At Overhaus, we have done a lot of record cover over the years. Spanning redundant formats such as double CDs to the revitalised vinyl cover. The music business is ever changing, and the need for a visual representation of music is still present, although it’s changed a lot over the years.
The most noticeable design change is the change in format over the years. We’ve gone from printed, physical copies, to digital formats within the boundaries of Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and the like. Although a fair share - I’d dare say most - artists print copies of their albums, it’s mostly nowadays made as a token for fans to collect, more than a stream of revenue and product of consumption. In practice, this means there’s a lot more availability for scrutiny, foggier deadlines, and less meticulous review of the object itself. A lot of the budget is also usually targeted towards ads and formats for social media, and the cover itself has more focus on the front cover as a singular piece, rather than a part of whole branding.
Although a printed piece of music - vinyl, CD, or whatever you go for, costs money, and also has to be delivered within certain deadlines, it forces you to actually do a proper review of the text, credits and give some afterthought to the whole structure of your branding strategy. The impact of outside forces such as printers, labels and possibility of major funk ups, makes you more diligent.
But, there are good news, you can still be particular about how you plan for your visual strategy. You just need to do that - plan ahead! So, you are on the verge of releasing your music. Maybe you’ve been to the studio, maybe not. Maybe you’ve recorder some bangers in your bedroom, or maybe you’re running a label or management confused about how you should approach the visual aspect of the music business. Relax, here is what you should think about:
- What is the actual plan - how many releases are you planning for, at what times, and what do they build up to?
- What is the over arching concept you’re trying to convey?
- How can that concept be visualised?
- How can you capitalise on the visuals designed - can they be used for more than just one thing? Think merch, videos, advertisements etc. Think carefully about this when you chose your fonts, colors and visual concept.
- What plans do you have for advertising? The more thorough your plan is, the easier (and cheaper) it is to make systems and modules for ads.
- You want a lot of text on some of your stuff, be it ads or on the linear notes. Write that text, and proof read it!
Where is it headed? Although some music business executives these days argue that there is no reason to have albums any more, some argue the opposite. From a business perspective, it’s easy to see the logic. Each new single could be a hit, if targeted or promoted correctly - more overhead on your investment, more money in the bank, good stuff. Although this is a reasonable assumption, music is the sum of it’s parts, the same way a visual profile is just that - the sum it’s parts.