harness our creativity and have become so user-friendly, all you have to do is read one blog post (like this!) to get started.
Instagram is a platform where musicians can reach potential fans using videos and images. Newer features like Instagram Reels and Instagram Live can help boost exposure as you engage directly with your fans. And as Instagram continues to grow, so can your fan base. Here are six tips to better understand how to promote music on Instagram — one of the biggest social media platforms to date.
What’s the opportunity within Instagram’s music community?
Instagram has become essential for any music artist or band. With over 2.35 billion users and counting, it’s a necessity for music promotion as well as for finding new listeners who could become fans.
Additionally, Instagram’s music community is pretty tight. You’ll find tons of local and national bands following one another, networking, and creating connections. The more active you are on the platform and the more connections you make in the music industry, the more you’re going to create new opportunities for your music.
For example, if you’re posting pretty frequently about your shows or new releases, another local band is going to catch on. Then, said band might reach out to you and ask you to hop on a bill for a show at that venue you’ve been dying to play. This has happened to my band on more than one occasion. Think of Instagram as your consistent networking tool, and you don’t even have to leave your house.
How to create an effective Instagram profile
Working the benefits of Instagram starts with creating an effective profile.
Create a concise and interesting bio
Your band bio is one of the first sections users will see when they land on your profile page, so you’ll want to make good use of it — in 150 characters or less.
In your Instagram bio, you’ll want to include things like:
- Your genre, or some version of it
- Where you’re from
- New releases
- Upcoming shows
- Contact/booking info
There is also a space to now include up to five links, where you can send users to your website, music, shows, etc. You can also promote your other social media platforms here.
Add a profile picture
This might sound obvious, but be choosy about your profile picture. If you have a logo for your band, you can use that, or choose a professional band or artist promo photo.
You’ll want your profile picture to showcase you, your vibe, and your style. Using a photo of you performing live could work, but you’ll want to make sure users are able to get a feel for who you are, keeping in mind that you only have a small circle to work with. Make sure the important parts of your photo are kept within the correct format dimensions.
How to promote music on Instagram: content marketing strategies
The phrase “content is king” is a big one in marketing — mostly because it’s true — and it applies when learning how to promote music on Instagram. On Instagram, your content includes photos, videos, and captions designed to engage your current target audience and attract new fans. The more you post and the more engagement you create with your audience, the more you’ll show up in your followers’ Instagram feed. A good mix of photos and videos helps to keep you on top of the Instagram algorithm game.
1. Post engaging images/videos
I mentioned using a relevant, on-brand profile picture, but what about the rest of your Instagram profile? When you hop on any Instagram page, the squares of content that make up the profile are collectively called the “grid.” The grid contains your images and videos (reels) that showcase who you are right off the bat.
You’ll want your photos to not only be visually engaging and pique users’ interest, but also to be aligned with your artist brand. For example, if you’re playing rock music, you might consider posting photos of you on stage, your band rockin’ out with their instruments.
Additionally, carousel posts are all the rage right now, where you can post up to ten photos at once. Do yourself a favor and lean into this. Always make an Instagram post with at least two photos. If your followers don’t “like” the post the first time around, they’ll see the second post on their feed, giving them another opportunity to do so; if they still don’t engage with it, they’ll see a third photo. And, at that point, they’ll either “like” the photo out of annoyance or because they realized they meant to and forgot. Either way, it helps to increase your engagement and boosts your points with the algorithm.
You need to post videos! Enough said.
Videos that showcase your music go far on social media. On Instagram, creating a video means creating a reel. Reels are like TikTok videos: you can add text throughout the video, as well as music (like, your own).
You can use your IG reels to show bits of your live shows, letting people see you in all your musical glory. Or, you can do face-to-camera videos to promote new music or shows and remind your audience that you and your bandmates are real human beings. Videos create connections with your fan base that you can’t get just posting photos.
2. Use captions to promote engagement
So, you have the images and videos, but what do you actually say about them? Your captions are important in the delivery of your content — and yes, they also need to be on brand.
For example, let’s say you want to post about your upcoming new release. The caption is an opportunity to tell the story about this song: what (or maybe who) it’s about, what brought you to the idea, the writing and recording process, etc. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but again, you’re reminding your audience that you’re a human. You’re creating more opportunities to connect with them. The story behind the song might really land with someone, and just like that, you have yourself a new fan.
3. Stay consistent with stories
If your posts convey what you do, your stories are going to tell your audience who you are. Stories help your fan base see your band behind the scenes — setting up the equipment to record, packing the gear for your next gig, the pizza you’re eating while playing in Brooklyn, the weird bug you saw on the sidewalk in front of your house, or your dog barking along to your song.
The best thing about IG stories is that they disappear within 24 hours, which is why they’re great to showcase your personality and behind-the-scenes footage. Stories are like little bits of your life, or your music life, that let your fans in on more than just surface level.
If you want to savor some of those story moments, you can create Highlights that live on your Instagram profile. You could have a highlight that’s dedicated specifically to a tour, behind-the-scenes footage, recording, etc.
4. Using hashtags and trending challenges
Using hashtags in your posts act as mini search queries, allowing users with similar interests in your genre or location to find your page. You can search trending hashtags on Instagram and see which ones are most relevant to your music/brand. You’ll want to choose relevant hashtags with a larger following, and some with a smaller following, so that you’re casting a wide net for new users.
Trending challenges are also a big part of the Instagram game, and they often show up within stories. One trend that’s been circulating over the last few months has been the “Add Yours” sticker. This is a public thread and creates interactivity from your audience, where they can then add “theirs” to their own profile. Some examples include “Six photos of your September” or “Last photo of your pet in your camera roll.”
Polls and questions are huge within stories, and can be key when you promote music on Instagram. You can utilize these to ask your fan base specific questions and involve them in your band decisions, such as, “What song should we cover at our next gig?”
5. Leveraging Instagram Ads for a new release
Instagram continues to grow. As mentioned already, there are currently over 2.35 billion active users. With that, the algorithm is always updating and changing, essentially deciding which of your followers get to see your content. It can be quite frustrating situation trying to get your song heard.
Instagram Ads are a way around that. More and more, musicians are leveraging paid ads to target new fans based on their musical interests, age, gender, and location. You can choose a “goal” for your ad: more website visits, more profile visits, or more messages. Then, you can set your budget and length of time the ad will run.
6. Updating your Instagram Shop
Instagram has now made it easy to sell your merch right to your followers via Instagram Shop. You can post your t-shirts, pins, stickers, hats, or whatever else you’ve got, and your fans can purchase right through your Instagram profile.
Once you begin listing items on Instagram, you’ll see a “View Shop” button that will live on your profile page. You can then promote your items in your stories and make some extra cash for your band fund with just a few clicks.
Learning how to promote music on Instagram might feel a little overwhelming at first, but once you make it a habit in your music marketing routine, it’ll feel like second nature. Not to mention, it can be a great experience connecting with other musicians and your new fans.
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