I've just been told by Wrasse Records that record store buyers in USA and France didn't think the picture on the cover of World 2004 reflected the music inside, and said that they thought it might have put potential customers off.
This is a bit of a surprise to me, as I've liked the covers of both The Sound of the City series and the World albums. But as none of them has exactly raced out of the record stores, I don't have any objective basis for defending them.
Wrasse prefer the more cheerful covers that Putumayo do.
It isn't usually within the role of the compiler to have any say in the cover design, but I've tended be hands-on, looking for a classy feel that may be tangential to the content but somehow enhances it.
Those Putumayo covers are just too self-consciously ethnic - you feel 'targeted'. And as soon as I feel targeted, I duck.
But I can see how they would appeal to the Starbucks twentysomethings in the USA who probably think such exotic locations as Mali and Mexico really are water-colour wonderlands of dancing, skipping, happy folk in brightly coloured clothing.
I imagine compilation albums must be hellishly hard to design covers for, because you can't simply rely on a picture of the artist or band. Instead, a concept, genre or overall mood has to be summed up in a single image.
Also the cover has to appeal to the target audience without making it obvious that that is what it is trying to do.
The covers of the world series work for me on that level. I certainly wouldn't want the job of choosing a viable alternative.
I for one like the covers - I don't buy this music because it is ethnic, I don't buy it because it has an exotic appeal, I buy them because they are music which I listen to - predominately in an Urban setting as most of the artists intended. Lets not go down the twee line of exotic plants and faux naif paintings like putayamo - i for one find these a huge turn off.
Perhaps it should have teh pharse Charlie Gillett presents - Now that would be a USP and a clear sign of quality!
According to Performing Songwriter magazine there are 8,700 Starbuck stores worldwide and Starbucks "was instrumental in turning Ray Charles final release..."Genius Loves Company" into a platinum-selling Grammy winner. By playing it (and playing it) and stocking it at their counters ....they sold over half a million copies". Not bad for a coffee shop.
Yes, not bad, but I am not so sure that Charlie's compilations concept would either compare to a Putumayo or a "coffee shop compilation."
I do like Putumayo covers but the World series have their own identity and its cover should reflect that.
I think there is a way to keep its identity and still make it more attractive to potential buyers who never heard of Charlie - just doing what Charlie has been doing: finding what nobody else does and be a specialist in that. Then I think it will be able to find its own way not only to coffee shops in USA and France but to the wider market.
Exploring the concept that Charlie transmits on his programmes and reinforcing it in such a way as to atract new markets would be an interesting challenge.
Well, resuming: a cover that keeps Charlie identity (otherwise, why being competing with same kind of covers - noone else has Charlie in it!) but possibly more impinging, catchy to the passer by; in other words, not so discreet - possibly the only thing I would mention on the world series covers.
...And no need for the Putumayo approach. Except that their releases can be found in most chain department stores in the United States. You can walk into a TARGET superstore here in the US and find a Putumayo point of purchase stand in two minutes, and usually not in the music section! The surprise factor is enough to make you stop and look.
Ho yes, sure it is.
But don't you think the World Series can find its own market in its own way? It takes surveying and research.
The easiest and "safest" way is to follow what others are doing successfully but running into the risk of loosing its own identity when approaching too much the Putumayo design and positioning with the customer - and this could fire back in diverse ways.
But as I said, this is just opinion: the facts come as a result of planning and research; and above all, what is the concept intended by Charlie and the label.
After getting my copy this last Sunday, I have to say that the cover is what it should be: bold, catchy but still following Charlie's concept from the beginning, not only from the World Series, but from The Sound of The City series.
I just hope that it reaches it's market, or the other way around.