It’s not enough for today’s musicians to play great music if they want to have a successful career — it’s just so hard to stand out among thousands of other bands trying to make it. To help get recognized, every band needs a brand. Music obviously isn’t something that can be seen, but graphic artists can help create visual elements to accompany the sound and feel of their music. They can do this in a few ways.
Festival and Concert Promotion
Graphic artists do a range of branding, advertising, illustration and even digital services that help musicians when they need to play their own concerts or bigger festivals.
Design studios can create comprehensive print and digital campaigns for the days leading up to the event, but can also extend this design to the environment itself. This ensures there’s a visual link between all components of the festival, from the tickets to stage signage. You should check out this agency to see some of the work they’ve done — it’s easy to think the art at music festivals looks so cool because musicians are often very cool! Actually, it’s a result of behind-the-scenes collaboration between musicians and graphic artists. Think of it as a jam.
Music is a sonic phenomenon, but album covers are often seen before the music is actually heard. This definitely affects the vibe we feel as we listen to music, and it shapes our expectations before listening, and after too. Bands like Phish incorporate their lyrics into their album art, strengthening the connection between what’s seen and heard. This art is not merely an afterthought, something required on the album’s jacket, it is of the same essence as the music — the same magic but in another form.
Miles Davis is another great example of a musical legend who valued visual artists. His album covers from the early to mid-seventies are iconic and complement the music. His switch to funkier sounds had a corresponding change in visual aesthetic. Anybody looking at the record would know it will sound very different than the decades of music that preceded it.
If Phish and Miles Davis can see the wisdom of getting great graphic art to accompany their music, your band can too.
Making the “Merch”
With online streaming and the music industry being what it is, many groups need to sell concert tickets and merchandise, often known as “merch,” to be economically viable. Fans want to support the groups they care enough to see live, but they don’t want to hang ugly posters on their wall or wear subpar clothing.
Working with graphic artists is like having your own in-house design team. They work closely with their clients, and then take the essence of their music to create beautiful and complementary art fans will be hungry to hang up or be seen wearing.
All musicians need to work with other kinds of professionals, from promoters, managers, to sound engineers. But beyond audio collaborations, graphic designers can really help musicians translate their sound into a visual aesthetic that can help promote the band and drive much-needed revenue.