Designing record covers is a highly competitive, highly pressured and lowly paid sector of the design industry. On the plus side, it's an area of design where self-expression is encouraged and there is still a bit of glamour attached to it. It might be true to say that it is the nearest a designer gets to the rock 'n' roll lifestyle.
It can, however, seem a very closed world if you're trying to break into it - many companies and individuals being protective of their status within the music design arena and not giving up their secrets easily. The stricter guidelines that record companies now impose on designers commissioned to work on highly commercial projects create more of a challenge to producing great work. So this tutorial aims to pick apart the whole process of designing a commercial music campaign for a major record label, from brief and pitch process through to the delivery of a broad range of collateral, such as album covers, single covers, point-of-sale items, adverts, merchandise, TV adverts and window displays.
This tutorial focuses on some of the aesthetic rules you need to consider when creating a cover, alongside some of the record company marketing department's requirements and practical retail issues which affect how your cover will look. We take you through a campaign we did last year for Vertigo Records (a subsidiary of Universal Records), for a young band from the West Country called Thirteen Senses. This was the band's debut album, so getting the relationship right between the music, the cover art and the marketing was very important to give them every chance of success.