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Instagram for musicians? Here is the truth

instagram for musicians

If you read any blog posts or watch advice on Youtube about how to get more followers on Instagram, they will talk about posting quality content, using hashtags, finding your audience, and things like that. But nobody talks about what you SHOULDN’T do on Instagram, even though it’s at least as important as what you do.

While my band is not active for the past 2 years because I’m doing another music project right now, I did gain 14,000 followers for the band, and I have some experience regarding what works and what doesn’t work on Instagram. ( https://www.instagram.com/barriolatino/ )

Should you be on Instagram?

The most important question that not many people ask is: do you even need to be on Instagram? If you have a Facebook page, a Youtube channel, a Twitter account, a Tiktok account… do you have the time to post regularly on all those platforms AND Instagram too?

On top of that, if you really want to get followers on Instagram, it’s not enough to post content. You really need to use the platform, interacting with others in a non-spammy way. Commenting on their posts, liking their posts, and sending DMs. And again, you need to do it in a genuine, non-spammy way. Putting flame emojis on posts just to comment is not a genuine interaction.

While you see many big artists posting on all platforms, they don’t do it themselves. They have a team to do it. Not one person, but a team. So no, it’s not Ed Sheeran who is managing, moderating, posting, and editing the content on all social platforms.

Right now, if I would need to choose only two platforms, I would say it’s Tiktok and Youtube shorts. These are the two platforms where you can reach the most people organically. All other platforms, including Instagram, don’t have organic reach anymore. (Although, both Meta and Youtube are going in the direction of copying Tiktok.)

In his book “One Million Followers”, author Brendan Kane asks a very important question: do you REALLY want 1 million followers? While it seems like a dream for most people, the reality is that not many people would know what to do with a huge audience.

In other words, if you would magically gain 1 million followers today, would you have the content strategy to serve those followers? Because having 1 million followers wouldn’t do anything for you. You actually need to know how to monetize it, and for that, you need to constantly post engaging content to them. That takes a lot of time and work.

Why you shouldn’t follow a lot of people

If you read any blog posts or watch advice on Youtube about how to get more followers on Instagram, they will talk about posting quality content, using hashtags, finding your audience, and things like that. But nobody talks about what you SHOULDN’T do on Instagram, even though it’s at least as important as what you do.

Years ago, many people learned this technique, and as a result, millions of people started following and unfollowing other accounts. I see many people still doing this, but there are many good reasons why you shouldn’t do it.

It doesn’t work

First of all, it doesn’t work anymore. Years ago many people learned this technique and millions of people started to follow and unfollow other accounts. Now everyone knows that people only follow them to get a follow back. Especially if they go to your account and see that you are following 5000 other accounts. Long story short, it doesn’t work anymore, at least not as much as it worked years ago, so you are just wasting your time.

You will be banned

It is against Instagram’s policy to do this, so your account will be most likely banned if you are following and unfollowing too many accounts. Even if you don’t seem to be banned, you could still be shadow banned. A shadow ban is when Instagram blocks your content without you knowing about it. This means, if you are shadow banned, you can post your content to Instagram, but nobody will see it, unless they go to your profile.

You won’t have organic reach

Even if you won’t get banned or shadow banned, getting a lot of “fake” followers (people who only follow you because you followed them) doesn’t make any sense. Because here is how Instagram works: When you post new content, Instagram shows it to a few of your followers. If those followers interact with your post, the algorithm “thinks” that it’s an interesting post, so it will show it to more and more of your followers. But if those first few people who see your post don’t interact with it, Instagram won’t show it to any other people.

You can’t monetize your account

One of the ways of monetizing your Instagram account is by sponsorship. But people who do the marketing for companies are not stupid. They know if they see a fake account with lots of fake followers. If they see that you are following 5000 people, they won’t sponsor you. If they see that you have 20 thousand followers, but no one is interacting with your posts, they know you have fake followers.

On top of that, there are tools to check if you were doing the follow-unfollow strategy in the past. If they see that you gained followers with this technique, they won’t sponsor you.

Here is what to do

Use Tiktok

If you are not using Tiktok yet, you are missing out. It is probably the best platform right now for musicians. You can gain much more people there than on Instagram. You can link your Instagram profile on Tiktok, and people who like your music will go to Instagram to follow you.

Use Instagram in a genuine way

Forget the follow-unfollow strategy, it’s not working anymore and is harmful. Instead, use Instagram in a genuine way – post high-quality, interesting content regularly (videos/reels work the best right now), and interact with other accounts that you like. “Like” their post, comment something relevant on them and send them DMs.

Run ads

Running ads is by far the most reliable way of gaining new followers on any platform. The era of getting tons of Instagram followers organically is over. It’s not impossible, but it’s not what it was years ago when Instagram was new.

You can run Instagram ads through Facebook (Meta), because they own the platform. While there is no campaign with the goal of getting Instagram followers, you can use a “traffic” campaign to send people to your account. (Contact me if you need help.)

So there is no shortcut to gaining a lot of real followers on Instagram (anymore). If you want real followers, people who interact with your content, if you want to make money from your followers (which is probably the only reason to bother with an Instagram account…), then you need to do it the “hard way”, posting content regularly, or by running paid ads.

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About the Author

Producer, songwriter of the band Barrio Latino Hungría. Author of the Songwriting Essentials.