They always say never judge a book by its cover, and yet, that is still what most people do when it comes down to buying a book or a music CD. Face it, the reality is your album will be next to hundreds of other albums in the store, so the album's design and packaging needs to stand out, draw attention and help sell your album.
Your album design has to be professional, intriguing and attention grabbing. Your music will be partially judged by the professionalism of your album artwork. If your album looks professional then people will assume your music will also be of similar quality. Similarly, the opposite assumption will be made if your album artwork is just the opposite, with subpar artwork and graphics. They will assume your music is of the same quality, pass your album up and not even give your album a second thought.
With so much riding on the professionalism of your album artwork, it's important to make sure you get it right. This is not a place to skimp on quality, hire the best graphic designer you can find and afford. It's a good idea to save samples of album covers you like and especially those that have qualities that you are looking to have integrated into your own design. Look at the portfolios of several graphic designers to see if they have a consistently high quality and if you like their overall style.
Once you've decided on a designer for your album cover the next step is making sure you have professional high quality photos of your band and all its members for the designer to use. If you have a particular concept you want used on the cover, the CD or the CD inserts you must have pictures that can be used in that concept. Even if most of the concept artwork is to be added using PhotoShop manipulation it is still important that your pictures have you positioning in the right poses to match the concept. For instance, if you are trying to design an album cover depicting you holding onto a helicopter rope ladder as it flies through the air you will need the correct camera angle and posts that look like you are holding onto a ladder in order to properly PhotoShop you into the scene. You may also need a fan blowing your hair and clothing to make it look more realistic.
Whatever concept you chose for your album cover design , your pictures and your graphic designer's ability to integrate them into the concept art will be what help make the album cover something that will attract new sales and new fans to you and your album. Make sure your album cover is as amazing as your music and your album sales will be sure to climb.