Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Year 10 Media - Designing a CD Cover (Music Promotion Project 2)

You are close to completing your PINK CD Cover analysis essays and the next stage in this project is to begin the process of constructing a new band or artist to launch into the current music market. Your task once you have created this hypothetical band/artist is to create an CD album cover to promote their first album release. This blog posting should help you with this process:

A CD cover needs to:

Attract a buyer - the primary target audience
Convey something about the genre of music inside
Give some information about the artist
Be an original design
Stand out from all the other CD covers in the rack
Or be outstandingly original and memorable – (difficult)

If a CD cover has one main function it is to stand out and sell the music by the startling design of the cover.

For some interesting design ideas see:


Art Work

The art work for the design MUST be documented in your sketch book as a series of thumbnail sketches, collage designs and mock-ups in Photoshop. There is no set number but the examiner will expect to see the development of your ideas. A final version should be inserted into a jewel case to show that your design works in its proper setting and at its correct size at the end of your production process.

Some general principles apply:

Work with colour as a design tool
Relate the cover design to the music; the artist/band and their attitude/image; type of record label and the target audience
Choose the font, size and style of lettering very carefully
Images need to be bold and not too busy, as reducing the size will make busy designs look claustrophobic
Look to create instant impact
Select very carefully the amount of information you put on the front cover – can some of it go elsewhere or should you create a gatefold cover design, or use the back cover.
Examiners will look for technical quality as well as originality. If you use a photo make sure it is a high quality image.
Print on high quality photo paper
Remember all work must be original with no found images or copyright material

One way to build a cover design is to work in layers in Photoshop. First build up each layer of the design from a base background.

There is a free Photoshop tutorial on CD Cover design :


TIP: As you go through the design process for this project, pack your book full of CD covers, found images and stuff that inspires your designs.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Year 10 Media - Section A Music Promotion Coursework Project

Happy New Year! We hope you had a lovely Christmas break. As you have already discovered, you starting a new Section A coursework project on the topic of 'Music Promotion'. The Doodle will be an online space where you can access all sorts of resources, links, essays, ideas to support you with this new project in order to maximise your marks and realise your creative ambitions in the marketing of a new band or artist. To suceed in this project you need to begin to look critically at how artists and bands are REPRESENTED in the media? Explore HOW and WHY these REPRESENTATIONS appeal to their TARGET AUDIENCE? And, finally HOW MEDIA INSTITUTIONS (RECORD LABELS, MAGAZINES, PRINT MEDIA, TV ADVERTS, RADIO) CONSTRUCT AN IDENTITY AND IMAGE FOR THE BAND/ARTIST?

Here are some links to get you started:

BBC Radio 1 site dedicated to supporting artists in promoting themselves in the industry. This site is full of top-tips on how to create a 'Press-pack'; how to write a band 'biography' and much more:

A set of useful prompt questions to get you analysing a CD cover using skills of denotation and connotation - the skills required to get an A*-C in the essay for this project.

An example of a GCSE Media CD Cover analysis essay looking at Missy Elliot. It is a bit brief but well constructed:


When analysing any CD cover, consider the following points:

Genre: as well as considering the genre of music that the CD belongs to, you must also consider the generic conventions of the CD cover itself: what goes on a typical CD cover? Consider how the front and the back are different and contain different sorts of information: why is this? Remember, on a shelf in a shop, people are attracted to the cover first, then turn it over to read the back. On the front cover, CD covers will typically have the artist or name of the band, the name of the album, an image and stickers (such as parental advisory, or announcing a particular well-known track). What purpose does all this serve? If some CDs deviate (veer away) from the convention, why is this?

Lettering / font styles and sizes: how does the lettering fit with the genre of music or design? For instance, Marilyn Manson’s greatest hits CD uses gothic font to complement his style. Some punk bands have very basic handwritten type styles to fit with their ‘basic’ or anarchic image.

Image: what picture is on the cover? Is it a design or artwork? Is it a photograph of the artist? Look at the mise-en-scene (how the scene is set). This includes colours, props, lighting, make-up and clothing, how the star or subject is posed (eye contact, facial expressions etc). Consider the messages given out by choices of colour and connotations (associations) gained. How will the audience react to the CD? Do different people receive different meanings? If so, how and why?

Stars / icons: is this image of the artist one you’d expect to see? For instance, a star like Beyonce always has an image constructed on glamour and sex appeal whilst a punk band like Green Day tend to focus more on social issues to sell CDs. Do bands or artists have particular props, costumes, dress, fashions that are instantly recognisable? For instance, Eminem’s hair colour, Marilyn Manson’s contact lens and metal teeth or Slash’s top hat? Some stars constantly challenge their audience’s expectations, like Madonna. Her CD covers reflect the new image or re-branding that she is going for.

Representation: look at how bands or artists and the genre are represented and how the audience will react to that. For instance, hip-hop stars have been criticised for portraying guns, cars and ‘gangsta’ images. Critics say this presents a negative image for young people to follow and also sets up stereotypes of black culture. This type of music has been criticised in portraying women as sexual stereotypes. If your CD either challenges or reinforces stereotypes this may be something to comment on too.

Audience: who exactly will buy this CD? Try to be specific. Why will someone buy a CD? Is it because they want escapism and pleasure, or to gain a sense of their own identity or feeling of belonging? Or are they buying it because they have been influenced by someone else?