Sam Slaughter, junior planner at FRUKT London, looks at Instagram influencers and how it works as a medium for opinion leaders in music.
We’ve all seen it before, everyone’s favourite dog on Instagram. It’s sweet looking and his owner has somehow taught him to ride a skateboard. Suddenly their Instagram account seems to have amassed a unexpectedly huge following, and out of nowhere, they're posting about a random watch brand!
The world of “Instagram influencers” is now a massive thing. We’ve seen it in many forms too. From the unequivocal, crass product placement (what has a dog got to do with watches), to the genuinely respected authoritative voices in the industry that are defining what’s cool and what’s not.
Before the social media boom, brands who worked with ambassadors tended to go for A-list celebrities or “it” girls that made it into the tabloids. Nowadays, social media has opened up the concept of “followings” and “followers” to everyday people, anyone with enough know-how and dedication to hashtags, can create a small name for themselves. Whether they amass a huge following tends to depend on a mixture of luck, good looks (sadly enough), and genuine access to cool stuff that no one else can do.
The fashion world is probably the most synonymous with Instagram influencers. The visual aspect is a natural complement to the concept of style and fashion. And without getting caught up in a ‘chicken and egg’ debate, Instagram’s user base is weighted heavily towards women, meaning that fashion thrives on the channel.
However, music influencers don’t always fit so comfortably with the visual bias of Instagram. Twitter and Facebook do a better job of allowing tastemakers to express their opinions. Generally, Instagram for music influencers tends to be a visual diary of “where I’ve been that’s really cool” or “what I’m doing that’s really cool”, rather than actually expressing their thoughts on the best music out there.
Another phenomenon in the world of influencers, is that some people amass huge followings for no apparent reason. But, this often doesn’t work for musicians as they tend to have 2 or 3 platforms that are built around “followings”, like Soundcloud and Spotify. One can quickly ask the question - why does this musician have 180k followers on Instagram and less than 1k on Soundcloud?
180k followers on Instagram
500 followers on Soundcloud
Essentially there are more bullshit detectors when it comes to music. You can either create good music or not and everyone can easily check that out for themselves. Whereas in fashion, we can easily be duped by someone with enough money for expensive clothes, a good quality camera and penchant for selfies. As evidenced by Essena O’Neill’s Instagram meltdown last year.
That being said, there are plenty of genuine Instagram accounts where influencers have managed to build a visual story out of their careers. And if it started right from the very beginning it’s all the more interesting. We’ve taken a look at 5 Music influencers and how they’ve utilised Instagram to full effect. It's not a list of people with huge and powerful followings - there are no Queen Beys in here. Instead, we’ve gone for more home-grown and authentic potential brand ambassadors:
Julie Adenuga is interesting because of her gradual rise to success. Initially a daytime radio DJ on Rinse FM, she’s managed to secure a job as one of the three lead DJs for Beats 1, Apple's 24/7 radio station as part of Apple Music.
Having been an influencer in music for over 20 years; running multiple labels, djing for BBC Radio 1 and founding Worldwide Festival to name a few, Giles Peterson’s position isn’t born out of success on social media, but he still has a knack on Instagram to represent artists, new records, and promote any events that deserve credit.
At 19 years old Kaylum Dennis already worked for Link Up TV. Soon after, Kaylum became Stormzy and Section Boyz’ official videographer, and has travelled all over the globe. Obviously a natural link between photography and Instagram helps his cause, but where he’s been and who he’s with is really what makes his Instagram cool.
A big name in the music industry for setting up SBTV as a teenager, Jamal Edwards, now with an MBE to his name, regularly meets and works with important people from the likes of Prince William to Idris Elba. As a positive, entrepreneurial character, the content is innately inspirational.
Moxie’s humble feed keeps us up to date of the cool things she’s doing. As both a touring dj and a radio dj (on BBC 1 back in 2014 and now at NTS), she’s usually traveling around and in interesting places. But as with all djs, they’re often limited to posting gig flyers to get the message out to promote their shows. With her career still its infancy we expect Moxie to become more of a mover and shaker as her fanbase builds.