There are the iconic album covers we’re all familiar with: The Beatles’ Abbey Road; Nirvana’s Nevermind; Kanye West’s anti-album-cover for Yeezus. These images are burned in the minds of music lovers everywhere and are as inseparable as the sounds of the artists themselves.
Maybe you think that only big, famous musicians need to care so much about image control. It’s about the music, right? Right – but your album cover still counts a lot, no matter how big or small your initial audience is. Often your album cover is the first thing your current and future fans will associate with you.
Here’s how to make a powerful impact before the first note plays.
Know thyself – and thy audience.
When thinking about how to represent your music visually, step back and take time for reflection. Who are you? What vision or ideals do you want to convey? How does your audience perceive your band? How will your album cover reflect your work? You can’t design a great cover without first answering these questions. Look at the covers of bands you admire or feel close to, and get input from trusted friends and fellow musicians.
It’s a digital world.
Remember that often your fans’ first glimpse of you will come in the one-inch form of an iTunes image. Make sure your album cover appears coherent and compelling at both small and large scales. On another digital note, while you may think that liner notes are ’90s relics, don’t miss your chance to release a digital booklet – often in the form of a PDF – to accompany your cover and expand on its design.
Consider going minimalist.
Simple designs sometimes say the most – and they also tend to be more memorable. Don’t be afraid to choose a minimalist design that will intrigue your viewer, and soon-to-be listener. A maximalist album cover can be just as successful (again, think of The Beatles and the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), but make sure it suits you. Remember, you want to choose album cover art that’s true to your band’s identity.
Don’t forget text.
You’ll need to think about text and the wide variety of fonts as well. How will they play with or work against the image? Will the text be small? Will it cover a photo image of your band? Will the font be with serifs or sans? Hand-drawn? Or a signature?
Joni Mitchell’s Blue is a perfect example of how a single color played perfectly into the sound and visuals of one of the best albums (and album covers) of all time. Research color psychology and think about how color will set the mood and tone for your entire album. Passionate red? Peaceful green? Neutral white? Also, think about how color might be another way to help you stand out from other one-inch icons on iTunes.
It’s in the details.
Your album cover is just the introduction. Don’t forget to think about creative packaging and merchandising. Something as basic as a t-shirt is still a great opportunity for you to promote yourself and share your amazing album art too.
If you’re freaked out about digital formatting, or doubting your ability to select the perfect image, color, text, and more, consider hiring a Fiverr Pro designer. Working with a designer will simplify your life – and it’ll extend the life of your album too. A solid album cover is an easy way to win over new listeners now and in years to come.
Album covers matter – and maybe more so than ever. With interactions increasingly taking place online, your album cover needs to stand out against images of all kinds, from memes to cat videos to album art from other bands. Work with a pro so you can be confident your album cover will get you noticed. Then get back to the music.
Are you a musician? Have you designed your own album covers, or worked with a designer? How was the experience? Tell us in the comments below!