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Click to email ChrisYour CD Cover Is Your Most Important Advertisement
by Christopher Knab - Fourfront Media & Music - Updated January 2008

Back to Music Business 101

Your cover is your calling card to the record industry and to the consumer...how  well you design it and the other graphics for your release could well determine your success or failure as a musician.

Now that I have your attention, I have put together the following guidelines to help you realize the importance of the graphic design stage in preparing your music for the marketplace. A well designed and attractive cover, along with other detailed information you have included in the packaging, may well determine if the gatekeepers in the music business ever bother to listen to the music contained on the record, and if a music consumer is turned off or on by your graphics. It is the best advertisement for your music.

So, go through the following questions and evaluate the design, graphic images, text (title, credits, etc.) and concept of your release by answering the following questions thoroughly and carefully. Then critique your cover in a professional manner, suggesting any improvements you think would help make the graphic design a more effective introduction of your music to the industry and your fan/customers.

Front Cover
Is the name of the artist clearly visible?
Is the name written with a unique logo design?
Is the name of the artist in the top third of the cover?
Is the title of the release distinguishable from the artistís name?
Is the genre of music hinted at by the cover art?

Back Cover
What specific type of information is included on the back cover?
( Label name, catalog number, barcode, song titles/ times, contact info, (website URL,email address, MySpace address and same for any social networking sites), production credits, Producer's name, more?)
Are the graphic images and text and colors used clear and readable?

Label On Disc
Is the artist's name (logo) present and clearly visible?
What specific information is on the disc itself?
(Many artists leave the disc blank for 'artistic' reasons, do you wish to make such a statement, or are there more important considerations that you think should be addressed?)

Booklet/Tray Card
Describe the type of booklet used in your packaging.
What specific images, and text information is included?
( More credits, thank youís, lyrics, pictures, etc.)
Is the artwork and design consistent with the rest of the artwork and design of the front and back covers?

What specific information is on the spine of the CD?
( Label name/logo, catalog number, artist name, release name?)

You have spent a long time writing, rehearsing, performing, and recording your music. Please take some time to consciously consider all the issues listed above, subtle and not so subtle, that go into creating your CD, Tape, or Vinyl release. Once approved and sent to the manufacturer/printer it will be too late to correct any second thoughts you may have had.

Remember too that these days those pesky strips that seal the CD are more and important, so to to a record store and LOOK at several CDs to see how the record labels use that strip and what needs to be printed on them...THS IS AN ASSIGNMENT!!

Once released, your record will take its place in a retail store next to the thousands of other artists and bands that made it to the shopping arena where a consumer may or may not be attracted to your music by the artwork you have created. Never forget ... the career you save by learning the craft of cover design ... may be yours!


Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: chris@chrisknab.net

Chris Knab's new book,
'Music Is Your Business' is available NOW from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.

Visit the
FourFront Media and Music website for more information on the business of music from Christopher Knab.

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