Best Practices

10 Tips to Get the Most from Your Canvas

October 10, 2019

Some best practices for using the new visual tool.

Canvas, currently in a limited beta, gives artists the ability to upload their own visual loops to their tracks on Spotify. When you have the option to enhance any and every one of your songs with a unique moving image, the creative possibilities for storytelling, context, world-building, and audience outreach are enormous—you can give your listeners using the Spotify mobile app a richer experience than ever before by connecting them in a whole new way. Once you've learned the basics about how to create and upload your Canvas, use these tips to make the most of your visuals, turning them into statements that can inspire and engage.

1. Choose footage without talking, singing or rapping.

With only 3- to 8-second clips, Canvas is not synced to the track, so it's not practical to try to sync the video to the lyrics; it'll have the effect of an awkward overdub.

2. Avoid rapid video cuts or intense flashing graphics.

Too many rapid cuts can make your Canvas hard to make sense of visually, and flickering images may overwhelm whoever sees this.

3. Remember to focus the action in the "safe area."

Don't put anything crucial in the "hidden area" (which is only visible on certain phones), and keep in mind that the player controls will partially obstruct the lower half of the screen.

4. Consider excluding the song title and artist name.

The artist name, song title, and track length are all already visible in the Now Playing view on the Spotify mobile app. Get the most out of every square inch by letting the images speak for themselves.

5. Learn the scoop on the three types of loops.

Know your way around the loop options and pick the best one for your imagery. The Continuous Loop has the satisfying feel of a "seamless" looping gif with no clear beginning or end. It may take some practice or know-how to get this one right, but it's worth the effort. The Hard Cut loop has clear edit points, but—as this example from L'Impératrice shows—even that can be artfully disguised. The Rebound is the simplest way for a novice video-maker to get a seamless clip: It plays your clip forward and then reverses it. As this example from Tune-Yards shows, the effect is not only fluid but mesmerizing. (Remember — these only work on our mobile apps!)

6. Try to tell a full story in the time allotted.

Millions of super-creative people have proven that you can do a lot with a little where video is concerned. A Canvas may be only 3 to 8 seconds, but incomplete storylines or drastically trimmed music videos could leave your fans wishing for more. Take a look at some live examples here for inspiration.

7. Connect your vision across your Spotify profile.

You've likely already uploaded album art, a profile picture, a header image, and perhaps playlists. So what you do in your Canvas is just one part of your persona on Spotify. Why not stitch together a cohesive artistic vision across your profile? Note how Homme uses the half-circle motif in her Canvas visuals—a theme that also shows up in her album art and even track titles.

8. Try creating a theme or narrative that crosses an entire album.

Instead of creating twelve separate visuals for his 2019 album Tangerine Dream II, Alex Wiley connected the tracks and visuals with this motif of a flickering TV and a surreal living room tableau.

9. Feel free to update.

Unlike the art printed on the cover of a physical album, you're free to change your Canvas over time, or as your look evolves. Billie Eilish, for instance, has updated her Canvases to celebrate her fans, filling each track with animated versions of fan art. Change your Canvas to tell a story, to explore different visions, to keep people engaged—or just to keep things interesting for you!

10. Let your music live for the moment.

Is there synergy between your tune and a holiday? Is there something in the news that has inspired you? Canvas is a tool to let you express yourself, and you can update it whenever inspiration hits. As one example, Tycho did a catalog takeover for Pride, updating all of his canvases to celebrate the month. Thanks to your ability to change your Canvas, your songs can capture the here and now like never before.

-Spotify for Artists

Spotify for Artists helps you to develop the fanbase you need to reach your goals.

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