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How to Make an Impact With Your Album Artwork

PhotoShopThis article, written by music journalist/venue owner/freelance writer, Jhoni Jackson, originally appeared on Sonicbids. We’re excited to be working with them to bring you the best and most relevant content for your business!

Once upon a time, it was pretty uncommon to preview tracks before committing your cash to the whole shebang. Particularly in the heyday of CDs, your best bet was a store’s listening station, and it was typically limited to whatever discs were already loaded, and it always seemed to be occupied anyway. Preexisting knowledge of an artist was usually reliable but, without that, you were kind of shopping blindly — save for the album artwork.

For people who remember browsing aimlessly hoping to discover a new favorite group, this happened often: The coolness of a cover would either lure you in or discourage you from buying. If a foreign-to-you group presented itself with a compelling enough photo or a super-rad design or anything else that caught your eye, it was likely sufficient bait to get you to the register.

These days, of course, we have the luxury of listening before buying. Sometimes, in fact, we don’t even pay — artists often offer singles and even full albums free of charge. All that considered, why should anyone bother with album artwork?

Because your album cover is still a direct representation of your band, that’s why! Covers are still used on most every internet listening medium, from iTunes to Bandcamp to SoundCloud to Spotify. Plus, a lot of labels and distributors use album covers as links to purchase or learn more on their websites or press blasts. Alluring art is still an attention getter, and failing to consider it — or, even worse, not bothering to include a cover at all — is like a giving someone an unwrapped birthday present. It’s glaringly incomplete, and some might even consider it a little lazy.

Here are six different examples of great cover art with tips for making yours just as effective.

Are We There – Sharon Van Etten

arewethere.lpoutWhy it works: Heart-wrenching wistfulness is a much-used motif in Sharon Van Etten’s material, and the artwork for her latest LP channels that, but with an added dose of catharsis. Who hasn’t bent their head out of a car window hoping the fresh air will relieve you, at least briefly, of emotional hopelessness? Nostalgia is a seductive tactic, especially if it recalls moments of despair you’ve long since overcome.

How to it make your own: Opt for black-and-white, and capture a simple image that applies to a wide audience. Be careful not to be too cheesy; shots of hand-holding or dead roses are a bit trite. Instead, consider seemingly insignificant moments in your own life — your rain-drenched clothes after a poorly timed jaunt in the city, for instance. What you think is personal minutiae can make for a surprisingly impactful flashback for someone else.

S/T – Sultan Bathery

Sultan_BatheryWhy it works: This trippy artwork is mystical, wondrously pretty, and incredibly detailed. It’s one of those images that demands close inspection; it’s captivating. Plus, it’s a spot-on reflection of the Italian trio’s chaotic-yet-melodic brand of garage-psych. Both are instantly mesmerizing.

How to make it your own: Intricacy is the goal here — it doesn’t have to be a mind-melting style like this one. It be accomplished in any medium and in any style, but maintaining a sense of order amid the complexity is paramount, because messiness is unappealing. Get meticulous with the details, and you’ll find yourself in the right realm.

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Jessica Hernandez & The Remixes

Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas - Secret EvilOver here in the Retail Marketing Department, we’ve been fans of Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas for quite some time. In 2013, we were blown away by her Demons EP and last month’s full length, Secret Evil, managed to surpass all of our expectations. Needless to say, we were quite pleased when we saw Jessica lighting up various charts following the first week of release. So what happens next?

Well, thanks to our friends at Beatport, we have the Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas “Caught Up” Remix Contest! Since September 2nd, DJs and Producers around the globe have been downloading the stems for “Caught Up” and putting their own spin (pun intended) on the rocking song. Deep House, Dubstep, Trap, Trance and more are all represented in the heaps of submissions from the last 3 weeks. And with another week to go, we can’t wait to see what else the Beatport community cooks up for our Detroit rocker.

Starting September 30th, voting begins on the top 10 remixes. And with the top 10 entries announced on October 14th, Jessica herself will pick the grand prize winning remix, which will be released on Instant Records in November.

Think you have what it takes to join the ranks of past Beatport Play remix winners like Zedd? Head on over and get “Caught Up” in the remix fever!

Case Study: How Kina Grannis Delighted Both Fans & Brides Through Pinterest

KinaPinterest

Kina Grannis‘ new video for “My Dear” recently premiered on the WSJ Speak Easy Blog. This unique video is comprised of footage from Kina’s wedding last year, which makes for a pretty kickass anniversary celebration. Ever the social butterfly, Kina used her Pinterest account to promote the video in the week leading up to the premiere. While her other socials, like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, are well established and have a throng of active followers and subscribers, her Pinterest was created only recently and this promotion was useful in growing her base there.

To hype the video, Kina created a Pinterest board with video stills and photos she had to further explain aspects of her wedding, and she shared it wide across her various other networks, including FacebookTwitter, Instagramofficial website and her fan newsletter. Pins on the board range from food, drinks and dresses to programs doubling as fans. After the video exclusivity with WSJ ended, the “My Dear” video link was added to each pin, so now each time the pin is pinned, the video is likely to be watched as well.

KinaPinterestBoard

 

KinaGrannis_MyDear_Pinterest_Pin

Zoning in on the pin to the left: this particular one has 640 re-pins. On it, Kina explains that guests took Polaroids as they arrived and hung them up with a personal note. She later turned these into a photo album. Pretty cool, huh?

The best thing about this promotion is it’s not only for her fans, who get a closer look into Kina’s life on such a special day, but also for people (especially brides) everywhere to get some wedding ideas and discover music they might enjoy while they’re at it.

Just over two weeks in, Kina’s Pinterest page gained 46.2% more followers, and the wedding board created for the promo attracted more than 8,600 followers alone, as well as 5,246 likes and 2,694 repins.

If you haven’t listened yet, be sure to check out the album which features “My Dear,” Elements and keep your eyes peeled for upcoming tour dates!

What Your Band Photo Says About You

September 15, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Disclosure_bandimageThis article, written by Hardly Art Records publicist and USF band member, Jason Baxter, originally appeared on Sonicbids. We’re excited to be working with them to bring you the best and most relevant content for your business!

Band photos can be tricky, but even if you’re camera-shy, they’re an absolute necessity for your press kit. If you’re working with a label, they may subsidize a photo shoot with a professional photographer, which is the best way to guarantee you’ll end up with well-composed and useful band photographs. For some artists this isn’t an option though, and hiring a pro can seem like an unnecessary expenditure if you’ve got a friend with a decent eye and a DSLR. Either way, you’re going to want to make sure your photos satisfy these key requirements:

  • Variety. The more images you have to choose from, the more likely you are to find three or four that capture everyone’s best angles and give a faithful impression of your band’s “look.”
  • Color and black and white. Lots of regional papers and other print media only publish in black and white, and you can’t always assume that a desaturated color photograph will look good on the printed page. It helps to plan ahead and work with a photographer that shoots on both types of film, or has the image editing skills to turn a high-contrast color picture into a striking and eye-pleasing black and white one.
  • Resolution. Always shoot at the highest possible resolution. 300 dpi is usually the standard benchmark. A large image can always be shrunk to fit certain dimensions, but a small one will look worse and worse the more you enlarge it.
  • Accuracy. Misrepresenting your band is a sin of the highest order. Include every member of your band, don’t dress or pose in a way that’s disingenuous to how you appear when you perform, and for heaven’s sake, don’t hide or obscure your face. The last band to really get away with that, in my opinion, was Disclosure (pictured above) – but they get a pass because they aimed for something that was iconic and pretty much heretofore unseen, and it paid off in press coverage.

Even within the confines of these requirements, there’s still a lot of room to be creative – just ensure your photo is saying what you want it to say about your band.

Of all the band photos I’ve encountered in my career, they typically fall into six general categories:

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3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Facebook Ads

September 11, 2014 Featured News, Marketing 1 Comment

Optimizing Facebook AdsIt is evident that native advertisements on Facebook are becoming an integral part of the user experience. Nevertheless, with Facebook rolling out more features for News Feed ads and the overhaul of right-column ads, getting the most out of your real estate on the platform is more critical than ever. Here are three simple tips for optimizing your ads and placing you firmly above the competition:

1. Use first-party data whenever possible.

Whenever one advertises, the first question is often about who should see the ads. Though prospecting targets allows you to discover engaged audiences that react to your message, using first-party data to retarget potential customers hones in on those most likely to purchase your product.

There are a few ways that first-party data can be collected. If you have an email list of your fans, you can import the list into Facebook and it will securely compare the email addresses to any matching Facebook IDs so that you can retarget these people with your ads. Another way that you can retarget is by embedding a tracking tag onto your website so that you can capture website visitors into an audience. If you’ve ever wondered how you’re getting served Facebook ads for websites you recently visited, it’s because of these delicious browser cookies that inform Facebook about your optimal advertising experience.

The ability to track and retarget people who have already been exposed to your brand is an invaluable tool. According to marketing expert Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s “Rule of Seven,” one should expose a product to a potential consumer at least seven times within an 18-month period in order to have the person remember the message and perhaps, even buy your product. Retargeting further expedites this process because the consumer has expressed initial interest by signing up for an email list or visiting your website. You have their attention; now you just need to keep it and make a sale.

2. Make sure you’re picking the right objective.

When setting up an ad campaign on Facebook, the first thing you need to ask yourself is “What am I trying to accomplish?” In fact, Facebook asks you what your objective is before you start creating your ad. Examples of objectives include website clicks, post engagements, and page likes. Though these are similar in very nuanced ways, the most significant reason to choose your exact objective is that Facebook will optimize your campaign to help you reach that goal.

Many campaigns we run use the “website clicks” goal, as we want fans to arrive at the digital retailer after the click: the clicks lead directly to a point-of-purchase. Facebook optimizes the impressions so that they are served to the audiences that yield the most website clicks. It prioritizes website clicks over other objectives such as engagement (shares, likes, comments, etc.). Selecting the right objective allows Facebook to work in your favor.

3. Use look-alike models. 

Prospecting potential customers incurs financial cost and can be an arduous process that may or may not yield positive results. In order to alleviate some of these uncertainties, you should create and target a look-alike model of the fans on your Facebook page. Look-alike modeling allows you to create a unique audience of people on Facebook who are very similar to the people who either like your page or are part of one of your first-party data groups. This similarity modeling is based on their interests, behaviors, and other demographic information. You can actually select a percentage between 1-10% to choose how similar and/or large you want this custom audience to be (1% being the top one-percent of people on Facebook who are the most similar and 10% containing a larger group of people who are less similar). You can create these for each country where you have enough fans for the algorithm to create a new audience.

Look-alike modeling opens the door to targeting people who are interested in liking your page or purchasing your product. These are people you would have never been able to identify through manual targeting. If you have a tight budget, you may not have the flexibility to discover new audiences on your own. Targeting a look-alike of your current fans is a viable and efficient method of engaging potential new customers.

With so much content on Facebook with which to compete, it can be a very difficult and daunting task to break through the noise and run an effective advertising campaign. However, following the aforementioned tips will ensure that your ads are reaching the right people and allowing for the appropriate type of engagement.

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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