As part of our Media GCSE coursework we were asked to design a complete CD album inlay, including a front cover, lyrics, images and legal/organisational information. We had to make sure that the album cover we were going to design would fit into the conventions of the genre and it’s target audience. To meet the brief we looked into the musical interests of our group members and decided to fit our band’s genre around it. As there was some disagreement over the genre of which we each preferred, we decided to pick a genre that we all listened to, even if it wasn’t our favourite. Collectively the musical genre of which we all listened to was indie-rock, so our target audience was males or females in their teens and above who listen to indie-rock music to escape from modern society.
The production process
Details and successes
Our first lesson. We decided on band members and positions. Myself as the lead singer, Laura as the guitarist, Luke as bassist and Annie on drums. I decided that we should focus on a genre to in keep with the general musical tastes of the group so that everything was fair. Once we had all agreed upon the genre, we came up with the name of the band “The Prowse” and the title of the album “Vanished”. I feel that the ideas we came up with were constructive and useful to base future band decisions on.
There were some small disagreements and disputes within the group when agreeing on the genre. From then on my idea was put into action.
We further developed our ideas as a band. We looked at lyrics of which Annie had written/adapted to fit in with the lyrical conventions of our genre and decided upon the ones we thought were the most suitable. We planned to take pictures of ourselves for the cover to make it more personal and appealing and expanded our plans by thinking up possible locations, positions and clothing to use when taking the pictures. I spent most of the lesson thinking up possible designs for the spine of the CD.
Unfortunately, Luke could not join our group, so we had to reorganise band positions. Laura took the position of lead guitarist, Annie took the position of drummer and I took the position of bass guitarist and lead singer. There were some slight disagreements on the work each of us would do and the parts of the CD inlay we would design but after thinking things through, we decided upon assigning each person a task that would suit their ability.
Laura and Annie took pictures of objects and poses of themselves that would fit in with the image conventions of our genre. The photos that they had taken were put onto Annie’s USB drive and she took them home for editing. The photographs fitted in with the genre we were aiming for.
Unfortunately I was away for this lesson so I missed this opportunity to take band photographs. We re-planned to take the photographs of me at another time.
Once we had obtained a good variety of images of Laura and Annie, we decided on the layout of the covers front page, focusing on the image, positioning, fonts and text. We researched into CD cover designs from existing rock/indie bands to see if there was a specific format that we should have stuck to whilst designing ours.
It took us quite a while to decide on the main image for the front cover because we had come up with so many different ideas for each image. After experimenting with our ideas we finally came up with which one to use.
This was the last lesson we spent on actually producing our CD cover. Laura and I went off to take some pictures of myself to be put into the CD inlay and I decided upon the few that I preferred. Whilst we were doing this, Annie finalised the design of the inlay. Annie merged my photos, along with the photos of the other band members, into the background of the pages of our final piece.
As this was the final lesson we had allocated to physically produce the CD inlay, we were trying to compete with time and therefore ended up rushing our work, probably not making it as good as we could have done with a little more time. Once we had looked through a black and white printed version of our project, we found mistakes that would need amending. We arranged an appointment to use the Media Studies facilities to make these changes during a lunchtime.
We used this time to amend the mistakes that we had discovered whilst going through our print out. After making the changes, we printed out our final piece in colour onto photo paper and put it inside an empty CD case.
Codes and conventions
I feel that our artefact met the codes and conventions of CD covers in general because it included all of the features that a CD cover must have. It included legal and management information (the management being a typical ‘indie’ label – Rough trade) and conventions typical from its genre. Take the front cover image. I feel that this fits in with the genre we were aiming for as it is simple yet has a deep meaning. Symbolic codes behind the image of the burning match may be that it shows some sort of burnt out emotion or depression. The image ties in with the album title ‘Vanished’ because as once a match has in fact burnt out, it will in other words have vanished. Feeling burnt out and as if they had vanished from the ‘crowd’ of modern society may be things that listeners to music in this genre may be feeling. The style of the font that is feature throughout the inlay is simple and curvy, suggesting that the music that would be created by this band would be easy to listen to. We decided to either keep the photographs as black and white images or change them to have a ‘sepia’ affect put onto them.
Looking through the rest of the images in our inlay, you will be able to see that they are stereotypically like many others in the indie-rock genre. This was because we wanted to make sure that we fitted in with the genre. There are two pictures of each of our band members, one being musically influenced and the other to do with apathy or slight depression/loneliness.
Connotations from our inlay images
I feel that the layout of our over all CD inlay tells some kind of story. The way that the images have been shared out throughout the kind of lead on to each other.
As a group we decided to keep our images with a black and white or sepia effect theme. Not only did we do this to carry on with the stereotypical connotations of indie-rock music, we thought that sepia images and black and white images especially reflected and emphasized depression in photographs. We kept the font in blue, grey and white colours so that they would stand out from the images.
We decided to keep the font curvy, simple and quite easy to read to suggest that the music that would be created by this band would be easy to listen to. We kept the font the same throughout the artefact, only changing the font colour so that each page would be linked together.
Looking through the images in our inlay, you will be able to see that they are stereotypically like many others in the indie-rock genre. There are two pictures of each of our band members, one being musically influenced and the other to do with apathy or slight depression/loneliness. No body is smiling in any of the photographs, reflecting some of the lyrics in the songs.
There are a few close ups within our CD inlay images. We decided to close up on the burning match and the worn suitcases because we felt that they were quite relevant to our aim. As I said before, the burning match gave a sense of a burnt out emotion and I feel that the suitcases meant feeling quite lost and as if there is no ‘home’ for the subject to go to. Generally, the rest of the camera angles are high angles or mid shots. From the angle shots being high angles, you get the impression that the photographer is looking down on the band member, as if they are nothing (or feel as though they are nothing).
Connotations from our inlay images
The setting for our images was in the school and around it’s grounds. We managed to take quite a lot of our images outside of the school building with one of the photos of Annie hiding in a tree. I feel that this image gives the impression that Annie was hiding from people/her fears.
The posture that each of us use in our pictures seem to be rather slouched. I feel that this slouching shows some kind of apathy or the feeling that they subject doesn’t know what to think or what to do any more.
We all have straight faces in our photographs apart from a faint smile from Annie when she was in the tree. We thought that keeping a straight face in most of the photographs would fit in with our apathetic depression theme, however we felt that having Annie smile in just that one photograph would give the impression that she was happy in the tree, where people couldn’t get to her and where she felt safe.
We made the group decision of wearing basic jeans and t-shirt because it was simple and would fit into any genre. However, I had to have my photographs taken whilst I was in my school uniform as I was away for the lesson in which Annie and Laura took their photographs and I had to have mine taken at the last minute.
Lyrics and the uses and gratifications theory.
Annie spent time writing/adapting the lyrics we used. I feel that the lyrics we had used fitted in with our genre because of the content included in them.
“Nothing ever seems to see what you mean to me.
If you could only reach me and read me.
I might save you or you might save me.
All I need is a chance, just one chance.”
These lyrics are about heartbreak after a split from a partner or close friend. We spent time researching into lyrics from other bands in the indie-rock genre and found that the lyrics that Annie had written had similar content to those of which the official bands had written. One of the reasons why people decide to listen to certain music is the fact that they can relate to what the lyrics are about. The typical teenagers that may be listening to this sort of music could feel at ease if they knew that the bands that wrote the lyrics were going through the same thing as them. They would be able to feel like they were not alone. People often feel the need to identify with the lyrics of songs so that they can learn more about themselves personally and also use music to escape from the ‘daily grind’ of modern society. We felt that as our lyrics were about things that people felt when they feel ‘alone’, people would be able to connect with them.
The sleeve notes to our CD inlay include the lyrics as well as a phrase of which we had found in an essay on the internet. We decided to adapt the lyrics slightly so that they were not exactly like those of which we had found, but we thought that its deep meaning was something of which stereotypically people of our target genre would find interesting.
The album title ‘Vanished’ fits in with conventions of our genre because when something has vanished it means that it has disappeared. When people listen to this type of music they listen to it to connect with the lyrics put across, which also are about something/somebody disappearing in our case.
Usually bands have some reasoning behind their band name. The only reasoning behind our band name was the fact that we saw it in an English literature book and found the word ‘Prowse’ interesting. English literature however is something that people of our genre can be associated with.
I feel that our CD cover is telling a story about the way that society can make people feel, rather than telling a story about our band. Society and the people in it can make people feel belittled and worthless, as if there is nothing that they have to keep them happy any more. The images within our CD inlay and the sleeve note within the first few pages tells this story to the listeners of our music and the readers of our inlay. We have succeeded in representing young people and the things that they are going through when completing this album inlay and the lyrics. Younger people (especially teenagers) seem to go through a very confusing and emotional period of time and I feel that we have written/adapted our lyrics and taken our photographs to portray the way that younger people may feel. I believe that we have met the needs of our target audience because of this and that the fact that they can relate to what the lyrics said and can use them for escapism would attract teenagers to buy this CD if it was actually released. We have based all of our decisions on stereotypical judgements.
As I said earlier on in this piece of coursework, I would expect to released this under a typical independent record label e.g. Rough Trade. I would expect to find this CD released under this label because it is well known for attracting the more independent bands (usually indie-rock) that are stereotypically in our genre. I feel that the first single to be released from this album would be ‘Dirty Cigarettes and Cellophane Cameras’. When we researched into other bands we found that bands like ours had hit singles that had names similar to this.
If I was a consumer of music and was looking at this CD as an artefact in front of me, I feel as though it would appeal to me. I like the way that the front cover is simple yet has a deep meaning and I am the kind of person who bases their decision on buying a CD on the appearance of the front cover. Ways that this CD could be promoted and distributed could include:
* Advertising in magazines for music fans
* Sending free demo CD’s to subscribers to fan clubs of other bands signed to their label
* Play a live set/gig and promote it using posters and banners
* Hand out money off vouchers for copies of their CDs.
If we were to do this project again, I feel that I would like to try to be more organised about the taking and editing of the band pictures. I feel that we could have taken the pictures elsewhere out of school in more interesting areas with more interesting landscapes.