Oh, I know the last part of the title (Suck) isn't a very
pleasant description to apply to anyone's CD cover. But,
in the interest of plain old honesty, and to face our demons
head on, I wanted to (again) utilize a worst case scenario
that we can only improve from.
And, having said that, think of the average (and not so
average) recording artist's CD cover, and I'll bet you will
agree that 9 out of 10 CD covers present the artist simply
posing while staring straight into the camera.
And, the few artists who want to appear different, unique
and diverse, simply either turn sideways, stare into deep
space, or gaze downward or backward for their photo
If you happen to be among the aforementioned guilty, you
should realize that by *not* becoming more proactive and
aggressive with the visual aspect and design of your CD
cover, you are shortchanging the potential of your release
from the onset, and not giving it its best possible chance
for maximum success.
I first began noticing this overall trend when CDs began
replacing albums. And, I believe that the difference was
due, in part, to the dramatic reduction in the cover size.
Consequently, I felt that both labels and artists, perhaps,
decided (consciously or unconsciously) that the reduction
in size did not allow enough room for visual creativity,
which is not the case.
But, those are only two reasons. For, I also believe that,
while they may be decent to great professional music
producers, I have found that most recording artists whom
I encounter are amateurs, at best, in respect to marketing
their releases from a visual perspective.
And, it's not their fault, because 'visual' just doesn't
happen to be the medium in which they work. However,
this isn't to say that they can't learn to become much
better at pre-selling their releases visually.
But, as an artist, perhaps, your argument is that your
music is, primarily, based on the "sonic" aspect...that it
will mainly be "heard" and not "seen."
This is, in part, true but also consider that, generally,
before your music is HEARD, it is first SEEN (unless
you are sending 'plain vanilla' promotion singles to radio
or handing them out at will to friends, associates, etc.).
And, here is how:
Due to added expense, most independent labels
forego manufacturing 'singles' and, thus, usually send
their complete retail releases out as promotion copies
to the media. Hence, the radio music directors and
program directors will SEE your release before they
open your case to HEAR your music.
And, as the MD/PD takes your CD out of its package,
does it, *POW!*, hit him with a bang visually, and
immediately instill deeper interest *BEFORE* he hears
Or does your, possibly, average to boring cover instill
a blas? feeling that causes the MD/PD to presume that
your music is, yet, another below average release, and
is a further waste of his valuable time without giving it, at
least, a listen?
The same thing applies to press music editors, reviewers
and calendar editors as with radio personnel. Will the
press personnel see a boring, posing cover and get that
"Geez, here we go again" feeling, or will they assume that
your lackadaisical cover will be accompanied by even
more boring content, such as your bio, press release, fact
* Retail Consumers
While many potential retail consumers will, indeed, "hear"
your music first (on radio or in nightclubs), there are also
many more potential retail consumers who will not.
And, these particular consumers are the ones who either
go to music retailers weekly for new releases and spend
additional time browsing, or they may be consumers who
are simply weekly browsers seeking the new, unique and
creative 'next big thing'.
In either case, for the consumers who espy your CD in
their favorite music retail stores...does your cover jump
out at them visually, make an immediate impact, and
cause them to do a 'double take'?
Does it then make them pick up a copy of your release,
maintain their interest and force them to read your
credits and song titles?
Subsequently, does it then drive them to a listening
station for further review and, hopefully, purchasing it?
Or, will they simply look at, yet, another boring cover
and go, "Eh," and replace it for your competitor's that
is far more visually attractive, and your competitor's
who may also have read this particular article, with
one exception...he acted on this information while you
did not? :-)
Now, get a copy of your CD and take a look at it...I
mean take a *really* good look at it. Then, using the
radio, press and consumer theoretical perspectives
above, honestly ask yourself if your cover has visually
maximized its full potential.
Does it readily subscribe to the old U. S. Army slogan,
"Be all you can be?" Is it, truly, all that it can be? Is it
the best possible cover that you could ever hope for
with this release?
Or, do you realize for the first time that you have both
shortchanged yourself and your release, and that your
cover is probably causing you to lose some significant
sales, as it could, indeed, be presented to both the
media and consumers much better?
If you now harbor the slightest inkling of doubt, after
having given your cover another look, it is also safe
to assume that your cover may be a bit questionable
to others and, particularly, media professionals as well.
So, let's say that you now realize that your cover is below
par, and could be much better...that you can now admit
that you truly did not give it your absolute best shot...that,
in fact, your cover was an afterthought, at best. How do
you get started on "conceptualizing" it from a visual
Well, one way is to first consider your title...
If this is your debut release, can you make something
unusually funny or witty out of your first or last name?
Can either your first or last name present a double
meaning, such as Byrd, Love, Green, Wolf, Young?
While those of us with such names are often ridiculed
in our early school days, we have the advantage of
our "weird" last names standing out and benefiting
us in our professional careers. :-)
If your release has a subtitle, or this is your second or
additional release, can you put a twist on its title?
The same goes for your songs. I'm betting that you
have, at least, one song, regardless of your genre,
that can be selected as the title and used as the
basis for a very attractive cover and graphic
depiction of your music.
For even more information and assistance on making
your CD cover a $ales $uccess story, please visit the
Kenny Love is president of MuBiz.com,a radio promotion and media publicity service that also provides business and career services to musicians. See the company's corresponding
website at http://www.MuBiz.com.