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Instagram for musicians: How to get noticed and promote your music

A person's hand holding a phone showing the Instagram login page | WHABBY Music

With over 1 billion active monthly users, many of whom are voracious music consumers, Instagram is the perfect social media platform for musicians. 

With a strong Instagram presence, you can connect with your existing fans, reach new audiences, promote your music, and start new partnerships with other artists⁠ – and that’s just the beginning. 

Whabby can help you boost your Instagram once you get started, but to really win at the Instagram game, you need a good strategy. And lucky for you, we’ve outlined the most important steps you can take now to turn your Instagram profile into a music-promotion machine. 

First, we’ll talk about why Instagram for musicians is such a valuable way to promote your music, and then we’ll walk you through how to set up an account, use it to reflect your brand, and grow your following. Let’s dive in. 

Why musicians should use Instagram 

We already know Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms, but what’s more important is how much time users spend on the platform. According to Sprout Social, Instagram users average just under an hour a day on the platform. That’s a lot of time spent scrolling through photos, stories, and video. 

Speaking of which, if you think Instagram is just about photos of beautiful scenery, cute puppies, and pouting models, think again. 

Though photos should definitely be a part of your Instagram musician strategy, the real value of the tool comes with its video options. You can upload a minute-long video to your regular feed, a 15-second video clip to your stories, and a full hour of live-streaming video. You can also upload hours of footage to Instagram TV. 

In short, you can use Instagram to post anything from a few seconds of a “teaser track” to a full-on concert from your living room. 

If you have some budget to spend on advertising, Instagram may be a wise place to invest. Even with a modest budget, you can promote your posts, meaning more people will see ads for your upcoming album or gig, or they can click to purchase your merch. 

Last but not least, Instagram is quite easy to use. If you’re already on the platform, then using it for business purposes won’t be too different from what you already know. 

And for those of you who are Instagram newbies, don’t worry. We’re going to break down exactly how to set up your profile, and then what to do to start growing followers and promoting your music. 

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

How to set up an Instagram profile for musicians 

If you’re brand new to Instagram, the first thing to do is download the free Instagram app from the Apple App store or Google Play. After that, open the app and follow the steps to set up a normal account. If you don’t plan to use it much, you can just fill out the basics. 

Then the real fun starts. 

To make the most of your Instagram account as a musician, you will need to turn it into a creator account. It’s free to make the switch, and you can switch back to your personal profile at any time. You won’t lose anything on your regular profile, so don’t sweat it.

A business profile will give you a few benefits: a streamlined messaging system, better access to analytics, and more control over your shared content. 

Here’s how to turn your Instagram profile into a creator profile. It’s best to do this from a mobile phone, rather than a desktop. 

  1.  Navigate to your profile by tapping your photo in the lower right-hand corner.
  1. Click the three lines (hamburger menu) in the upper righthand corner. This will pull up a menu. Click “Settings.” 
  1. At the bottom of the new menu that appears, click the blue text that says “Switch to Professional account” 
  1. Next, you’ll need to choose a username for your account. Ideally, you can use your musician name or something close to it. 
  2. Select the Creator option. 
  1. Next, choose the category that best fits your musician status. You can just choose musician, or DJ, or musician/band, etc. You can choose to share this status on your profile or hide it. 
  1. Click done. 

And that’s it! Now you’re using your Instagram account as a professional creator. To switch back to your traditional profile, just navigate to your profile and tap your username at the top of the screen to see your other profiles in a dropdown menu. 

Step-by-step strategy guide for musicians on Instagram

Now that you’ve got a squeaky clean new professional profile, how do you start using Instagram to promote your music? There’s a lot you can do, but we’re going to walk you through a tried and tested step-by-step strategy to go from zero (followers) to hero. 

Do your research

Before you start filling out your Instagram profile, it’s a good idea to get some inspiration from other artists who are already out there doing it. 

Take some time to search for bands that are similar to yours, or artists whom you admire. Take some notes on what kinds of posts they make, how they interact with fans, and what they’ve done in terms of a profile photo and bio. Remember, this is about finding inspiration, not copying anyone – you’ll eventually settle on a style that works best for you.  

While you’re at it, why not pay our Instagram page a visit? We regularly share some of our favourite music from indie artists.

Choosing a perfect profile photo

Your profile photo is an important part of your Instagram account – it’s usually the first image people see when they check out your profile. 

The photo you choose should be a reflection of your band aesthetic. If you’re a solo singer, for example, you might want to upload a photo of you at the microphone. If you’re an indie rock band, a photo of you and your bandmates with your instruments might be better. You could also keep it simple with just your brand logo. 

Writing your bio

Your bio is the blurb of text (only 150 characters!) where you can tell your followers who you are. You should try to show some personality in this write-up, but more importantly, make sure you mention your band name and link to your website (if you have one) or latest tracks. It might be a good move to shorten your links using a service like Bit.ly or SmartURL if you want to save on space. 

Instagram also allows you to use hashtags in your bio, as this can make it easier for people to find you. You can use a basic hashtag, like #music, or something more specific to your genre (like #rhythmandblues). Feel free to change your bio from time to time – perhaps after a new album release, or before a live performance.  

Decide on your aesthetic 

To have a truly popular Instagram page, you want to settle on a certain aesthetic. This word that gets thrown around a lot, but it boils down to the look and feel of the things you post on Instagram. 

@Dreebsby uses a blend of candid shots, performances, and album artwork to reflect his brand aesthetic. 

For example, you may find that a certain style of photo – closeups on your hands as you play music, or smiling and active photos of the band having a great time – best represent your musician brand. Or perhaps you like to use specific colors or backdrops to tie together your aesthetic. 

Make yourself a “branding guideline” document – a list of attributes that you want to showcase on your page. Then use that to maintain consistency as you begin posting.    

Crafting traditional posts

You’ve done the research, decided on an aesthetic, and set up your account. Now it’s time to start posting. 

To begin, you’ll want to create around 10 – 15 posts to fill up your page, so you don’t look like a deserted or suspicious account. 

When crafting a basic post for your feed, there are a few key things to keep in mind (these go for both photo posts and video clips): 

  1. Localize your post. While uploading, you’ll have the option to tag a location on your post. Do it when appropriate – this helps people who are looking for local musicians find you.
  2. Create an engaging caption. You can describe the photo, write some text about why you chose to post it, provide details on your upcoming gigs, or just make a funny joke. Either way, try to be creative and informative. When you can, include a question in the post, so you can start a conversation with fans. 
  3. Use music hashtags as you post. You can always use #music and your genre as a hashtag, but also try music hashtags like #instamusic, #newmusic, #livemusic, etc. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, so you can write a bunch of them at the bottom of your caption, where it won’t look too spammy. 
  4. Consider crossposting. Instagram lets you automatically share your posts to Twitter and Facebook, if you like. The posts can sometimes look a little strange when they copy over, so try it out before you make a commitment to do this every time. 

In terms of what you should post, this is entirely up to you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started: 

  • Photos of your band and bandmates
  • Video clips of recording or practice sessions
  • Imagery of your instruments
  • Pictures of your merchandise 
  • “Posters” for any upcoming gigs 
  • Quotes from your song lyrics
  • Album covers

Posting videos and uploading to IGTV

Video posts get high engagement on Instagram, so it’s never a bad idea to post some video clips. If it’s just a short clip (a minute or less), it’s a good idea to just post it on your regular feed. 

If you have a longer video – of a live performance, a music video, or a recording session – you can upload the longer footage to IGTV (which is like Instagram’s answer to YouTube).

Here’s a guide from Instagram on how to upload video to IGTV

Making compelling Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are one of the best ways to connect with your audience, as they appear at the top of the Instagram home screen, and they can be saved as permanent “highlights” to your profile. (Here’s a guide on how to do that.)

When you first create a story, they’ll be featured at the top of your follower’s feeds for 24 hours. This makes them the perfect tool for telling a story (no brainer there, given their name). For example, you might take a series of photos and video clips of your band making a music video, traveling to a gig together, or working on a song. Or you can just show the fun side of your band, hanging out, dancing, or goofing around. 

Instagram stories allow you to add stickers to them, and one of the best ones for Instagram music folks is the “music” function. If you have your songs uploaded on Spotify, you can feature them right there as a track to any story you create. Just click on the stickers icon and type in “music” to find the sticker that will pin your song to the story.  

How musicians can grow their followers on Instagram

Posting regularly and using hashtags will naturally help you grow your following, but there are a few other things you can do to get noticed on Instagram.

Follow others

Begin growing your followers by following other accounts on Instagram. 

A word of warning: We are not suggesting you start following everyone you come across. Following too many people (and doing so randomly) is a violation of Instagram’s terms of service, and could land you in hot water.  

Instead, you want to spend your time looking for people who you think would genuinely enjoy your music and updates. Follow these people with the honest intention of engaging with them, and you’ll be much more likely to see your own follower count grow. 

A good way to start is by following musicians whom you know or admire, especially if they are similar to you in style.

Next, you can look into those musicians’ accounts followers. Peek through the profiles you find there, and follow people who seem to be engaged on Instagram and interacting with musicians. Again, don’t try to follow anyone and everyone—be selective, and stick to following 5 – 10 accounts maximum per day.  

Return the favor of engagement

Instagram is all about engagement, and like life, you get what you give. This means you need to spend some time engaging with your followers on Instagram. 

For starters, respond (in a friendly, polite, and fun way) to anyone who leaves a comment on one of your posts. Try to respond to direct messages as well, so that fans know you’re listening to them. 

Spend time also commenting on others’ posts – those of people who follow you, as well as  bands you admire. 

If you feel a relationship growing with someone you’ve connected with, consider moving the conversation over to the direct message section. Here you can have a private, one-on-one conversation where you can get to know your contact further. Avoid pushing hard sells on them right away—be genuine, ask them about their music (or whatever it is that connected you two in the first place), and when the time is right, you can share your latest tracks with them or broach the subject of collaborating.  

Link your Instagram profile to your other promo channels

If you’re already using other marketing channels to promote your music, you’ll want to make sure you let people who are already engaging with your band know you are on Instagram. 

Put links to your Instagram on your website, your email signature, your Spotify, Soundcloud, or Apple music profile, or anywhere else you can think of. If you have an emailing list, send them a mailing telling them you’re on the platform and asking them to follow you. You can even print your Instagram handle on your merch (or the cards/labels you send with your merch), so people can easily find you. 

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Instagram for musicians: How to get noticed and promote your music
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