Use for album covers and more.

iStockphoto Website

If you’re a small digital record label or an artist selling your music directly to fans you’re probably on a limited budget. Certainly you can’t afford a graphic designer to create all your album covers. Everyone should have some basic knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator but knowing those programs won’t give you visual flare or a sense of style. is the most popular royalty free stock photography and illustration online store. They host over 2.5 million images from 40,000 contributors. Images are quite iStockphoto Screenshotinexpensive ranging from about $1 for a photo to $10 for a complex illustration. What’s terrific for independent musicians and small label owners is you can use these images for album covers.

You can search images by colors, keywords or contributor. You can create Lightboxes which are basically folders of images you want to remember. Once I know an album’s subject I will go to and over a weeks time throw related images into a Lightbox for it.

The site is also a social network with populated forums. You can follow other members’ choices or contributions. There are blogs and you can make your own blog posts too. There is a section under each image for a rating and review. Other niceties include a Free Vector each month and tutorials scattered around the site.

There are some caveats you need to be aware of. You will need to purchase an extended license if you want to use the album cover on a T-shirt, sticker or something similar where the image itself is the main show. An extended license does cost much more. Be aware that unless you purchase the extended exclusive license the image you choose can also be sold and used by other people.

As musicians, we can appreciate skill and craft it takes to create good visual art. I know we are all capable of putting an album cover together but why not let real artists with experience handle it for you? Today it’s an affordable option.

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

8 thoughts on “Use for album covers and more.”

  1. yes it’s a good site – my recommendation is just like in normal music production – don’t settle for the normal “stock” photos – you’ll want to really mashup any images you use for your album art. there are examples on their website of artist profiles that show you how the pros use their catalogue of art. you really have to get your hands dirty with photoshop with blending the images so as to not be recognized as a stock art piece instantly.

  2. hah that’s a great link. anyways i started up a new blog, you can see the link in my name now. it’s still in beta but i just wanted to say that i’ve enjoyed reading your blog so far and i hope to be able to do something as high caliber as Wire one day.

  3. I agree with you, I love istockphoto, I’ve been using them in my business since the images were .25 each. The prices are still fantastic and there are some very talented photographers up there. But I have to disagree with you in terms of replacing a Graphic Designer, there is more to design than knowing how to use Photoshop, you need a person with a good eye for design to lay out the text and position the photograph to work with the albums design.

    Just my 2 cents, I like your blog.


  4. Hi Dean. You are totally correct. Using iStock instead of a graphic design is only a second best option. But any good designer will want 400+ do to an album cover. At least with iStock your not completely winging it. All the important album covers on my own label were designed by Maurice Roy a great designer from Montreal.

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