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Album Artwork: Why you shouldn’t let your friend design it for free.

If it’s your first time to make an album, and especially if you’re an indie musician, you want to cut costs as much as possible. And so you think of ways to get free services and think of professional friends who can possibly help you without anything in return because hey, that’s what friends do- help each other!

So you contact your college best friend Bertie, who’s a freelance graphic designer. He answers the phone, you ask him how he is and you tell him you miss him because it’s been ages since you last saw each other. Then you move on to more serious things like… the favor you want to ask him. You talk about the album you want to make and you ask him a small request- designing your album art. He sounds ecstatic and says “Yes, of course. Just send it to my mail.”

YEY! Big savings for the struggling musician.

The moment you hang up, you send the files to his e-mail and write a long detailed instructions of what you want. You wait for a reply.

Nada. You give it 3 days since you know he’s a really busy guy. You don’t want to rush him since you’re just asking a favor anyway.

One week passed and you’re starting to hate Bertie for not giving you any reply. You do not want to hate him some more so you decide to call him. Inhale, exhale. Ring. Ring. Ring. No answer. That night, you receive a text from Bertie that goes like this: “Sorry, I was in a meeting. What a hectic week. I’ll reply to your e-mail tomorrow. Promise.”

But no e-mail from Bertie ever. So you decide never to call him ever and to just move on. While you’re healing from the death of your friendship, you suddenly have an AHA moment! You suddenly remember that your cousin is also a graphic designer. In fact, he’s waaay better than Bertie. You give him a call and he says yes right away. You send him the files, you chat. Communication is good and it looks like he can deliver in a week or two. You’re still on your timeline. Thank God!

So it’s true that blood is thicker than water (or college friends).

He updates you often and does the revisions you want. But when you request for a third revision, he’s busy all of a sudden. You figure he’s a little pissed because you ask too much. But what can you do? You really want the best for your first album! And it’s not like it’s a major revision. Any designer can do that in less than an hour. What’s talking him so long? Aurgggh.

Now you’re starting to panic because you need to have your album manufactured or else you won’t have CDs during your release party. And what’s the point of having an album release part if there are no albums to give away!

So you panic. You send a panicky e-mail to your cousin. You give him a panicky call. You can sense he’s not too glad of your panicky tone but what the hell. He could have just said NO but he didn’t so he should be responsible. The conversation becomes too business-like. You tell him you will pay for his services as long as he delivers it within the week. He’s a little insulted by the way you said it. But he delivers anyway. You pay him. Problem solved. Wheeeeeeeeeew!

Those are the perks if you try to get something for FREE.

Headaches, more stress than necessary, sometimes crappy work, delays, the feeling that you’re cheap, ruined friendships…and wait a minute, you didn’t even get it for free!

And what if the work is too crappy? You’ll end up hiring a professional in the end. That means, time’s wasted. What you save in money (if you’re lucky) will cost you in time and friendship.

I suggest that if you really want professional service, HIRE professionals. Less headache, friendships intact, and more time for more important things (like marketing your album).

If you’re in need for affordable designers for your CD artwork, DVD artwork, merch, etc, just email James at [email protected]. We can hook you up with some of our designers.


Unified Manufacturing is an L.A. -based one-stop-shop that offers very affordable CD/DVD/USB replication, custom printing, promotional products, warehousing and fulfillment and many more. If you need an Instant Quote on a project and you want FREE SHIPPING, simply CLICK HERE.


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