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You’ve just rolled into town to play a gig. You see fall leaves, the sun setting against a city skyline. You scribble your band name, the venue and time you play on a piece of paper and hold it up to the sky and take a photo. You upload it to Instagram, choose your favorite filter, and post this “in-the-moment” photo to your feed. You tag it #nashville #musiccity #thebasement #livemusic #blues #funk, and hit Share. In just five minutes you’ve reached hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
Instagram—or IG—is a simple to use photography-based social media app. Musicians use IG to promote themselves, create a collection of visual experiences, and gain access to an unlimited number of followers.
IG’s culture is based on the authentic. IGers are visually driven, and may not be as active on Facebook and Twitter. They want to experience the best of life and a certain aesthetic. They want to see where you’re playing, who your fans are, what performing life is like behind the scenes. They want what’s real, if not beautiful, and to feel like they’re getting a sneak peek into you.
How do you reach people on IG? One way to connect is through hashtags, which group photos around a theme or topic. Search #artwatchers, #makeportraits, or #showercap and you’ll see what I mean. Hashtag a city you’re playing, or the venue, and anyone checking out this hashtag will see your photo. If your photo is cool, they will like you, and perhaps follow you. They may even come to your show. And there you have a new fan.
What types of photos do IGers like? Interesting, sexy, candid photos are favorites. Make it a good photograph on top of that, and you’re set.
@jesseboykins3rd not only posts his own interesting photographs, he also posts incredible portraits of himself taken by other photographers. I followed him immediately, and will definitely see him when he comes to Nashville.
@thejoshuablackwilkens and @humminghouse (band member Leslie Rodriguez) are talented photographers as well as musicians. It’s a pleasure to see anything they post.
@elliegoulding and @zzward work their asses off on the road. Their style, fans, and venues are frequent features as they take us into their lives and we love them for it.
@mattnathanson loves selfies with his energetic, packed audiences.
And @brettdennen posts the best #tbt photos of himself as a wild child, which just happens to be the name of a featured song on his new release (#brilliant).
What if you’re not a great photographer? Still working on your brand? Take a photo of what is interesting to you. (Instagram makes everyone a better photographer.) Try using one or two consistent filters in IG (like Hudson or Nashville) or another app, such as VSCO CAM or Afterlight, to create a visual style. Want better photos? Snap some photos on the road and text them to a photographer like me to edit.
If you’re still not convinced IG rocks, don’t worry. We 150 million IGers will keep posting photos and videos of performers we love, naming the venues we’re at, and hashtagging your name—like #esperanzaspaulding—because we love you.
Questions, or say hi @jenstalvey.