A Picture Worth a Thousand Sales

Two types of pictures can have a massive impact on sales (and streams) of your music releases: cover art and photographs. The first and most important is the cover art for your music. In most cases, the cover of your album or single will be the first thing a new listener learns about you.

As with all things in life, first impressions mean everything! For the average music fan who is looking for new music, your cover art can either inspire them to click the play button, or keep on searching for an artist or band that interests them.

A low quality cover image can turn away a lot of potential listeners as soon as they see it, Some people will take it as an indicator of the quality of your music. It’s also possible the person will assume you aren’t serious about your own music. Some very dedicated music lovers are able to overlook a bad cover and give you a chance, but you cannot count how many more are never going to.

A high resolution photograph can make a good cover image under certain circumstances. For example, the photo should not be “busy” or lacking a clearly defined subject. Edited photos can be very eye-catching as well, because they might be unique, surprising, and even incredibly artistic.

A top quality cover—both art and photographs—will not sell your music by itself, but it will absolutely increase your chances of random music fans sampling your music from among the multitude of artists and bands in your own genre(s).

Unless you’re a graphic artist or have skills with photo manipulation, you shouldn’t make your own cover art. There are so many independent and freelance graphic designers who are eager to build their own portfolio, and can create a stunning cover for you that demonstrates their talent, while also representing your personal style and tastes in visual art. You can get top quality cover art and photo editing for very affordable rates—even an investment of $25 can get you an eye-catching cover that’ll attract new listeners.

Artist Portraits and Promotional Photographs

The second type of images that can positively impact your sales are artist portraits and promotional photographs. These types of photos generally do not have a negative impact because they’re usually seen by people who already have an interest in your music. If your press kit includes these types of images, music sites and magazines often prefer to include a photo with their article or interview rather than the cover art.

An artist portrait does not need to be beautiful because your looks have nothing to do with your music. A portrait simply needs to include your face, and you can get creative with it. Show off your personality in your portraits. If you’re a laid back person, try to be relaxed and casual for the photo. If you’re energetic and wild, go ahead and express that in a photo! If you’re blessed with beauty, do not to rely on your looks alone—try to show the other sides of you while being your attractive self.

One final note on artist portraits: keep them relatively up to date. It’s a good idea to update your portraits with every new album release, or every other year at least.

Promotional photographs are another way to present your music, and can be every bit as effective as your cover art. On social media, these kinds of photos can be more effective than cover art because so many artists promote their music on those platforms. Some users just keep scrolling by when they see cover art in their feed, but will notice creative and eye-catching photos. I have witnessed artists gaining new fans because their promotional photos piqued people’s interest enough to listen to the music.

Promotional photos are also great opportunities to develop and express your brand! Show the personality and character of your “stage persona,” or your band’s overall attitude. Get creative with poses, props, locations, and backgrounds. Your imagination is the only limit.

Magazines and music websites also appreciate promotional photos, and frequently select one to use in their article, interview, and sometimes even a review—because they want unique and interesting content to present to their readers and visitors. A press kit with several photos and at least one portrait will go a long way to extending your reach in this over-saturated marketplace.

All promotional photos should be updated with every major release of your music. Aside from adding them to your new press kit for each EP or LP, use them on your website and online profiles, put them on flyers, or even make posters with them. New and longtime fans alike will appreciate it as much or even more than the press.

Article written by:
June 26, 2019

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