The Top Five - What Designers Can Teach Musicians

Arts & EntertainmentBooks & Music

  • Author Nadine Gressett
  • Published March 7, 2012
  • Word count 726

In music, where do you seek inspiration? Do you find it in a train roaring by on your way to the store? A really awesome movie you saw last week? The man in the cafe sitting across from you tapping their pencil? Inspiration appears at any moment and gives you new insights into your own music. Your fresh perspective is important for making great music and for getting your music HEARD by others

The design profession, surprisingly enough has a lot to add in terms of making your music be perceived as irresistible. Why look at design? Besides from being creatives as well and having a similar creative process, designers iin general also have become experts at knowing how to immediately draw people's attention and invoke an emotional response.

So what can the design industry tell you that will help you set you and your music apart?

  1. Understand Exactly Who You're Creating For

Designers at Coca-Cola have defined exactly what their unique style is, who is their primary target audience, and the best ways to reach them. They have spent a lot of energy understanding their ideal fan - the exact people that will not only like the ad but are very likely to purchase the product. The same thing applies to your music. Know your ideal fan - those that would attracted to you and your music in the first place. Your ideal fan will change greatly based on the type of music you play and the image you project. Spend some time to define your ideal fan, then really go all out to incorporate your style in your promotions. By keeping your target audience at the forefront of everything you do, it will be clear exactly who you are trying to reach. This in turn will distinguish you from all the generic promotions of bands that are striving to reach out to everyone.

  1. First Impressions are Everything

Your music is more than just something to be heard, it something to be felt. The same is true with your brand identity - make it compelling. Whether you're creating a stellar album design, super slick download cards, or lust-worthy merch - the most memorable pieces will always go beyond just function and will evoke an emotional reaction. Make it so that when that industry rep or potential fan encounters your stuff, they don't just notice it, they feel an emotional connection to you. This is how your band can get through all of the noise. This is how you will make a compelling first impression.

  1. Less is More

Many designers have a mantra "simplicity is beauty." If you think about it, the most compelling ads and the most enjoyable designs are clean and distinct. The designer does not bombard or distract the user with a bunch of things other than what they actually want them to see. Just like how you avoid overplaying in music, design your marketing materials in a way that gives the observer space to rest their eyes and a moment to soak in your message. For both your music and your marketing, keep in mind often less is more, and more is just more.

  1. Be Creative If You Want It to Sell

Are you preoccupied with creating something new? Do you have something meaningful to say? Are you committed to the creative process? If so, then make sure your promotion efforts are as creative as your music is. Don't confine yourself to the way things are normally done within the industry, but create impact by being creative and sharing things that have meaning both for you and your fans. If what you are doing is not having the intended response - reevaluate. How can you make your press kits more interesting? How can you make your recordings and merch more lust-worthy? What can you do to make your fliers more eye-catching? Look at it all as making and sharing pieces of art.

  1. Know the Rules and How to Reinvent Them

Sometimes the rules apply, many times they just get in the way. Learn the best practices of designing your brand and marketing your music, then keep what works and trash the rest. Distinguish yourself from the other musicians by doing something different.

In Summary

What can you do now to separate yourself from just another good band to a truly memorable one?

Nadine Gressett specializes in graphic design for musicians with Indie Graphic Design, where we show you how to make a powerful impact in the music industry. We combine marketing expertise, music industry knowledge, and graphic design skill to visually express your unique voice. Sign up now for free marketing and design tips at

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