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Instagram for Musicians

Social media is one of the most effective music marketing channels. With over 500 million users – 300 million of which are using the app every day – Instagram is a great way to engage with and grow your audience.

That being said, if you’re not using Instagram correctly it can be a major waste of your time. So here is a musician’s guide to Instagram and 5 music marketing tips to get you started. 

Know if You Should Use Instagram

While Instagram is great, it’s not for everyone. You shouldn’t just be promoting music on Instagram just because other people are doing it. 

As a musician, you should use Instagram if the demographics of your fanbase strongly correlates with their user base.

While 36% of all social network users are on Instagram, 55% of 18-29-year-olds are using the service. So it’s clear that a majority of their activity comes from 20-somethings.  Additionally, 65% of Instagram’s daily active users are female.

So, if a segment of your audience falls into the female 18-29 year old demographic, Instagram should be part of your social media strategy.

If you’re not sure, the easiest approach is to take a look at the audience at your next concert. Who’s in the crowd? Male or female? How old do they look? Of course, a more accurate option is to glance through the analytics of any other social channels you’re using like Facebook or Twitter.


Not sure what to post to Instagram? Download this free social media ebook: How to Promote Your Music: With 3 Social Media Checklists


When to Post on Instagram

If Instagram is definitely going to be a part of your social media and music marketing strategy, you need to determine the best times to post to get the most engagement.

According to a study by CoSchedule, Instagram users are most active on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8-9am. 

That being said, any data out there is an estimate based on everyone using the platform, and your audience could very well be different. If you want a more accurate idea of when to post your best bet would be to convert your Instagram profile to a business account to get access to on-board analytics specific to your audience.

To convert to a business account go to the “settings” menu and choose “Switch to a Business Account.” You’ll have to connect to your Facebook artist page to set it up. A Business account functions exactly like a personal account plus some additional features like analytics and a direct contact button.

Another option is to experiment with posting at different times and keep track of your engagement. Does posting at 7PM lead to more likes/comments than posting at 4PM?

Determine How Often to Post

With Instagram, you’re going to have to find a bit of a balance with posting. Posting too often can spam your fans’ feeds and lead to unfollows, but generally, the more active you can be, the faster your account will grow.

With that in mind, even if you have a bunch of photos ready to post it’s best to spread them out over a few days. Try posting once or twice per day depending on the amount of content you have available.

According to research by Buffer, the ideal frequency to post to Instagram is 1.5 times per day on average.  They noted, however, that posting more frequently didn’t seem to reduce engagement. Especially now that Instagram uses an algorithm to determine a post’s position in the feed, there’s a pretty low chance that your posts will appear bunched up.

It’s important to remember that these numbers are just guidelines. If you know there’s no way in heck you’ll be able to maintain one post per day, that’s FINE (seriously)! Figure out what you can realistically manage and stick with it – even if it’s every other day or even once a week. Putting out quality posts is always more important than meeting some number quota you read in an article.

Use the Right Hashtags

Just like Twitter, hashtags are big on Instagram. Think of them as organic discovery drivers – a way to build a fanbase with Instagram. People will often browse through certain hashtags to find new posts and new accounts to follow. The “Explore” tab will also use your hashtags to recommend your posts to relevant audiences, which is especially important if you’re just starting out.

So what are the best hashtags for musicians to use for music marketing on Instagram?

When choosing Instagram tags for musicians, don’t simply use what’s trending. You want to choose hashtags that reach a targeted audience that’s likely to be interested in your music. Relevance is key here. Going niche is always going to be better than going broad. So instead of using #music, use #progrock. Instead of using #guitar, use #fender. Instead of using #singer, use #acapella. 

To choose the right hashtags, check out what hashtags similar artists are using, especially on posts that are reaching a large number of users and have high levels of engagement.

Another way to see if a hashtag might effectively reach your fanbase is to simply browse the posts containing that hashtag. If these posts are related to things your audience is interested in, consider adding them to your next post. You’ll also see a list of related hashtags at the top of the Explore page if you search a specific tag.

Cross-Promote Your Instagram Posts

If you’re new to promoting your music on Instagram, a great way to start is by adding followers by cross-promoting your posts to other social media accounts.

When sharing a photo on Instagram, share the post to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts inviting people to follow you.

A study by Buzzsumo found that photos posted to Facebook via Instagram receive more engagement than natively posted images, so posting your Instagram images to Facebook can improve engagement and grow your following on both social networks.

The Bigger Picture

Even if you’re posting incredible content on Instagram and you have a ton of fans on the platform, it’s still only one part of your promotion strategy. If you want to effectively promote your music, you need to be thinking big picture and start getting your social followers to go deeper by signing up for emails and buying your music.

We show you how to do this in the free How to Promote Your Music guide. You’ll learn how to create interesting and engaging social posts, and how to start collecting emails and emailing your fans. Plus you’ll get three social media checklists with tons of post ideas to get you started!

If you want help promoting your music, consider signing up for the Music Business Accelerator program (MBA).

The class is part of the online music business training offered at New Artist Model.

Every musician today needs a great website. Each week someone asks me what platform is the best band website builder for musicians to create a killer website. There are many choices to be sure.

Bandzoogle has what appears to be the best balance of features and performance at an affordable price. Their monthly packages start at $8 per month and they do not charge any commission on sales of music or merch or tickets of any kind. As of the date of this post, Bandzoogle artists have generated over $21 million in sales of music, merch and tickets using its proven cloud based platform. Don’t you want to do that too?

best band website builder for musicians

Over 25,000 musicians have signed up for Bandzoogle, including many New Artist Model students. These guys have the best solution for presenting yourself online as a musician or band. And they have agreed to give you a 90 day free trial so you can check it out. This is a no brainer if you need a website or want to update the one you have.

Click here for a free webinar on building the ultimate musician website

Bandzoogle is easy to use with a step-by-step system that will get you up and running in minutes with a custom site that can grow along with you. With over 100 different mobile themes you can easily customize a site to really stand out.

Move your existing domain over or setup a new one.

Here’s what you get with your Bandzoogle website:

• Sell music, merch & tickets commission-free.
• Stream your music and setup downloads.
• Built in email list to send professional newsletters.
• Integrates with all online musician services.
• Reports and analytics to target your fans.
• Unbelievably great customer service.

Pull in content from all of your online services like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Pledgemusic, CDBaby, Gig Salad, Bandsintown, ArtistData, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iTunes, Amazon and more.

Add a store to your site in two clicks and start selling music, downloads, tickets and merchandise without having to pay any sales fee.

Create a blog and EPK. Post music, videos and photos. Setup your events calendar and a lot more. Everything you need is built-in and just a click away.

Try it for 3 months for free. After that, plans start at less than $10/month. Or you can simply walk away and pay nothing.

What’s the best band website builder for musicians to use to create a killer musician website? Check out Bandzoogle.

Just last week, Dave Cool of Bandzoogle and I did a webinar.

Build the Ultimate Musician Website

  • BUILD a high converting musician website.
  • LEARN exactly what features you need and why.
  • GROW your email list and expand your fanbase.

Click here to watch this recorded webinar – all free.

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo.

For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

Let’s talk social media. It’s something we all do as artists, but a lot of musicians aren’t using it to it’s full potential. Maybe you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter everyday but feel like your efforts are wasted because you’re not seeing any growth. Or maybe you don’t post as often as you should because you don’t know where to start. These are problems every musician will face their entire career.

The problem, I think, lies in the fact that we often will dump all social media channels into one big category. The term “social media” includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snap Chat, Pinterest, Linked In, Google Plus, and whatever else is out there. But all of those platforms couldn’t be more different!

Let me explain. Instagram is all about images. As an artist, you would post visually interesting photos relating to your music, use the description and comments to engage with your followers, and use relevant hashtags to try to reach new fans. If you tried to use that same approach on Facebook people would think you’re crazy. That’s because the way these two platforms work is completely different.

I’m sure you’ve run into “that guy” who just pushes out the same message to all his social channels. More likely than not, the message comes out formatted incorrectly on a few platforms because they didn’t take the specific requirements of those platforms into consideration when they posted. You end up with links in Instagram photo descriptions (even though they’re not clickable), messages that span across 3 tweets, and Facebook posts that go on and on in one big long paragraph.

The best solution is to get to know the social platforms you use. And I mean really get to know them. Pick one or two to focus your efforts on and learn everything you can about what to post, when to post on social media, how to format your posts and photos, and how to attract new followers on the platform.

To help you get started, I wanted to share this infographic from Start a Blog 123. It breaks down the best times and days to post on each platform as well as a guide that breaks down the best image sizes so you don’t get your awesome photos cut off!

when to post on social media

10 Social Media Secrets

Today, social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans and easily notify them with exciting news. With all the social media guides out there, you’d think no one remembers one of the key behavioral aspects to being human – socializing. I know, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – afterall, you still need to sell your show or record. Here’s 10 social media secrets to help you find that social media balance.


If you want more ideas and ways to promote your music on social media, check out this free ebook. You’ll get a ton of social media post ideas and 3 checklists to work through while promoting your music on social media.


1. Listen!

Socializing is, by nature, a two-way exchange. Try holding a conversation with someone with your ears plugged. Social media is talking with your audience! There are other tools out there for talking at an audience. Make it a habit to read comments and @messages. You’d do the same on your personal accounts, wouldn’t you? By listening to your fans you could also get valuable information like what new song they are digging the most or what they liked about your show last night.

2. Leverage online and offline.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some artists, like Alex Day have managed to build their career on one channel, most of us need to find a balance of online and offline. Maybe you leverage Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and some local shows in your area. The key is to think about how you can send fans from online to offline and visa versa. You need to create a flow.

3. Write posts yourself.

Don’t completely outsource Twitter or Facebook to a third party. Fans can tell the difference. Keep it real and learn. If you have a band, have members sign their posts with their name so fans can get to know everyone’s personality.

4. Be conversational.

On Twitter, make your tweets two-way. If you just make a statement, there’s no where for the conversation to go. Think about how you would approach starting a conversation in real life. Instead of saying “We have a gig tonight at this place,” try “We have a gig tonight at this place. What songs do you guys want us to play?”

5. Be genuine.

Talk about your life and what you believe in, as well as your music and career. Open yourself up, so that people can get to know you. It’s amazing how much interaction you can generate by posting a funny picture of your dog.

6. The 80/20 rule.

So exactly what is the balance between personal/interesting content and marketing content? I don’t like putting a formula to something as spontaneous socializing, but a general rule of thumb is that 80% of your content should be personal, funny, interesting, and entertaining, and 20% should be reserved for marketing pushes. Go beyond 20% and people start ignoring you. Keep it social. Keep it fun.

7. Drive interest.

Just like the flow between social media and the offline experience, you should also create a flow between your social media channels and your website. Your website is the hub of your career online. It’s where you make sales and have more detailed information for fans. Link creatively to your website, so that you give people fun and interesting reasons to visit.

8. Don’t over-invest yourself in every social media platform available.

A lot of musicians I’ve talked to find themselves completely consumed by social media. As a result, they don’t have much time left over for their music. You are only one person and can only do so much. Pick a few social media platforms and really focus on creating strong interaction and engagement on those platforms.

9. Pick platforms that are relevant to your image and brand.

If your target fan is a young teenage girl, Twitter and Instagram are your best bets, as these are the platforms where these girls spend the majority of their time. If you are a improvisational jazz band whose target fan is a forty-year-old working man, Facebook and email would probably be your best bet.

10. Make your channels unique. It’s also a good idea to use each social media channel slightly differently. Give your fans a reason to follow you on all platforms. While you can and should push important information out across all your channels, try to give it a different spin. If your announcing a gig try this approach: Take a picture of yourself in front of the venue and push it out to Instagram and use Facebook to drive engagement, asking fans what songs they want you to play. Get creative!

Want more social media secrets and ways to promote your music? Check out this article next and learn about 6 ways to promote your music.

This article is from Corie Kellman of Cyber PR. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full article here.

When all the numbers and the platform choices start to overwhelm you, take a step back and ask yourself – “If I was a fan, what would I want to see on my page?”

In the grand scheme of things, your pages are not about having the most views, the most likes or even the largest number of email subscribers – it’s about connecting with the ones that care enough about you to do something (Think: recommend your music to a friend… show up to a show… spend time at the merch table… buy something). When the platforms have evolved, changed their rules, or disappeared, those types of fans remain loyal and seek you out. These are the types of fans that are willing to pay for things that the fair-weather fans may not. Establishing good relationships with your fans is an essential step to monetizing your art.

One of my favorite ways artists are connecting with their fans and promoting fan engagement is contests. Contests are great for three important reasons:

1. Contests create fan engagement and bring fans together – they ask them to participate in your community and bring your fans together in friendly competition.
2. Contests give you new, fan-generated content to feed your page and share.
3. Contests give you a chance to give back – fans are a big reason why you are where you are at right now, and will continue to be a driving force in your career.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few contests to get your brain juices flowing:

Paraoke

Paramore asked their fans to submit a video of their best karaoke attempt to their recent single “Still Into You” – once all submissions were in, they picked their top six and asked their fans to vote to determine the winner. The lucky Paraoke Queen (or king) was up to grab the bicycle from the music video, two tickets to a show, and a merch pack.

This contest flooded YouTube with Paramore covers, allowing the band to promote their new release without shelling out big bucks. They used the contest to turn their fans into marketers.

We See You – You See Us

Screen-Shot-2014-01-02-at-8.32.30-AM

Third Eye Blind used instagram to run a contest, which they cross posted to their Facebook page for 20 fans to win a chance to attend a private practice at the rehearsal studio. All the fans had to do was upload their photo entries to Instagram and hashtag their entry #3EBontheroad– winners were chosen daily the entire week – encouraging fans to keep their eyes on the page all week.

Tell us about a contest one of your favorite bands ran!

If you are young and use the Internet, you know more about your audience than [labels] do – for sure. This is a revolution and you can be a part of it. The old guard is dying; if you have good ideas – try them. (Trent Reznor, via the 9 Inch Nails Forum) Unfortunately talent is only part of the equation these days. Succeeding as a musician in a multi-media world requires you to understand marketing. Savvy self-promotion means the difference between empty gigs and heaving ones, between your latest tune reaching the ears of a key decision maker or languishing in the echoes of your bedroom. Traditionally, musicians have kept to the ‘creative’ corner of the room, factoring marketing and PR as the realm of the business world, and hence nothing to do with ‘what I do.’ Those days are long gone. Unless you’re one of the lucky and incredibly rare ones talent spotted before you’ve had time to think, it’s up to you to learn some new skills and put yourself out there. It’s an investment in your career which may take you outside your comfort zone, but might just get you where you need to be. Twitter With its 500 million registered users, including most of the key decision makers of the music industry, Twitter is a potential gold mine for up and coming bands. After setting yourself up a stylish and well composed account, start by investigating some of the key bands in your particular niche. Are these guys using Twitter successfully?, if so see who their friends are and follow them! Then move on to the labels which sign your kind of music, the venues, promoters and so forth. Twitter’s total transparency allows you to listen in real time to the key industry figures, and learn from their success. When it comes to tweeting, less is certainly more. 140 characters on why your band is great won’t rock anyone’s world, rather concentrate on developing a persona: be witty, creative, share helpful links. And from time to time, but no more than that, a link to one of your best tunes might just build your fan base. Remember, an effective Twitter account, highly targeted to your niche, is going to be a long term investment. Once it’s working you can use it to pack out your gigs, sell albums and merchandise, and generally build yourself as a brand. But in a world of that many Twitter accounts, you’ll need to be smart and savvy to stand out from the crowd. Blogging Pete Townsend, David Byrne and Brian May are just some of the many legendary musicians who blog. Blogs can offer a highly personal online diary of what you and your band are up to which is another great way to build an audience. Although the web exists in cyberspace, its emotionally driven and, as such people look for content which engages them on a felt level. Include mp3’s of your rehearsals, links to interviews, polaroids of the diner you stopped off at on your way through Arkansas. Tell stories which communicate what you’re about, and always respond to comments. Your website itself sits at the top of a pyramid, with your social media accounts at a level below. Above all, try to generate the best content you can: quirky and hilarious always finds an audience, as does moving and thought-provoking. Blogging is about connection and, when that’s established, the commercial side of things will run itself. Instagram Still one of the fastest growing social networks, Instagram has found its niche with a young mobile audience interested in sharing images and video. The Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and Bon Iver are just of the legends using Instagram to great effect, offering quotes, setlists and insight, behind the scenes shots and humour, all to powerful effect. Images are the basic medium here, though video is allowed, so use your phone to capture moments which are going to resonate. Soup them up a little using programs like Camera + or Big Lens, which offer a host of cool filters and effects to make your footage stand out. Finally, following the example of Deftones, use competitions to maximum effect. With their 43,000 followers, Deftones use Instagram dynamically, offering rewards to fans who submit photos from some of their gigs, then showcasing the winners on the bands social media platforms. They even offered a signed guitar, as an incentive to get people involved. This kind of activity would have been unthinkable to a band in the 1960’s but is now a classic example of how a proactive and intelligent social media approach can propel a band further into the spotlight. Email If you’ve got a site, you need a sign up box on the homepage for fans who want to keep in touch with your output. This email database will end up being one of the biggest assets in your marketing arsenal, and certainly the most profitable. To understand the sheer power of email, you could do a lot worse than learning from the unlikely marketing guru of Trent Reznor from the 9 Inch Nails. Trent has written extensively about this on the Nails forum here pointing out how even the bosses of a big label won’t be nearly as concerned about the longevity of a band as the musicians themselves. He suggests embracing new media, such as email marketing, to take control of your own outreach. Trent, as well as bands like Coldplay, give away free albums on their sites in return for bands email addresses, thus bypassing major label distribution entirely. With Music City networks estimating the fiscal value of an email ID for bands as $111 annually, it’s not difficult to see that this kind of exchange ends up brilliant direct marketing, in which returns can go straight into your pocket. Remember to push your website at every gig and interview, and to then incentivise fans to sign up via prizes and rewards. Many people find http://bandcamp.com/ is a useful tool to build their lists: this site allows fans to download your music for free, as long as they give over their email ID. Definitely worth a shot. Jane McInness blogs about the music industry, as well as writing for the great Imagem Production Music blog here.

My buddy Bruce Houghton at Hypebot, caught me last week for a quick interview before Rethink Music.  Here is an except from our discussion:

HYPEBOT: Your new focus is on consulting and investing. Are there any sectors, particularly within music and music tech, that particularly interest you or where you see the most room for growth?

DAVE KUSEK: Online education is one of them. This is an area that is already transforming how people learn and gain job skills and it is only going to grow as time goes on. There are big opportunities here that will effect tens of millions of people around the world. Online training is going to be huge. Job requirements are shifting and people need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances that can benefit them. The traditional model of higher education is already under pressure and there are many people and companies exploring alternative models that are very interesting.

The other area I am bullish on is live music and live events. The live concert experience cannot be digitized, yet can benefit enormously from technology. There really has not been much innovation in live music or in music merchandising beyond ticketing. I think there is a lot more that can be done with mobile technology and am actively working in this area. My investment in Tastemate is one way of digging into this potential in a meaningful way. We will be bringing our service to a venue near you, very soon.

I also think that there is potential to expand the reach of live performance using remote technologies. I am interested in ways to cut the costs out of touring to make it more profitable and to reach broader audiences. It is amazing to me that there has not been more activity in this area either, so I am looking for companies and people to work with that are thinking differently about what live music is all about and how to make it even more lucrative.

HYPEBOT: What are some of the things that Digital Cowboys has done in the past or is looking to do now?

DAVE KUSEK: We are focused on business development, marketing and product development, particularly in online and mobile services. We also do strategy consulting for businesses wanting to expand or enter new markets or make acquisitions. I say we, because while I am the managing partner, I also leverage a network of people around the world and with different specialties that I bring together to form a team to address the issues. For example, with a lot of the product work that we have done I brought together a team of visual designers and user experience people to execute on the product vision and do the testing. With business development projects I sometimes work with friends that have particular contacts or relationships that are beneficial to my clients. Sometimes I put together a couple different investors or strategic partners to provide capital or distribution or some other need. The main thing is to get the work done and show results, while trying to have some fun and work on interesting projects that are pushing the envelope.

HYPEBOT: There’s some talk of another tech bubble. Do you see think we’re approaching one in music and media technology?

DAVE KUSEK: I do think that some of the deals we have seen recently are off the charts, like Instagram – but who knows? That has all the earmarks of “bubble” written all over it. But Facebook is also about to go public and at their level, what’s another billion dollars?

But really I don’t think overall that we are at the point of frivolousness and excess that we witnessed in the earlier dot-com bubble, at least not yet. I believe that people are just beginning to figure out better ways to communicate and interact and learn via technology. That is having massive implications on the future of society around the world. Take a look at the stock market trend over the past 100 years and you will see that things tend to move up and people get smarter and more prosperous. I am an optimist.

There are a lot of music startups getting funded these days and certainly they are not all going to make it. I think we will see some consolidation in the DIY space as there are probably more companies addressing that market than the market really needs. The same is true for music streaming and distribution and music discovery. I think the real breakthrough companies will be formed by trying to do something completely different, rather than mimicking the past with technology. We’ll see.

HYPEBOT: Any plans to write a follow-up to the “Future Of Music” book?

DAVE KUSEK: I plan to spend a lot more time posting things to my blog and on digitalcowboys.com. This is a much better way to continue to update original thinking and way more efficient than writing another book. The music industry has gone digital and online outlets like Hypebot really do work as conduits in this business. That is a real bright spot in the transformation of the music industry. So, look for more at futureofmusicbook.com.

You can get the entire interview here.

More coverage from Hypebot here and from Billboard here.