There are so many details that you need to go over when releasing an album of your own. Sorting out where you’re going to record your music, software to edit it, how you will release it, gigs to coincide with that release, and that’s just the start of it all. There are plenty of major tasks at hand which means that sometimes it’s easy to overlook certain smaller ones that perhaps have a much larger impact than it may first seem. Designing an album cover is one of these tasks. Obviously technically the design will have no effect on how your music sounds which will and should always take priority, that being said I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage ‘never judge a book by its cover’? Well unfortunately people do and the same will go for an album. Set aside some time to think about it, what will work best for you and your music. Here are a few pointers to help you along the way.
The first thing you should do is think about is who you are as a band or artist. What do you stand for? This may sound odd at first but think of the kind of music you play, what you’re trying to say with your music, this should influence the way you present your music. Think about who you’re targeting your music towards, it’s easy just to think “whoever will listen” but those messages you send out will reach certain crowds, you’ll want to appeal to them. A great way to help you to understand your own image is to try and condense a description so that you can tell someone in 30 seconds, by that point you’ll know exactly what you’re all about and so will everyone else.
Now that you’ve thought about your identity, you’ll want to come up with a way to present that through a single image for your cover. At this point it’s super easy to majorly carried away with grand designs whilst you’re having fun but its really important to remember not to go overboard with it. You’ll need to leave space for the essentials, details that you’ll want to fit on there like your name or the band name along with the title of the album too. On the back you’ll want to keep things simpler still leaving space for the track listing and licensing and legal information too.
The Bigger Picture
Often when we design covers it is only natural to imagine it through whatever medium we listen to our music too but that isn’t the only one out there. You need to keep in mind how your design will look throughout these different forms. Obviously, a vinyl cover is much larger than most where as a thumbnail for streaming platforms such as iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music will be significantly smaller. You want your image to be clear no matter the size. Remember this is what people will see first, before hearing anything of your music, make sure it’s good.