A No-Nonsense Guide to Instagram Marketing for Musicians

All too often musicians ask how they can 10X their Instagram following in the next 6 months. 

Um, what?

It’s ridiculous. Crazy. Unrealistic. 

But…

All artists have fallen victim to this ‘math of followers’ in their head…

My Instagram currently has 6k followers. If I can somehow generate real, engaged followers for $.50 each (lol) then that means if I spend $4,000 I’ll be at 10k followers. Which means I’ll be blue check mark worthy. Which means all my IG problems will be solved. Which means I’ll be IG famous soon. Which means I’ll have a platform, which means people hear my music, which they will obviously love. Then I can quit my job and live the good life living only off of all the streaming royalties I’ll be pulling in. All of that is only $4,000 away.

It’s cool to have grandiose thoughts. It means an Indie knows where they want to go.

But the art of the big break is not reliable.

Building a social media platform that you control, and taking care of it, is. 

And ultimately, reliability is what will get Indies where they want to go.

Over the past few years I’ve spent hours working with IndieX clients and researching Instagram, essentially reshaping my IG Mindset in the process. I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge around actionable and effective practices on Instagram – and I want to share them with you. 

Here is the No-Nonsense Guide to Instagram Marketing for Musicians. 

BEFORE WE START

This post is not going to outline ad campaigns that will generate quick results on Instagram. 

Ads are not a solution to artists’ growth problems on Instagram.

Buying paid ads is just an amplification of what musicians are already doing. 

Accept this and believe it before reading any further, otherwise time is being wasted. 

This article is designed to help Indies create healthy practices on Instagram so that as people do find their page they will be compelled to stick around. 

If you build it, they will come. 

1. WHAT DO YOU WANT

The absolute first thing Indies need to do in order to grow their Instagram following is decide that they actually enjoy the platform. 

Social media isn’t a chore.

When a musician enjoys a platform, their authenticity shines through. And authenticity attracts people. 

Do you like creating the type of content that is worth posting on Instagram?

Do you enjoy going live on IG Stories to talk with supporters?

Do you make sure you answer every DM you get uniquely? 

Do you respond to every comment?

Are you eager to open IG back up as soon as you exit out of it on your phone?

Be honest. 

On the surface everyone wants a big Instagram following, but an Indie needs to make sure they are excited to put the effort in on Instagram specifically. That’s not a challenge. If IG isn’t for a musician that’s ok – there are tons of other social media platforms. So really, authentically just make sure this is the path worth taking. 

2. YOU’RE WEIRD, THAT’S GOOD.

No one likes a fake musician. 

People like other people that are unapologetically themselves… so be yourself. Show your quirks off. Create content that is unique and different. People will connect with that

Indies don’t have to make cookie cutter videos or post high quality, filtered pictures all the time.

Instagram is arguably the best social media platform to bring people inside your life. 

Most Indies are weird, that’s good.

3. LOOK OFFICIAL AF

Just because musicians don’t need to always be posting professional pictures and videos on their page, that doesn’t mean they should have lax standards. 

Say it with me…

Authenticity doesn’t mean low quality.

People want to look into the life of others that appear to be doing big things. 

So even if a musician is just starting out – look official. A stranger that stumbles onto your page will not know the difference. 

Have great pictures.

Have a great profile.

Provide value to people through the bio and captions.

The beauty of social media is that a musician can look as official as they want, and seeing is often believing. Take the extra time to think about what is being posted and make sure it is on brand

Here are a few tools to help create professional looking content, easily. 

Check it out:

  • Inshot – iPhone app to make FB ad videos
  • Clipman – Video editing tool
  • Canva – Image editing tool
  • VSCO – Image and video filters

Remember: IG is an extension of a musician’s brand, make sure it is on point. 

Fun Tip: Before you post something, ask if you could see it being on your favorite band’s Instagram feed or story. The answer to that question should always be yes if you are about to post it.

4. CONTENT IS KING

This ties in very closely with looking official, but MAKE GOOD QUALITY CONTENT. 

  • Make sure pictures have your brand vibes about them. Does your Instagram fit into the narrative you are building with your music? Every social media post is an extension of your brand, so make it on point!
  • Make sure videos are edited well. You can use any of the tools listed in the section above, as well as iMovie on your phone for all you Mac lovers, to edit video clips together. 
  • Make sure to be on wifi if when going live. Going live on any social media platform is one of the best ways to connect directly with fans. But nothing squashes that potential more than a blurry video due to poor wifi. 
  • Make sure nothing is blurry or grainy, ever! On that note, post high quality pictures. As an Indie, the content you post has to be top notch. Take a picture on your phone, make sure it is in focus, and throw an on-brand filter on it! 

Musicians can accomplish so much with a decent cell phone. Use it. 

Content is what supporters, new or old, engage with. 

The content is the meat of your Instagram. And musicians need to make content that is similar to what people already watch on that platform. On Facebook, Indepreneur recommends our Fan Finder method. On Instagram, musicians can create and post filtered images, video clips, and creative stories.

The difference between a 5-star restaurant and a McDonald’s is the time and effort put into crafting the meal. Do you think your followers deserve filet mignon or a McDouble?

5. BE CONSISTENT 

There isn’t much to this tip, but it’s arguably the most important – posting consistently. 

Having a consistent content strategy is ultimately going to present the biggest wins on Instagram. 

A consistent content strategy will create the type of audience that actually wants to be there, as opposed to the audiences created using a follow/unfollow strategy. 

A GREAT tool for planning and automatically posting content consistently is Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a social media management dashboard that can be used to manage all of your social networks from one place.

To get you started, here’s a quick start guide that covers how to use the Hootsuite dashboard

your Hootsuite dashboard along with several advanced features.

6. I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

So, you do all this work. 

You learn to love Instagram. 

Your profile looks great. 

Your posts are quality. 

You’ve got it going on. 

Now, ENGAGE. 

No, I don’t mean to go out and get engaged – engage with your fans! (Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised…)

Answer every DM with a unique response. 

Respond to and like every comment.

Take an actual interest in fans – learn their names and handles. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 person or 100,000 people – if you have an audience, interact. 

It does you no good to have followers if they aren’t engaged and don’t interact. 

This takes time, but there is no short cutting it. 

Plus, this is the most rewarding part of all. 

Fun Tip: If you are going to post something on your story or feed that you expect will get comments, leave time to respond to comments after you post. Don’t post and ghost your fans. 

LET’S TIE IT ALL TOGETHER, BABY


Here at Indepreneur, we use a specific type of Facebook Ad campaign called a “Fan Finder” to generate new listeners…

And, we see Indies get the largest organic growth on Instagram as a side-effect of running a Fan Finder. A great Fan Finder video is the start to the entire Listener Journey!

It’s never been more important for a musician (which is, technically,  a personal brand) to authentically build relationships…

So, come from a place of authenticity. Serve the customer and crowd, first and always.

WHAT’S NEXT

Feel like you have a grasp on the actionable items outlined in this article? 

Go to your Instagram page and see how well you are implementing them. Be honest with yourself, and take any steps necessary for improvement. 

Are you enjoying your Instagram?

Are you showing your authentic self, or a version that you think the industry wants?


Does your profile look official? Would you follow yourself?


Is your content clean and engaging?


Are you posting consistently?


Are you engaging with your fans?

You’ve got the keys to the proverbial Instagram kingdom, it’s time to unlock the door and start building your throne. 

Feeling inspired? Good!

You can check out the Content Blitz Blueprint in INDIEPRO now to start creating, backlogging, and releasing the content you need to make an impact on Instagram.