Whilst Instagram is undoubtedly a great way to promote your music, sometimes posting content can feel like shouting into the void. So how can you get yourself out there, and make sure you’re not being drowned out by everyone else’s yelling?
First off, there is a difference between being a great musician and being a musician who is great at social media. There are many artists who’s music I love, who I support, listen to, go to see live… but who’s social media presence leaves a lot to be desired. Then there are artists who are the opposite – I might not care for their music, but when it comes to social media they are smashing it. This list includes DJ Khaled, Marshmello, Loren Grey, Lewis Capaldi, and Taylor Swift.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – of course these guys, with their huge budgets and very interesting lives, are making great content! But, there’s still a lot any artist can learn from their approach to Instagram. Firstly, the sheer amount of content they’re creating is impressive. DJ Khaled, for example, often posts about 20 photos or videos on his feed, as well as 40+ stories, in one day! Meanwhile, Loren Gray creates what is essentially a daily vlog via Instagram stories with around 40-60 posts a day. And it works! These guys each have millions of followers, and no matter what you think of their music, if you want to grow your audience, you need to be taking a leaf out of their books, and posting more than just once every few days.
The next thing you might notice about these music titans’ feeds is that weirdly, there’s not a huge amount of music being posted. You might see shots of audiences or live shows, of them playing music or singing – but actual music is pretty rare. It might seem strange, but there is a reason for this – think about how you use Instagram. When you’re looking through your home page, your scrolling finger is pretty unlikely to stop for longer than a few seconds to listen to a new single.
What these artists do instead is very cleverly promote their music, without really promoting their music. They build a personal brand – they post stories, connections, conversations. By keeping up this online presence, and making you feel like you know them, they’re reminding you that they’re there, which is a great advert for their music in itself. They also have very clear links and calls to action – in their bio, highlights, etcetera, so their music is always easily accessible from their page. Finally, they post lot of social proofing, letting you know how many people are loving the music and encouraging you to get involved.
So, how would I take inspiration from these guys to promote my music on Instagram?
I would make consistent, interesting content which builds up a personal brand and gives people an insight into myself as an artist and a person. This would include: social proofing, my daily life, behind-the-scenes… You need to give your audience a good story. I would also be all over the comments like a rash to bring as much value as possible – reply to people, engage with your audience. Then I would make simple adverts to run along side the content – direct calls to action in stories and on my feed – i.e. ‘New single out now, swipe up to listen’ or ‘New video out now, link in bio’.
Another key way I would promote my music, is to let others do it for you! You pushing your own music is not as powerful as someone else doing it. Getting people with influence to share your work is a great marketing technique, but it can cost you. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it – and often it is! But if you’re yelling at the screen right now because you’re broke, or because an Instagram shoutout is the last thing you want to spend your money on, I get it. So get creative – maybe your fan base will be willing to do it, or maybe you can offer people free gig tickets, or free merch. The key is to build enough value that people share your music because they want to.
So, the key takeaway? Promote your music, without really promoting your music. Build value, build a brand, and then, when people are hooked, guide them to your music and they will follow.