Why can’t I add my music to Instagram story?

Instagram Stories launched in 2016 as a way for users to share photos and videos that expire after 24 hours. It quickly became one of Instagram’s most popular features, with over 500 million daily active users. Instagram Stories allows users to get creative with features like filters, text, drawings, stickers, and more.

One commonly asked question around Instagram Stories is why users can’t directly add their own music or songs to Stories in the way they can on platforms like TikTok. While Instagram does provide a music library with thousands of songs to choose from, users are unable to upload and use their own music. This article will explore the reasons behind this limitation.

Copyright Restrictions

There are strict copyright laws around music that prevent people from sharing copyrighted songs without permission. All music contains copyrighted material, meaning the musical composition itself (lyrics, melody, etc.) and the sound recording are protected by copyright law.

When a user uploads a video or photo with copyrighted background music to their Instagram story, they are essentially “publishing” that music without proper licensing. This constitutes copyright infringement.

To avoid potential legal issues, Instagram does not allow users to directly upload their own music files to add as background music in stories. According to this article, social media platforms like Instagram need to be careful to avoid secondary liability for copyright infringement committed by users sharing unlicensed music.

Licensing Challenges

Instagram faces major hurdles in licensing all music for reuse on the platform. With millions of songs in existence, it would be incredibly complex for Instagram to obtain licenses for each one. As noted in an article from Music Licensing for Social Media, “Securing the proper music licensing for social media can be complicated given the many overlapping rights associated with a single song” (source). Negotiating with music publishers, songwriters, producers and more makes comprehensive licensing an extremely difficult task.

In addition to the complexity, licensing all music would also be cost prohibitive for Instagram. The fees required to license songs, especially popular tracks, can be substantial. As stated by RedDesk, “Licensing fees will vary greatly, but they are unlikely to be cheap if you want to use well-known commercial music” (source). Given the volumes of content generated on Instagram, the platform likely could not afford licensing fees for all music shared by users.

Promotion of Music Apps

One reason why users can’t directly add their own music to Instagram Stories is that Instagram wants to encourage the use of officially sanctioned music apps from its parent company, Facebook. Facebook owns Instagram and has developed and acquired various music apps over the years, including Spotify, BandPage, My Band, and iHeartRadio.

By restricting users from uploading their personal music libraries, Instagram essentially forces users to utilize Facebook’s music apps if they want to add songs to their Stories. This helps drive more users, engagement, and data to Facebook’s music products.

Additionally, Facebook can form partnerships and share revenue with music apps like Spotify for distributing their content. So promoting these third-party music apps is financially beneficial for the parent company.

Focus on Simplicity

One of the core design principles behind Instagram is a focus on simplicity (Universal Design Principles as used by Instagram). Instagram aims to enable simple, visual sharing between users. The app interface is clean and uncluttered, with the main actions like posting photos and videos being very straightforward.

Adding too many complex features goes against Instagram’s core mission of being a simple photo and video sharing platform (5 graphic design principles for social media posts). The developers want to maintain the app’s simplicity rather than overload it with niche features catering to specific use cases. So while users may request the ability to add music to stories, this does not align with Instagram’s overall approach.

Alternative Options

While you cannot directly add full songs to Instagram Stories, there are some alternative options to get music into your Stories:

One option is to add music to your video before uploading it to Instagram. You can add a music track to your video editing software and then export the video with the music included. Once you upload that video file to Instagram Stories, it will play with the music.

Another alternative is to use apps like Inshot or CapCut to add music to your videos. These editing apps allow you to import a video, add audio tracks, and then export the video to post on Instagram Stories.

You can also try adding music to your Instagram posts in the main feed. While you cannot directly add a music track, some workarounds like uploading a video with music or using multi-clip posts with music can add music to the audio player in your feed posts.

Overall, while music cannot be directly added to Instagram Stories like stickers or text, there are some creative workarounds to include music in your Stories or posts by pre-editing your content or using third-party apps.

Impact on Engagement

There is some debate as to whether allowing users to add music to Instagram Stories would increase engagement or distract from the visual content. Some argue that music could make Stories more immersive and compelling, potentially increasing views, shares, and overall time spent on the app (https://www.iconcollective.edu/social-media-tips). However, others contend that music could be distracting and undermine the visual-first nature of Instagram (https://www.yellowbrick.co/blog/entertainment/boost-your-music-career-mastering-social-media-engagement-for-musicians).

Instagram Stories were designed to showcase short visual content and video. Adding music could shift the focus away from visuals and more towards creating aesthetically pleasing Stories augmented with popular songs or audio clips. This may work against Instagram’s vision for Stories as quick, visually engaging content. There are pros and cons on both sides of the debate, but Instagram’s reluctance to add music may indicate they believe it could hurt more than help overall engagement.

Developer Perspective

From a technical standpoint, there are significant challenges to allowing users to directly add full music tracks to Instagram Stories. First, there are major infrastructure requirements. Hosting full audio tracks uses extensive bandwidth and storage, which adds costs for Instagram. According to an analysis of Instagram’s private API code, music is handled through a dedicated “music trending feed” that serves audio content (https://github.com/dilame/instagram-private-api/blob/master/src/feeds/music-trending.feed.ts). Supporting user-uploaded music at scale would require major investments in infrastructure.

Second, there are licensing and copyright issues with allowing audio uploads. Music is often licensed for specific uses, and Instagram would have to negotiate rights for re-sharing songs. A Reddit thread among Android developers discussed the difficulties of accessing Instagram’s music APIs, likely due to licensing restrictions (https://www.reddit.com/r/androiddev/comments/bqiu52/instagram_music_selection_api/). Direct music uploads introduce thorny legal issues.

Given these technical and legal challenges, it makes sense that Instagram would limit music functionality to promote music apps like Spotify instead of enabling direct uploads. The infrastructure costs and licensing agreements pose major obstacles to direct music integration.

User Feedback

Many Instagram users have requested the ability to add full-length music to their Instagram Stories. On forums and social media, users argue this would allow them to express themselves more creatively and make their content more engaging.

For example, Reddit user u/musicreviewer123 created a post titled “Hi, I’m a music reviewer on Instagram and I use the music feature on Instagram constantly to showcase my reviews on my story,” explaining how limiting the music features are for their content [1]. The post received many supportive comments from others wishing for the same ability.

In response, Instagram has focused on improving music discovery and recommendations in Stories, rather than enabling full-length music. In 2018, they launched music sticker suggestions and introduced a question sticker for asking followers for song ideas [2]. However, users still cannot directly add their own music libraries.

While Instagram has improved music integration, the platform maintains its priority on visual storytelling. Long-form music does not align with this goal. The feedback illustrates users’ desire for more creative freedom, but Instagram has held firm on its core functionality.


In summary, there are a few key reasons why users are unable to add their own music to Instagram Stories:

– Copyright restrictions make it difficult for Instagram to allow users to upload any music they want without licensing issues.

– Instagram wants to maintain a simple, streamlined user experience rather than overcomplicating things by adding too many features.

– They prefer to promote their own music sticker options from partners like Apple Music.

– User-uploaded music could potentially decrease engagement by disrupting the viewing experience.

– While some users are frustrated they cannot add their own music, Instagram likely feels the cons outweigh the pros for now.

Overall, while the inability to add your own music to Stories may be disappointing for some users, Instagram seems unlikely to change this policy anytime soon. They want to avoid complicated licensing logistics and maintain their signature minimalist interface. For users who still want music capabilities, third-party apps can offer workarounds.

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