What Makes An Album Cover Stand Out

February 17, 2021

Music is all about the music, but how can we promote the music to make sure people hear it? The first thing anybody will see when looking to purchase an album is the album cover. So, rather than the cover being an afterthought, it should be carefully created. After all, this is your audience’s first glimpse into the musical world you have created. 

There are a lot of aspects to consider when designing an album cover. From connecting to the essence of the artist’s music, finding the right visual combination, and matching it to suitable typography. 

Music is a massive industry, however, that does not prevent it from being niche. Think of an album cover as you would think of a brand logo — much like you will remember and recognize logos, some of the greatest album covers will stay with you forever. 

Here are some tips for designing your next album cover:

Know Your Audience –Attract Your Audience

Think about the people you are targeting with your music. What would appeal to them? What has worked before? What has not been done before? Now, there is nothing like originality. Say your music style is rock and roll, have a look at some famous rock and roll album covers, but then put your own personalized spin on it that matches your band and your audience. 

It can be useful to have similarities between album covers. For example, the same colour psychology, the same icon, or the same font style. Many artists have had success with continuous themes that repeat throughout their albums; this helps tell the audience who they are.

Think About Emotion

Music is a form of therapy for a lot of people, and different songs trigger different emotions. So, why should an album cover be any different?

Curiosity 

Create something that will get people thinking. People like to be challenged, and the best way to make your album cover stick in someone’s head is to leave them with questions. This means that if designed cleverly, your album cover does not actually need to be related to your music at all.

Album example: The Velvet Underground; Nico.

Sex Appeal

Humankind can be suckers for a pretty face. If there is an attractive man or woman on the cover, it is likely the public will give it a second glance. Many famous, iconic album covers have used sex and vanity to target attention. It is only natural.

Album example: Ohio Players; Climax.

Relatability

Often people are attracted to music they feel they can relate to. This can be transferred into your album cover as well. If your album promotes happiness; promote happiness in your cover. If your album promotes loneliness; promote loneliness in your cover.

Album example: In the Court of the Crimson King.

Understand Your Music

This is perhaps one of the most important points. Often, artists will pick up particular styles. Of course, this includes musical style; however, it is also about dress sense, demeanor, and aesthetic. Creating an album cover should be a similar exercise to creating a band’s visual identity. 

Before you can do this, you need to understand your music. What inspires your music? What do you want people to feel when they listen to your music? Does the cover reflect this? Answering these questions will help you narrow it down to a more personalised core. 

It can be useful to play your band’s music in the background whilst designing the cover. This can help solidify ideas. Pay attention to the lyrics and instruments; you would be surprised how one line could change your perspective or spark new ideas. 

Conclusion 

To make an album cover original, first, you need to have an understanding of the artist and the audience. Music is a long-standing industry that has provided people with inspiration and idols. So, to help you stand out, make sure your music is all about the sound; and all about the cover. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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