Album covers and Album Art. Does it matter any more?

In the Early 90’s, Mum came to me with a TV week magazine showing me a massive advert on the back page. It was a CD mail order scam. Buy 3 CD’s for $5!

Coming from a mining town, she thought it was an inexpensive way to give us music as we were becoming more interested in music. So I made my choices and she made my order.

Whilst looking at the Ad, I didn’t hear any of this music, I didn’t know any of this music, I never even heard of these bands. My two brothers we’re in the same boat. We didn’t know which albums to choose as we we’re given three choices each.

What really influenced my choice I remember, was the CD covers and art. I choose Nirvana Nevermind, Metallica Black and Pearl Jam Ten. The rest is history, my life was influenced by those three albums forever. I’m in debt to those three albums and the positive influences those artists taught me.
Nirvana - Nevermind Metallica - BlackPearl Jam Ten

Since then, I’ve never been able to break the spell of finding new music, listening to it and continuing the ritual. I’m forever hooked. I’m always constantly out there listening to the next tune, over hearing a music conversation like some nerdy creep or constantly looking at wall posters or internet music news. Art or Images still gets me hooked!
When I look back now and what made me choose those albums I realise that the album artwork played the only influence toward my decision. As Album Artwork may be considered not very important to some any more. Let me give you a quick rundown of how the album artwork world has metamorphosed itself to what you currently see now. (try not to blink) Huge Album vinyl cover to smaller Tape cassette cover to Larger CD cover to even smaller digital thumbnail cover. It sounds pretty dismal doesn’t it?  So at streamhear we’ve raised a few good points to consider when sprucing up your designs.

The choice is yours

When deciding your artwork, consider your options. Have you got a substantial following? Where are my fans? Are they scattered or very local? Where am I releasing my music? At the markets or online? How much money do I have? Can I afford CD’s and should I? What music do I play? What kind of picture best portrays the album? These are all very good questions you should be asking yourself. Just remember music is now in digital form so making all those Cd’s could be a waste of money unless you’re planning in selling them at your gigs. Listeners still love buying CD’s at gigs. It helps the band connect on a personal level with the audience and shows you’re a human being and not an ego maniac on stage.

Saving time on artwork design.

How many friends does a musician have when it comes to being arty farty? I can think of five already. Musicians are talented past their musical instruments but need to learn how to off load some of the hard work when it comes to producing an album and getting it out there.  Tattooists are amazing artists, graphic designers, Art students, photographers and those really talented mates who just know how to draw or photograph. All may vary in price but may help out for nothing. No harm in asking if they’re interested and at what cost. A tip I’ve tried and seen time again is asking the local university for an art class to design you an album cover, I’ve seen them jump at the chance. Art students are always trying to increase their portfolio for job prospects and always love a challenge.

If you care about your art design and want it to be eye catching there is so much software out there to quickly design effects over your artwork. Can’t do it yourself? Cook some dinner and put the beers on and get someone who can. But in most cases theirs software that can place filters, headings and effects to your awesome photo or artwork to give that extra punch.

Art work for individual songs?  

Screenshot 3

TAD the App

Attaching art to songs and not albums is fast becoming the trend. Although some like me still like buying a whole album because of the intimacy and experience. Listeners are choosing individual songs and passing on whole albums especially in streaming. This means art is being attached to songs instead of albums. If listeners sift through the playlists your artwork or band photo will need to be displayed with the song. Being so small you may want to shrink your amazing art down to a small size to see if it’s still eye catching. If you don’t have time to do individual song art like most people. One app that’s grabbing people’s attention is TAD. They specifically cater for making song and album covers in thumbnail sizes. Quick and easy too. But remember if listeners are sifting through the music like flipping over records in a store. You’ll only have a fraction of time to get his or her attention with the art so make it good no matter how small.

Saving money on artwork design.

No longer do you need to spend mega bucks on a crafty picture to get someone’s attention. Online marketing and involving your listeners is what’s going to spread your music. Not how much money you pour into the art. Most musicians are art enthusiasts anyway so they care what the album looks like. We understand this. But I don’t think I’ve heard of a band finding art for the listener. Sure they want their attention but ultimately it means something to the musician. In most cases new album covers or song pictures is a quick photo away with some effects or asking your closest friend to draw something for a carton of beer. Save your money for song productions and get your music sounding ready for streaming sites. This is where the industry is heading now.

My Listeners  

80's MadonnaConsider what your Listeners are interested in when designing your art. The 60’s 70’s 80’s 90’s 00’s and 10’s Can all be described through the current art of the day. Young people in each generation where creating new styles when it came to design. Retro, modern, inspirational, political, spiritual are just some of the subject matter bands and artists are basing their album art around. This would best describe the generation and the current times. If your mates are into surf and sun and so is your music you wouldn't go slap a dyeing corpse and a graveyard on the front would you? If you and your mates constantly play live death metal it would be ridiculous to show you guys surfing. No brainer really.

Let’s not forget vinyl

RecordMachineThat’s right, at streamhear, we are still music enthusiasts or for some better term audiophiles. So when mentioning ways of getting your art noticed. Vinyl definitely gets a mention. This medium has grown in popularity because of its sound, it’s retro and has large cover art. In case you are trying to market to that niche market. Vinyl albums are still the go when you care about your artwork and what you want to display. There are many new bands that have built their fan base based on selling vinyl's and great art. Especially after Jack White changed the game. Having an album is an awesome feeling regardless if you have a record player. I have collectable albums purely for the art work. Most audiophiles get a kick out of having a pictured disc. It will cost more to get vinyl's printed so watch the money and make an informed decision.


Considering streaming sites?

Please choose us! When it comes to placing your art on steamhear we've made it very easy. Your band photo will be shown with your song even if you don’t have any song artwork. You can even choose a different type of art to best portray your band. As an option you have the choice of attaching art to your song to best describe your song. As musicians, because you all make different styles of music now. Streamhear thought it may be much better to let you choose the artwork to suit the genre of the song you upload to the stream. This will help you get better exposure and connected with the audience.

Things to remember

black keys - turning blue

When creating your art. Consider what it’s going to look like in thumbnail sizes. If you have that amazing 3D trippy picture that you’ve spent months on kind of artwork? Maybe leave that one for the vinyls or make it into a poster to sell online or at gigs.  Making massive detailed art for a thumbnail picture may not get the exposure as listener’s attention spans are quicker when making selections now.

Art, in all its forms is still important

If someone asked what art means to me, I’d simply say, watch Equilibrium. Art has an important role in our communities. It develops our thoughts and our personalities. If you’re a comedian, sport enthusiast, painter, jeweller, toy maker, embroider or song writer etc. you have developed an art form.

Album art designers are in the same category but with one amazing persona. They find a connection between the physical art world to the listening art world. It’s a variable that’s unknown to the common eye. In fact, any one being able to have complete artistic expression in what they perceive and place onto an album or song cover has an amazing talent. I'll be writing about some personalities in another story. Meanwhile, All of us here wish you the best of luck when designing your artwork and be sure to have fun doing it.

Like what you found? Spread the good news by sharing it with your friends.

Please leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.