Your CD Cover Is Your Most Important Advertisement

A well-designed, attractive cover and CD package can either help you sell your CD, or hurt sales. Go through the following questions and evaluate the design, images, text, and colors used for your CD release. Critique your artwork from a potential customer's point of view. Is your artwork helping you attract a fan of your musical style? Come up with some suggestions to make it more appealing. Does your artwork meet the professional standards of a major label release?

1. Front Cover:

  1. Is the name of the artist clearly visible?
  2. Is the name written with a unique logo design?
  3. Is the name of the artist in the top third of the cover?
  4. Is the title of the release distinguishable from the artist's name?
  5. Is the genre of music hinted at by the cover art?

2. Back Cover:

  1. What specific type of information is included on the back cover? (Label name, catalog number, barcode, song titles/ times, contact info, production credits, more?)
  2. Are the graphic images and text and colors used clear and readable?

3. Label:

  1. Is the artist's name (logo?) present and clearly visible?
  2. 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 do you want to list the songs and times again, or repeat other written information from the back cover or booklet?)
  3. Do whatever you want with the tray card. No business needs to be aware of.

4. Booklet:

  1. Describe the type of booklet used in your packaging. What specific images, and text information is included? (More credits, thank you's, lyrics, pictures, etc.)
  2. Is the artwork and design consistent with the rest of the artwork and design of the front and back covers?

5. Spine:

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

Musicians are not usually sensitive to graphics. They create in a world of sound. So, when they get to the point of designing the graphics to be used on their records, they tend to overlook this important stage in the manufacturing process.

Do not overlook the importance of graphic design! The first impression your music makes to professionals in the recording industry, as well as shoppers at record stores, is a visual impression.

Once approved and sent to the manufacturer/printer it will be too late to change any graphics you have chosen, When you see it in a record store someday, will it stand out, and will you be proud of your cover design 10 years from now?

Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.

Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.

He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".

Christopher Knab