As of 2017, Hip Hop has officially become the most popular genre of music in America, responsible for 25.1% of all music consumption. It’s also the leader in digital song sales and on-demand streaming.
So what does this mean for aspiring artists attempting to gain traction in what is now literally the most competitive part of the industry?
It means you need to do everything in your power to build a brand that will stand OUT.
It’s said that the worst possible compliment is to be compared to a famous artist. Why? Because you’ve put blood sweat and tears into honing your talent, while someone else reaps all the benefits.
The industry doesn’t need another Lil Wayne, Jay-Z or Kendrick Lamar. Those artists are already fulfilling the need for the specific type of art they create.
The industry needs something fresh- it’s never encountered before.
It needs you.
And what is the very first touchpoint between you and a potential fan deciding whether to check out your music?
Yep it’s your mixtape cover.
This is true whether you’re selling mixtapes on the street, or even digitally through a streaming service like Apple Music.
Check these out:
- They’re striking, eye-catching, and often controversial.
- These are custom mixtape covers.
a.k.a there’s nothing stock about them. No corny clip art, or stock photos that have been used over and over again. This is a unique, one-of-a-kind master piece.
As soon as a person searches for a potential track or mixtape to listen to on a streaming service, the artwork pops up.
It’s an ever-present reminder of the emotional vibe you’re striving to create for listeners with your mixtape.
What’s more, once you have a custom mixtape cover that your fans love and want to share, it will open up new marketing opportunities in the form of merchandise.
You can take your mixtape cover art, and brand t-shirts, mugs, kicks, hats- or whatever you feel your audience would respond to.
For best results, we recommend creating a spin off design. In other words, something that has been inspired by the original artwork, but isn’t exactly alike. Again, the more unique your art is, the more it will sell.
Here’s a great example from Big Sean:
This jacket was inspired by his album “Double Or Nothing” – and displays two shiny metallic dice being rolled. On the front side, all the names of the album tracks are included.
Also, you get bonus points if you can use an original font- or even embroider the design. In a world of flat printed t-shirts, this sticks out.
At the end of the day- whatever artwork you produce should do two things
- Define your musical project in a unique way
- Appeal to your target audience (you’ve got to make sales)
Do this and you’re off to a great start.