Instagram’s potential for promotion is massive, especially for musicians. So we’ve created this essential guide to the best tips, tricks, hacks & know-hows you need to effectively promote your music on Instagram.
Instagram has more than one BILLION active monthly users. So as well as releasing your music to Instagram, it’s well worth investing some time in creating and maintaining an awesome Insta profile.
<p style="width: 350px; padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; border: 5px solid #000000; text-align: left; font-size: 14px;">CHAPTERS:<br><a href="#editprofile">1. Edit & maintain your profile</a><br /><a href="#postcontent">2. Post great content</a><br /><a href="#lookthepart">3. Look the part</a><br /><a href="#planahead">4. Schedule & plan ahead</a><br /><a href="#hashtags">5. Use hashtags</a><br /><a href="#stories">6. Tell Instagram Stories</a><br /><a href="#reels">7. Post Instagram Reels</a><br /><a href="#sponsored">8. Ads & sponsored posts</a><br /><a href="#addtracks">9. Add your tracks to Insta</a><br /><a href="#golive">10. Go live</a><br /><a href="#influencers">11. Recruit influencers</a><br /><a href="#prizes">12. Prizes & giveaways</a></p>
In fact, there are lots of musicians and influencers who have built a career off the back of Instagram alone.
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Remember, it’s important to spread your efforts and focus on all aspects of music promotion. But with that in mind, let’s dig into how Instagram can help you reach new fans, engage current ones and grow your brand as an artist.
Best ways to promote music on Instagram
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1. Edit & maintain your profile
Setting up your Instagram profile and bio is pretty straightforward. But there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure it’s optimised and being used to it’s full potential.
Make sure your profile picture has the right aesthetic and conveys your brand identity and image. It could be a headshot, band photo, a logo or unique graphic – it’s your call.
Also, make sure it’s a perfect square too with nothing too crucial at the edges. You don’t want anything getting lost when Instagram crops it into a circle.
You can check our social media image size guide for all the deets on this!
Getting verified on Instagram is another great thing you can do to boost the legitimacy & authenticity of your Instagram persona.
You'll need to request for verification and include details about you, your music, plus links to any noteworthy press you've garnered so far.
You’ve got 150 characters to say whatever you want in your bio, and you can change it at any time.
Perhaps the most important part of your bio is the link. Instagram doesn’t like links, and your bio is the only place you can share one with your followers, so make it count!
You might choose to link to your latest release or your upcoming show tickets, whatever is most important right now. Make sure to mention "link in bio" when you post something about it.
Also think about using your bio to cross-promote. Including links to your other social accounts - such as Twitter & TikTok - is an easy way to direct traffic from your Instagram and grow your followings elsewhere.
<p style="padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #000000; border: 4px solid #000000; border-radius: 25px; text-align: center;"><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;"><strong>TIP: There are free specialist tools out there, like Linktree for example, that can consolidate all your key links onto on webpage. You can then use this URL in your bio and link to everything at once. It’s a great way to link all your important stuff from your Insta profile and an easy trick to get around the platform’s one link rule.</strong></span></strong></p>
Remember - when you distribute with Ditto you'll get your very own free Ditto SmartLink that you can feature in your insta bio - with links to all your recent releases across multiple music platforms.
At Ditto, we use Linktree to consolidate all our important links on one page. Then link to it from our Insta bio!
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2. Post great content
This is obvious, right? But what exactly is “great content”?
Well, that depends entirely on you and your audience.
What makes great content?
It could be backstage photos, clips of your live set, music promo graphics, funny memes, inspirational posts, pictures of your musical heroes… the list goes on.
What’s important is how your followers will respond to it. You should know your audience better than anyone, and use this knowledge to create the kind of content you know they’ll get a kick out of. Keep it authentic, keep it engaging, keep it real.
<p style="padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #000000; border: 4px solid #000000; border-radius: 25px; text-align: center;"><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;"><strong>TIP: Try to always have a video teaser of your music within the first 6 posts. This makes sure potential followers checking out your feed can get a taste of your music as soon as they come across your Insta profile, without having to scroll down too far.</strong></span></strong></p>
Don’t be afraid to take inspiration
If you’re struggling for content ideas, don’t be afraid to look at what similar artists and other musicians you admire are doing on their Insta.
Obviously, don’t just straight up copy them. That’s not cool. Instead, take the type of stuff they're posting and put your own stamp on it to make it your own.
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3. Look the part
Invest some time in your graphic design skills. Make sure all your graphics and album art looks professional and eye-catching, and convey a slick and consistent brand identity.
Photoshop is powerful & popular, but there are free design tools out there too.
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4. Schedule & plan ahead
When it comes to your Instagram feed, it can be helpful to make a plan and schedule posts in advance.
Spur of the moment content can work well too, but this isn’t true all the time, particularly when you’re posting content to your stories (which we’ll get into shortly), but it can help ease the pressure if you work in advance.
Scheduling and planning ahead is a particularly good idea if you’ve got a single/album launch or a tour announcement coming up. You can create and plan your posts and graphics in advance, then schedule them to go live at a specific time.
<p style="padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #000000; border: 4px solid #000000; border-radius: 25px; text-align: center;"><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;"><strong>TIP: There are loads of Instagram scheduling tools and services out there like Hootsuite, Later and Buffer, many of which have free options. Try them out and see which you prefer.</strong></span></strong></p>
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5. Use hashtags
Hashtags are still an effective way to reach new potential fans with your Insta posts.
If you’re still starting out building an Insta following, don’t hold back on the hashtags. Lots of Insta users still use hashtags based on their own interests to find accounts they’d like to follow, so it’s always worth piling them on.
The max number of hashtags you can use is actually 30, but start out using around 10-20 while you’re still building a following. You don’t want to come off as too spammy or posts can lose their authentic feel.
<p style="padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #000000; border: 4px solid #000000; border-radius: 25px; text-align: center;"><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;"><strong>TIP: We’ve found that hashtags work the more effectively if you post them as a comment, rather than in the post itself.</strong></span></strong></p>
Choosing your hashtags
So what hashtags should you be using?
Well, you should use hashtags that align both with your persona and your music. So for example if you’re an indie band – use #IndieMusic #IndieRock #LiveMusic. You could also hashtag nearby locations, similar artists, anything that’s relevant to you and your music.
If you’re struggling to come up with hashtags, check out an online hashtag generator. You just type in your genre of music, hit generate and watch the hashtags roll in.
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6. Tell Instagram Stories
Over 500 million people are posting and viewing Instagram Stories every single day. They’re a great way for musicians to share personal updates and off-the-cuff content with fans.
You can use Stories to promote anything and everything. Just released a music video? That’s a story! Got a gig tonight? Share a story backstage! Just bought a new bit of gear? Why not do a quick story about it.
Stories are often more spur-of-the-moment and a great way to give your followers an authentic look at your musical journey and life in general.
Ideas for Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories have lots of engaging features such as location tags, insta users, hashtags, gifs, links and more.
There are some great features that encourage your fans to interact with you and your profile too. You can spark a debate by using the ‘poll’ or ‘ask me a question’ features. Or the ‘countdown feature’ is a cool way to announce when your next gig is happening or your new release is coming out.
Adding to that, Stories tie right into direct messages. Fans can choose to “Reply” to your story, which will send you a DM. This opens up opportunities for one-on-one conversations between you and your fans.
If a fan direct messages you, it’s always worth replying! Unless of course it’s a troll sending you creepy or offensive stuff. Just ignore and block those d-bags.
One on one conversations with genuine fans can build much stronger relationships, so chat away to as many as you can.
Recently, Instagram also launched their "Like a Story" feature - meaning fans can spread the love and let you know they loved your Story with the tap of a heart. Keep an eye out for the love hearts to see how your Story content efforts are yielding the response you hoped for.
Adding stories to highlights
One important thing about stories is that they only last for 24 hours. After that, they’re gone.
Well, that’s not entirely true. You can find them in your archive and create highlights.
You can categorize your highlights so new fans can flip through your past stories based on different interests. You could have a one set of highlights for a certain tour, another for studio sessions, another for rehearsals, etc etc.
Chance the Rapper's Instagram highlights including his album, family and 2018!
Links in Instagram Stories
Another great thing about stories is that, unlike feed posts, it’s sometimes possible to add links.
While adding inks to Instagram Stories was previously only available to users with over 10,000 followers, as of a major new update, Instagram Story links are now available to anyone with a business or creator account!
Regardless of your followers, you can now add a link to your story via Instagram's clickable link sticker. To add a link, just click the link sticker icon from the Instagram Stories sticker tray while editing your Story.
<p style="padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #000000; border: 4px solid #000000; border-radius: 25px; text-align: center;"><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;"><strong>TIP: It’s also well worth actually telling viewers to “click the link” in your story. This is what’s known as a “call to action” and will help to get more people following your link.</strong></span></strong></p>
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7. Post Instagram Reels
Born off the back of TikTok, Instagram Reels are the latest content craze all over the platform.
The IG Reels feature allows users to post short, 15 - 30 seconds long video clips in portrait view, and add features like music or audio, editing cuts/stitches & stickers to create highly entertaining, watchable content for other users to engage with on the app.
So for musicians, Reels are actually one of the best ways to get creative and feature your music in a visually interesting or memorable way. Maybe you'll use your track to overlay some sort of stitched video montage, post a clip from your latest music video or show a quick demonstration of your favourite music production technique.
The point is - short form content vids have BLOWN UP on Instagram and something tells us they're here to stay - so don't miss out!
Looking for a little more info? We've got a whole other article all about promoting music on Instagram Reels.
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8. Instagram ads & sponsored posts
Paying for Instagram ads and sponsored posts is an easy way to put your content in front of new people.
You don’t need to break the bank with ads, so it’s worth experimenting to see what impact they make on your following and engagement.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so you can actually set up Instagram ads through Facebook Ads Manager.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ads Manager here’s a quick overview of how to get started.
How to set up Instagram Ads
Often, the best way is to learn by doing. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of Ads Manager so jump in and play around.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when it comes to setting up and running Instagram ads.
Firstly, decide what your goals and aims are. Ads Manager does offer up examples of goals to track. Some of the most useful ones for musicians include Brand Awareness, Engagement & Video Views.
Remember, clear goals are easier to track and make it much easier to decide whether your ads are making the impact you were expecting.
Next, set yourself a budget.
If you’re new to sponsored posts and ads, start small with your budget, and work things out as you go, so you don’t blow loads of money straight away.
Depending on the goals you’ve set, you can choose to pay either by cost per thousand impressions, or cost by click.
Instagram ads work like an auction, so the cost of them is decided by the amount of competition for the particular audience you’re targeting.
Which leads us on to finding and setting up your target audience.
There are loads of options for setting up audiences in Ads Manager, based on location, gender, interests and other things. So again, just have a play around and see what options suit you best.
Then it’s just a case of creating and uploading your ad. Instagram ads can include photos, videos, carousels and stories. Make sure to check out Insta’s design requirements and recommendations to make sure your ad will be accepted.
Ads Manager will guide you through all these steps and flag up anything that might be wrong, so we’d recommend setting up an account and just trying it out for yourself to get familiar.
Once your ad is live, you can track its performance, see what’s working and what isn’t, and make changes if you want to.
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9. Add your tracks to Music in Stories
One more thing about Instagram Stories.
When you release a track though us here at Ditto Music, you can actually select the option to release it to Instagram and Facebook, as well as release music to major platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. That means it’ll be in Instagram’s “Music in Stories” audio library for everyone to post in their own stories.
So if you’re not already releasing music through Ditto, you can create a free account and get started here.
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10. Go Live
Instagram has it's own "Go Live" feature which allows creators and users to form a live stream session right from their profile.
The obvious choice would be going live with a performance of your song, either at a gig or at home. But you can also use it cleverly to promote behind-the-scenes, uncut material that you think your fans would love to see.
Live streams are also a great way for your fans to learn new things about you and establish a strong one-on-one connect with the artist behind the music. Live Q&A's are extremely popular between fans and their favourite influencers, creatives & artists. Invite users to join at a set time and watch the questions roll in. User generated content made simple.
New singles, new merch and new tour announcements are also a great way to utilise the Live feature. Just make sure you tell fans ahead of time when they should tune in, and be weary of things like time differences if you've got a mixed, global fanbase.
Get more tips on how to live stream your music here.
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11. Recruit Instagram influencers
Alongside TikTok and Youtube, Instagram is one of the top places to find music influencers to promote your music to a large fanbase of people who might not know about you yet.
Popular musical tastemakers on Instagram have the ability to land your music in a prime exposure spot and send it viral - if you only know how to find one.
Learn more about how to find influencers to promote your music.
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12. Prizes & Giveaways
Giveaways, competitions and rewards are a great incentive to get your fans more actively engaged with you on Instagram.
Think about it from your perspective - if there's a prize involved, you're much more likely to get stuck into whatever it is that's promoting that prize for a chance to win.
And you don't have to break the bank either - rewards like free merch, gig tickets, samples or premium content are all great prize ops that fans won't want to pass up.
Start by organising some small-scale competitions, polls, trivia sessions etc. (all with rewards), to get your feet off the ground. Once you know it's something your fans want to get involved with, you can start pushing it into the big leagues and levelling up the prize pot.