This is an exciting time for you. You’re just about to release a new EP. This might be your first release, or it could be your eighth. Either way, completing a recording is a massive achievement. Congratulations.
But wait. You can’t actually put your music out into the world without cover art. Oops!
This happens more often than you might think. Unless you have a checklist of everything that needs to get done prior to a release, something will get missed.
Well, not to worry. There are several different ways you can put together an EP cover. Here are five options for you to explore.
1. Make An EP Cover Yourself If You’ve Design Skills
Do you consider yourself tech-savvy? Do you like having control over every aspect of any project you undertake?
In that case, you might consider designing your EP cover yourself.
This isn’t to suggest that this is the best option, because there are so many other things that go along with releasing an EP. But if you’re organized and on top of all of your to-do items, there’s nothing saying you can’t.
But these platforms simply don’t compare to GIMP (which is a free image editing software) and Adobe Photoshop (which can be expensive as a standalone software, but reasonably affordable if you go with a month-to-month plan). The problem is that these programs require more technical know-how and experience to use.
2. Hire A Freelancer To Create Your Front And Back Cover
The advantage of hiring a freelancer is threefold:
- They’re experienced. They have at least a basic working knowledge of design and editing software.
- They will get your design done while you’re working on other things. They can save you a lot of time.
- You can find options to suit your budget. You can hire a freelancer for as little as $5, or you can pay several hundred dollars for premium services. Bottom line – there’s a freelancer in your budget range.
If you want to go cheap, then you can hire a freelancer on Fiverr. I’ve used this method myself for one of my projects, and I can’t complain about the results.
But instead of spending $5, be prepared to fork out at least $20. Hire three designers, give them your specs, and get each of them to design a cover. Leave a bit of margin for revisions. When the designs are ready, you’ll have three different options to pick from (i.e. choose the best one).
Other great services for finding freelancers include Upwork and Freelancer. I particularly like the Freelancer model where freelancers bid on your project so you can find service providers in your budget range. 99designs uses a similar model, and you will get a lot of quality submissions, but you will also pay more for it.
3. Use Stock Covers To Make A Simple But Cool EP Cover
Of the options available to you, this is probably the least valuable. We’ll talk about it briefly just in case you find yourself in a situation where none of the other options presented are viable.
Now, there are no rules or laws against using stock covers and editing them to suit your needs (as long as you aren’t using copyrighted images, or images that can’t be used for commercial purposes).
With a bit of research, you’ll probably be able to find PSD files that independent designers have created for distribution (and you would probably only need to edit the text to make it your own). You can also browse image sites like Shutterstock and iStockphoto for generic artwork that can be appropriated as an EP cover. Some of the designs are quite nice, and are professionally done.
But the problem is that you don’t get to brand yourself with a stock cover. Every release gives you an opportunity to put your name out into the world and become more recognized. Typeface and font color do matter.
And even if you are able to edit it to the point where it fits with your overall image and brand, you might discover others using the same design for their EP cover, and there’s nothing you can do about that.
Bottom line – stock cover use is discouraged, but if it’s just a quick-and-dirty project you’re putting together, there’s no reason why you can’t go this route.
4. Hire A Friend Or Ask For A Referral
There may be designers in your immediate or extended network that can help you out with your design.
The main advantage here is that you might be able to work with them for free, for pizza and beer, or for a nominal fee. It just depends on how amenable they are to helping you.
A fan of your music would obviously want to see you succeed. They would see this as an opportunity and a privilege as oppose to an annoyance.
But I would advise against going with just anyone’s nephew or hair stylist (you’d be amazed by the number of people that do graphic design on the side). At the very least, take a look at their portfolio to figure out whether or not they’re capable of creating the kind of design you like.
Simultaneously, you have to be realistic. If you have no experience with design, you’re not going to be able to create an amazing cover on your own. A pro bono designer with some skills will still do a better job than you will, so give them some slack.
5. Hire A Design Company
You can easily find quality graphic design studios and businesses in your locality with a Google search. Searching for the key term “graphic design” typically brings up local results, and some of the best options usually reside on the first few pages of search results.
You can count on professionals to care about your design needs, provide you with a timeframe for project completion, and take extra steps to ensure they understand the project scope.
The downside? You’ll almost certainly end up paying more for professionally crafted designs. This is not a problem if you have a bigger budget, but not something you’ll want to pursue if you can’t see yourself paying at least $60 – $120 or more for the design.
Don’t worry – you will find a way. Using one of the above options, you should be able to get your EP cover completed.
But don’t worry too much about trying to be perfect. If your name is misspelled in the artwork, you’ll want to fix that, but most people aren’t going to notice a lot of the smaller details that you might pick up on.
See this as a learning experience. You’ll be better prepared for the next time.