During the past two decades, the music industry changed fundamentally, especially regarding music promotion. Back then, labels would handle everything. Now, artists oversee every step of their journey, from creating music to promoting it on all channels and media. Today, we will discuss how to promote music on Instagram, as this social platform is one of the most inviting when it comes to music promotion opportunities! Are you ready to build a brand for yourself? Let's see time-tested tips for promoting music on Instagram, whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist!
Does Instagram Work for Music Promotion?
Many musicians will probably agree that the most challenging part about being one doesn't lie in creating new music but instead in reaching the target audience and promoting your music effectively.
Before the early 2000s, the road towards success, while not easy, was relatively straightforward. A label would discover artists, sign them, and then manage everything else. With that infrastructure no longer in place, aside from multi-platinum artists, an emerging or independent artist needs to be a jack-of-all-trades. Alongside creating new material, you have to oversee everything from designing posters, booking gigs, creating your art website, and maintaining an active social media presence.
This point brings us to Instagram and its value for musicians. Now, to figure out whether Instagram is a helpful platform for you, let's look at the platform’s target market. According to the stats, 71% of Instagram users worldwide are 35 or younger. Such a considerable percentage means Instagram will likely work for your music, regardless of the genre. As long as the younger audience is interested in your sound, there is no stopping you!
Aside from popularity, Instagram offers plenty of features that allow you to build a loyal following and engage your audiences, such as "traditional posts," Instagram Stories, IGTV, and plenty of advertising options. With that in mind, here are seven tips that will help you find your way to your fans and promote your music on Instagram successfully.
1. Promote Your Music on Instagram Stories and IGTV
One of the most popular features on Instagram right now is Instagram Stories, particularly if you address a millennial audience. The platform holds incredible marketing potential, with as many as 500 million users creating and viewing Stories daily. Because their format is relatively short, using Stories to promote your music may seem counterintuitive at first. However, throwing in the right 15-second clip of one of your songs can do wonders for engagement. Everyone likes a good teaser! So, what can you promote using IG Stories?
Well, pretty much anything, and that includes:
The release of your new single, EP, or album;
Songs from your back catalog;
Your official merchandise;
Polls, giveaways, and Q&A sessions to engage your audience, etc.
The good thing about Instagram Stories is that they offer plenty of room to experiment and tweak your approach since they disappear in 24 hours (unless you save them in the Highlights section). That way, you don't have to stress about not doing it right every single time, or at least until you get a feel for it.
How to Get Your Music on Instagram Stories
We can talk at great length about how to add music to your Instagram Story. Many people do, and it would be great if your fans added your tunes to their Stories. However, you are an artist who wants to promote original content and promote their brand or group. Let's see how to post a song on an Instagram Story when you already have your content prepared:
Make sure you have the mobile app of every music service you use to share your tracks: Spotify, Shazam, or SoundCloud, for instance;
Each of these services enables you to share your music on your Instagram Stories. The song you choose for Instagram promotion appears together with its cover art most of the time. Spotify also allows your fans to play the track you shared on your Instagram Stories via the app.
Don't forget to add text, stickers, and other effects to make your Instagram Story and music more compelling for your audience.
One of IG Stories' best features is putting you at the top of users' Instagram feeds. However, you might still have to fight your way to the top. Let's see a few pointers on how to promote your music on Instagram Stories with great effects for your audience:
It is crucial to create strong visuals to go along with your music;
You can use Instagram music hashtags in your Stories as well;
You should use location tags, which you can post by using the Instagram sticker. You can only add one location tag per image or video, so choose wisely.
Apart from music and visuals, you can engage your audience by running polls, hosting Q&A sessions, creating quizzes, and more, which can help you gather valuable feedback from your fans.
Music Promotion on IGTV: What You Need to Know
Now is also a great time to dive into IGTV, which allows you to upload longer video content on Instagram. Aside from playing videos that are up to 10 minutes long (or up to 60 minutes if uploaded from a verified account), IGTV is also unique because its designers had the vertical video format in mind. With this kind of setup, the app creators leverage the fact that you are holding your phone vertically, thus improving user experience.
The feature is still very young, but, in theory, it could give YouTube a run for its money. Here are some tips to make the best out of this Instagram feature for music promotion:
Post music videos on Instagram to service your fans and gain a broader audience;
Upload lengthy Q&A sessions;
Share album progress vlogs to allow your audience to see behind the scenes and build a personal relationship with the brand;
Post live performances to give your audience a taste of what they could experience by attending one of your concerts;
Share short interviews with band members, staff, collaborators, etc. This strategy puts a face behind a name and allows audiences to form a connection with your music;
Now you know how to promote your music on Instagram with the Stories feature and IGTV. But is it enough? Next in our guide on promoting music on Instagram is an aspect many people and brands should invest in: the Instagram bio.
2. Create a Compelling Instagram Bio as a Music Artist
Many musicians don't spend too much time on their bios, which is a shame because these introductory snippets can be very useful if you optimize them. Here are some suggestions!
1. Pick a Memorable Account Name
If you want the world to know your name, listen to your music, and attend your future gigs, a generic account name will not do. Make sure you do not leave your name with numbers at the end. Most established and beginner artists create a customized Instagram account name that is part of their branding and official website name.
2. Tell an Engaging Story
While it's true that you don't have a lot of room in your bio, you can still tell your story. Instead of taking the generic route and speaking just about what kind of music you play (because you are not the only one), try to infuse your bio with a personal story that is unique to you. It will set you apart from other fellow artists on the Instagram music scene.
When writing your bio, don't be afraid to use language and jargon familiar to your fans. You want people to realize what kind of profile they are looking at instantly, and you want to express your genuine voice. Here are some stories that might spark interest with your Instagram audience:
Career highlights, valid and verifiable awards, achievements, or praises you gained from music critics, relevant magazines, prominent music influencers, and so on;
A short press release to announce upcoming gigs, collaborations with other artists, social media shout-outs, press mentions, etc.
Change the bio from time to time and see what works best for your audience.
3. Promote a Link
Optimizing your bio is also crucial because you get to use a single link. You can choose to link to:
Your official website. In case you are at the very beginning of your musical career, building a website is the first thing to do;
Your YouTube channel or other social media profiles;
One of your landing pages where your fans can purchase your music or merchandise;
Streaming platforms that host your music;
A page where they can get some of your music free in exchange for their email (if you want to create an email list to promote your stuff);
A page where fans can get tickets to your upcoming show or learn more about a new release.
The only downside of Instagram when it comes to links is that you only get one, so you will have to change it from time to time, depending on your priorities.
For instance, you can use the link to send your followers to a page where they can download your new single, participate in a contest, or see the latest products added to your merchandise page.
You can also link to the most recent interview, an article you've just written on your blog, or your latest music video on YouTube.
Whether it's new merch or a freshly dropped album, use the bio link for what you're most committed to promoting at the moment. When you post new information for your audience, make sure you mention "link in bio" for more details on the topic.
> Don't have a music website yet? Create your first site now!
4. Pay Attention to the Profile Picture
Your Instagram profile picture should represent who you are and reflect the kind of music you play. For instance, if you are playing grunge, going with grainy or black and white images would be a complementary idea. And they don't have to be professional photos, although it would help.
Let's take Blink 182's IG account as an example. These pop-punk legends need no introduction, so their bio text contains only "Crappy Punk Rock since 1992," which puts their trademark humor on display. They then link to Ticketmaster's website, where you can buy tickets for their shows – plain, simple and effective.
3. Craft Outstanding Visual Content
This one should go without saying because Instagram is a visual-based platform. While it used to be a platform for stills only, Instagram can now host various media, including videos and GIFs. Your Instagram posts allow you to get creative and showcase your work, providing your audience with a behind-the-scenes look. And we're not just talking about backstage photos, but also images that will show your fans how you spend your time inside and outside music creation:
- Images from the tour bus;
- Locations you played on tour;
- Songs' or albums' cover art
- Merchandise design;
- Fans wearing your merchandise;
- Interactions with fans or other musicians;
- Time inside the studio – perhaps recording a new song or album. In turn, it will make your fans feel engaged and included as if they are part of your journey.
One of the better examples of how you should approach building an engaged Instagram following and memorable visuals is Alter Bridge's IG account. Alter Bridge is a hard rock juggernaut from Orlando, Florida, yet they are pretty down-to-earth and open regarding their visual content.
Alter Bridge uploads high-quality stills from concerts, festivals, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, in addition to your usual selfies and tour photos. But for their last couple of albums, they've shared a detailed visual account of their entire recording process, and they have done so in an appealing way. For instance, the image below shows the tracking progress for their latest album, planned for release this fall:
It's simple yet effective because it keeps the fans excited for new songs coming soon and offers an early glimpse into tentative song titles.
Alter Bridge is not huge on Instagram, but their social media activity has allowed them to build an extremely loyal and active fan base. As a result, the solo for their song "Blackbird" was chosen as the greatest guitar solo of all time.
Apart from their music's quality, their active fan base enabled them to beat Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, and Guns N' Roses. Nevertheless, promoting music on Instagram means more than just uploading music videos, studio rehearsal snippets, or high-quality images. You can also use the power of text to keep your audience engaged.
You could include a short text in your captions and have the audience read every word if the story is compelling enough. For instance, you can post a picture you took during a live gig and then tell a fun, engaging, unusual story that happened at the same event.
Alternatively, you can write a compelling blog post on your website and feature a short snippet of it on Instagram as caption text next to a catchy image.
4. Use Instagram Music Hashtags to Your Advantage
Most Instagram influencers and models know that the platform is all about the hashtags, so why not follow their example as a musician?
Hashtags remain the most popular tool for discovering new content and artists. Instagram's algorithm will recommend tags that your audience may be interested in based on the posts they've liked in the past. If it remains like that, hashtags are only going to become increasingly more relevant.
As for hashtag limits, you get 30 per post, including hashtags you add inside the comments. It means you should aim for at least 20 with each post, although some argue that more than 11-12 are spammy. Our suggestion is to experiment with hashtags until you get the best engagement results.
Instagram music promotion hashtags allow you to target the most popular ones like #music, #rock, or #pop, and those specific to your niche and your own body of work.
Which Instagram Music Hashtags Can Help You Promote Your Music on Instagram Best?
We suggest using the likes of #InstaMusic and #InstaVideo because they are present on over 33 million posts combined, and they're unique to Instagram;
Experts in the field recommend #InstaMusicVideo, #MusicMonday, #LiveMusic, and #InstaArtist.
You can also piggyback off the #tbt hashtag, as long as you can connect it to your music in some relevant way;
You always need to include general hashtags like #music, #video, #band, #musician, and #song.
In addition to that, you should add genre-specific tags like #rock, #guitar, #grunge, #aesthetic, #dj, #beat, #hiphop, and so on;
You can find lists of music-specific hashtags here; pick the ones that fit best your music and your audience's interests;
As for Instagram Stories, you get ten hashtags per story, so pick them wisely and avoid using all ten not to look spammy;
Display Purposes functions straightforwardly. All you need to do is enter a relevant keyword or phrase, and it will come up with a list of corresponding hashtags you can use.
However, you will also need to identify which relevant hashtags people frequently search, and that's where Sprout Social comes in.
Instagram will primarily suggest those hashtags that get the most usage. If you need people to discover you first, it may not work for you very well. Another option would be to look at similar artists who have been able to generate organic engagement and see which hashtags they are using.
5. Promote Music on Instagram by Using Paid Posts and Ads
Next up on promoting music on Instagram is one feature that many beginner artists avoid: sponsored posts. It is a question of budget, marketing, and finding that sweet golden opportunity where you get views and engagement with as little money as possible. When it comes to posting music on Instagram, using ads is one way to go about it. So let's answer some of the hottest musicians' questions when it comes to this particular topic:
Do Instagram Ads Work for Music?
Yes, of course, they do. You can use ads to promote your music on Instagram to advertise a single or an album. If you have a pre-save campaign on Spotify, you can use the platform to drive traffic to that campaign. Moreover, Instagram ads for music help artists raise funds for their crowdfunding projects, gain awareness for a particular cause, increase engagement for a concert, a live stream, and so on.
The trickiest part about creating an Instagram ad is getting people to stop scrolling and look at it. You have eight seconds or less to capture their attention. Granted, this will be very hard to achieve if you're using music videos as Instagram ads, especially when most people are watching videos with the sound turned off.
Here are some solutions:
Do some hardcore editing, after which you should have a short clip of your original video.
Then add logos and captions to the snippet to get potential followers to pay attention.
One of the things that may work like a charm is to mention similar, more famous artists in the caption genre, along the lines of "for fans of…", and target an audience that listens to that particular artist. It will spark their curiosity, and they will be more likely to stop and give it a listen.
It's best to run a successful Instagram ad campaign if you convert your profile into a business account. You will get all of the same features, plus some extra ones, like analytics. They will allow you to track how the audience responds to your content.
With Instagram, you can promote your music via single images, videos, carousel ads, and Stories. When it comes to drawing attention to your music products, you need to keep your eye on two different balls at the same time:
- Content: choose the right content for the right audiences;
- Target: find and narrow down the best possible audience for what music you need to promote.
- Use Instagram Insights to get a clearer view of your account's followers and performance, the audience's engagement with specific posts, stories and IGTV videos, other insights, and metrics. You might think you address some fans with your art but have a completely different following in reality.
How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Music on Instagram?
Discussing advertisement and social media marketing costs is a topic for another time. What we can tell you is that expenses vary depending on a handful of factors. Just as it happens with Facebook sponsored posts, Instagram ads need trials, testing, and tweaking. It all hinges on the bidding model you choose. Let's say that you have to pay $10 for 1,000 impressions for the sake of argument. Is it enough for you? Do you want more?
Learn the ways of paid Instagram music promotion by A/B testing a few ads. Make sure they contain diverse content and different purposes targeting several types of audiences!
How Do You Start Instagram Ads for Music Promotion?
The first thing you need is an Instagram business page/profile to promote your music on Instagram through sponsored posts. Instagram ads work for any business, not only promoting actual music, albums, songs, etc. If you have an eCommerce site section selling dedicated band merchandise, you can advertise your products on Instagram as well.
Setting up an ad is probably the most challenging part. Don't rush things and think about your target audience and your ad objective.
Use the Ads Manager feature to customize and tailor your sponsored content for maximum outcomes.
Ponder your budget thoroughly. Sometimes, bigger budgets yield better results, but it also depends on what outcomes you want to achieve, so make sure you set your ad accordingly.
Publish your ad and track the results so you know how to do things better next time.
Promoting music on Instagram with paid posts is not an exact science, especially for beginners. However, you can get the hang of it by conducting numerous tests.
6. Promote Yourself as a Person (Who Also Happens to Be a Musician)
If you are worried you are tooting your own horn on Instagram a little too much, don't be. That's the whole point of social media for musicians, especially for those who are just starting to make a name for themselves. Aside from spamming your followers' feeds with your posts, everything else is fair game. It means you shouldn't shy away from promoting new songs, albums, or even new gear, such as guitars, band T-shirts, or amps. To get noticed, you will need to post regularly, so self-promotion comes with the territory.
If there is anyone who knows about Instagram music promotion and self-promotion, for that matter, it's DJ Khaled. It even spills over into his songs and guest appearances. Musical preferences aside, his Instagram game is on point. He has over 20 million followers, and most of his posts are about him.
Here's a shot of his with his certified gold album:
And here is another one:
Now, he might have gone over-the-top with his larger-than-life persona if it wasn't for a good dose of humor in each post. But, you get the idea. If there's a good enough reason to share something with your audience and promote it, don't hesitate to include it in your posts.
The idea here is to give a brand a human face and allow people to connect with you on an emotional level. After all, we all enjoy a quiet reading or TV moment with the family, have some hobbies, eat in restaurants, enjoy spending time with friends, play with pets, and so on.
Content diversification with a personal side to it is not just a method to directly promote your music on Instagram but show the world who you are. Suppose you know anything about business and visual storytelling on Instagram to gain audience loyalty. In that case, you realize that the best way to "sell" a product is to make people like you (and even identify with you) first. So here are some ideas:
Post content depicting you in fun, relatable everyday situations: relaxing with your band after a studio recording;
Display images of you having fun out in the park with the family or pets;
Promote something you like, and you think your fans will relate to as well: the latest DVD or book you bought, a still of you playing a video game, photos showcasing some new musical instruments you practice on, images of your hometown, etc.
You don't have to be "larger than life" or Photoshop your face on famous images – although it could work for some laughs and engagement. One of the cheapest and most natural ways to promote your music on Instagram is to show the public who is the creator of that art.
7. Go Live
We are reaching the last sections of our guide on promoting music on Instagram, and we couldn't skip the obvious. Going live and streaming one of your gigs or providing your followers with a behind-the-scenes look at your creative process is an incredibly effective way to connect and engage. Not to mention it's a clever way to market your new single, album, or tour.
You can provide a more interactive experience for your fans by organizing a Q&A session or making a big announcement regarding plans. Also, addressing your fans by their name is something that will go a long way toward establishing you as someone who cares about your audience. And if you can do all of this regularly, you will be able to see your fan base growing steadily.
8. Offer Free Music Samples
Offer free music samples to other content creators looking for soundtracks to create videos, presentations, ads, marketing materials, film school assignments, etc. You could put your music in front of millions just by offering free samples to accompany other peoples' Stories, motivational videos, book trailers, corporate presentations, and a handful of other ventures.
Find content creators, organizations, and entities with a significant following. Research the products they make. Is it beneficial to associate your music with their projects? If so, reach out to such content creators and offer them a sample directly, praising a piece of their content that you enjoyed. They will give you credit for your sample and put your name/sound in front of their audiences.
Another way to go about this is to search for #freemusic or #newmusicfriday on Instagram and take it from there.
9. Cross-Promotion on Social Media
Make sure you display all your social icons on your website – loud and clear. Ensure everybody can easily navigate to and from your Instagram account and your SoundCloud/Spotify pages.
Don't forget about Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms people use. If you spend time creating a gorgeous, engaging Instagram visual or video, it would be a shame not to share it on other platforms. After all, some content goes better with Twitter, while some posts have more success on Instagram.
Also, we recommend you give TikTok some thoughts. Sharing a public TikTok video on Instagram may bring you engagement from both networks, especially since TikTok is quickly becoming a huge marketing platform for artists and other businesses.
10. Influencer Marketing
Connect with influencers in your industry and try using them for spot-on influencer marketing on Instagram. By that, we mean other artists and bands with whom you can build excellent and beneficial relationships and collaborations. Instagram music influencers come in many shapes, so choose them carefully, don't make unnecessary or uncanny compromises, and make sure your music reaches the right audiences all the time.
11. Giveaways and Rewards
Give a shout-out to your fans and promoters every chance you get. If people see those other people like you and engage with your music, it means you must be doing something great. Promote your fans and followers, thank them, showcase their work from time to time. You can do it by organizing small-scale contests, polls, trivia sessions (with winners), and so on.
Prompting your users to become a part of your journey is critical. After all, you know you cannot separate legendary bands and artists from their fans. Your public is a living, breathing organism, so you should consider it carefully. Challenge your followers to create some artwork for your songs, for instance, or help you design the next band T-shirt. Fans love to engage with their favorite musicians, and you can keep them close and happy with the right type of content.
You can also drive more fan engagement with your Instagram account by giving away merchandise, premium content, or even music samples (for ringtones, personal Instagram Stories, etc.). As long as you don't violate Instagram's terms and services, you can run giveaways to reach out to audiences and increase fan loyalty.
A Few More Things to Know about Promoting Music on Instagram
You don't have to implement all of the tips we offered you in this guide. It would also be a bad idea to stick to just one and call it a day. As usual, you need to mix, match, try (and sometimes fail) to understand what your audience wants. Promoting your music on Instagram is not (and should not) be difficult or outrageously expensive. So let's see what else you could do to squeeze all the potential from Instagram music promotion!
Design an engaging website showcasing social icons (Instagram included), written and visual content, a blog, contact details, music samples, and so on.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, create a memorable logo to start building a brand.
To get the most out of Instagram music promotion, build an Instagram business page and tailor your profile to a T.
Consider creating print-on-demand branded merchandise for your audience to sell through your online store (from band T-shirts to mugs printed with your most famous lyrics, you can think of anything).
Don't neglect your Instagram account. Post regularly diverse content and make all the efforts necessary to promote your music, person, brand, and vision with your fans.
So, is Instagram for musicians? As you can see, if used right, Instagram can be a potent tool in your arsenal for promoting your music and connecting with the people interested in hearing and sharing it forward. We hope this guide on how to promote your music on Instagram helped you. Start implementing these tips today and get the word out. Feel free to refer back to this guide for expert tips, and good luck with promoting your music on Instagram – we are rooting for you!