Instagram Launches @Music, Its First Official Content Vertical

Instagram today announced the launch of a new official community on its service dedicated to music and musicians that will live under the handle @music. This marks the first time the company has created a dedicated account devoted to a single subject, explains the Facebook-owned social network in a blog post out this morning.

The idea for the new community was sparked by activity on Instagram itself, as one-quarter of the most popular accounts on Instagram today are those coming from musicians. Now Instagram is working to further fuel the flames of its 300 million+ users’ interest in the subject.

Explains Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom, “The music community is — and always has been — an important part of Instagram. For the past four years, we have become the home for artists big and small — a place where people across the musical spectrum come to share stories, reveal their creativity and connect directly with fans,” he writes.

A number of popular artists today have Instagram accounts, including Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Madonna and more. But it has also become home to emerging artists, who are looking to grow their fan base.

The new @music community, which will be headed up by Instagram Music Editor Alex Suskind, will cover a range of topics related to music, says Instagram, including all kinds of artists, both up-and-comers like Tricot and stars, instruments, lyrics, studio sessions, concerts, album illustrations, music fans and more.

There will be just six posts per week added to this account and they will be grouped into series designated by specific hashtags. For example: #LocallySourced will cover unsigned acts, #DoubleTrack will focus on artists’ interests outside of music, and #15SecondLessons will include videos on how to perform “everything from riffs to drumbeats,” says Instagram.

The “community” aspect to the service involves getting @music followers to participate not only in the comments of the posts itself, but also with a new, music-themed monthly hashtag project, the company notes. This will be similar to the Weekend Hashtag Project Instagram currently runs on its main @Instagram account, only tailored to music community.

The main account has over 60 million followers, and is used by the company to spotlight creative members of its community. @Music is an extension of that.

The @music community is kicking off its launch today with the first feature on Questlove. Unlike many Instagram posts, these community contributions aren’t just a simple photo or video and a quick comment, but rather include long-form content. In the case of Questlove, for example, there’s a multi-paragraph article that provides a deeper look into the artist’s musical origin story.

The decision to branch into verticals focused on users’ interests is an interesting move for the photo-and-video sharing network, which had not before launched its own online communities to engage the service’s users in a meaningful way. If @music is successful, it could mean that Instagram will use it as a model to expand into other areas that also make sense for its user base, with other dedicated accounts like those for art or fashion, for example.

That would perhaps make the service more of a rival to networks like Twitter or Snapchat, for instance – the former which also serves as a way for musicians and other public figures to communicate with their fans, and the latter which has more recently expanded into content as well, with the launch of the news-focused section “Discover.”

In addition, having an online topic-based community could help Instagram attract advertisers who want to reach a specific audience – Instagram’s younger, music-obsessed fans, that is. Today, there’s not a good way for advertisers to target a narrow demographic on the service because its users’ profiles are kept free from information that could help an advertiser identify their demographic data or interests. An online community (or communities) could eventually change that.

However, Instagram says today it doesn’t have plans to launch other verticals at this time or run ads on @music. Rather, the company tells us, @music is an expansion of Instagram’s long-running editorial operation. “Creating content isn’t new for us,” an Instagram spokesperson explains. “We think spotlighting the most talented and creative members of the music community on Instagram is a very strategic long-term.”