In a first for Instagram, the photo-sharing social network will use its considerable resources to promote a specific kind of content on the platform: music. The Facebook-owned company has launched a new, internally operated account, @Music, that it will use to showcase musicians and music lovers in the Instagram community.
Among the more than 300 million people who use Instagram, the company says more than 25% of the most popular accounts belong to musicians. Since it launched in 2010, the platform has become an integral promotions and communications tool for artists, and a go-to source of news and entertainment for fans. It's where Taylor Swift shared a candid celebratory moment after first going No. 1, and where Beyoncé, the most-followed person on Instagram with 31 million followers, spoke out during Ferguson.
"Artists are using Instagram as a companion to the art that they're making," said Jonathan Hull, Instagram's head of music partnerships, in an interview with BuzzFeed News. "Musicians lead really interesting lives, and Instagram has become a way for them to show their fans who they are and to give them a look inside of their world."
After today, the @Music account will update once daily Tuesday through Sunday. Content will include short profiles of featured artists and a mix of editorial series, including one offering 15-second music lessons and another spotlighting independent artists in cities around the world. Beyond drawing attention to the A-listers among its ranks, representatives for Instagram said a primary goal of @Music will be spotlighting dynamic emerging talent.
"We're looking to break artists," said Alex Suskind, music editor at Instagram. "One of the things we're focusing on is emerging and unsigned talent who are using the platform to share their music and their stories in a unique way."
Two profiles will be launching on the account today that will telegraph the breadth of Instagram's ambitions for the program. One will be of Questlove, drummer for The Roots and well-known music personality, and another will be of Tricot, a nascent math-rock band from Japan. Short blurbs will appear below photos sourced from the artists' own accounts, with more in-depth profiles available at Instagram's blog.
By creating exclusive editorial content, Instagram hopes to become a full-service destination for music lovers, and to enhance its position as a critical ally for artists and labels. Right now, users spend around 21 minutes per day on the app on average, a figure that it that it believes can be improved with high-quality editorial offered at dedicated channels. @Music will essentially act as a spin-off of the official @Instagram account, which boasts an enormous 65 million followers and similarly spotlights noteworthy existing content on the platform. Channels based on other topics may follow.
"If we can help more members of the Instagram community find these great accounts, that's going to make their experience on Instagram more rich," said Hull.
Instagram isn't the first social network to try to harness the reliable popularity and prestige of the music industry. In 2013, Twitter launched #Music, a short-lived effort to corral music-related tweets and trending artists into a discrete destination for fans. But users never adopted the #Music app, or made much use of the #Music Twitter account, and the company backed away from the initiative just six months after launch.
Instagram says it's taking a different approach with @Music.
"This is not a new product that we're building," said Hull. "We're just extending the great work that our community has already done."