Do you have music on Instagram Reels or Stories? Or are you missing the trending music?
If you have an Instagram Business Account, it’s highly likely that you don’t have access to the full range of music. That’s because Instagram assumes that business accounts can pay for music they use to promote products and services. This policy is to protect artists’ copyright – not to frustrate you.
All business accounts have access to the Facebook Sound Collection, thousands of tracks and sound effects available to use with no limits. Bear in mind that using copyrighted music to sell products or services is still against Instagram rules. Even if you do get access to the full range of music, don’t use it for ‘selling’ unless you’ve got copyright clearance.
Read on for some ways to get music on Instagram.
Instagram music ‘hacks’
1. Move to a Creator Account
One way to get access to music on Instagram is to switch to a Creator Account. It works for me, and many other people. But there are some things you can’t use with a Creator account, such as shoppable tags. Creator accounts don’t work for everyone. Read Should You Switch to an Instagram Creator Profile? for more information. If you do decide to switch, beware that it may take a few days or even longer to get music.
2. Grab sounds from other Reels
If you don’t have access to trending music, you can use audio from a Reel that another account has posted. Click on the scrolling title at the bottom of the Reel to get to the audio. Then either use it straight away to create your own Reel or save it to use later.
3. Change your account category
This is a hack I have seen people rave about on Instagram, but I haven’t tested it so I cannot vouch for it. From your Instagram homepage, click on Edit Profile. Click on Category. Select Entrepreneur and click on Done. This theoretically will give you acc
ess to all music on Instagram for Reels and Stories. You can hide the category via Profile Display if you wish.
Use other apps to record Reels
You don’t have to create Instagram Reels and Stories in Instagram. You can record and edit video elsewhere and upload them to Instagram. All of the apps I’ve recommended have music libraries. The advantage of using external apps is not only that you have more music choice. You will also have more editing features than you find in Reels. For instance, you can reverse or change the speed of clips. Some apps will also resize videos so they can be optimised for other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Reels are based on TikTok. So it makes sense that a lot of people create Reels with TikTok, which has ALL the music and a lot more filters and effects to play with. TikTok is also the source of most trends in Reels. When Reels first arrived worldwide in August 2020, the majority of the videos we saw had TikTok watermarks. In February 2021, Instagram alluded to this by suggesting videos with a watermark would be downgraded by the algorithm. BUT people are still recycling TikToks on Reels, they’re just using websites and apps to remove the watermark first.
Warning: if you post a TikTok to Instagram with a popular song, there’s a risk it may be removed altogether or you receive copyright warnings for certain countries.
Beatleap partners with Epidemic Sound, a well-known music library. It will sync your clips with your chosen music track, and it works really well. Commercial use is allowed but do read the fine print. [Read Beatleap’s terms]. iOS only.
CapCut is a top-notch video app from the makers of TikTok (ByteDance). It has a large library of tracks and more features than you can throw a stick at, but commercial use of the music is explicitly not allowed. It would be wise not to use CapCut for videos that are posted for direct commercial gain. [Read CapCut’s terms]. iOS/Android.
I’m including InShot because it has a pretty decent music library AND it’s an easy video editor to get started with. It’s one of my Top 10 Apps. InShot do not ask that credit is given when you use any of the tracks accessed in the app, but it’s good practice to attribute regardless. [Read InShot’s terms]. iOS/Android.
VLLO is quite similar to InShot, but just as easy to use and some great music! The music is all cleared for commercial use. [Read VLLO’s terms]. iOS/Android.
If you or your client don’t have access to music on Instagram or want to have a wider range of music to choose from, you can use a free or paid music library to find royalty-free music. That means as long as you adhere to the licensing rules, you can use the sounds for commercial videos. Royalty-free is NOT the same as copyright-free. The artist still holds the copyright. The only music which is copyright-free is in the public domain.
Free music libraries
Music from these libraries is usually in exchange for full attribution wherever it is used.
Bensound has a good-sized database which you can browse by category (e.g. cinematic) and search by keyword (e.g. inspirational). I’ve used some tracks for my own videos and can vouch for the quality. You can use the music commercially for free, but you must attribute to Bensound. [Check Bensound Licensing rules].
Filmmusic has thousands of tracks organised by genre, topic and artist. You can also search for tracks by keyword, length, speed, mood and more. You can use the music commercially for free, but you must attribute to Filmmusic.io. [Check Filmmusic.io FAQ].
Paid music libraries
This is a massive music library of over 35,000 music tracks. As you’d expect, you can explore and search tracks in a variety of ways to find exactly what you need. A commercial subscription is £239 a year, which means you have access to the full library of royalty-free tunes cleared for worldwide use. [Check Epidemic Sound FAQ].
This is a huge music, video and special effects library. SoundStripe also has a Similar Songs feature and creates Playlists to make it easier to locate suitable tracks. A license for unlimited music starts from £107 a year [Check SoundStripe FAQ].
Creative solutions in Reels
You don’t HAVE to use trending music to make engaging Reels. Here are a few alternatives:
- Play music on your computer or another device as background music to your video
- Talk to the camera
- Focus on making your Reels more engaging with a hook or transitions
Have you ever wondered how other people have multiple photos (and videos) in their Instagram Stories? You can tell more engaging stories on Instagram with more than one photo on a Story. Create more impact by showing more images and video in a single story. Use collages to show different angles to a product or feature several team members. You can be so much more creative with multiple photos! Here are FOUR free ways to create collages for Instagram Stories.
1. The Photo sticker
- Inside Instagram
- Verdict: Easy peasy, but no video
The Photo sticker is the easiest, simplest way to add multiple photos to a single Instagram Story. If you’re lucky enough to have it, that is. If you haven’t heard of the Photo sticker, it was actually introduced in 2018! You can only add photos using the photo sticker.
💡 You can use a video if you upload it to the Story before using the photo sticker.
Step by Step: photo sticker
- Add a photo or video to use as a Story background.
- Click on the Stickers icon 😀.
- Choose the Photo sticker.
- From your camera roll (or another album) choose a photo.
- Repeat steps 2-4 as needed.
- Move, rotate or resize your photos.
- Tap a photo to change the corners from rounded to straight.
2. Copy/paste hack
- iOS only
- Verdict: Neat for iPhone users
This hack lets you add one or more photos to a Story using only copy and paste. It’s not as quick or easy as the photo sticker, but might be useful for some people. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for Android phones, but R J Kaur’s YouTube video has a workaround.
Step by Step: copy/paste
- Add a photo or video to use as a Story background.
- Switch to your camera roll and choose a photo.
- Click on the Share button.
- Choose ‘Copy photo’.
- Switch back to Instagram.
- Hold your finger down until ‘Paste’ appears. Click on it.
- The photo you copied will be pasted into your Story.
- Repeat steps 2-7 as needed.
- Move, rotate, resize your photos.
3. Layout mode
- iOS + Android
- Inside Instagram
- Verdict: No design flair
Instagram introduced a collage-maker in December 2019 but never made a big deal of it. There are six simple grid templates. You can add up to six photographs (no video, sadly). Whilst it’s straightforward to use, the design of Layout mode falls flat.
Step by Step
- Choose Layout (between Boomerang and Superzoom).
- Choose the grid style (up to 6 photos).
- Take photos or choose from your camera roll until the grid is full
- There’s no way to resize photos once placed.
- Press ✔️ to edit the story further & post.
4. Apps & tools
- iOS + Android
- Verdict: the only way to have full design control + use video
There are dozens of apps and desktop tools to design Instagram Stories. Take your pick to access professionally designed templates and animations. You’ll be able to combine images and video easily. If you’re prepared to pay a little more, you can even use your own logo and branding. I’ve listed my favourite apps and desktop tools below and included a gallery of Stories I’ve created using them. Many of the apps and tools let you create square and portrait images for Instagram too so you can add them to the grid as well as Stories.
- Mojo – Hundreds of funky video templates
- Nichi iOS/Android – Japanese app with stylish nature-influenced design
- StoryLuxe (iOS only) – Themed templates with luxury elements
- Unfold – Minimal, flexible collage layouts
Lots of collage templates, snap-to grids & frames, background image removal (Pro), auto-resize images (Pro)
[Free / Pro £10.99 pcm – 30 day free trial]
Huge stock library, great animations, background image removal (Pro)
[Free / Pro £7.60pcm / Look out for Appsumo offers]
Free templates, graphics & stock images, background image removal (Plus), animated gifs (Plus), auto-resize images (Plus)
[Free / Plus £5.70pcm – 30 day free trial]
Separate collage tool, style themes, advanced photo editing, auto-resize images (Basic)
[Basic £9pcm / Pro £14pcm – 7 day free trial]
Instagram’s single link in the bio is immensely frustrating. ONE link! How do you link to your latest blog AND your newest product or service? What if you don’t even have a website yet? 😩
For many people, an Instagram link-in-bio tool is an ideal way to get around the limitations of the single link.
You get a custom URL which you put in your Instagram bio, and then use the tool to link to your other social media accounts, individual blog posts or events. Even link to specific products on your web page.
You might have heard of Linktree, which lets you point your single bio link to a list of many links.
A mini landing page, if you like. It’s the best-known link-in-bio tool. But it’s had a lot of negative attention because Instagram sometimes treated the links as spam. And as with anything, competitors have developed other, better features. But the best solution is the most obvious one. Do it yourself.
Your own landing page
Most people will tell you that if you have a website, the best solution is to create a landing page just for Instagram. Just as Jenna Kutcher has. You’re sending people to your website, and hopefully, they’ll stay there and take a look around. You don’t need to worry that a third party tool will go down. And Google Analytics won’t have any problems recognising where the visitors are coming from, which can be an issue with some of these tools. [Although you can get around that issue by adding UTM parameters to each link.]
Business coach Ruth Gilbey has an awesome Instagram landing page on her website. Ruth is awesome too! It’s elegantly simple, links can be easily updated and it has the same branding as the rest of her website. If you can do this for your business or for clients, it’s recommended. But if it’s not possible, one of the following link-in-bio tools could be right for you!
Campsite is an effective and customisable tool to add more links to your Instagram profile. It works best when you use it to showcase recent Instagram posts and provide links. For example, your most recent blog posts. It’s easy to drag links up and down, change the image and Fonts and colours are highly customisable, but you can only choose from images on your Insta account. Unless you upgrade. You can add icon links to your other social media accounts. Stats are very basic – you can only see how many times someone has clicked on a link.
Campsite is web only, and it’s much easier to set it up on desktop. After that, it’s pretty straightforward to edit and add links as you post more to Instagram. If you upgrade to Pro, you can also use it with MailChimp to get users signed up to your mailing list.
Price: Free | Pro £5.50 a month / £56 a year (prices approximate)
If you like Campsite, you might like Linktree.
Linkin.bio by Later
Linkin.bio is available as an add-on to Later‘s Instagram scheduling tool. You can add links to articles, videos or products – even multiple links per image if you pay for the Standard version. It works with the Shopify e-commerce platform so you can create a shoppable feed.
You can also work with Google Analytics to get more targeted information on how much each post generates for your business. Note that Later can also be used to schedule for Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. You setup Linkin.bio on desktop, but you can then add links to posts via desktop or the Later app (iOS/Android).
Pricing: From £7 per month / £72 annually (prices approximate)
If you like Linkin.bio, you might like Tailwind‘s Smart.bio or Sked Social‘s Sked Link.
Milkshake is an app-only solution (iOS/Android) which turns your sole Insta link into a mini-website. The app and aesthetic are very slick indeed, and it’s easy to set up on your phone. Creators and creative businesses seem to be the main audience for the app. You can choose between 15 nicely-designed themes and I suggest browsing the Milkshake site Inspiration first to see if they will fit your business. Check out the free resources on the site whilst you’re there – School of Instagram looks fun. Note that whilst you can change the images used in each theme, you can’t edit fonts or colours.
If you like Milkshake, you might like Gimmme.
Omnilink by Iconosquare
Omnilink is the newest in the 3rd party landing page solutions, and produced by Iconosquare, known for their (awesome) Instagram analytics tool. It seems to be a stand-alone tool, although I might have expected some integration as you can also schedule for Insta with Iconosquare. It’s probably the most flexible design-wise for a free tool. You can choose your exact brand colours, logo and play around with styling.
Omnilink allows you to create an attractive, on-brand landing page for your business. You can add links to your other social accounts, latest blog or video and products too. There are basic statistics showing how many clicks each link gets and from where. It’s free, it’s stylish, it’s just a pity it’s not on your own website!
If you like Omnilink, you might like Bio.fm
sellit by Planoly
Sellit is brand new an add-on to Planoly‘s Instagram scheduling tool. You can only use sellit with one of their paid plans, which cost from £5.50 per month. You use it to create a shopping catalogue with your products, then mimic your Instagram feed with links to the products. Customers can checkout and pay for products directly from sellit. If you don’t have a Facebook catalogue or even a website, this could be a great solution. Find out more about it in this Planoly blog post. Planoly also introduced a Linktree-style tool called linkit at the same time as Sellit – it’s free to all Planoly users. Compare sellit with linkit.
I can help you with Instagram! Check out my Deep Purple Power Hour.
On Instagram, it’s not just enough that the images look good on their own – they need to work together ‘in the grid’ to create a cohesive look and convey what your brand is all about.
A visitor to your feed will judge it on the basis of the first nine or 12 images – many won’t bother to scroll further down.
So if those images don’t look good together, they may well not follow the feed. For example, if there’s a different filter for every photo or if the colour scheme changes from bolds to pastels to monochrome. There are accounts that get away with this – perhaps because the brand is so famous, or because it’s funny and the feed is less about the look than the captions. But if your account isn’t famous or hilarious, you need to pay attention to the grid.
Here are some examples to show you what I mean.
Why it works: The images are grouped in threes, and the colour scheme is consistently earthy with touches of bright colour. Even the circular dishes make it all hang together nicely. There’s a clever mix of images – people, closeups of a dish and some shots showing more detail with a table setting. The backgrounds, bowls, plates, table settings all fit with the Jamie Oliver ethos – nothing is fancy, just substantial, tasty food.
Why it works: Boden is known for bright colour and pattern and naturally, their Instagram feed reflects this. Pops of bold colour mixed with plain, mostly pale backgrounds to help it stand out. Pattern is used in small amounts, but still makes an impact. The repeats of colour and detail make it feel cohesive even if you don’t notice them e.g. the hot pink in two of the photos, the stripe band in the dresses at top left and bottom right.
Sara Tasker’s feed occasionally includes promotions but she ensures that these images still align with her core look and values (unlike some influencers!). Could you spot which of these photos is a paid promotion? The filter(s) used are all similar, so there’s a consistent aesthetic even though the subject matter varies. Lots of white balances the dark lighting and liberal use of grey.
How to improve your Instagram grid
A beautiful Instagram feed is all about good design, which is not the easiest thing to grasp. Some people find good design comes naturally- we all know someone who just seems to create the perfect interiors, handmade Christmas cards or even outfits without any effort (or so it seems). I’m not one of those people! But here are some ideas which may help you get a more integrated, cohesive and beautiful feed that people will want to follow!
- Get inspired by others. Next time you look at a fab new feed, just pause and think about why you’d like to follow it. Why does it seem appealing? Could you use some of the ideas in your own feed?
- Limit filters. If you’re not using a filter for photos, it’s the number one thing that can make your feed look better. The Instagram filters are quite overused now. There’s a lot more choice if you use an app like Snapseed or VSCO (both iOS/Android & free). Some of the Instagram planning & scheduling apps like have filters as well (e.g. Preview, Plann).
- Use the rule of three. Whilst all the photos on the grid need to work with each other, start by grouping images in threes. Perhaps three photos which all have a splash of the same colour. Or different views of a featured product – a close-up, one on the shelf and in the shop window perhaps. Images could tell a story of a day out – beginning, middle and end.
- Introduce repeating elements. For some brands, it’s a signature colour – Janet Murray‘s pastel pink as shown. Or circles featuring quotes or employee photos – circles stand out on such a square grid.
- Embrace white space. It doesn’t have to be white, although a white border or background is very effective. If every image is ‘busy’, then the feed will look busy too. Adding a simpler image with lots of empty space (even a blue sky) will break things up.
Over 95 million photos and videos are posted on Instagram every day. Hashtags matter on Instagram because they’ll help people find your content and thus help you get more likes, engagement and followers. There’s plenty of research which says that using hashtags can boost likes by up to 70%. Hashtags are an essential part of categorizing your content, and the more categories your post fits, the better are the chances that your feed will be exposed to more people.
But there is little advantage to your account or your business in getting lot of likes for the wrong hashtags, so it’s really important to use ones that will attract your ideal audience because you want them to follow you, engage and hopefully take action – buy the product, download the ebook, send an email.
Klaxon: If your Instagram post is private, the hashtags WON’T be seen on a hashtag search page. So there’s not much point adding them to private posts.
How many Instagram hashtags should I use?
Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags. I’ve seen countless discussions about whether it’s spammy to use all 30, and whether it affects how your post performs but I have never seen any evidence suggesting that there’s a problem in using all 30. It is up to you how many you use but research suggests that using 8+ will make the most impact.
Ten relevant tags are better than 30 irrelevant high volume ones which may get your account tagged as spammy and won’t attract the right audience.
You may think you can’t find 30 relevant hashtags, but I don’t think that lasts long for many people! Once accounts gain a certain number of followers they often stop using (so many) hashtags as they’re gaining attention via other means. You won’t find any hashtags on GaryVee’s feed for instance – why would he need them?
What’s a good mix of hashtags?
All the hashtags you use should be relevant to your brand, industry and target audience. It takes time to research hashtags and if you post different types of content you’ll need more than one set. It’s also a good idea to mix up your hashtags from day to day as overuse of the same ones could get you shadowbanned. Hashtag research is an ongoing task – as your account grows and/or the quality of your photos/feed improves you may want to start using higher-volume hashtags because your images could gain more exposure through them. You should also keep an eye out for new hashtags or hashtag challenges to join in (as One Purl Row has- this can be a great way to expand the reach of a small business.
Try to find relevant hashtags which have roughly between 10,000 and 500,000 posts – make these the majority of the ones you use and throw in a few higher volume ones. Bear in mind that some low volume hashtags could be perfect for your business if they’re highly relevant though.
You might want to use a hashtag or two that are specific to your business. They could be related to a campaign you’re running, an Instagram challenge or perhaps one to garner user-generated content. For example, Buffer use #bufferspace and #buffercommunity to invite contributions from followers.
Local businesses should make sure to use some hashtags which will make sure they’re found by their community. For example, Three Angels in Hove come up top in a location search for Hove – why? Because they always feature location hashtags in their posts. For London, you may need to get quite location-specific as #london has over 90 million posts, but NW3 has only 20,000 so your business is much more likely to be found by local customers.
Klaxon: Don’t forget you can also tag location in Instagram stories and this can be a great way to extend your reach.
Is there any point using very popular hashtags
Short answer: Not really. The trouble with the very popular hashtags is the sheer number of posts using them means it’s highly unlikely your post will be found because new content will push yours down the search results. Plus content which gets to the top of some of these hashtag pages is usually drool-worthy posts by professional photographers. You’ll see a lot of people suggesting you use these popular hashtags to get more followers – but look at the top 10 hashtags below. Are any of these relevant to your business? Don’t waste your hashtags on ones that don’t convey what your business is about, where it’s located or your ideal audience. Include a couple of really high-volume tags for your best posts, but don’t go crazy.
Top 10 Hashtags 2017
#love #TagsForLikes #TagsForLikesApp #TFLers #tweegram #photooftheday #20likes #amazing #smile #follow4follow #like4like #look #instalike #igers #picoftheday #food #instadaily #instafollow #followme #girl #iphoneonly #instagood #bestoftheday #instacool #instago #all_shots #follow #webstagram #colorful #style #swag
Should hashtags go in the caption or the comment?
IT DOESN’T MATTER. People worry about putting hashtags into the first comment because they think Instagram will penalise them but Instagram’s help is very clear that hashtags can go in either location. Just make sure that you post the hashtags within a few minutes of posting.
It is quite a personal choice. I tend to add them in a comment because my workflow makes that easier for me and I like my captions to look neat! Social photographer Diana von Rettig is #teamcaption, saying “It’s harder to engage off hashtags as they get buried under the other comments. When someone reposts [an image] they already have hashtags. So I prefer reposting posts with the hashtags in the caption”.
Hashtags in the caption
- + Easy to compose or edit
- + Less likely to forget to add them!
- + Can use Instagram’s hashtag suggest tool
- + Easier for others to repost your content
- – It can look a bit spammy (although you can get around this by adding a few rows of asterisks between the caption & the hashtags)
Hashtags in a comment
- + Looks much neater & not spammy
- + Doesn’t distract from the caption
- – Can’t use Instagram’s hashtag suggest tool
- – Have to remember to add straight after posting
Finding (the right) Instagram hashtags
I won’t lie, this can be a slow process. I’ve listed some tools below which might help, but I have always found the manual way more effective. By which I mean searching for a hashtag I know is relevant and then following up on the related ones, clicking through to similar posts to mine and seeing what hashtags others are using.
You should always check each hashtag directly in Instagram to see whether the kinds of posts that use the hashtag are similar to what you want to post. Don’t just assume!
Klaxon: Related hashtags are only shown in the Instagram app and not in the desktop version.
Hashtag search tools
- Display Purposes: Shows related hashtags in order of relevance, in a map or a graph.
- Hashtagify.me: Limited number of # shown, but also includes influencers who use it, popularity & other useful data.
- Planoly’s Hashtag Manager: This is included in the free version of Planoly, which limits you to 30 posts a month.
- Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder: You can try it out in a free 30-post trial.
Hope this advice helps with your feed(s) whatever they are!