No matter how you view the chain of promoting an artiste’s creative piece, there is always the need to follow some laid down rules. Effective music promotion yields a result of reaching wider audience and extend your fan base. Music promotion strengthens your reputation as well. There is one important rule artistes cannot ignore and that is the rule of COVER ART.
From social media promotion through to media tour to finally uploading the music to any digital platform, one denominator runs through and that is ‘THE COVER ART’ of the tune that is been promoted. It is one essential element that cannot be ignored during the promotion stage of a music. But is much attention been given to it? Are the cover arts executed well to promote the said music? Do these cover arts have the right elements to promote the music? This article seeks to enlighten the importance of cover art and its relevance to the promotion chain of an artiste’s music.
Cover art is the visual gateway to your music. It’s also the image listeners will associate with your music. First impression are key to music discovery and your cover art will grab someone’s attention before they listen to your music when your cover art stands out. Cover art is a pivotal commodity of music promotion and music distribution. The design you use to present your music is another way of branding yourself. It’s a reflection of your style as much as your music.
It is obvious that we mostly see things before we hear them and this same practice is applied when it comes to listening to music. Before an individual press play, the first thing that catches his or her attention is the accompanying cover art. Cover art and music goes hand in hand. You can’t do one and ignore the other. A creative cover art makes a bold statement.
In as much as music videos are important, it’s the same way cover arts are very important to the album, EP or song. The cover art serves as doorway into what the listener can expect form the song and even what kind of musician lie behind the creativity.
Let’s take a look at the cover art of Yaw Tog’s “Sore”. The creative cover art depicts the rise of the famous Yaa Asantewaa who led the Ashantis to the War of the Golden Stool. The rise of the then Ejisu queen mother depicted bravery and leadership in fighting the British. “Sore” means ‘Rise’. The designer definitely took inspiration from the Yaa Asantewas’s story. Furthermore the use of cartoons to depict the war scene triggers a certain emotion. And truly the Ashantis are proud of the Yaa Asantewaa’s story, and the Kumericans are also proud of their heritage, brave to take on any adventure and ready to go the extra mile to succeed in whatever they do just as the lyrics in the song demonstrates. With this it is clearly seen that the cover art and song complement each other. And this is a well thought through creative cover art.
Another case study will be E.L’s ‘WAVs’ album cover art. The album is dubbed WAVs. This is an image based cover art. On the cover art of the album, the designer made use of the artiste face with a clean but not disturbing linear pattern at the background clearly depicting waves. A carefully chosen font to write the WAVs shows the designer understand the general theme of the album. White and black was used as the color code for the cover art making it much simple and classic for the whole cover art. With this we can conclude that the designer truly understood the brief given out to execute the cover art.
Stonebwoy’s fourth studio album Anologa Junction album cover art is also an exceptional cover art that needs to be looked at. It’s a well photo manipulation cover art, carefully designed to tell a story. A young boy holding an old radio tape. Right in front of him is a sign post boldly written on ANLOGA JUNCTION (the name of the album). Behind the sign post is a hut built village describing clearly the setting of Anloga. When Stonebwoy was asked by Okayafrica.com about the theme of the album, he made it known that “Yes, this album actually has a theme. You can see [it in] the rollout, the pictures, and the videos. The theme is to represent Africa in the era that we’re in right now, without having to westernize it too much. So when you see the video of the kid [on the album cover], he’s in regular clothes but in a typical African setting. If you look at the whole rollout, it’s morally and culturally based on African soil, with a little touch of Western influence. We’re trying to send across this message to the rest of the world of how beautiful that combination is, but with 70% of an African foundation in it. So the theme is: a beautiful African scene with a touch of the Western experience and influence”.
So the graphic designer got the brief well and executed it accordingly bearing in mind the African setting without westernizing it too much and the album cover really came out well.
Akwaboah’s yet to be released album ‘LIGHTHOUSE’ also has an amazing cover art. It is a cover art I describe as calm and clean. A real photo manipulation cover art that describes exactly the title of the album. The cover art features three major elements i.e. the lighthouse, a wet Akwaboah emerging from the ocean and the font used to write the Lighthouse. The designer carefully placed each element together to tell a story about the album. Akwaboah made it known that the album signifies the rebirth of good music and every song on the album is woven together with timeless chords. With the cover art in mind, Akwaboah emerging from the ocean depicts a scene of ‘baptism’ which clearly defends him saying the album signifies the rebirth of good music. Akwaboah is known for giving us good music and the baptism mean rebirth.
In conclusion, creating eye-catching album cover art is a vital part of releasing music, gaining fans, reaching new audiences, and advancing your music career.
Artistes should invest in creating a memorable cover/album art because it’s the first point of contact to the music itself. I stand to be corrected, but I am yet to see any artiste release a music or album without a cover art.
To chip this in I feel it will be essential to give credit to designers who come up with these creatives during any annual music awards.