@jaredeberhardt - Instagram music launch

Remember Twitter #music? That move into music discovery didn’t work out so well for the social network. Let’s hope Instagram @music goes better, eh?

Launched today, it’s a different beast to what Twitter launched (and later shut down) though. For Instagram, the new @music account is more about spotlighting what musicians are doing on Facebook’s photo and video-sharing service.

“The music community is – and always has been – an important part of Instagram. For the past four years, we have become the home for artists big and small – a place where people across the musical spectrum come to share stories, reveal their creativity and connect directly with fans,” wrote CEO Kevin Systrom in a blog post.

“Today we’re launching @music, a new account dedicated to exploring music around the globe, from those who create it to the community around it. Each week, we’ll take a look at the musical experience on Instagram,” he continued.

“That means showing you a different side of artists you know and love, like Questlove (@questlove), and introducing you to up-and-coming talents from around the world, like Tricot (@ikkyu193). It means highlighting music photographers, album illustrators, instrument makers and, of course, fans.”

Systrom added that Instagram will be launching a “new, music-themed monthly hashtag project” for Instagram users to get involved with. Further details: Instagram will publish six posts a week through the @music account, each with a hashtag: #LocallySourced for unsigned acts, #DoubleTrack looking at artists’ interests outside music, #15SecondLessons for videos on “how to perform everything from riffs to drumbeats” and so on.

Systrom didn’t pull Questlove’s name out of a hat either: the Instagram blog also has a new interview with the musician today, with more such long-form blog posts to come in the weeks and months ahead.

Instagram doing more with music is significant: the app ended 2014 with more than 300 million active users, making it bigger than Twitter – the latter has since surpassed that milestone, but it’s reasonable to suppose that Instagram has also been growing since December, so remains ahead. The company also says that a quarter of its “most popular” accounts are musicians’.

When it comes to music, Roots drummer and “Tonight Show” bandleader Questlove (@questlove) is all about the highs and lows. Take DJing, for instance. Give the crowd too many hits and you’ll numb them into the ground; too many non-jams and you’ll drive them off the dance floor. “When I first started, I was just desperate,” he says about the lack of pacing in his shows. “I was like, this is a hit, this is a hit, this is a hit. And you get addicted to the adrenaline rush of, ‘OH MY GOD THIS IS MY SONG.’ You kill them so much. I realized that now I am more obsessed with the opposite. I will put a bad song on and actually watch them filter out the floor. And I will wait two minutes [then play] ‘Uptown Funk’ –– ‘OH MY GOD IT’S MY SONG’ –– and then the scream is bigger than before. –Instagram @music Photo by @questlove

A photo posted by Instagram @music (@music) on

In an interview with Billboard, Facebook and Instagram’s head of strategic partnerships and music Jonathan Hull said there’s an explicit music discover angle to what Instagram is up to. “One of our goals with this is to say, ‘How can we help facilitate artist discovery?’ We know these artists are creating companions to their live show, as an extension of their creativity, so how do we make sure more people are seeing that?” he said.

This being a Facebook subsidiary, there will inevitably be questions from the music industry about if and when this new focus on music will be monetised: or, rather, whether @music is the start of a drive to get more labels spending money on Instagram marketing – including boosting the reach of artists beyond the fans who follow them.

No answers on that front yet. It’s true, though, that labels are increasingly having Instagram in their thoughts when planning marketing campaigns – often led by the fact that artists love the platform. Read our case study of what Mute did with Liars for the band’s last album for more on that.

(Instagram @music logo created by @jaredeberhardt)

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