Recently, Instagram rolled out its new “archive” feature. Now, when you click the three “more” dots at the top right of any of your posts, you’ll see an option to hide your photos, not delete them. The true beauty of this feature lies in its ability to also restore your photos if you change your mind; it’ll even add them back into their original, chronological spots.
Sounds great, but what does it mean for you as a musician? Well, in many circumstances, it could be your saving grace. Here are six ways you can make the most of Instagram’s archive feature.
1. Performance videos with bad audio/lighting/quality
We get it – before you have the budget to rent a studio, get a decent camera, or even purchase an extra light or two, you’re counting on your phone and just any space for all of your video-taking needs. Whether the live videos on your Instagram were filmed at a gig or in your living room during a practice session, if they’re not high quality, archive them.
But, you say, if I do that, I won’t have any videos of myself performing on my Instagram! Honestly, if your videos are terrible, you’re probably doing yourself a favor. Now, be kind to yourself when you’re evaluating what’s good and what’s not. There’s something to be said for a rough cut and most venues or music-industry players aren’t expecting Bruno Mars-level production values in your social media videos. But if your videos are fuzzy visually or have garbled audio, ditch them. Particularly when it comes to sound, if any of your videos don’t accurately reflect how you actually sound, take them down.
The beauty of archiving these puppies is that they’re still available if you need them, and who knows, you might find the perfect reason to share that badly lit, muddled-sounding, pixelated video from your second show at some point.
2. Unprofessional photos
Everyone wants to look cool on Instagram, especially if you’re a musician. Your image is everything and is often the cache that earns you cred, gigs, and, sometimes, contracts. Being cool, however, doesn’t mean posting pictures of you falling-down drunk or flipping off the camera, particularly if it doesn’t align with your musical persona. Those photos are better left archived.
Obviously, there are some exceptions. If you’re the drummer in a hardcore, screamo, metal band, then yeah, your schtick might be lewd activity and rudeness. That’s okay, but there are limits to everything, especially when your tomfoolery goes too far and potential bookers, managers, publicists, even music journalists check out your Instagram and dub you unprofessional.
This goes for your captions, too. If you have a photo of your band engaging in mildly questionable behavior that might be passable if it fits with your band’s image, but the caption says, “So wasted we missed our flight to the next gig,” that’s a massive red flag to anyone who might be interested in booking you for future dates. If you’re even debating if your posts give off an unprofessional vibe, be safe and archive them.
3. Canceled gig announcements
Speaking of missing gigs… Every musician has had to cancel a gig at least once in their career, but it’s never a good look to have an entire Instagram profile filled with, “Sorry guys! Tonight’s gig is canceled” graphics. That kind of repeated behavior will definitely put off other bookers visiting your page and may even affect your fans’ decisions to travel to any faraway shows for fear you’d bail on those, too.
Even if your posts include an entirely rational explanation, like, “Hey guys, the whole band has the flu and two broken legs, so there’s no way we can perform tonight,” or something less dramatic, the average visitor won’t take the time to read the captions; he or she will see the main graphic and make a judgment.
It’s best to use these posts in an advisory capacity, then archive them when that particular show’s date has passed. Heck, you can even delete them. You’re not planning on missing other shows, are you?
4. Anything with errors
“Errors” is such a broad term that can really be applied to any mistake on any part of an Instagram post. Although captions are editable (and, by the way, should be edited for even the most minor error), perhaps you spelled “Mississippi” with one “P” in one photo or accidentally posted the unedited version of your professionally shot band photos in your #TBT from three months ago. These types of posts deserve the almighty “archive.”
Your first instinct may be to banish these pics altogether, but you never know when you could need them for promo or other purposes. Plus, if they’re not completely messed up, your errors could be fixable. That unedited band photo? Run it through a photo-editing app and some filters, and it might be good to go. Use your best judgment, or, better yet, get a set of objective eyes to tell you where you went wrong.
5. Optional: photos without tons of likes
If you’ve ever stumbled down the Instagram rabbit hole and ended up at an account with seven photos with 200 likes a piece and 1,000 followers, you may be scratching your head. Those numbers don’t add up when it comes to social media in general, particularly Instagram where visual content rules. Surely, to have that many followers and likes per photo, that person would need more posts?
Turns out there’s a phenomenon among teens where any photo that doesn’t earn enough engagement gets the ax. In fact, that may have been a huge factor in Instagram rolling out its new archive feature. Teens these days are carefully curating their lives to make themselves look exciting, attractive, and cool.
What does this mean to you? It may mean nothing, but if you or your band caters to that teen demographic, you may want to do as your fans do and judge your likes based on your follower count — as long as you earn at least 10 percent of your follower count in likes on every post, you’re probably fine when following this method. Obviously don’t delete these pics; they’re probably perfectly fine. Archiving will save you in case anything changes, like you decide to age out of that demographic.
A word of warning, however: if you decide to go this route, make sure you’ve got a good engagement strategy in place. Without a lot of content or hashtags, you’ll need to devise another method for earning that coveted attention.
6. Posts that are too personal
Of course, your fans want a glimpse into your personal life. In fact, they probably like all of your random food pics and selfies with your dog. But it’s also possible that when you first started your account, you were hurting for content and posted loving birthday message for your (now ex-)girlfriend, acoustic videos filmed in your underwear, or bathroom-mirror selfies. Archive them.
When it comes to these overly personal photos, archiving is a real blessing. Obviously, you don’t want to lose some of these intimate moments forever. But you also clearly don’t want them on display for your growing fanbase and music industry folk. Luckily, once they’re archived, they’ll still be there, but for your eyes only.
It goes without saying that you should always use your best judgment not only when posting on Instagram in the first place, but also when choosing what photos to archive. Always think about your band’s mission and image first and foremost, then figure out what best communicates that on social media. Anything else — save it for later.
Allison Johnelle Boron is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Goldmine magazine, Paste, and more. She is the founder of REBEAT, a “blogazine” focused on mid-century music, culture, and lifestyle.