Will Instagram's IGTV revolutionise the music inudstry? | Features | MN2S

IGTV has already hosted at least one album release by a major artist. Will it change the relationship between music and social media?

Jaden Smith is not known for playing by the rules. In 2015 he eschewed the traditional tux to wear a dress to his high school prom. In 2014 he broke convention to wear a white Batman costume to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding.

With these taboo-busting fashion choices in mind, it’s not surprising at all that the young rapper was the first major artist to debut a new album on Instagram. A shame though it is, it seems unlikely that the average high school graduate will give up the tux, or that the average wedding guest will arrive in full cosplay, but on one count, Jaden might actually be a pioneer. There’s a chance, however small, that Instagram’s IGTV could have a major impact on how artists release their music, transforming the listening experience in the process.

What is IGTV and what does it mean for music?

Launched just one month ago, IGTV is the latest venture from Instagram — the image-based social media platform owned by Facebook. IGTV is integrated with the normal Instagram app, but it is also available as a standalone application.

The function gives users the chance to upload their own videos and to view videos from their friends, and popular creators. As you may have guessed, many of those creators are musicians.

So far, it’s unclear exactly what IGTV means for music. It’s not been around long enough for everyone to have even figured out how to use it. Despite this, the potential is clear.

In early July, Jaden Smith announced his upcoming album with a characteristically confounding tweet:

How could an album drop on Instagram? Four days later — as opposed to the advertised three — we found out. Each track was uploaded as a video to IGTV. For a few days, the album remained exclusive to the platform, before eventually arriving on all the usual streaming services.

Clearly, this approach offers artists a way to personally reward fans who follow them on social media, and to take direct control of the release cycle in a way they can’t with platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, both of which require checks and processes from third parties.

What’s not clear, though, is how artists would use IGTV to actually make money. And that’s what separates it from potentially similar video platforms like YouTube.

Will IGTV replace YouTube?

YouTube, as we’ve previously discussed, has become a huge part of the music industry for better or worse. To many artists and labels, it’s definitely for the worse. Though the website is changing in a way that could turn things to its favour, the Google-owned website and the wider industry is still unlikely to get along any time soon.

IGTV could be different. At the moment, there’s very little to it. It doesn’t have adverts. It doesn’t appear to have YouTube-style copyright protection. But it does have potential. There’s a chance for Instagram to work with labels and musicians to make sure things work out in a way that is beneficial for all of them.

Instagram has expressed that it does have plans to monetize IGTV, meaning it might soon be seen as a more viable way to premiere an album. It should be said that Jaden Smith’s release, SYRE: The Electric Album, was more like a remix EP of cuts from last year’s SYRE. In other words, it’s not too important that he missed out on first week sales. A stream-hungry juggernaut like Drake, for example, would never premiere new music on a platform that doesn’t make money.

With some tweaks, and with wider adoption, there’s definitely a chance that IGTV can find itself a new home, somewhere between YouTube and Instagram itself, as a way for artists to market themselves and debut tracks. For now, it remains an interesting experiment.

h/t: Music Business Worldwide

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