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Let’s take a look at one of the most important aspects of your release, right next to the music. Album artwork & press photos can often be the first thing a potential fan sees from you, so making sure they’re just as unique and professional as your music will help make a good impression. All the visuals associated with your release should go hand in hand with your visual identity.

The first thing to do when applying your visual identity is to take a look at the moodboard you created for inspiration. Think about the concepts & themes that the photos have in common, look at the colours they’ve used, which images stand out from the rest and why? Do you want to stand out or fit in? Write down any ideas for compositions, outfits and complete photographies that pop up when analyzing your moodboard.

When you’ve got some ideas down from the moodboard, look at your Brand Archetype and other artists with the same archetype. How do they portray themselves in pictures? Are they photographed in positions of power or weakness? Are they accessible or distant in relation to the camera? Write down any ideas for poses and how you can act in relation to the camera that pops up.

Now take a final look at the colours associated with your brand, how can you incorporate these into the outfits and locations you shoot in? It doesn’t have to be spot on, but making sure the colours of your press photos at least move in the same space as the colours of your brand.

 

Tips when creating album artwork

The first thing to think about is the general gist of the picture since a lot of the times they’re only going to see a miniature — make sure you base the album artwork on a colour that captures the essence of the artwork. Also look at your press photo concepts, make sure the same colours are present so that it’s clear that there’s a coherent thought behind all the visuals.

A common mistake a lot of artists make is just having a press photo with their artist name & release name printed on top. Don’t be one of those people. Approach the artwork as another canvas to communicate your artistry on, when done right the album artwork could even add something to the song — giving it a whole new depth.

On the topic of printing your name on the cover artwork, do you have the release name & artist name on the cover — and the most important question: does it fit the song? If you’ve put your name on it just to have your name on it, then don’t. Your name is almost always shown right next to the cover artwork, so compromising a great composition just to have your name on the cover is a bad idea.

Also, be careful when you have explicit content — since there’s a risk of stores will reject your album artwork.

Tips when creating press photos

It’s easy to fall into the trap of just making sure you look good in your press photos but make sure you always think about how they work with your music as well. Take a variety of both portrait and landscape photos, so that you have enough content to generate all the necessary release visuals and have appropriate photographs for every occasion.

Another easy thing to do is bring a bag of clothes to the photo session so that you can change outfits when out & about with your photographer. That way you can get a ton of different press photos on the same day — minimum effort & maximum results.

When exporting the photographies post-editing, make sure to get them in both high resolution and low-resolution straight from the photographer. When you make your own low-resolution photographs you usually end up with an insane quality loss since you’re shrinking an already compressed JPG file. Also, make sure they email them to you — do not send them over Facebook messenger. Facebook is Lucifer himself when it comes to image compression.

Need some inspiration for your press photos? Check out our inspiration moodboard! 

Tips when creating release visuals

When creating the most important aspect is coherency. Communicating your artist identity on all of your social media is the entire goal of creating release visuals, that way there’s no risk of fans feeling confused about which Instagram account is yours and if that really is your Facebook page — since they can recognize the colours & images. To this end, using the same press photos on all of your headers might be a pretty good idea, and if you want to keep it spicy — use photos from the same outfit & location. Just make sure that people instantly recognize you.

Another great thing to do is to create a dummy account where you can test all your headers and profile to see how they fit on that specific platform. Nothing beats trial and error when it comes to being the best, that goes for music & release visuals alike.

Also, avoid putting important text on your Soundcloud & YouTube headers, both platforms have a tendency to crop & shrink the headers on their mobile apps/websites — so if you’ve written stuff all over it the text is going to look weird and most likely not be readable on mobile (which is where most fans interact with artists).

Requirements

The following is a list of the requirements we have over at Rexius Records for all the visuals we make. If you’re looking to pitch the release to us, you’ll need to fulfil all of the requirements below.

Remember to deliver everything into the Visual Google Drive Folder for the project.

Album Cover Requirements

  • 1:1 – Perfect Square
  • 4000 x 4000 px, no upscaling
  • Best quality RGB Color Mode (Even for black and white images).

Press Photos Requirements

  • At least 2 professionally edited Press photos for singles, 3 for albums
  • At least one landscape photo
  • At least one portrait photo
  • Hi-Resolution – Press: For example CMYK 300 dpi (~4-15 Mb)
  • Hi-Resolution – Digital: JPEG. Best quality RGB Color Mode
  • Low Resolution: For example RGB 96 dpi (60kb – 500 kb)

YouTube

  • Header: 2560 x 1440 px (Cropped Landscape Photo)

Facebook

  • Header for Pre Release: 4000 x 1500 px (Cropped landscape photo) – “Coming out November 3rd on Spotify” (replace Nov 3rd with release date in text)
  • Header for Post Release 4000 x 1500 px (Cropped landscape photo)  “Out now on Spotify”
  • Profile Picture: 3000 x 3000

SoundCloud

  • Header: 2480 x 520 px (Cropped Landscape Photo)

Spotify

  • Profile / Header: 4000 x 2000 px

Social Media Promotional Videos

  • Pre-release teaser for Instagram: 1:1 min 1080p 24 fps. Quick cut video around 15-30s. Real footage of the artist. For example in the studio + short clip of the music.
  • Post-release video for Instagram: 1:1 min 1080p 24 fps. Cover artwork along with audio preview. Music in focus. Some sort of animation, wave-form or spectrum analyser. Themed in accordance with the Release Video and the Marketing and Visual Brief.
  • Release Video for YouTube: 16:9 min 1080p, 320 kbps mp4, 60 fps, animated. Themed accordance with the Post-release Instagram videos and the Visual Identity.

Common mistakes

  • Having press photos and release visuals in the wrong format and/or dimensions.
  • Not enough variety in your press photos.

How to find photographers & artworkers

Photographers are tricky, ask your friends if they know any. Google search “Photographers in {your city}” etc.

Artwork designers are a bit easier since they can work with you from a distance. Look at DeviantArt and Instagram and see if you can find someone. If you’ve got a few bucks, Fiverr might have you covered.

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