Music content on Instagram: should I upload Reels or regular videos?

Ever since the Instagram platform launched its popular Reels about a year ago everyone’s been buzzing about the quick, punchy content they offer: consume, create, consume, create, create, consume, create. But… have you ever wondered what differentiates Reels from regular Instagram videos? What’s the reason behind the existence of these two video possibilities? And above all, you may be a singer, instrumentalist, arranger or producer: you don’t quite know which way to choose to promote your services?

My answer to whether it is more convenient to use Reels or normal videos to promote your artistic services is very clear: it depends. But I certainly don’t recommend Reels for any kind of promotion; in fact I usually recommend videos much more, and I’m going to explain it to you from my knowledge of Insta’s algorithm.

First of all, it is important that we do not romanticize Instagram; let’s keep in mind that it is a business platform in which the priority is to sell, and therefore you have to know how to use its different parts. Each of the new services that Instagram has been incorporating has been intended to give more versatility to its service with the user, as well as to be at the level of those who at the time have been great competitors:

why do reels arise?

What is now one of the most acclaimed social networks started out as a network in which only very short photos and videos could be uploaded, and whose most powerful distinguishing factor was its photographic filters.

With time and the progressive popularization of the platform, the creators realized that this minimal and simple style was starting to become too small for the average user, and as they encountered competitors, they integrated new possibilities:

  • Stories arose from the need to stand up to Snapchat, an app in which you could upload images and light videos that were automatically deleted after 24 hours.
  • Instagram live emerged as a replica of platforms that offered streaming services such as Youtube or Twitch.
  • The reels were born from the competition with Tiktok, one of its toughest rivals at the moment, which offers a service very similar to what we understand by uploading videos to Instagram, and more so now, when in both networks videos can last a maximum of 60 seconds.

What makes Tiktok so popular is its algorithm; it is a social network that has managed to work in a much more explosive (and therefore more addictive) way than Instagram. Therefore, Zuckerberg’s giant copied this algorithm, allowing us to multiply our number of visits -according to marketing experts- up to 3 times more than we could in videos.

Pero… ¿es realmente mejor subir reels que videos siendo músico?

Reels content


As I was saying, the answer is a “it depends”, but not quite “no”. One of the reasons is the content already on Reels, which drinks from the influence of tiktok; a simple, light and hyper-exciting content (sometimes a bit childish), based entirely on impact with morbid hooks, much more than in the case of videos. Music tends to be content with serious, professional and technical intentions, especially if you aspire to be part of the music industry through social media.

Fugacidad del contenido

The Reels algorithm prioritizes short videos, even if you can upload videos up to one minute long. If you upload such a long video, it has to have a brutal rhythm that excites the consumer’s mind every second, and if you don’t achieve this effect, people will leave after 10 or 20 seconds because your video will not maintain the same level of excitement as the previous ones they will have seen before yours. And that won’t be the worst thing; Instagram’s algorithm will penalize it and position it badly, because you don’t have retention and that is a fundamental vertex within the ratios that are taken into account for Reels.

On the other hand, if you are a musician, you may need more than 20 seconds to show your talent. Therefore, if this is the case for you, Reels are not suitable.

Not recomended to stalkers

Reels is a sort of Instagram subterfuge, a platform based not so much on entering profiles but on swiping through an endless string of videos and more videos. It’s for downtime, not for sniffing out talented people or artists to contact/hire. Someone who has that predisposition searches much earlier on hashtags. And furthermore, if you look at how the Reels themselves interact with hashtags in music, what you find is a very low proportion of Reels; you can always find one in the top featured area, and underneath, all videos and photos.

What does this mean? That Instagram doesn’t want Reels in hashtags, precisely because of what I comment about the need for constant excitement and levity: the hashtags platform is usually not their place.


Mi experience

It is true that on Reels you can multiply the number of views on your videos, but really, except for the number of visits, all my ratios went down:

  • In the normal videos, with approximately 700 to 1300 views, I had a ratio of 170 to 220 likes, between start, hashtags and other sources such as the search engine and others. In this case it did not reach 80 likes in 24 hours.
  • In normal videos I had from 1 to 5 shares and from 15 to 20 saves. In this case, 0 likes in the two ratios, (being a video of the same musical genre and the same audiovisual quality and style as the others in my profile).
  • With each video it was also common that I was followed by producers, singers and musicians, between 1 and 5 professionals without counting spam profiles or bots, which always fall some. In the case of the Reel, no profile followed me.
  • In terms of comments I used to have an average of 7 to 15 in the last year, and they went down to 3.
  • One of the reasons why I upload music videos to Instagram is because I’ve had several important jobs and clients come up. Uploading normal videos I always have a small casuistry of professionals who would talk to me to make a deal, but in the case of Reels… guess what! It wasn’t like that.

It is not easy to generate interest/follow-up

Because of all this, we see that the flow of interactions from prospects interested in your art is going to be very weak on Reels, and it may sound a little harsh, but normally….

  • They won’t click on your profile
  • They’re not going to watch other videos you’ve uploaded
  • They won’t comment on different posts
  • They won’t send you a DM offering you a collaboration or a contract.
  • They won’t save your Reel, and they won’t click on your biography website in case you have it.

A very poor statistical analysis

This is another clear point against Reels: you don’t have as many possibilities when it comes to analyzing the response of your account’s audience, nor in the case of external audiences. The insights don’t reveal how many impressions you have from the start, from exploring, from hashtags… so you don’t see the evolution of your own relevance in the video or how well or badly it has worked, which would be great to modify your strategies if necessary.

In that sense, Reels is quite weak. But it’s not that it’s poorly thought out, on the contrary: this lack of statistics comes from what I said about Reels being fleeting content. This means that consumers only watch videos and videos, so their ability to interact in a varied way is very limited, and that is why a good part of the statistics are eliminated. But, at the end of the day, if you are a musician you are a small business, and to do good marketing you need a good consumer analysis in your advertising, something that Reels does not offer.

The purpose of the Reels

It should be said that, more than to show talent or technique as an artist, Reels is a service to create explosive videos, upload something groundbreaking, or sexy, or simply follow the latest trends. Of course, that way you can grow, and it is highly recommended. And also if you have ever recorded something strictly musical and at the same time susceptible to go viral, it may be a good idea to upload it to Reels.

After diagnosis, the prescription

After all that has been said, my recommendation is to upload videos and distribute Reels. Don’t give up on Reels altogether, but use them for videos that you see that have the potential to be explosive and attract a lot of attention because of their hook, unexpected ending, etc. In this case, be sure to give a lot of rhythm to the images, directions, etc. It should not be a normal video in which you show your talent, because it is difficult for it to work.

In short, I recommend that you upload Reels especially in videos that meet these characteristics:

  • Current (a cover of a song that just came out this week).
  • A spicy point (a little dance, something that catches the attention)
  • A duration of 20 seconds or less
  • If possible, something new or fresh and that has a chance to go viral.

And finally, to grow on Instagram as an artist, one of the best strategies you can follow is to study a course on social media growth. This Udemy Instagram Growth course is one of the most recommended:

Anyway, that’s all for today! I leave you some derivative blogs below, and remember that you can buy beats of rap, trap, drill, dembow, reggaeton, pop, etc! A la carte.

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