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How to create compelling album covers (for the D.I.Y. Rock Star)

using humor in your art as a D.I.Y. Rock Star

Loosely accompanies Gab & Jam,

329. How to create compelling album covers (for the D.I.Y. Rock Star)


An album cover helps potential listeners discover your music, so here are 8 ways to create compelling album covers (for the D.I.Y. Rock Star).


Our guest today, Zandalee Indigo, is not only a fellow creative, but she has run how own blog for 4 years now.  She shares her thoughts on why you want a compelling album cover.

Check out the episode for the full discussion.

According to the Discmakers video that inspired this episode, part of the popularity of vinyl is likely attributable to folks enjoying the graphics and that fans crave the interaction with the album cover. They also said that a great album cover is like a pattern interrupt, because it stops you from flipping past it and draws us in to want to check out the music.


Here are 8 ways to create a compelling album cover

(as a D.I.Y. Rock Star): ⭐️

1. Use the highest resolution

If you plan to use a photo of your band, use the highest resolution, so that your photo isn’t blurry when used.  If your image is below 300 DPI, you may have problems. Even if you are edgy, you want to be professional by having the photo look that way you want it to in the final use case. 

Curious about branding for musicians?


Here's our newest "Clouds" Obtanium Flow t-shirt design:

Here are the two examples of the compelling album covers that we are talking about.

2. Choose less busy background

If you plan to use your album cover as your streaming album cover image, it helps to keep the background less complicated. Remember, you want the focus of the cover to be on you and not become a “Where’s Waldo?” for a potential fan. –That is, UNLESS “Where’s Waldo?” IS your aesthetic. If so, just have at it. –But for the REST of us, we want that high quality, branded image to be the wow of the cover.


Did you know that along with putting together our next album, we are working on our first book? Here’s the link, if you want to pre-order:

Use the code NEWYEAR2024 at checkout for a 25% off discount. Limited time only!


3. Choose the photo that BEST represents your music

Speaking of those wonderful branded band photos, be sure to choose the ones that BEST represents your brand; the feel and genre of your music, as well as your unique point of view. According the inspiration video, they say, “if you don’t love it, leave it off.” –We WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with that, because there is an EP that we released–where I hated ALL of the band photos taken for it–but I used it anyway. Somehow, that EP does not get the same promotional attention, because I am not happy about the final look and feel of the CD and project cover, which is unfortunate, because the music is good. So, think twice before making your final choices.

 How to get out of creative rut:


4. Get proper licensing for stock images

Finally, if you don’t end up taking your own original photos, be careful to get proper licensing for stock images. There is the chance that your album can be taken out of distribution, if you do not obtain permission for their use. –Keep in mind that your merch will LIKELY reflect your album image, so if you do not get proper clearance, you will NOT be allowed to sell your band t-shirts, etc., which would be a shame.

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5.  Be sure to reflect the genre of your album

The example that they use is an artist with a light, bubbly dance album. They suggest using an image that equally happy and upbeat as the music would be an easy way to communicate the vibe that a potential listener might expect to hear in the music.


6.  Make it readable at a glance

It is suggested that you choose fonts for the album cover that easily communicate the band and album names. Therefore, limit the amount of words on the cover, in general–band name, artist name, and album title are the maximum recommended–and choose readable fonts that complement your brand aesthetic. 

7.  Choose a branded color palette

Not only does the album cover help affect font readability–remember, light text on dark background or vice versa–but an album’s colors can help reflect the mood of the album. It gives potential listeners a glimpse into how the music is going to make them feel. 

8.  Aim for “simple, but bold” 

The album cover surface is typically a 5 inch square, so you don’t want to crowd the cover with too many elements. If a potential fan cannot discern who you are and what this music might be about quickly, they are likely to flip to the next artist. Keeping whatever you have decided is your main theme the center of your design and cutting away anything that detracts from it is the best option. Also, if you are feeling less confident about being able to achieve this, you can hire out the task or use a pre-designed template on an online platform, like Canva, to help you.


Finally, you’ve spent a lot of hard work and time to write and record your music, so be sure NOT to skimp on creating an album cover that is more likely to draw potential fans in to listen.  So, whether it’s the vinyl album cover, a CD cover, or the album cover that displays on streaming platforms, you will want to try to draw folks in to listen as much as possible. We hope these 8 tips have helped you do just that.


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What do you think?

We’d love to hear what you have to say! Leave them in the comments below.

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So, will we do it again? HELL, YEAH! 🙌🏾 In fact, our NEXT livestream is scheduled for soon, where we will debut the next music video for Bourgeoisie Paper Jam’s album “Obtanium Flow” --unless you are a member of our Patreon community. (If you’re in our Patreon, you will see the video one week earlier. Join here.)

Limited edition “Obtanium Flow” designs:

· “Clouds” T-shirt design:

· “Retro Flow” T-shirt design:


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Here’s what we’re into now:

· We’re featured in Variety Magazine!

· The video for “Every Heartbeat” is doing well in Indonesia!

· The Tony Webb "Funkalicious" video is going crazy in Honduras, y'all!

· One of our videos for our song, “Tell Me What You Want,” is going gangbusters in Vietnam!

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Until next Monday, here’s wishing love, peace, and chicken grease!

Did you know that along with putting together our next album, we are working on our first book? Here’s the link, if you want to pre-order:

Use the code HOLIDAY2023 at checkout for a 50% off discount. Limited time only!




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