With playlist culture continuing to shape music consumption in massive and surprising ways, it might be tempting for artists to not put much thought into the art they release alongside their singles, EP’s, and albums. But associating your music with the wrong kind of visual accompaniment could be hurting your chances of reaching new listeners. Here’s why you should still care about visuals in music:
Engaging cover art drives traffic to YouTube’s music playlists
YouTube has helped break massive acts like The Weeknd and still remains one of the best music discovery tools around. But unlike major streaming platforms, the visual elements behind an artist’s music are significant in catching the attention of new listeners and getting them to listen to their music. It’s not uncommon to read comments like, “I came here for the cover art and ended up falling in love with this band,” from listeners. This means that thoughtless and uninspired cover art leaves your project at risk of missing out on big opportunities of engaging new fans.
Good music isn’t enough to stand out
With more music being produced and released than ever before, posting a few good songs or even an album isn’t enough to stand out and catch people’s attention in 2018. Cover art and all the other imagery you associated with your band is a huge opportunity to link your music to a larger and more compelling story than your music alone is going to be able to tell. The word “branding” comes to mind here, which may turn the stomach of a few readers. But rather than branding for the sake of turning a profit, you’ll need to think long and hard about the visual elements of your music in order to catch the attention of listeners and carve out an identity for yourself.
To compete in a world chock full of distractions, the visual elements of a band’s music are needed to send a message to listeners that’s both succinct and compelling. Whether you try going it alone or working with a visual artist, you’ll need to have conversations about what your music means and how to present it visually in a compelling way.
Devoted fans want more than just music
If you’ve managed to earn a following, the most devoted section of your fans will want more from you than just your music. Things like music videos, band photos, cover art, and posters are important ways to earn new fans and form a deeper connection with people who already love your music.
The music industry continues to transform in huge, unpredictable ways, but the visual aspect of an artist’s music is still a big deal. A few musicians are lucky enough to also be great visual artists, but that’s not the case for the vast majority of folks making music. If this sounds like you, then consider adding in the cost of hiring a visual artist to the price it takes to release music alongside the money needed for recording and promotion.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.