For many popular musical artists, the visuals accompanying their work are every bit as important as the music itself. It’s not enough that the content is good – the look and feel of their albums, websites, and TV appearances are also critical contributing factors to their success. When those elements are wrong, it not only can negatively affect their career, but it can also have a ripple effect over time.

This was recently seen in the case of Lorde, who, as a 19-year-old artist, wanted to jazz up her TV appearance with her album cover featuring a racy shot of her eye-catching artwork. Unfortunately, the risqué display prompted the network to move quickly and put a stop to the stunt.

This begs the question, “Should artists be more cautious when it comes to selecting an album cover for TV?” To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at this particular incident, the consequences, and some tips for artists looking to make the best decision for their career.

Lorde’s Too-Racy Album Cover Incident

In March of 2017, Lorde was scheduled to appear as a performer on Saturday Night Live (SNL), which was being televised by NBC in the United States. At the last minute, the producers of the show made a last-minute switch to her album cover artwork. Rather than displaying her own racy image, they decided to display a still image of a blank wall.

This incident was the result of Lorde’s intended album cover, which featured a topless shot of her. By making this revealing choice, Lorde wanted to subvert traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Although the singer was embraced on social media for this bold choice, the conservative nature of NBC made them uncomfortable with Lorde’s supposed act of rebellion and they changed it, leaving her feeling unappreciated and discouraged.

The Consequences

Unfortunately, Lorde’s incident is a troubling reminder of how the creative choices of artists can spell disaster if the wrong decision is made. NBC showed how the conservative nature of TV can seriously limit the way that artists express their art, particularly when it comes to something as revealing as album art.

In Lorde’s case, her decision to go with a more racy album cover also backfired on her professionally. Because of the incident, her album sales were lower than expected, and the negative press surrounding the SNL debacle didn’t help matters either.

Tips for Choosing the Right Album Cover for TV

Although there are always lurking risks and potential consequences when it comes to making the wrong choice with album art, there are also some tips that artists should keep in mind when creating or considering an album cover. Here are a few tips that can help.

Know Your Audience

This is an essential part of creating album covers. You should always take into account the preferences of your target audience and make sure that your artwork resonates with them in a meaningful way. In Lorde’s case, she could have created a much more sophisticated album cover that included her in a subtly fashion that her traditional fan base may have identified with better.

Know Your Context

Before you make a final assessment of an album cover, it is important to consider the context in which it will be presented. If you plan on displaying an album cover on a television network like NBC, you should always look into their standards and make sure you are adhering to certain guidelines.

Create a Narrative

Perhaps the best tip for creating cover art would be to provide a narrative with your art. This means that the artwork tells a story that speaks directly to your music. This will give your album a strong sense of cohesion and identity that will be appealing to your audience.

Choose the Right Coloring and Design

Your album art should always be eye-catching and memorable. But be careful not to go overboard with overly saturated colors or extremely intricate designs. You should also take into consideration the color palette that is commonly used in television graphics, so that the album art stands out but is still visually compatible with the surrounding visual elements.

Ultimately, the decision of what album cover artwork to use should come down to preference and comfort. But it’s also critical to think about how your chosen artwork will look in the context of a television presentation. Understanding the impact that your art can have on your career is extremely important, and mistakes can be costly. Be sure to always take into account your audience, context, narrative, and design elements to ensure that your album art is suitable for a television appearance.