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Instagram for musicians: how to add your music and get more reach

Instagram is an important channel for all small businesses - musicians included! On Instagram, there are many opportunities to promote yourself and your music. In this article, you'll learn the essentials that every musician should consider.

Published on
June 16, 2023
Conor Fitzpatrick
Marketing & User Research Manager

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Get your music on Instagram

Did you know that you can also add your tracks to Instagram via MusicHub? You should take advantage of this opportunity to increase the likelihood of your music being discovered and heard.

When creating an Instagram story or reel, Instagram users can either use the original video sound (the audio that was recorded with the video) or a sound from the audio library. The sounds in Instagram’s audio library are either created by other users or delivered to Instagram (and Facebook) on behalf of an artist (e.g. via MusicHub).

Music is used in a wide variety of videos - in dance or travel videos, or when the right melody or a song lyric can help to emphasise a certain mood or story. So it's worth being present on Instagram as a musician and adding your music to the platform via MusicHub. When your music is used in a video it gives Instagram users the chance to find their way directly to your profile and your music, and to become part of your audience. If Instagram users use your music and their content is also shared, your reach increases even more. For you as a musician, Instagram is an indispensable platform.

Start with a good artist bio.

If you add your music to Instagram, you should, of course, also have an instagram account that showcases you and your music and helps you to promote your music.

Instagram or IG for short (and its many content forms - Instagram stories or posts, Instagram reels) is one of many platforms to showcase yourself as an artist and tell your artist story. The first question to ask yourself is what is your story? To avoid any potential confusion, let’s replace story with narrative, when talking about what you show and tell people about who you are as an artist.

Perhaps you already have a bio (short for biography) on your Spotify page (it’s accessible and editable via your Spotify for Artists account). How well does it explain who you are, what you stand for, what your music sounds like and where you’re going though? A solid bio that whets the potential listener’s appetite can make the difference between that potential listener becoming a fan or not. A detailed bio will help you define your narrative and stay on track when expressing it on all channels, such as on the Instagram app, where you post still images and video content. A strong profile on Instagram is the first step to good music promotion.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to make a list of words that describe you or fit you as an artist, e.g. multilingual, fashion, introspective etc. These will help orientate you when it comes to content production and releasing. A list of moods that go with your music could also help, e.g. introspective, as well as themes like solitude. It’s really all about creating a personal blueprint and a profile for your music project, which will guide you along the way. You can think of it as similar to a company’s mission and vision. You should also continue to build your artist branding with your Instagram profile.

Post stories not situations

Careful - here we’re not talking about Instagram stories versus posts or reels, but actually, once again, about the storyline or narrative of whatever piece of content it may be.

Bring your Instagram followers along for the ride by helping them understand the story from start to finish. Give the narrative a beginning, middle and end. It’s always a good idea to make reference to your own music, lyrics, style or previous content that you’ve posted. This helps your followers feel like they’ve entered your artistic universe.

E.g. you’re going on a trip. Start the content piece at the airport - it whets the appetite. Try to tie in where you are with what you stand for as an artist - if fashion is part of your brand, highlight what you’re wearing while travelling.  If the trip relates to your music project, try dangling a carrot in front of your followers about what’s going to happen in the coming days or weeks. This will make them want to come back and stay tuned to see how it turns out. The excitement you create keeps your fans engaged and helps give momentum to your music promotion.

Promote your music on Instagram

Remember to highlight any releases you have out or that are coming out soon in stories, especially where it makes sense mood-wise or lyrics wise, e.g. if you have a particularly introspective song about being alone, snap a story of lonely dog waiting for its owner (if you see one of course). The music you use in an Instagram Story can be your music - and you can use it for promotion! Search for it by clicking on the sticker icon at the top of the screen when making a Story, then select ‘music’. For Reels, click on the little audio note in the top left of the screen, then search for your music.

Plan out your Instagram content

If you have a firm grip on what you stand for as an artist, have it written down somewhere to refer back to, so that you’ll know what type of content to look for - and what to post in what order. When putting a post together, it will still take a bit of thought, so give yourself enough time to try out a few different orders and filters, and to write a few versions of the description text. In the end, you can choose the most suitable version for you and your Instagram promotion strategy.

You can of course and should reuse content in stories and posts - if an Instagram story got a lot of attention, feel free to use it as a post later, either by itself or in a collection. Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘but what about my favourite artists who seem to put lots of so-called ‘dump’ content online showcasing a random array of things that happened in the past week or month. This may sometimes be the case, however more often than not, there will be a narrative in there if you analyse it a bit more closely, or a reference to something that they did or posted in the past. Don’t be fooled - even in the most random of content collections, the greater story of the artist’s brand is often present: What is it I stand for? In what types of places do I spend time? With what people of types of people do I hang out? What clothes or brands do I often wear?

Keep the order of your stories and posts in mind and try to build a bit of momentum to get your Instagram followers excited.

What to post

Artists are often asking themselves: ‘Should I post this? Does this fit my brand or storyline?’. When defining your narrative, you should also establish some brand guidelines, including the sort of things that you don’t want to post. Like it or not, you are a brand and what you do on Instagram will affect how music is perceived. Think about brands or artists that you follow and you probably have a pretty good idea of what sorts of situations they post on a regular basis, but also what types of things you would never see in their content.

Likewise, your followers, after getting to know you a bit, will have certain expectations as to what they’re going to see on your profile. Try to keep in consistent-

Let’s take South Korean DJ Peggy Gou as an example - if you’re familiar with her, you’re likely expecting videos from gigs, high fashion looks, fancy meals and travel impressions when viewing her Instagram stories, posts or Instagram reels. If these are the sorts of things you like seeing, then you’ll go back for more. Peggy posts what is around her. People like it, so she keeps on going. She also posts a lot of content. Don’t be intimidated by that though - she most likely has a social media manager following her every move. That is, after all, what we would expect from one of the world’s most in-demand DJs. That may not be the case for you right now, but that doesn’t matter. What is around you regularly that you can also post? It doesn’t have to be 5 star resorts or fashion shows. This may just not be a part of your brand at all or not now at least. Every storyline is interesting - remember that.

You’re interesting!

You really are interesting - for the right audience. Whether you rarely leave your small town in the countryside or you are constantly in the world’s most exciting cities, you have a story to tell. Part of building your brand and your music promotion strategy is about making the best of your current situation and building an engaging narrative around it. Your lyrics perhaps give an indication as to where and how you live. Go ahead and bring those songs to life on your Instagram, in your stories, posts and reels. Plucking bits of information from your lyrics is a great way to make content and helps people connect to you better. Experiment with captioning on Instagram and of course hashtags to increase your reach.

The people will let you know what resonates with them. When they do, double down on that, while also experimenting with new types of content in your greater artistic sphere. And use your own music in your content on Instagram as often as possible! It’s very important to not stop. Keep going and remind yourself that you have something to say and that at least some people will want to hear it.

Dive deeper into MusicHub’s resources for DIY musicians

Get more useful knowledge and insights on distribution, promotion, rights & royalties, music production and more on our MusicHub blog. We regularly post artist and expert interviews as well as inspiring articles with lots of tips and advice.

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Photo Credit blog cover: © istock/VladimirVladimirov

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