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Instagram is having itself a moment. Ever since we musicians have been stuck at home, unable to perform at or attend gigs, we’ve had to get creative — creative with how to communicate, entertain ourselves and our fans, and continue to make money.
And Instagram has been there for us.
You know what I’m talking about. In the last few months we’ve seen a surge of Instagram Live performances, interviews, and master classes. And at first, it was pretty awesome; but soon, it became clear that simply going live wasn’t enough. Every time I logged onto Instagram, no matter the time of day, there were at least 10+ artists going live.
1. Run a Giveaway
Nothing gets people out of their funk and in a good mood like winning free stuff. If you’ve been showing up on Instagram Live a lot, and are running out of things to say, consider doing a giveaway to see if you can reinvigorate your social channels with some energy.
One option is to host a contest and pick the winner either at random or with some sort of qualifier like whoever does the best cover of one of your songs, or whoever guesses the year you went to college, etc. Or you can take it one step further and use Instagram Live to host an auction to sell your gear and custom merch, perhaps raise money for a charity or social movement you care deeply about.
Whether you incorporate money into it or not, mobilizing your community around a contest, giveaway, or charity auction is a great way to engage your community with fun and positivity at its core.
During the pandemic, the band Arkells has started to mix things up by auctioning off some of their merch and personal items, and letting their fans choose a charity to donate funds towards. They’d show an item, start the bidding at $25, and then let the fans bid it out in the comments for a bit of time before choosing a winner. Then, they’d invite the winner on screen, ask who they were donating the money to and why, and that was it!
It’s a great way to connect with fans in a new, fun way, get a bit of good PR, and help out an organization in need. Not to mention you’ll stand out from the crowd.
2. Teach the Chords to One of Your Songs
Get educational! One of the most fun things I see artists and bands doing is to teach the chords to either their songs or songs from artists that they love themselves.
You can even invite other members of your band or guest bands to teach a variety of instruments; or do a duet with someone virtually; or heck… why not invite your cat to join in?
Arkells started doing this every day at 1:00 pm, and they labeled it the “Flatten the Curve” music class. Every day they’d get on there, teach their fans how to play different songs, invite guests on for interviews, have fans jump on to request songs, and so much more.
It’s sort of like a one-person variety show and it works.
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3. Do a Takeover
The great thing about Instagram is that it’s a community, and it wants to be used like one. Doing a collaborative takeover is just another way to strengthen the links between your account and your fellow artists’ accounts.
What’s a takeover you ask?
Generally, takeovers are when you take over another person or organization’s Instagram account for a day, and take their community for a little ride around your life. You can show off your studio, your day-to-day operations, your apartment or neighborhood, your cats…
It’s a ton of fun, and something to make life a bit interesting if you’re still locked down wherever you are. Plus, takeovers can be a super powerful promotional tool if you’ve got an album or single release coming up. There are some really fantastic examples of this out there too. If you head over to Musical Notes Global’s Instagram, you’ll see they have two highlights labeled “Takeover” where you can get a feel for what they entail.
You could propose to partner with a blog, a local coffee shop or art gallery, another band, a venue, a festival, a brand, and so on. Find someone who shares your creative philosophy, or is simply able to introduce you to a new audience you’d like to get in front of, and start throwing together some ideas.
4. Create a Mixed Media Experience
If you’re looking to go outside of Instagram, Twitch has become a surprisingly versatile platform for musicians as of late.
To be honest, before the COVID-19 crisis, I had no idea you could even use Twitch for this until I saw The Front Bottoms doing it. Nowadays, they show up on Twitch every Friday at the same time alternating between a live performance and Q&A, and streaming pre-recorded documentary style footage.
If you’re a fan like I am, it’s a glimpse into the world of a band you’d love to learn more about.
But one of the coolest things about the livestream capabilities on Twitch is that you can mix graphics, pre-recorded video, screen capture, and logos all together with your live video. In other words, you can mix video just like you might with audio in a radio show or podcast. It’s a multimedia experience that fans and fellow bands will appreciate and be entertained by, I promise!
5. Interview Your Friends
Similar to a takeover, another great way to use Instagram and build relationships at the same time, is to do live interviews. You can hop onto someone else’s channel or host them on your own for a weekly interview series introducing your fans to not only new artists but new sides of you too.
Odds are, your life up until now has been a whole lot of playing music by yourself and reflecting on the state of the world… It takes guts to get up, get motivated, and get something happening live on the internet, and I believe you can do it!
It may seem difficult right now, but there are so many fun ways to connect with fans and explore Instagram and I hope these ideas will inspire a little creativity for your next Live engagement. We can’t wait to watch!
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