Recording Your Demo: Don’t Forget the Art!

You’ve spent so much time focusing on making music, you may not have even considered an important part of your CD or demo: album art.

But even though most people download MP3s and your CD art tends to be relegated to a tiny square in the bottom corner of iTunes, it’s actually a more important aspect of your demo than you may think.

Setting the Tone

Like it or not, your CD cover sets the tone for the whole experience of listening to your music. The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” springs to mind, because most people really do judge things by their cover—your demo CD included. In a lot of ways, the art is the first impression you make on potential fans. So if it’s no good, you could turn off listeners before they even hear your recording! Cool, eye-catching art is the first step to getting music fans interested.

Professional or Amateur?

Besides wanting your artwork to be cool, the single most important thing is that looks professional. You already put so much effort into professionally producing your songs, don’t write off the art as something that you don’t need to put the same level of effort into. This goes hand in hand with the point above about first impressions. If the average music fan’s first impression of your album is that it looks unprofessional, they’ll be way less motivated to listen to the recording because they might assume the music doesn’t sound professional either.

You’ve hired professionals for your mixing, engineering and CD mastering. You may have worked with professional music producers. You probably worked with professional studio musicians, too. If you’re not able to make a CD design that doesn’t look amateurish, consult the professionals there as well. More on that later…

Not Just Album Art

You still may be thinking about my previous comment on art being tiny and looking insignificant in today’s music buying experience, but don’t mistake that for meaning it’s irrelevant. Even if you’ve decided not to make physical CDs at all, there’s still another thing for you to take into consideration: it’s not just album art that we’re talking about here.

Yes, it is the cover of your album. But that’s not the only place where artwork pops up in your music career. You hopefully have a website (and if not, check out our guide to making a killer musician website), which means you’ll have photos and design elements prominently featured for all your fans to see. Most artists like to incorporate the art for their albums into their websites and overall look and feel for the band’s image and merchandise: stickers, T-shirts, press kits, etc.

Art is part of your image, your identity as a musician, so it’s extremely important to make sure it makes sense with your style and conveys the essence of your music. It’s all about establishing your brand.

How to Get Killer Art

We can all agree now that art is important for fans to get a feel for your style, to present yourself professionally, and to create a uniformity in your online (and offline) presence. So how should you go about getting yourself some awesome art for your CD?

Professional photos – Even if you’re not planning on having a picture of yourself on your album cover, you’ll probably at least want a few photos for your website and promotional materials. This means high resolution, professionally-shot photos, not a few pictures that your friend took with your point-and-shoot camera. Set up a photo shoot with a professional photographer to get photographs worthy of incorporating into your artwork. Many aspiring photographers will offer discounted (or even free) sessions when they’re trying to build their portfolio.
Find an artist – Unless you’re a gifted artist in addition to being a musician, you’ll probably need some outside help in making your album art. This could be an artist or a graphic designer, depending on what you want your demo to look like. Just like photographers, young artists and art students will often offer discounted services.
CD design service – Another option is to use the design service of a CD duplication company. Many CD replication and duplication services such as Discmakers offer design service by a team of graphic designers who specialize in creating album art in the style you want.

Do you still need a professional recording to make artwork for? Get started on a full production with Studio Pros’ team of Los Angeles-based session musicians, producers and engineers today.