First impression matters: How To Create New Fans With Your Mixtape Cover

First impression matters: How To Create New Fans With Your Mixtape Cover


According to research done by psychologists at Princeton University, it only takes people1/10th of a second for them to create a first impression about you. Research also stated inanother study it takes people 50 miliseconds (which is 0.05 seconds) to determine whether they like you or not and in your case whether to listen to your music or not.

Your mixtape cover is the first image people see of you.

It represents your whole image and music.

It tells people a visual story about you without having to listen to your music.

A good professional mixtape cover will lead people into listening to your music. A bad mixtape cover will do the opposite. It will make people judge your music even before listening to it. People won’t get past the cover art.


Your goal with your mixtape is to have someone listen to your music right? You want people to download it, buy it on iTunes and listen to it.

If you handed me your mixtape in hand or if you shared your a link to your music you want me to listen to your music. Plain and simple.


Having a bad poorly designed cover, logo or image will stop people in their tracks. They won’t make it to the next step in listening to your music.


How do I know if my mixtape cover looks bad?

– If you designed it

– If your homeboy that runs a studio and 10 other jobs but also does graphic designing did it.

– If you don’t understand correct typography

– If you don’t understand universal design principals.

Your a rapper, a performer, an entertainer — stick with what you know. Leave designing to professionals who know about typography, photography, image placement, retouching and color correcting.

The problem I see is that people who design their own cover can’t recognize what  a “bad cover” looks like or consist of is in their mind because they aren’t designers.

If you don’t understand design principals do not design your cover.

Look at the image cover “Dj Nate” above I found online. I know nothing of this rapper. For all I know he raps like 2Pac but with an image like this I won’t go any deeper into listening to him and learning more about him.  The quality looks terrible, the lettering is horrible, bad color selection, cheap looking fonts, bad placement, overall it looks like a 10 year old kid designed this.

Do you see how we prejudge someone in seconds. Do you see how it can turn off people from learning more about you.


What does a good mixtape cover look like?

– Not to busy

– It’s simple

– Not clutter with 100 things going on in it

– Creative

– Correct color selection

– A good clear photo of the artist

– Simple legible lettering – Lettering that doesn’t contain cheesy Photoshop effects (glows, strokes, bevels)


A good professional designer will understand:


– Colors that go together.

– When to use certain effects and how to use them correctly. Not over done like 90% of cheap looking covers.

– How to correctly retouch photos.

– How to organize and place words and images in the correct placement.

A great looking mixtape cover isn’t to complex. Not a lot of effects especially to letter (the #1 major mistake newbie designers make is adding effects to every word and graphic) Not a lot of distraction.



Go to DatPiff.com’s homepage and what’s the first thing you see?

The mixtape covers of current albums dropping. You’ll see the cover first before you hear the music.

Same goes with LiveMixtapes and MixtapeTorrent.com – The mixtape covers represent the “image” of the rapper behind it.


Your mixtape cover is on every poster, flyer, banner and other promotional designs you put out. If you have a bad design from the beginning you will lose potential fans from listening to your music.


First Impression can last for years.

According to another research study done by Bertram Gawronski and Ha Hoang(Administravie Science Quarterly, 1995), first impression is difficult to change. The main point to takeaway from this study is that if your first impression is bad it could cause people to hold that bad first impression on your music years after. It’s extremely easy to mess this up by designing something yourself.



Visual appeal matters. The best advice is to not skimp finding a designer to create you a professional design. A great looking mixtape cover will attract people to listen to your music. People will form their opinion on you in miliseconds if your mixtape cover is trash. Think about this article and the solid research given here before thinking about create your own mixtape cover or hiring your friend. Do you really want to risk losing 1,000’s of new potential listeners and fans that stop at your cover and never move on to step 2 of listening to your music?

If your dropping a mixtape, single or an album soon get in contact with me on helping you create a professional design for your upcoming project.



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