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Instagram audio



Audio and music have emerged as compelling creation and consumption levers, particularly amongst teens. Over the past year, we’ve launched a number of features to help people create entertaining, expressive content, leaning further into this latent behavior.

These features are informed by the vision work I established back in 2021. In 2021, I observed this growing trend: teenagers were consuming and creating audio content at an accelerated rate. However, Instagram's existing music features were limited to Stories and Reels, lacking robust native support and user awareness. User research revealed a crucial gap – people were sharing music-related screenshots, indicating a lack of either awareness of existing features or their functionality. Recognizing the potential for music to be a powerful driver of conversation and community building, I established a clear vision: elevate music to a first-class citizen across the entire Instagram experience.

The process

Our primary focus was extending native music support to Feed, the most frequented surface on Instagram. To ensure a smooth user experience, I led the design of music as an attachment to media, similar to tags or locations. This leveraged familiar user patterns for selecting song sections and defining duration. On the consumption side, I championed highlighting "tagged" songs within the existing action system, while maintaining a clean playback experience with a simple audio toggle.

Looking Beyond the Horizon

With a focus on the next 18-24 months, I convened a team of designers from across Instagram and Facebook to brainstorm innovative concepts that would unlock the full potential of music on our platform.We kicked off the brainstorming session with two thought-provoking prompts:

  1. "What would Instagram look like with 'Sound On'?"
  2. How might we envision ways music could be used to drive expression and connection?"

To guide our exploration, we established a set of key parameters for the future of music on Instagram:

  • Engagement: Encourage "depth" of engagement rather than breadth: We prioritized concepts that fostered meaningful interactions and connections over fleeting views or likes.
  • Interactions: Lean into authenticity and genuine interactions that strengthen connections: Our goal was to create features that encouraged users to express themselves authentically and build stronger communities.
  • Constraint: Ensure that Reels can continue to experiment and evolve music in ways that are distinctly better for the product: We acknowledged Reels' unique role and ensured our concepts wouldn't hinder its development.
  • Assumption: Music is extensible enough that it can be easily leveraged by other formats (not limited to video): We explored the potential for music integration across all content formats.

To further solidify our vision, we defined a set of core principles that would shape the future of music on Instagram:

  • Music is for everyone: We believed everyone should have the ability to express themselves and connect through music on the platform.
  • Music is for everything: Our vision was for music to be a seamless and ubiquitous part of all sharing experiences on Instagram, from Stories and Reels to Posts and other upcoming formats.
  • Music is simple: We aimed to create an intuitive and user-friendly experience for both creating and consuming music content.
  • Music is inspiring: Music is a powerful tool for self-expression and emotional connection. We wanted to empower users to share their emotions and experiences authentically through music.
  • Music brings us closer: Our core belief was that music could foster deeper connections between users, allowing them to discover new artists and communities.

Using these parameters and principles as our guideposts, we explored a range of exciting concepts through brainstorming sessions. Here are a few examples:

  • Music Status: This concept envisioned users automatically sharing what they're currently listening to as part of their Instagram profile, further blurring the lines between self-expression and music consumption.
  • Music as Conversation: This feature would allow users to share short clips from songs as reactions or conversation starters within direct messages, making communication more dynamic and engaging.
  • Collaborative Audio Creation: We explored the possibility of empowering artists to co-create music directly with other creators or even fans. This could foster a new level of collaboration and community building within the platform.
  • Artist Music Profile: A dedicated space for musicians to showcase their work, connect with fans, and generate hype around upcoming releases was another concept we explored. This central hub could revolutionize the way artists interact with audiences on Instagram.

By exploring these and other innovative concepts, we established a long-term vision for music on Instagram that goes beyond simply adding music to Feed posts. This vision positions music as a central pillar of the user experience, fostering deeper connections and self-expression for users of all backgrounds.

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The "Music in Feed" feature, which had been in testing since 2021, finally launched in Fall 2022. This project not only introduced a valuable functionality for users but also established a cohesive music strategy for both Instagram and Facebook. Through a collaborative design process, we explored a range of future-oriented concepts designed to deepen user engagement through music, laying the groundwork for an even more immersive and expressive music experience on the platform.

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