Essential Tips For Releasing Your EP With Instagram and Instagram Stories
How to plan and execute the perfect EP release with your images, graphics, and teaser videos on Instagram
Of all the social media platforms, Instagram has become the go-to for independent musicians presenting their music visually. Knowing how to release an EP with Instagram is a crucial skill for artists. In this article, we talk about how to create a great strategy for your EP release rollout on Instagram.
Planning Ahead For a Great EP Release Rollout on Instagram
Nothing Happens in a Vacuum – Planning Instagram With Your Overall Release Rollout
A great release rollout coordinates every task and platform to build the most anticipation possible. Although Instagram is a great vehicle for reaching millions of potential and current fans, it’s not the only one. And you’ll have other tasks you need to coordinate, like getting your ISRC codes, coordinating with your digital distributor, and booking your release parties. You need to coordinate all of these tasks to happen at the right times. You want your timing to be perfect.
Your goal is to build the most anticipation possible for your EP release week. This generates momentum you will be able to carry with you to drive sales and streams for a longer period of time. And statistics matter. If you’re looking to get signed to a record label, management company, or booking agency, you want to acquire verifiable numbers. The biggest of these is soundscan sales and stream counts on platforms like Spotify and YouTube. As these numbers decay over time, having the “pop” of a large number during your release week is where you’ll get the numbers that will go in your email subject line to get your emails read.
Timing Your Instagram Posts
Your EP release rollout will be driven by events over time building anticipation and excitement among new and old fans. Since it is your music you are trying to promote, there is no better way to generate excitement than with singles. Your EP release rollout should be between eight and twelve weeks, but longer rollouts are not unheard of. You’ll want to release two or three singles during that timespan. Your Instagram posts will often, but not always, support these singles.
Other events your Instagram posts will support can include contests, release party announcements, playlist additions, and media coverage. Each of these “minor” events deserve two or three posts. Single releases deserve many more posts, first leading to the single release and then subsequently. Timed correctly, you’ll easily have more than enough content for daily posts for weeks to come.
Create Your Graphics and Teaser Videos In Advance
During your release rollout you will be exceptionally busy. If you’re not, you’re doing something wrong. You should anticipate this busy-ness by preparing as much in advance as possible. You know what your singles will be. You should have your cover art done or at least almost done. The “theme” of your EP should definitely be established. Use this information to pre-build as many graphics and teaser videos as you can. You should already have taken a ton of pictures while in the studio, while performing, and while rehearsing. Organize these images on a shared drive in a folder built for this EP. You can have folders for live shots, photos of fans, studio shots, songwriting shots, official photos, and so on. Make sure the file names are descriptive and use a free tool like Gimp to create graphics and photos in various sizes.
Instagram Image Sizes
- 1080px x 1080px
- 1080px x 1350px
- 1080px x 556px
- 750px x 1334px
- 640px x 640px
For more great advice on Instagram image sizes, click here.
You can build show announcement and playlist additional graphic templates in advance. Make templates of the Instagram images so you can edit the details later and the heavy lifting is already done.
Additional Questions About Releasing an EP on Instagram
Should I release a single or EP?
You should always release your singles with a purpose. This purpose could be to promote a big concert appearance or a placement in a TV, movie, or video game. You could release singles simply as a way to let your fans know you are still active while you prepare a full-length release. Generally, however, singles are released with the purpose of generating anticipation and excitement for the release of a collection of songs. If you are considering releasing a single as a standalone, make sure you have a purpose for that release that makes sense.
How do you promote your first EP?
All of the advice in this blog post is applicable, whether it is your first release, or your twentieth. For artists promoting their first release I highly recommend the concept of “launching above the line of super-credibility”, a concept made famous for internet start-ups by Peter Diamandis. In short, make sure your band is being associated with other bands, venues, concepts, and brands you aspire to be compared to. This can be done by releasing high-quality graphics (unless you’re going for a lesser aesthetic, of course) but more effectively by asking artists you admire to share your posts or post about you. Make your band seem, to the unitiated, as big as you aspire to be, rather than as popular as you actually are.
Why do artists release EPs?
There are a number of reasons why releasing an EP is advisable for an unsigned artist. First, it is more economical. For artists with limited budgets, focusing resources in the studio on a few songs over a larger number is going to provide higher-quality recordings or lower costs, and sometimes both. The EP also has the ability to leave the audience wanting more. Whether the listener is a fan or an industry pro, you don’t want to exhaust their interest in your music on one release. In general, my advice is to not record a full-length album until someone else is paying for it (or in the form of a recoupable advance).
How to Release Your Music With Instagram Stories
Post on Instagram Stories Every Day
Instagram Stories have two main features as of the time this is being written. The first feature is it is temporary. Each Instagram Story post only lasts 24 hours. Because of this, you should definitely post all your Instagram Stories posts in your regular feed as well.
How to Get to the Top of Your Followers’ Instagram Feeds
The second feature is Instagram Stories puts the posts at the top of the user’s feed. This draws attention to the post. There are plenty of Instagram users who only look at Instagram Stories and little to nothing else. Consequently, being an omnipresent part of your followers’ Instagram Stories feed during the release rollout is critical. To do this, post at least once every 24 hours on Instagram stories. If it is challenging coming up with ideas for posts every day, start looking at posts from other bands now and write down some of the posts they make so you can do similar posts later.
How to Use Video To Release Your Music on Instagram
Posting Video to Your Instagram Profile
The time limits for a video posted to your Instagram profile are 3 to 60 seconds. This format is great for the “video teaser”. Edit your music videos into several “video teasers” to entice fans to click and watch and listen to the full video on YouTube or Vimeo. Or, create a “trailer” for your EP, like a trailer for a movie (but shorter). This format is also great for candid video from your smartphone’s camera and shots from the stage, van, rehearsal room, or recording studio.
Posting Video to Your Instagram Stories
The time limits for a video posted to your Instagram Stories are 1 to 15 seconds. This format is great for entertaining moments and brief scenes you capture. This format is also good for announcements done by animated graphics. There are several apps you can use to inexpensively and easily animate graphics for Instagram.
When you wish to post a longer video on Instagram Stories, you will need to break the video up in to 15 second pieces. Seek out CutStory for Iphone and Story Cutter for Android for ways to do this beyond Instagram’s built-in functionality.
Again, post to Instagram Stories every day during your release rollout to stay at the top of your followers’ feed. Your Instagram Stories posts disappear after 24 hours.
Posting Live Video to Instagram
The time limit for a live video posted to Instagram is 60 minutes. This format is great for engaging with fans in a way they will never forget. It’s a great way to make big announcements and get feedback from fans. Instagram Live is also a great way to conduct a “Ask Me Anything” session. As of the time of this writing, Instagram Live is definitely underutilized by bands to promote their release rollouts.
How to Use Images and Graphics To Release Your Music on Instagram
What Are the Differences Between Graphics and Images?
I am defining graphics as anything needing to be altered in a software, often to add text. I am defining images as any picture not requiring significant graphic alterations. For example, a static image of your band with a Spotify logo and text announcing being added to a Spotify playlist is a graphic. A show announcement including the date and venue name on the image would be a graphic. A photograph of your band put through a filter on your smartphone would NOT be a graphic, it would be an image.
How Often Can You Post to Instagram?
Depending on your audience demographics and their tolerance level, you can post images and graphics to Instagram three or even seven times a day. Some fans will love seeing and hearing from you multiple times a day. Some fans will unfollow you after a couple posts. You need to find a balance that works for you. However, at no time should you be absent completely from Instagram. And you should be posting more than ever during your release rollout.
Your Instagram feed during your release rollout is primarily catering to those who will buy and stream your EP during the first week of onsale. Followers who unfollow you because you “post too much” are not among them.
How Do You Promote Your Band on Instagram?
You are secondarily targeting new fans with your Instagram feed. Use hashtags and tag other artists in your posts. I recommend this post on how to engage with potential fans successfully using hashtags on Instagram. Do not follow those who like your post, only to unfollow them after they follow you back. This is a waste of time and is just bad voodoo. Instead, dialogue with potential new fans when you can, ask and answer questions, and just generally be cool. But keep in mind, your primary audience is your existing fans, not the new ones. Keep your attention on your existing fans when you have only time to engage one or the other.
Hashtags are how people find new music on Instagram. Instagram users utilize hashtags to search much like using a search box in Google. In addition, some hashtags have their own embedded feeds on blogs. For example, a blog for your local music scene might have a hashtag feed like #nashvillelive. Or a blog focused on a genre might have a hashtag feed like #countrymusic. Use hashtags liberally and creatively to find new fans with every post. When your graphics and images are compelling, and you have made it easy to do so, new Instagram users will listen to you.
Putting Your EP Release on Instagram All Together
Instagram is just one part of your EP’s overall release strategy. Make sure every video, graphic, and image has a purpose and is working for you to generate excitement for the release. Your end goal is to make sure as many people as possible are aware of the EP release as possible and make sure they are buying and streaming your music so your first week numbers will be as big as possible.
Find out how to release your EP or full-length the right way by clicking here. Release It Right is like tablature for an album release. It shows you exactly how to release your album or EP the right way so you get 10x – 100x your sales and streams.
Break down your release rollout into weeks, and then days. Once you have identified your target EP release date, identify release dates for your singles. Each single needs a few weeks to gain traction before the next one is released. Prepare your graphics and videos to promote these singles and generate those streams and pre-sales.
Between your single releases, schedule your other rollout events. These are your media appearances, contests, early reviews, playlist additions, release party announcements, and so on. These should all be supported with graphics and videos on Instagram.
Lastly, between all of these other important events, you need to stay active multiple times a day with images and videos, keeping fans and new fans aware of you and what is coming, building anticipation, and getting them to share and talk about you. It’s a lot of work. Get help from wherever you can.
When an EP is successfully promoted on Instagram, this will turn into momentum not just for your release, but for your career as a musician. Get to it!