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Growing A Music Community Through Instagram Stories  

Growing A Music Community Through Instagram Stories 

Bas Grasmayer walks us through how he was able to cultivate interest in his project Hard Dance Berlin through the persistent use of Instagram stories highlighting the performers and their upcoming shows. 

Guest post by Bas Grasmayer of Music x Tech x Future

Last week I announced the launch of Hard Dance Berlin. Since then, I have been spending a few minutes each day building up the community around it by leveraging Instagram stories (@harddanceberlin). 

I hope by highlighting some of the activities, you’ll find some inspiration for how to grow your own projects. 

Goal & tools 

The Instagram account is very much an extension of the project’s main site. The goal being to highlight performers and events in Berlin’s harder and faster styles of electronic music. 

Instagram is a place where people interested in this already spend their time – as opposed to a random new site – and a tool many of them use to discover events and music. 

Stories’ ephemeral nature make it easy to drip interesting content for this community every day. 

Key principle: support, support, support 

In general, whenever you create something, make sure it solves problems whether they’re your own or other people’s. This should be your primary goal and activity. This is how you shape something valuable. Look for problems; solve them. 

Give more than you take. If you ask for anything in the beginning, then ask people to help you help them. In my case that means soliciting promo material, images, etc. so I can better promote other people’s events to the community. 

The ethos is: support, support, support – the music, the people, the parties and the scenes. Double down on your ethos early on, because things can get muddy later on and there’s always a risk of believing in your own hype once things take off. 

This also makes it easier for people to join and help the community: if there is growth potential in an area, the goal should be to grow everything. If one part of the community grows stronger, we all grow stronger. 

Method & content 

Here are the types of content I currently post to serve the community. I’ll highlight for each one how they help to grow the Instagram: 

  • Short-term highlights (“check out this party tonight”) 
  • Longer-term highlights (“next week xyz”, “just announced next month: x”) 
  • Music highlights (“check out the new mix by xyz”) 

Short-term highlights 

When focusing on events, I try to do the following things: 

Share a picture from the promoter or venue’s Instagram timeline. This helps connect the community to people active in the scene, and it also sends a notification to the account holder and allows them to repost the story to their own stories (in turn giving @harddanceberlin more exposure). 
Tag as many (relevant) people as possible (the event’s performers, promoter, venue, etc). This again provides value for fans to understand what’s going on and helps them check stuff out, but it also means your story can now be shared by anyone who was tagged. 
Location tags. Tagging to a location increases your discoverability for people checking out stories around that area. To be honest, I consider this optional as it usually just gives 1 or 2 more views per story and I’m not sure if it has lead to follows. Sometimes you can get lucky and get hundreds of views though. 
Add the MUSIC one might expect at the event to the story. It’s an important service to the community using the stories to determine whether to investigate an event, but if it’s music by one of the performers, it also makes it more likely they’ll repost your story. 

The ‘growth hacking’ term is leveraging “other people’s audience” (OPA). 

Longer-term highlights 

Longer term highlights focus on events from about a week or so out. It follows a very similar approach as the shorter term highlights, incl. tagging the performers. This allows people from out of town to repost your story to announce to their fans that they’re going to be in town. It also means you can build up some extra hype for particularly interesting events and line-ups. 

The above screenshots also indicate how it only takes me a few minutes per day: for story 1, the artwork was sent to me by the promoter. For story 2, I just reposted one of the promoters’ announcements. For story 3, I made a screenshot of the Resident Advisor calendar I maintain and cropped out irrelevant stuff. 

Music highlights 

On weekdays with zero events (Berlin can be wild and last week actually had a relevant event every night of the week), I’ll highlight music of local producers, DJs, labels, collectives, etc. 

Currently about 50% of all followers see the account’s stories. That’s a high engagement rate and I want to keep it there, so ideally I have something for people daily. It’s also important to keep the growth momentum up. I’ll explain why next. 

Instagram account discovery 

Alright. So, someone I tagged reposted a story. What now? 

I tend to go for really clear names when naming projects. MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE is exactly the scope of the content; it’s what I want to talk and think about. MUSIC x GREEN was actually going to be called MUSIC x SUSTAINABILITY, but the latter word was annoying to type out in a URL. So this is called Hard Dance Berlin – a bit tricky SEO-wise since a big YouTube music channel has done an event in this city by that name once, but it explains exactly what the project is about. 

So when somebody sees the account name when content is reposted, it’s pretty self-explanatory that if you tap on the story and go to the profile, you’re going to get more of hard dance in the context of Berlin. 

So here’s what you’ll see: 

And that’s it. Within two weeks, I should have it organically at 100 highly relevant and engaged followers. By summer, I think I can hit 1k. Should I do some paid promotion, that can go a lot faster. The upside of something as niche as this, is that it is easy to know where to find your audience when targeting ads. 

Maybe it seems highly tactical, or whatever, but the reason why I spend my spare time on it is because of the love for the music. 

Not everything can be done online! I’m too old now to visit all of the events, but I try to make sure to go to a decent portion of them, speak to some people, etc. and also play sometimes. This has helped me get some early visibility with friends following and resharing some of the content. 

I hope the above has been helpful and insightful, and not just blowing my own horn. 

If there’s just one takeaway, let it be this: always give more than you take.

Tell @Spotify and @AmazonMusic to #StopFightingSongwriters 

Tell @Spotify and @AmazonMusic to #StopFightingSongwriters

Songwriters - You must develop and flex your music business muscles or you’ll continue to be pinned down by those who do not have your best interests at heart. On Instagram tell @Spotify and @AmazonMusic to #StopFightingSongwriters

7 Useful Tips For Optimizing Your Facebook And Instagram Live Videos  

7 Useful Tips For Optimizing Your Facebook And Instagram Live Videos 

If marketing is king then social media video marketing is King Kong!

I found this to be a helpful bit of information for DIYers wanting to take advantage of live video marketing through Facebook and Instagram. Check out this guest post by Victor Blasco

Social media’s live videos are an extremely useful – and popular – marketing tool. Audiences love to engage with artists and content creators that use them, and bands and musicians can leverage the immediacy of the format to showcase a  more approachable side. But carrying out a successful live video can be challenging. In this piece, we go over the crucial elements you should account for 

Social video killed the radio star: for any musician nowadays, being active in social media is not only advisable; it is crucial. 

Most of your existing and future fans are also Facebook and/or Instagram users. So, neglecting your digital presence there equals missing a golden opportunity to strengthen your brand and expand your audience! 

But being there is just the start. 

An effective social media presence calls for you to constantly engage with your followers, especially for those in the music industry. And there’s simply no better way to achieve that level of interaction than through live videos. 

There’s a reason why Facebook ranks live streams highest in people’s feed, and why experienced video companies always factor them into their strategies. But doing live streaming right can be a daunting task. 

So today, I’m going to share with you some useful tips, tricks, and pro secrets you can use to get the most out of this incredible tool in your repertoire. 

Shall we dive in? 

#1 – Planning A Broadcast 

A crucial point in creating any successful piece of content is knowing exactly who it’s directed to. As many of your decisions will hinge on your fans’ preferences and lifestyle. From high-brow ones like the level of interaction, you’ll have with chat, to more practical ones such as which network you should go for, or the ideal time to stream. 

Another aspect you’ll want to decide beforehand is what the stream will be based around. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but here are a few ideas your fans would undoubtedly enjoy: 

•         Broadcast a few practice tunes, or play music in an unusual spot. 

•         Show the behind the scenes of a video clip production or practice session. 

•         Host a video explaining the meaning behind a song, or how you got into music (You can also use an Ask Me Anything format for these). 

•        Invite a colleague to collaborate with you and stream together. It will help both of you increase your follower counts. 

Whatever the theme though, make sure it meets these criteria: being compelling and relevant to people interested in your work. 

#2 – Promote Ahead of Time 

A few days before the streaming, start announcing it to your followers. To pique their interest from the get-go, use interesting wording and visuals alongside your announcements and reminders. 

On the day of the stream, remind your audience of the event a few hours beforehand. You can avoid sounding too promotional by posting about how anxious or excited you are about it, or showing some teaser content. 

That said, the best method for ensuring your fans know about your broadcast is to start streaming regularly and sticking to a schedule – Which can even help you maintain a relevant presence even when you are not doing many shows or have new releases. 

Do keep in mind that too much exposure can end up being counterproductive, though. So keep these streams reasonably spaced to keep the flame alive! 

#3 – Keep In Mind Before Going Live 

Have you noticed how cohesive an explainer video’s narrative feels? Well, while your streams will be neither recorded nor edited, you should still strive to keep a similar level of consistency! 

How? You may ask… Well, the core precept behind live streaming is its freshness. So, scripting your content is not really an option. However, you should definitely outline your stream ahead of time, all with relevant keywords, potential transitions, and cues. 

Doing so will keep you from getting lost in the middle of the stream, and should give you a better handle on the whole thing. 

Also, try and make sure your environment is conducive to a great streaming experience! 

The background should be attractive and distinctive, but not distracting. Indoors, favor harmonic frame compositions, being mindful of your place in the frame. Visually symmetrical spaces are the most pleasant to see. 

Other technical factors you can’t overlook pre-stream are lighting and sound/acoustics – particularly if you are going to perform! 

For instance, you can use natural light filming close to a window or in an exterior location. Check that the lighting is not too direct. If that’s the case, you can soften it with light diffusers. 

If the sound quality plays a significant role in your stream, prepare your space acoustically, reducing the reverberation and external noise. The latter is especially detrimental in outdoor locations, so recording a bit ahead of time to optimize it is advisable. And on that note… 

#4 – Practice Makes Perfect! 

Even if you don’t suffer from camera shyness – and, as a musician, you shouldn’t – you can benefit remarkably from dry running your video. In fact, you’ll notice a significant difference in the way you handle yourself in front of the camera right from the beginning. 

The actual streaming won’t be the same as a controlled rehearsal. Nonetheless, try to conduct practice runs as realistically as possible. Simulate answering questions, welcoming new viewers, and reintroducing yourself and the subject from time to time. Request a friend to offer you constructive feedback, or do it yourself by recording the dry runs and pinpointing your weak points. 

Strengthen your camera presence by looking straight at the lens, as if you were looking into a person’s eyes. That is unbelievably powerful for engaging your viewers. 

#5 – Branding In Your Live Streams 

Being yourself is not only an empowering piece of advice. It’s also an excellent marketing strategy. 

Your audience is attracted to your unique style for a reason. That’s why you should let it shine throughout the whole stream. It should be reflected in the setting, in your outfit, in the way you talk, and of course, in your music. 

Doing so helps you sound natural, and that alone can put you ahead of many other streamers. It’s pretty noticeable when somebody is forcing a faux personality or trying to seem like a presenter. They do this to appear more professional, but it’s most often than not the wrong way to approach this. 

Just like a brand would do, emphasize the uniqueness that distinguishes you from the rest! 

#6 – Call To Actions Appropriate To The Format 

In case you are not familiar with this marketing term, a Call To Action is anything that prompts the audience to take action. A core principle of successful marketing and promotional efforts! 

What “something” means exactly varies with your goals. Commenting, sharing, visiting your website, downloading your new single, or attending to your show, are popular goals that can be attached to CTAs. 

Live streaming CTAs tend to focus on engaging the audience. You may encourage them to suggest songs or topics, to vote, or to ask you questions. Demonstrate appreciation by taking their opinion into account, thanking them, and reading their comments out loud. Those little rewarding gestures make people feel valued and are great motivators to foster online engagement. 

Anyhow, merely mentioning a CTA during the streaming is not enough. It’s vital to remind your viewers about it in the comment section as well, and direct them to what you’d want them to do at key points in the stream: shortly after starting, at the midpoint, and most definitely when you wrap up the stream. 

#7 – Connect & Thrive 

I can’t stress enough how critical it is to connect with your audience when streaming. 

As mentioned earlier, the primary fuel behind social media is interaction. It’s not a one-way channel, so don’t just use it as a one-way content storage service. 

Seize every chance you have of connecting with your fans. Keep an eye on the comments for a while after a stream and answer their comments, respond to their questions, even invite them by name to your future streams. These small personal touches can make a huge difference in how the audience engages with your content and social presence. 

In short, make them know that they are important to you. 

Final Thoughts 

Creating a successful live stream is not an easy task. However, it is a tool that blossoming musicians from a few decades ago would have killed to have! It enables you to cut out the middle-man and market your music persona, with a low-cost, and with superb results. 

What matters the most is to be authentic and fresh. Being so, the connection with your fans will come along, without having to force it. 

Even though streaming will be hard at the beginning, I can assure you’ll end up enjoying it a lot. There’s something deeply gratifying about connecting with your audience, regardless of the professional benefits it generates as well.

Victor Blasco is an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert, and founder/CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos. Besides running the business, he’s a lifelong student of Chinese philosophy and a passionate geek for all things sci-fi.