One of the greatest events in the history of music was when Spotify began allowing people to upload their own feature images for their music playlists.
Probably going overboard with that statement but it still was pretty cool.
From that moment onward, I starting thinking of cool cover art I could make for my playlists. As a lover of playlist making, this added another element to one of my favorite pastimes. As a music lover and a design lover, the intersection of the two has always provided me with great joy.
Over the past few months, I have been making my Bobbie’s Music Monday playlists and sharing them on my social media. Each playlist is made up of songs that I had never heard before and really liked upon discovery. Every Bobbie’s Music Monday playlist has its own custom cover. Starting with the 4th edition, I designed a matching back cover with the tracklist for each one. Yesterday, I posted the 26th edition. I followed my usual Music Monday process with the latest.
The art for each playlist is usually inspired by one of the tracks or one of the source albums. Once I finish the playlist, I think about what I want the cover to be. The front cover is always designed first. The back cover plays off the front cover’s concept. With playlist number 26, I knew I was going to have “This is America” by Childish Gambino as the opener and “Americans” by Janelle Monae as the closer. So, I immediately starting playing with a minimalist version of the American flag. In Photoshop, I warped the shapes and then put some torn paper texture within the design. My Music Monday logo was overlayed twice: once right side up and the other upside down. I wanted to go for something that showed the American colors but warped and torn. Normally, my designs are very clean but sometimes I like to go abstract and even messy when the artistic mood strikes me.
The Music Monday playlist cover designs have been great design practice. They allow me to experiment with concepts outside of my usual work. Thanks again to Spotify for allowing me the ability to truly customize and be creative on the platform.
Few things excite me more in my position at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters than getting an e-mail asking me to design a new logo for a Fraternity or Sorority program or initiative. My love of designing logos is well documented at this point. So how do you think I responded to a request to re-design the Kappa Kappa Psi awards page with 10+ new logos?
I love marching band. I love graphic design. So, when I was approached by the Director of Bands at James B. Dudley High School to design a new logo for the band, I was very excited. However, this project would require me to illustrate a full panther mascot. This wouldn’t be the more minimal logos I had grown used to designing. I don’t consider myself an illustrator so this would be a challenge. But the challenge was well for worth it.
Last week, I talked about what happens when music artists invest in their brand. Like any other industry, investing in your brand increases your chances of success. To many people, album sales is a measure of success. How receptive your audience is in your latest project and their willingness to pay for pleasure of the listen will depend on how interested/invested they are in your brand. They buy the brand. The brand is you and each project is an extension of that.
Each project should provide an immersive, worthwhile experience for your audience. The overall experience is key. Particularly in this day and age, fewer people than ever actually buy the physical album release. So, for those of you still wanting to give people something tangible to purchase and enjoy, you had better make it worth it.
“You know my first week looking crazy due to high demand Cause people don’t buy music in this day and age They buy the brand” – Logic, “44 Bars”
Branding is important in every market known to mankind. The product you produce, the story you tell, and the human (or humans) behind it all make up what is known as the brand. The more people you attract to the experience of you, the more successful you will be. People will support what (and who) they believe in.
The sheer amount of music available makes it increasingly important for music artists to understand how to stand out and rise above. You have to make sure you are projecting your authentic self, which will attract those meant to hear your message. Assembling a fan base is crucial to your long-lasting success. Having a dedicated fanbase means having ambassadors that will share your music and message with others.
Chance The Rapper released his Coloring Book last month. It is very popular in my music rotation. There are certain albums that I particularly enjoy while I am creating. These albums are brimming with inspiring sonic vibrance and brilliance. My fierce and passionate love of music (and its many genres) fuels my creative endeavors. Coloring Book is an amazing piece of work that I wanted to visualize and write about. This isn’t a comprehensive review or a Genius lyric breakdown. Just some visuals inspired by each track and some things I thought about while listening.