Instagram for Musicians

Now with over 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram has become one of the most important social media platforms for musicians, especially younger generations. It’s such a versatile platform with plenty of functions and settings that the average user might miss.

In this blog, I will cover Instagram tips, tricks, tools and tactics from the most basic to more well known ones to maximize your presence and fan engagement on Instagram.
 

Add Lyrics to Your Songs In Instagram Stories

 

One of the newer features on Instagram Stories is the ‘Music’ sticker that adds lyrics to your story from a song you choose. There’s a good chance your music doesn’t have lyrics to show, but here’s how you add them.

When you upload your music to your music distributor (CDBaby, TuneCore, DistroKid), make sure to opt-in to Instagram & Facebook monetization which allows your music to be used in Instagram Stories.

Facebook and Instagram pulls lyrics from a third party site called MusixMatch. In order to add lyrics to MusixMatch, you need to verify your artist account on their platform. This allows the lyrics you input, to be the official lyrics.

Go to their website and follow the steps here:
https://about.musixmatch.com/artists/verified-artist

Once you are verified, you’ll sign in and add lyrics to your songs by clicking the ‘add lyrics’ or ‘+’ by the names. They will show specific guidelines, so make sure you follow them.

Once you submit lyrics to your song, there’s a MusixMatch app where you can listen to the song and sync your lyrics to the music. Go on the Musixmatch app, find your song and click on ‘Sync.’ You basically tap the button when the lyrics should be coming in.

It may take some time for Instagram to pull the info from MusixMatch and have the changes live in Instagram Stories.

Other Notes:

  • Musixmatch should pull your new releases from Spotify and Apple Music. If your music is not on musixmatch.com, you will need to email them at [email protected] with Spotify and Apple Music links to your release.
  • Make sure to input the lyrics accurately the first time around, because it can be annoying to fix and redo. Same goes with syncing the lyrics to the song. Once the song is synced, there’s no way to redo without having to email them and have them start the process over.
  • If there are instrumental gaps between lyrics
  • It can take days and maybe even a week for song lyrics to show in Instagram Stories so be patient.
    If your song lyrics actually contain the word “lyrics,” it may be flagged as spam and not save to the website.

 

Convert to a Creator Account

 

One of the first things you should do if you haven’t already, is convert your Personal account into a Creator account. Instagram now has two types of Professional accounts and the Creator account was made for artists, musicians, influencers and other public figures.

A Business account used to be the standard for anyone that wasn’t using it for only personal use, but now it applies more for retailers, local businesses and organizations.

Creator Account gives you:

  • Access to growth metrics in your analytics.
  • A ‘Promotions’ button to easily pay to promote your posts.
  • An action button to your public profile. The most relevant action button is ‘Email’ unless you use a service like SuperPhone where you can have people call or text you.
  • Separate tabs for direct messages (DMs) to make it easier to manage higher volumes of DMs.
Here’s how to do it: To do this from your profile screen, click the ‘Menu’ icon in the upper right hand corner. Select ‘Settings’ and go to ‘Account’. You should see an option to switch to a ‘Professional’ account on the bottom. You will need to connect your Instagram to a Facebook Business page. When the creator account was first introduced, you needed 10k followers but it looks like this requirement has been removed.

 

Swipe up function in IG Stories

 

As you may already know, you are only allowed one active that can link outside of Instagram, which is on your Instagram bio. You can’t even share a clickable link in your post captions. The only other way to show links is through the swipe up function in Stories.

Here’s how to do it: Take a photo or video in the Stories screen. Click on the ‘chain link’ icon at the top. Type in the URL you want people to go to when they swipe up. Click ‘done’ when finished then post your Story as you normally would.

In order to get the swipe up ability, you need to hit 10k followers. It makes it so convenient and useful to link your fans to your videos, ticket links and merch. It opens up a lot more possibilities too, because you can save your individual Stories with these links into Story Highlights.

Otherwise, the only other way to offer a swipe up to a link is through paid Instagram Ads.
 

Add More Links to Your Profile

 

We all know that you can only have one active URL at a time. A common workaround is to use one of these free link services that allows you to display multiple links from the URL in your Instagram bio.

Once you create an account, you will copy the URL they provide and insert it into your Instagram bio. Now when someone clicks on it, it will load a simple page with other links in it. You can include a link to your website, your latest single, music videos, merch or a newsletter sign up.

Popular link service options:

 

Adding Line Breaks or Paragraphs to Your Caption

 
This is one of my favorite ones. If you’ve ever tried spacing out your caption with line breaks or empty lines using ‘return’, you’d realize that it doesn’t work and Instagram doesn’t allow it.

Here are a few ways to add those line breaks to help make your captions less cluttered and clean looking.

1) Use a web app
https://apps4lifehost.com/Instagram/CaptionMaker.html

Simply type out your caption formatted the way you want, then it will convert your text with the line breaks for you so it shows on Instagram.

2) You can manually add them in

Load a Note app on your phone. Start a new note, then copy and paste this space in the brackets: [⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀]

Whenever you want to make a line break, you will copy and paste this [⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀] into Instagram. Delete both brackets around this space.

If you want to do two line breaks, you will paste it twice, one on each line.

Make sure the last sentence in the previous paragraph has no spaces after your last character. As a habit when we type, we might add a space after the punctuation at the end of the sentence. Make sure the last sentence before the line break space [⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀] ends with a text and not a space ‘ ‘. If you notice your line break isn’t working, it’s usually because of this.

3) Program line break spaces into your phone keyboard

Instead of having to manually copy a block of spaces every time you need it, you can actually program this line break in without the hassle of going to your Notes app every time.

Instead of copying the empty space to add a link break, you can actually program it in your phone. Here are the instructions on how to do it on the iPhone, but I imagine other phones should have a similar way to do this.

Go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Text Replacement

Here you can add a short word or acronym that will insert the empty space / line break for you when you type in your caption in Instagram.

Press the ‘+’ in the upper right hand corner. In the ‘Phrase’ field, paste the following space [⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀] there and delete the first bracket. In the ‘Shortcut’ field, type in something like ‘brk’ or ‘lb’ that will be replaced by the line break space whenever you type that shortcut. So now when you are typing your caption in Instagram, you just have to type ‘brk’ and you can insert the line break space automatically.
 

Adding Line Breaks to Your Bio

 

As discussed above, Instagram will not format your text the way you want it and allow line breaks. Normally, if you do line breaks or an empty line using the ‘return’ button, it doesn’t stick in Instagram. It ends as one big paragraph.

1) Use a Notes app – To format your bio the way you want, first type and format it in another app like Notes on an iPhone. Copy and paste it into your Instagram bio section and save.

2) Use this web app – Type your bio formatted the way you want in this web app. Convert it then paste it into your Instagram bio.

https://apps4lifehost.com/Instagram/CaptionMaker.html
 

Request Verification for Blue Check Mark

 
You can now manually request a verification blue check mark on your Instagram profile to show people you are official.

Go to Settings -> Account -> Request Verification

Just keep in mind that this is for more established or recognized public figures. You can read more here.
 

Post Notifications

 

You can be notified with a pop up notification on your phone whenever someone posts on Instagram. Fans may naturally do this for certain people they follow. Encouraging fans to turn on notifications whenever you post is always helpful for getting any engagement boost in the news feed.

One way to encourage this is to offer some giveaways that require followers to respond as quickly as possible.
 

Hashtag / Location Tools

 
By now, most people on the platform understand the importance of hashtags for visibility and exposure in Instagram. You can use up to 30 hashtags in a standard post and 10 in a Story.

You also have the ability to geotag your posts and Stories so others can see what you’ve posted when they click on the location. Locations that are searched for will also display posts that were tagged.
 

Follow Hashtags

 
One of the newer functions of Instagram is the ability to follow hashtags. Doing so allows posts to show in your feed from others using the hashtag you are following. Followed hashtags will also show as a bubble in your Stories feed up top. This is a good way to keep tabs on local hashtags that are relevant to you as a musician, or tied to a community you want to engage with.

Or maybe you have your own hashtag associated with your brand, whether it’s your name or tagline, that you want to follow.
 

Link Hashtags and Other Accounts in Your Bio

 
You can include hashtags and other Instagram accounts in your profile bio so they are clickable. This is just a convenient way to link to other artists or accounts you may have. You might even have your own branded hashtag you want to display.
 

Appear in More Search Results on Instagram

 

The ‘Name’ field in your Instagram bio is actually searchable, meaning Instagram uses what you type here to display results in their search function. You can add other words in the ‘Name’ field so that someone searching for that word will be more likely to see your profile. Just keep in mind the character limit is 30.

For example, if someone types “bay area singer” in Instagram’s search function, your profile will show up if you put that in the ‘Name’ field of your bio.
 

Change Display Font on Profile

 

You have the ability to change the fonts displayed on your profile. It’s a good way to show some uniqueness for your branding, but don’t over do it.

 

Planning Out Post Layouts

 

Having a clean grid of photos when someone lands on your Instagram profile can create a positive impression for your brand. However, it may not be easy to see how your posts would look as a whole. There are a number of apps that help you visualize and plan your posts out.

Here are some to try as these all have a free plan:

 

Add a Clickable Link in IGTV Post Descriptions

 
Links saved in IGTV video descriptions are now clickable. You don’t need a certain amount of followers as it works for all users. The only drawback is that viewers need to expand the description box by clicking on it to see the link.
 

Post IGTV Preview in Your Feed

 
If you want to post videos over 60 seconds, use IGTV and post a preview to your Instagram Feed. Don’t forget you can link people to your IGTV videos in Stories, even if you don’t have 10k followers.

As of right now, you can’t use IGTV posts or previews in Instagram Ad campaigns.
 

IGTV Supports Landscape / Widescreen Video

 
You can now upload videos that don’t take up the full screen vertically. If you upload a typical landscape 16:9 video, IGTV will automatically change the screen orientation when the phone is turned sideways to fill the screen. Before this change, your IGTV video had to be shot or rendered at 9:16 vertical video to fill the screen.

Read more about this update here.
 

Repost Other People’s Content in Your Newsfeed

 
Instagram does not have a native share function that allows you to post someone else’s content to your own feed. There are a few apps that allow you to do this, but the one I have used is Repost app.
 

Share Posts into Your IG Stories

 
Instagram algorithms dictate what people see in the feed based on a number of variables. One of them is engagement. This means not everyone will see what you’ve posted. To drive extra views on to a new post is to share it to your Stories. What people will commonly do is find a way to tease or entice people to click the post to create some urgency to see it.

This is great for sharing other people’s posts you like into your own Stories. I like to think this is Instagram’s way of allowing users to share other content and posts.

Here’s how to do it: Click on the arrow button underneath the photo or video, next to the like and comment button. It will ask you if you want to share to your stories or share it with other users. If you share to your Stories, you can add text and stickers before posting. Anyone that clicks on the post in Stories will be taken to the post.

 

Upload Multiple Stories at Once

 
If you’re posting multiple Stories to Instagram, you can load up to 10 photos or 15 second video clips at once so you can edit and publish in bulk. You can edit each Story one at a time.

Here’s how to do it: From your Stories camera screen, swipe up to show your photos and videos from your camera roll. Click the multiple image icon in the upper right hand corner first, then select the clips.

Note that if you select a video clip longer than 15 seconds in this mode, it won’t automatically split them like it normally would if you didn’t use this feature. Hopefully this may change in the future. In the meantime, the work around is to load a longer video clip up to a minute into Stories, then download each individual 15 second clip.
 

Hide Posts Without Deleting Them / Archive Old Posts

 
Once you post something, you don’t have to delete it if you don’t want it to be visible in your profile. You have the ability to archive posts so you still have access, and even bring it back another time. For musicians, I like to hide flyers after an event is over. Having a bunch of flyer posts on your Instagram profile is not attractive so this is a good way to hide them.

To archive, click on the ‘…’ in the upper right hand corner of your post and select ‘Archive’ to hide it from your profile.

To view all your archived posts, click on the 3 line icon in the top right hand corner of your Instagram profile and select ‘Archive’. By default, it should show you archived Stories. Click the word ‘Archive’ in the top middle, then select ‘Posts’ to see archived posts.
 

Sell Merch using Shopping on Instagram

 

Shopping on Instagram is a feature that allows you to tag merch items you are selling in your Instagram photos, videos or Stories so fans can be linked to your online store to buy it.

If you have over 10k followers, you can do something similar in Stories and have people swipe up to a link in your online store. For those who don’t have 10k followers, this could be a way for you to sell merch more directly from your posts.

It is a bit of a process to set up and there are some requirements that need to be met. However, I figured you should at least be aware this feature exists as they continue to refine and develop it to where eventually people can buy products directly on Instagram without leaving the app.

This is something I have yet to try, but I will the next opportunity I get. I haven’t come across musicians using this feature yet, but here’s an example from a shoe company I like that has:

https://www.instagram.com/vivobarefoot/

For more details and instructions on how to set up Shopping on Instagram for your account, check out these links:

Shopping on Instagram
Shopping on Instagram Help Center
Shopping on Instagram Guide
 

Focus Camera in Stories

 
It’s no replacement for an actual photo from a professional camera, but you are able to take photos that have that blurred background effect you can get from a DSLR. I rarely see people use this feature, but I think it’s a good way to get some variation in your photos.

When you swipe right on your home screen to your ‘Stories’ camera, slide to the ‘Focus’ tab on the bottom of the screen.
 

Control Photos and Videos You’re Tagged In

 
There’s actually an entire section on your profile that shows content that others posted and tagged you in. Swipe left twice on a profile page to see.

By default, it’s set to to ‘Add Automatically’. Some people may not always like what they are tagged in so you can actually approve anything before it displays in this section.

To do this, go to your ‘Settings -> Privacy -> Tags -> Toggle ‘Add Automatically’ off. Below this option, you can manually select individual photos or videos to hide in the tagged section of your profile.

When someone tags you, you’ll get a notification. Go to the post you were tagged in and click your username tag in the post itself. You can also click the top ‘…’ in the upper right hand corner of the post and select ‘Post Options’ to add to your profile.
 

Disable Activity Status on Instagram

 
By default, if you’re using the Instagram app, others will see ‘active now’ under your name in the direct messaging page of the app. If you’re away, it will display when you were last on Instagram. It’s a convenient way to know who’s active on the Instagram app so you can reach out to them with a direct message if you need.

Some people don’t want others to know this, so you can easily turn it off. If you switch this off, it means you can’t see anyone else’s activity status.

Settings -> Privacy -> Activity Status -> Show Activity Status

You don’t have to worry about the public or any of your followers seeing this unless you’ve accepted their message request in the ‘Message Requests’ tab. Otherwise, people who you follow that you follow you back, will see this.
 

Schedule Posts to Instagram from Desktop / Laptop

 

Instagram is known as a mobile app, where all your photo and video posting is done from your phone. Now, you can actually post from your computer to Instagram. Better yet, you can even schedule posts, which is something you generally couldn’t do in the past on the mobile app.

To get started, you’ll need to go to Creator Studio and link your Instagram page to your Facebook page.

https://business.facebook.com/creatorstudio

From the main screen on Creator Studio, click the Instagram icon at the very top, next to the Facebook icon. If you haven’t connected Instagram yet, it will prompt you to do so.

Once you’ve done that, click on the ‘Create Post’ button on the top left to start your post. Currently, you can post to the Instagram feed and IGTV with Creator Studio, but not Stories.

Captions operate and format the same way they do on the mobile app. Hashtags should be included in the caption, since you can’t comment in Creator Studio. One of the benefits of posting through Creator Studio is that it will tell you how many characters, hashtags and mentions you’ve used in the post.

To schedule the post, click on the arrow icon next to the ‘Publish’ button, and it will ask for a date and time.
 

For mobile apps for musicians, check out:

 

31 Mobile Apps to Help Make Musician Life Easier and Productive

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