OPINION: What Musicians Can Learn from Instagram

Earlier this week, Instagram, the popular photo sharing service, was bought by Facebook for one billion dollars (Dr. Evil voice). But as many people see a success story, tech insiders see a reward for long years of struggle. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom jumped into the game 8 years ago, but his photo sharing application only took off last year after 2 failed projects.

So what can artists learn from the success of Instagram? Music writer Bob Lefsetz says it’s all about accepting failure, doing more with less, and not overthinking. Persistance pays off in the long run.


Photobox was in 2004. Then came Burbn. And then Instagram.

Why do you expect to be successful the first time out?

Pros stay at it, amateurs give up.


Instagram was a stripped-down Burbn. You always think you need more, but usually you become successful with less. Less on the track. Fewer cuts.

Send a label three certified smash tracks with your voice and talent way up in the mix and they’ll be salivating to sign you.

Send a label twelve mediocre cuts with bad production and you won’t even get a response.

It’s less about money, less about production, less about slick than letting your talent shine.


Attach yourself to a hot product.

Play Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. You don’t have to reach everybody, just the vocal minority who testify.

Despite the inroads of Android, you’d think the world is run by iPhones…MAYBE IT IS!


It took eight weeks to build Instagram. Great work is done upon a burst of inspiration, quickly. Get an idea and act upon it. Don’t overthink it, get it done before you have time to reconsider.