Do Instagram Followers matter for musicians and artists? It’s a common thought process many up and coming artists fall into the trap of. “I need social media followers to drive more people to my music”. It makes sense – the more people you reach on social media, the more people will discover your music, right? Today I’m going to play devil’s advocate and argue that Instagram followers don’t matter as much as many musicians think.
Myth: Instagram Followers are Important for Artists
Musicians and artists think that Instagram followers are important because other successful artists often have a pretty large social media presence. But which came first, the chicken or the egg? Apart from a few outliers, in reality, the inverse to what you would expect is true. Instead of musicians gaining a large following on social media, and then using this audience to drive more listeners, it’s often actually the case that the listeners come first, and then become followers on social media afterwards. Another reason this myth has been perpetuated for what seems like eternity is because teaching people how to gain an Instagram following pays good money, and it’s a great way to sell courses. In reality, most social media marketing “gurus” know that when it comes to conversions, the numbers just don’t make practical sense for musicians going all in on social media.
How Many of Your Followers are Real Fans?
This is the kicker. If you spend so much time and effort just driving anyone and everyone to your Instagram Profile, your conversion rate will be super low. In essence, you can think of a conversion rate as the percentage of your followers who complete a call to action, such as listening to your new album or watching your new music video. If we boil it down to its simplest form, being the number of followers who click your link in the bio for your new track you’ve been relentlessly shilling, I would be surprised if more than 2% of the audience go through and listen to your new song directly as a result of you telling them to.
Then we come on to reach rate. Having 10k followers on Instagram might seem like a mighty achievement and will put you on a fast track route to guaranteed success every time you make a post, but this often sadly isn’t the case.
According to Bazaarvoice.com,
Brands with smaller followings should aim to meet or exceed the higher benchmark of 32% of their audience through posts and 8% through Stories.Bazaarvoice
That’s right. 32% is considered a high benchmark for reach.
Crunching the numbers realistically, this means that when you make an Instagram Story post telling your fans to listen to your new single, only 8% of them will even see it. If you have 10k Instagram followers, just 800 people are likely to view your story. And out of that, how many would you expect will actually go and listen to your song? 10%? That would get you a whopping 80 plays from 10,000 Instagram followers. The numbers just don’t add up.
Instagram isn’t All Bad For Musicians, However…
In my personal opinion, Instagram is being terribly utilised by a majority of musicians, but some do it well. Instead of treating Instagram like a place to constantly shill things and annoy your fans, use it as a place where your true fans can come and see a more personal side to you. Do AMA’s on your Story, post more personal pictures about somewhere you’ve been with friends or performed, maybe even make some funny dances to your songs. Just don’t try and hard sell your music. Especially if you have an older audience, the last thing they are going to do in their busy lives is drop everything and listen to your new song. It just isn’t realistic on a large scale. What you should instead aim to do is create a more personal connection to your fans, giving them a bit more of a glimpse into you as a person, maybe some behind the scenes action. If you don’t feel like opening up in this way, then don’t bother with Instagram at all. Central Cee is a genius at this. He posts enough personal and interesting content that it doesn’t just feel like a sales page.
From personal experience, where the followers matter is directly on the platforms they use to listen to music. Spotify followers are far, far more important. These people will directly get shown your music every time a new release is out, and are far more likely to listen to it than your Instagram followers. The same goes for YouTube subscribers. These are the people who have explicitly said “let me know every time this artist puts something new out”. That’s who you should be paying more attention to.
Across my label, we had a combined total of about 320,000 Spotify monthly listeners and 850k Spotify plays last month, an all time high. The number of Instagram posts this year across all artists combined? 1. 1 post. 50,000 followers on Spotify is going to be 100 times more valuable to you than 50,000 Instagram followers, trust me.
How About TikTok, is That Important?
TikTok allows for more clever marketing than Instagram. You can make posts to soft sell your music a lot more easily, by just making good content which coincidentally has your music in the background. It’s a bit easier to gain traction too, if you manage to create a meme or challenge which involves your song. If you’re going to go all in on Social Media in 2022 as a musician, I would definitely focus more on TikTok as it’s much more suited to it. I don’t actually have a TikTok account for my own music, but I just can’t stand making social media posts (can you tell from this article, haha).
If you want to know how much TikTok pays musicians, check my article out here.
Conclusion – Do Instagram Followers Matter for Artists?
If you are feeling pressured to make social media accounts for your music and constantly post, I hope this article may have helped reassure you that it’s perhaps not the end of the world if you don’t get involved much. You can still do just fine without.