Instagram’s plan to help music artists monetize the platform

First came all the surprise songs. Then came the ocean of live activations that resulted in everything from Verzuz artist battles to one-off performances to the occasional outing with fans.

Now, Instagram wants to help music artists make money, through tipping mechanics and purchasable merchandise, as well as increase their exposure to new audiences and even elevate their stature on music services by streaming like Spotify and Pandora.

“What are your goals and what tools do we have or are coming, including flow driving, and what are the best practices around that?” It’s a conversation we have with artists all the time,” says music director Perry Bashkoff.

“It’s a lot of the same questions from different angles: how do I gain followers, why am I losing followers, how do I generate streams, how do I break?”

These questions are further exacerbated this year as the lockdown continues to send performers to virtual stages large and small. Instagram, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in October, like many social sites has experienced significant growth during 2020. More than 1 billion people use the site each month, including 140 million users in the States United States, an increase of 8% compared to the third quarter of 2020. percent of the platform’s users are located outside the United States.

The platform is late to the party on some of its efforts for musicians.

Facebook, owner of Instagram, began allowing artists to charge for live streams in April and expanded its Stars tipping system. Other platforms where musicians have flocked during confinement, including Amazon
Twitch-owned Twitch incorporated fan tipping months ago, following music-centric services like Bandcamp, which to date has facilitated $653 million in direct fan payments to artists.

But Bashkoff says Instagram has worked hard to ensure its offerings happen authentically on the social site, which has been a haven for musicians who have embraced Instagram’s posts and Live Stories as a medium. to connect, play and even deliver what Bashkoff calls “press releases” live.

For one, after being released from prison in September, rapper 6ix9ine first took to Instagram to live-stream a 13-minute rant that has been viewed by 2 million people. DJ D-Nice has attracted 100,000 virtual fans. Miley Cyrus interviewed Elton John and Senator Elizabeth Warren about her brilliant mind IG show. Lizzo offered moments of meditation.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had conversations with artists about the importance of posting live moments,” he says. “And then we saw it happen before our eyes. Some artists were able to step in directly, and for some we had to set up sessions or one-on-ones so they had all the information to start connecting. Having the very base of the tools was the first thing.

By all indications, these virtual bonds will not break once the world opens up.

“A lot of artists are rethinking things. When they have the opportunity to come back to the live experience, is there an expanded experience or a different angle that keeps them connected to all these new fans that they have created around the world? The production team absolutely thinks, what do we need to do to support our artists, the community, the fans… so we have them on deck or we’ve built them,” Bashkoff says.

Here is what is available or in preparation on Instagram:

Direct Fan Payments

Badges, a way for fans to tip artists during live performances, began rolling out just before the end of the year to the top 50,000 creators, including mostly up-and-coming artists and hip bands. -hop.

Viewers can purchase a badge during a live video and then unlock additional features, including placement on a creator’s badge holder list so performers can thank supporters during a livestream. Instagram has launched a plan to temporarily match badge revenue.

While Bashkoff says only a small percentage of artists have embraced the option so far, “the hope is to get to a place in 2021 where this monetization business model and others come into play.”

This could happen as the option becomes more available. “It would have been a little deaf to the current situation to have an A-lister going out asking for advice when people are trying to make rent,” he notes.

The virtual merchandising table

Instagram has been steadily raising its commercial embrace for quite some time. For artists, the goal now is to give fans looking to buy music and merchandise the same ease as those looking for loungewear during lockdown.

“We started pivoting a lot of what we were doing in procurement toward scalable solutions for these musicians who lived and died by their gigs and merchandising tables,” Bashkoff says.

“We changed the whole interface to have the shopping tab at the bottom, next to the Reels tab. We just added shopping to Reels and plan to do ad shopping in all of our interfaces. These will be our two biggest goals in 2021.”

The rise of the reels

Reels is Instagram’s version of the creator-focused collaborative space that exploded at TikTok. “This surface was designed to provide sets of tools for users to trend, find new songs, collaborate with each other,” Bashkoff says, noting that Instagram is “tidying up board and data so we can provide more information. [to artists] regularly.”

From the perspective of the music release announcement, he notes, “we’re definitely seeing more artists teasing new music through Reels so that fans can only hear a snippet 24 or 48 hours away. advance via Stories or Reels. We’ve done it many times, everyone from Miley to the Black Keys.

By design, he says, Reels holds particular promise for emerging artists. “Reels is our first ‘unconnected’ surface. This makes it possible for anyone who posts a reel to be found by people who don’t follow them. We want to expose you to relevant new things. The offline component is going to give us the opportunity as an industry to start finding new talent, new content, new songs and new trends.

What it is not is a place of direct promotion. “You don’t want to put up music video clips, things that are expendable. It’s about interactions,” he says. “Artists are trying to figure out how to differentiate their Reels feed from a TikTok or a Snap so they don’t post the same thing over and over again. Those [artists] who got it saw 30-50% or more growth in their subscribers within weeks.

More “Real Estate” music

Instagram by design does not have a landing page. But the platform is looking to develop ways for musicians to optimize “real estate” like its @Instagram handle, which has 383 million followers, or other specific feeds.

“We give ideas to amplify the moments when they happen. Do we create our own programming into which we plug artists? Are we leveraging some of our owned and operated handles to do this? That’s something I wish I could understand in 2021, especially in the first half,” Bashkoff said.

“Not only is this what the industry is used to – the Apple
homepage, the Spotify takeover, the YouTube playlist, but that kind of real estate moves the needle. I want to be able to talk to a developing artist and say, “Create these great things and I can pitch you a feature film and here’s what you get out of it.” We want to help grow their subscribers and their core business and ultimately become a source of income for them.