Whether you like it or not, social media are part of the everyday life of musicians today. Probably the most important platform at the moment is one that had the reputation of not being particularly relevant to musicians for a long time: Instagram.
Instagram: Only for narcissists?
For many, Insta is no more than a place for self-promotion and trivial videos.
That may even be true, but then it is simply a reflection of our time. But the fact is, Instagram has very active users, is growing constantly and fast and is especially popular with younger users who are turning their backs on Facebook more and more.
This has to be accepted and you have to try to use Insta for your purposes and not just as a social media tool, but as a marketing instrument.
Instagram for musicians: One tool among many
Instagram is ultimately a tool for musicians to build a personal and emotional relationship with their fans by letting them participate in (artist) life through photos and videos.
Even though Instagram is very simple and limited in its functions, there are still many things to consider and optimize.
How to use Instagram properly as a musician
We’ve put together some tips to help you use Instagram more effectively and expand your fanbase…
Set links in Instagram correctly
Instagram helps musicians to tie the fanbase and also to gain new listeners. But of course Insta is also supposed to help to move sales and streams upwards. But especially here Instagram does not make it easy for musicians, because the use of links is enormously limited.
Where can you even use links?
In the Bio exactly one link can be inserted.
You can also add URLs to posts, but then they are not linked.
By means of buying ads, which costs money even though Instagram is basically even cheaper than the parent company Facebook or Adwords.
It is therefore important to always adapt the link in the Bio to the current events. Is the new album released? Then insert the Link Site! Did the new video go online? Then post the YouTube link!
Of course you can also insert URLs in the posts, but probably only few people will take the trouble to copy the URL and paste it in a new window.
We’ve done a lot of research, but we still found some ways for musicians to use and promote their music on Instagram Links.
Setting Spotify Links in Instagram Stories
Since May 2018 it is possible to provide Instagram Stories with a Spotify link. For this you need the Instragram app and the one from Spotify. There you can search for the song you want to share. Then you choose “Share” and then “Instagram Stories”. Now you can add lyrics, emojis or filters. Finally you choose “Your Story” and the story appears including a “Play on Spotify” link.
A very smart way to work around the link problem is to post the logos of the shops as a story and finally mark them as highlights so that they appear directly below the bio. You can find out how to put stories as highlights under the bio here.
But now comes the problem: At the moment it is not possible for everyone to add links to his stories. Either you have to have a verified account or you have to have a large number of followers (estimated 10,000, but Instagram does not name exact numbers). Currently, however, Instagram only verifies accounts of persons or companies (indicated by the blue check mark next to their name) that are at high risk of being copied. However, it certainly can’t hurt to ask Instagram support if you can verify your account.
If you have managed to verify your account, the disadvantage remains that the “Learn more” button is used very discreetly and probably overlooked by many. So here a hint to the link can’t hurt.
Learn from the best: Look at other artists on Instagram
It is always worth learning from other artists. So check out the accounts of your favorite bands and find out how they keep their fans engaged.
What content do they post, what hashtags are used and what special features do they use? It’s the same as with music: copying is forbidden, but inspiring is always desired.
Using hashtags on Instagram as musicians
Hashtags are much more important on Instagram than on Facebook and are not only used as a conversation method. Instagram users regularly use hashtags to find new people to follow. Instagram’s search function is also based on the hashtags that are used most often. So you should give some thought to the hashtags you use.
As a general rule, you should not set too many hashtags (up to 30 are possible per post), but at least two per post. To get as many new followers as possible using hashtags, they should be relevant and up-to-date.
Here you can find out which hashtags are trendy at the moment. To find out which of your used hashtags worked well, there are various analysis tools, but more about that in the next point.
Use analysis tools for Instagram
If you invest a lot of time in your social media platforms, you want to know which of the measures you have taken are successful and what you can avoid. Various analysis tools help to further optimize the appearance on social media.
With these tools you can find out which posts are particularly well received, which hashtags work or where the fans have interacted particularly well. Of course you can also find out a lot about your followers and there are also valuable hints how to increase the number of followers.
Further, many of these tools help you to find out exactly when it is best to post something. Both the day and the time of day can have a big impact on how many of your fans actually notice the post.
In addition, there is the possibility of scheduling. Especially if you have a clear plan, but do not have the possibility to go online at any time, such a tool can make life easier.
Of course, most of these tools are not free, but in most cases you can test them for free before you pay anything.
Make a gift to your fans on Instagram
Who doesn’t like to win something! Instagram is also a great place to raffle off albums, downloads, t-shirts or concert tickets. Of course, ideally such a contest should also provide a good buzz or generate new followers. Therefore, it is also important to think carefully about which hashtags you want to use.
Further it needs a good, expressive picture and of course the price should also be worth something. Finally, it should be made as easy as possible for the fans to participate in the competition. Tools that help with the execution of contests are among others:
Of course it is convenient to synchronize Instagram directly with Facebook and Twitter. But if your fans follow you on all platforms, it can soon get on their nerves to see exactly the same content everywhere. So you should only post selected posts on all platforms and have a different strategy and direction for each page.
Use all possibilities as a musician on Instagram
As mentioned in the beginning, Instagram for musicians doesn’t offer dozens of features. However, those that have been added in recent years should be used occasionally. Besides photos and videos (up to 60 seconds), these are also Instagram Stories, where you can pack several photos and videos into one story. They disappear again after 24 hours. As mentioned above, under certain circumstances you can link or highlight them, so that they are not immediately gone again. Within the stories you can also insert polls (click on the smiley and then select “Poll”). So you can find out the opinion of fans about a certain topic.
A relatively new feature is Instagram Live. Here you can go live on air for up to an hour. Unlike on Facebook, this live recording is not saved in your profile afterwards. Nevertheless, this is a good tool to get in touch with the fans directly. They can also comment live and you can get in touch directly.
Again, it is important to have at least a rough plan of what you want to use this live connection for and to include a “Call to Action”.
Use Instagram Live for exclusive content, announce breaking news or alert your followers to special promotions. As mentioned before, it’s also a way to get direct feedback from your fans.
Do you have questions about Instagram for musicians?
More and more artists are celebrating major successes without major labels, and many are now seen leaving big record companies. We’ll show you what advantages come with being an independent artist.
Major labels are still a big force, no question about it. Last year, the music industry made a profit of 23.1 billion dollars worldwide, 65.5% percent of which went to major labels. However, this share has been steadily declining; back in 2019, it was 66.5%. A similar situation can be observed at Spotify, where the portion of stream revenues that went to major labels dropped from 70.3% to 68.9% between 2019 and 2020. And yet, major labels continue to enjoy an abundance of power and, above all, financial resources.
Indie instead of major
Nevertheless, more and more artists are either staying on the independent route or leaving the major labels. We’re not just talking about smaller artists either, but also an increasing number of those that any major label would jump at the opportunity to sign. What drives established artists to leave the cemented structures and financial resources of major labels to work with a distributor instead?
Rights to the music: When working with a major label, you have to give up the rights to your music for a certain (or even undetermined) period of time. However, when you’re with a distributor, you maintain those rights in your own hands.
Flexibility: You’re usually tied to a major label over multiple years or releases. But when you make a release via an independent distributor, you can switch anytime.
Cuts: Depending on the distributor, you only have to hand over a small percentage of your revenues or pay a fixed amount per release.
Of course, you won’t get the same services as you would from a major label. But you can decide for yourself how much, for instance, you want to spend on promotion, marketing, etc. As an artist, you can put together the types of services yourself and don’t have to resort to the full package that the major labels offer.
Transparency: With most distributors, you have a detailed inside look into the numbers and trends. This way, you gain a better overview of your finances and can plan more confidently.
Regular payments: While some major labels only pay their artists every couple of months, independent distributors normally credit the amount in question to your account every month.
Last but not least, you have full artistic freedom. Unlike with a major label, nobody will be butting into your creative process when you’re working with a distributor.
At iGroove, you have the additional benefit of being able to request an advance payment, just like you can at a major label – but again, without being forced to make a long-term commitment.
Additionally, you can request advances for older releases, for which major labels often apply a flatrate that is much too low a compensation. Furthermore, at iGroove you can get a reliable projection of your future revenues. This gives you the ability to plan your next steps and make better business decisions as an artist.
Many young musicians dream of a major deal. But more and more established artists who are already surrounded by a good team have realized that without a major label, they will not only become more independent but can also increase their revenues. There seems to be no better time than now to remain independent. If you have an offer on the table from a major company, you should definitely check first whether you can’t get a better deal elsewhere.
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It is commonly known that there are a multitude of untrustworthy offers circulating in the music market. So why do so many artists still fall for them anyway? It’s a mixture between a lack of knowledge, the belief in shortcuts, and scammers’ slick exploitation of the artist’s pressure points.
The streaming era has ushered in entirely new possibilities for fraud. In many other posts we have already reported on why fake streams are damaging more than anything and how you can spot suspicious offers and playlists. But why do artists, whether unknowingly or on purpose, still make use of these music promotion offers?
Know your business
A musician’s budget is already small enough as it is, so you shouldn’t invest it in fraudulent offers. Nonetheless, many people still do, and there are many reasons why. For one, a lot of musicians don’t do enough research into the workings of the music industry. Additionally, many believe in shortcuts and in buying your way to success. Last, but certainly not least, scammers know exactly what worries and concerns artists have and exploit them mercilessly.
Nowadays, it is very easy to release music and thus have some sort of music career. But it takes more than that, namely a certain level of knowledge about what goes on in the music business (spreading this knowledge is the goal of our magazine). If you aren’t interested in acquiring this information yourself, invite someone into your team who is either willing to do it or is already bringing sufficient knowledge with them.
Shortcuts lead to a dead end
As an artist, you want as big of a reach as possible and a solid fanbase – preferably now. But a music career is a marathon, not a sprint. There are hardly any artists who became stars completely out of nowhere. Just because you’ve never heard of an artist before, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t worked for years to get to this point. Patience is not only a virtue but a must. There are so few shortcuts in the music industry that don’t lead you down a dead-end road.
Scammers know your pressure points
At the beginning, many musicians simply don’t have that many streams and listeners. The scammers know this and claim to have the end-all solution to the problem, all the while keeping only their own profit in mind. It’s how they get musicians to accept offers that they should know from the beginning not to be legitimate. Most of the time, these scammers unfortunately only do genuine marketing for their own business.
All things considered, it is clear that you should never buy a fixed number of streams or followers. It is equally impossible to buy your way into the official playlists of streaming providers – whoever says it is, is a scammer. Likewise, you should be careful when it comes to playlist placements, promotion offers on social media, or paid placements in blogs.
If you see an offer that seems almost too good to be true or extremely cheap, it should set alarm bells ringing. Before booking anything, you should take time for some thorough research. Additionally, ask the company critical questions when you see something suspicious or don’t understand the process entirely. Using some precautions, you can avoid falling for fraudulent tricks that are not sustainable and will only harm your career.
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Spotify continuously absorbs criticism from the community, which is certainly in part related to the fact that the streaming pay-outs are not always transparent. The iGroove Magazine constantly tries to look behind the scenes and provide artists with a deeper insight into their streaming revenue. Loud & Clear represents Spotify’s step in this direction, an attempt to provide more transparency.
This is how Spotify distributes revenue
For the first time Spotify breaks down their revenue streams (subscription and advertising) and how they distribute these. An estimated 1/3 stays with Spotify. The remaining 2/3 are then put into a separate pool. From this pool, 75% – 80% is returned to the rights holders (via distribution / label to the artist) and 20-25% to the songwriters (via collecting society / publisher to the artist). This is something we will cover in more detail in another article.
Why is the PPS lower at Spotify?
Spotify also commented on why the PPS (Pay per Stream) is lower than that of the competition. On the one hand, they have the opinion that their reach opens additional sources of income for artists. On the other hand, Spotify continues to grow in popularity in many markets with low prices. While this lowers the PPS, it enables revenues to be generated from markets where piracy used to dominate. As before, an additional reason is tied to their ad-based model. Most users who use Spotify for free would not pay for it, which results in lower revenues.
In addition, they tend to speak out against raising prices, as otherwise more people would again consume music illegally.
What is Spotify’s position on the user-centric model?
They also addressed the topic of User Centricity referring to the same study which iGroove already reported on. In their eyes the advantage for the artist would be minimal. They however explain that if musicians, songwriters and rights holders (e.g. labels) so wish, they would be willing to change the system. However, this is only possible if the entire industry wants this switch.
Podcast investments: Musicians should also profit
They also made a statement on why they were investing millions in podcasts rather than music. According to Spotify, musicians also benefit from these investments. Podcasts attract new subscribers who listen to music as well as podcasts. The subscription costs of these new subscribers results in direct benefits for the musicians. Podcasters are not paid per stream like musicians, but via advertising that they place in their podcasts.
Only 184,000 artists earn more than $1,000
Loud & Clear also offers a few gimmicks. You can find out how many artists have generated more than, for example, a million dollars. We recently analyzed these numbers for the iGroove magazine. An interesting fact, (e.g.), is that only 184,000 of the approx. 8 million artists on Spotify generated more than $ 1,000 last year and that with both payments combined.
There is also a tool where you can enter the streams of a song or your monthly listeners and you are then able to see where you are within the ranking list. For example, if you have 100,000 monthly listeners you are in the top 44,000. If your track has a million streams, it is one of 551,000 songs that reached this milestone.
As a musician, music is often the only thing on your mind. Consequently, the focus of your social media posts will be your music also – especially since you’re using those platforms to reach more potential listeners. But precisely for this reason that we utilize social media as a marketing tool, it might be good to follow some marketing principles, as well. One of them is not to fixate on just one topic.
Define topics and strategy
This means that you must have a clear definition of your brand, which is who you are as an artist. In many areas, social media requires a strategy and a clear position. The fans should be able to identify themselves with you and this usually happens beyond the scope of just music. That’s why you should consider how you want to present yourself as an artist to the public and think about some topics that could be of interest to both you and your fans
If you’re only ever talking about your music and are thus essentially always trying to sell your product, it gives off a very one-dimensional and self-centered impression. People aren’t just interested in your music but also in the person behind it and why you are making this music. But, of course, you also shouldn’t just ramble on about a bunch of random topics. If you’re talking about music one day, and the next day you’re discussing the military coup in Myanmar, and the day after that the subject is cars, it will seem like you don’t have a concept.
3-5 topics for your strategy
Experts recommend choosing 3-5 topics. The obvious one is music-related themes, such as new releases, music videos, and behind-the-scenes material, as well as the promotion of merch, concerts or livestreams. On top of that, you should consider 2 or 3 additional topics that you are knowledgeable in, that you have passion for, and that you want to speak about in public.
One person might be comfortable sharing their private life, the other is involved in local politics, and the third loves to talk about soccer or their pet. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to keep discussing the same topics year after year. On the contrary, every once in a while, you should re-evaluate whether these are still the right ones for you. After all, everybody’s interests will always evolve, so you should keep re-inventing your content accordingly.
The focus changes continuously
Likewise, you’ll need to constantly reorganize your prioritization. When there’s a new release coming up, you’ll naturally post more about the music. When there isn’t, other topics can come to the fore. If possible, you might also want to slightly shift the thematic focus depending on the platform.
Knowing the core topics also helps you develop concrete marketing strategies for an upcoming release and identify which resources you’ll need to promote it.
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Videos are one of the most important tools for marketing music, be it on TikTok, Instagram, or Triller. But the top dog of video platforms is still, by far, YouTube, with its 2 billion users logging on every month (not even counting those without a Google account).
In another one of our posts, we explained why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in YouTube’s basket. Nevertheless, a strong presence on the world’s biggest video platform is absolutely indispensable.
Clean up your YouTube channel
To start off, you might want to do some spring cleaning: As an artist you should set up an Official Artist Channel so that all your content is in one spot. We already discussed this feature in another post. Once you have your OAC, you should optimize your profile. That’s your calling card, which should leave a good impression on any visitor, so that they’ll want to linger on.
Make the following customizations:
Pick a name for your channel
Upload your profile picture and banner
Fill out the basic info
Put in the links to your website, social media accounts, etc.
Add the links to the channels/accounts for your other projects, your label, etc.
Sort your videos into different sections, to which you can add videos, playlists, or videos from other users, too
Adjust the URL of your channel
When uploading a video, there are a few things to consider, as well:
Pick a nice thumbnail
Write a good description, so that it’s easier for people to find the video, and include all the important information and links
Add cards which take viewers to another video or to your channel
Add your channel logo as a watermark so viewers can go to your channel and subscribe to it
Add an intro which you can use as a personal trademark on multiple videos
Add an end card with a call to action (this can be used for multiple videos, as well)
Upload the video in HD (720p or 1080p) for a professional look
Don’t forget to use tags and list the right keywords
Put your video in a playlist so that viewers can immediately be directed to other videos
Am I a youtuber?
First, we must differentiate between artists who use YouTube and upload their videos there and youtubers. The latter upload not just once every 1-2 months, but often multiple times a week. How frequently you want to post is, of course, completely up to you. What’s certain is that YouTube’s algorithm favors channels with lots of uploads when it comes to recommendations as well as monetization. But how can I manage to regularly upload content?
You can use YouTube as a storage medium for your videos, or you can view it as a social media platform, which means that you regularly upload new content. But what should that content be when you can’t exactly produce a new music video every week? We’ve come up with a few options:
Videos from live concerts (past recordings, for the time being)
Lyric videos (popular and definitely cheaper than a music video)
Vlogs: Use them to give a glimpse behind the scenes
Q&A: Go live and answer questions from fans
Virtual concerts: An obvious way to use YouTube
Advertisements: Present your new merch and tell people about your upcoming album, deluxe edition, or box set
Tutorials: A great opportunity, especially for producers, to show people the newest available tools
UGC: Put up videos made by your fans (user generated content) on your channel, as well
For some of these videos, other platforms might arguably be more suitable – it mainly depends on where you have the biggest community of fans.
How does YouTube’s algorithm work?
Obviously, a behind-the-scenes video won’t generate as many clicks as an elaborate music video. But do videos with fewer views have a negative impact on the algorithm? According to YouTube, that is not the case, since every video is assessed individually. The goal is to recommend videos that users want to see. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible for a video to go viral when the previous clips from the channel only had a few views.
The algorithm pays attention to how users react to a video. The more people interact positively with a video, the more that video will be recommended to others. Frequent uploads are rewarded, although you should keep in mind that subscribers only get a maximum of three notifications from the same channel per day. So, it’s not recommended to post more than three times daily. It also has a positive influence on the algorithm when users are taken to YouTube from other platforms. But what’s most important is the user engagement on YouTube itself.
Like any other social media platform, it’s well worth studying YouTube’s Analytics, as well, and learn more about user behaviour. That way, you can find out how users come across your videos and get information on the age and gender of your viewers.
You shouldn’t just measure success based on views. What’s also important is how many people watched the video until the end. A sustainable channel is marked primarily through a steady growth of subscribers.
Monetize your videos
Thanks to the Content ID, you can monetize not only your own videos but all videos that use your music. Many distributors, including iGroove, offer monetization via Content ID.
Another source of revenue are Art Tracks, which are available on YouTube when you submit your music to YouTube Music.
Want to increase your views? iGroove offers efficient pre-roll ads for your videos.
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You have new music but lack the budget? Using crowdfunding you can have your project directly financed by your fans.
We are now in the second year of the pandemic, and budgets are getting tighter and tighter. At the same time, there is more time to create new music for new releases. One way to make up for this imbalance between available material and lacking finances is crowdfunding. We’ll show you how to proceed if you want to have your release financed by your fans.
Budget and planning
First, you should put together the budget for your release, so you know how much money you have to raise. The second step is then to decide which of the numerous crowdfunding platforms to use. Find out which one best meets your requirements and offers you the ideal terms and conditions. What’s also important is to make it as easy as possible for your fans (e. g. do they have to register on the website first, what payment options are available to them, etc.).
Presentation and packages
Finally, you have to ask yourself the following two questions:
How do I present my project?
Which options do I offer my fans?
The presentation should show what project the fans are supporting and how the money will be used. Briefly and concisely introduce your album and tell people how you will allocate the budget. Apart from a short text, you might also want to put up a video explaining the most important things and getting people excited.
While a lot of fans will only be willing to chip in a few dollars, there are also die-hard fans who will contribute a larger amount. That’s why you should put together different packages. While for smaller packages someone might only get a digital download or a CD, you’ll need a few goodies for the more expensive ones. Those could include vinyl, merch, meet & greets, albums from your back catalogue, or an exclusive live-stream concert. 80% of the money usually comes from only 20% of supporters – so, big packages are extremely important.
Promote your crowdfunding
Now, of course, you should ideally reach every single potential funder. Use your e-mail list and especially all your social media channels. In order to reach as many people as possible, you’ll have to invest in advertising, which should already be included in your budget calculations, as well. Naturally, a fundraiser like this can only be successful if you already have a solid fanbase.
When you’ve reached your goal and all the funds have been raised, your work is not quite done yet. Now it’s time to keep your supporters updated and deliver the promised goodies on time. You should neither disappoint long-time fans nor discourage newly acquired followers.
Advance instead of crowdfunding
You don’t think crowdfunding is your thing or only expect it to cover a part of your needed budget? At iGroove, you can request an advance payment on your release. Get your free and nonbinding offer today and additionally receive a projection of your future revenues. More information here.
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