As they say, music alone will not sell. CD Packaging design is one of the reasons why the hard format is still alive. When everyone is going digital, it is wise to offer fans something that cannot be downloaded. Do not just give them forgettable album artwork – give them something that’s so awesome that they simply have to purchase your album. And not just purchase your album, but tell everyone about it.
So I guess you’re a little convinced that CD packaging means a lot. Now let’s talk about what comprises a good CD packaging. We’ll I cannot tell you what’s makes an album artwork beautiful because beauty is subjective. I will instead simply enumerate the 4 musts of a good CD packaging.
Your CD packaging should protect the CDs
I see a lot of those flimsy cases that are just too cool to be functional. Some CD packaging designs are creative but they do not fulfill their #1 function, which is to enclose and protect the discs. It is cool to come up with fun CD packaging designs but you should never forget that it’s supposed to protect the disc from spills, from dust, from slipping.
Your CD packaging design should instantly get people’s attention
This is a must especially now that downloads are preferred by most people. People now are so demanding and frugal because there are so many bands nowadays and especially because they have the choice not to buy music. How do you grab people’s attention? Make your packaging unique. Choose brighter colors, choose unique materials, make customized boxes, add freebies. Have a short trip in your nearest record store and choose 5 albums that instantly catch your attention. Take a look at them and analyze why they stand out. Is it the colors? the photograph, or the text? Then look for boring albums artwork and analyze them as well.
Your CD packaging should be friendly to the environment
This is not a must but you would certainly give Mother Nature a big favor by using soy-based inks instead of petroleum, eco-friendly cases, recycled materials, and by not using too much plastic.
Your CD packaging should start a conversation
CD packaging may not matter much to popular acts like Madonna or Lady Gaga because their fans would buy their album no matter what’s on the cover anyway. CD packaging has higher value to indie bands and new acts since it could be the key for them to get noticed. Create a CD packaging design that would let people talk so you’ll get more publicity. Do not just put a portrait photo of your band if you aim to go viral.
Always remember to keep the balance between functionality and creativity and think “viral” when brainstorming for your design. With thousands of new artists releasing albums these days, you will surely have an edge if you put some thought to your CD packaging design.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.