Is The Album Cover-Art a Dying Art Form?

 

I recently read an article in the New York Times that discussed the shrinking of album artwork. The piece argued that elaborate cover art seems to be out of fashion, and its in place artists are opting for simple designs that can be fully seen on computers and iPods. The close-up of Lady Gaga’s face for Born This Way, and the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s fly on a pill for I’m With You were cited as examples.

While cover-art certainly isn’t indicative of what the music is like, it does seem to be a lost art form. Has there been an album cover released in the past few years that has already become iconic? Pearl Jam’s cover for 2009’s Backspacer was pretty nifty with 9 different images from cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, but it didn’t seem to represent the music that was on the actual disc. The childhood portrait of Lil Wayne on the cover Tha Carter III is visually intriguing and tells an interesting story, but I always felt the typography seemed a bit off.  The Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light seems too much like a throwback with its collage of portraits highlighted in different colors.

Perhaps the music industry and musicians themselves think that no one really cares, and they will only view it on their iPod (or perhaps not at all.) I’m not certain about anyone else, but I find it hard to listen to songs either on my computer (or iPod) if there is accompanying artwork to go with it. I recently started downloading the cover-art of albums whose covers I don’t have and then trying to import them into iTunes. It’s a long, laborious project and so far I’m only up to letter K.  I feel much better listening to The Beatles on my computer if I can actually see the cover for Revolver.

Still, graphic designers might set some of the blame on simpler cover-art. As a former student in Graphic Design, clean and simple design with lots of white space tend to gain more favor by professors and those in the actual field. While the cover of Sgt. Pepper is certainly iconic, I’m not entirely sure it would be looked on as the artistic achievement it is, if it were released now. I can also most hear somebody suggest that, “there is too much going on, your eye doesn’t know where to focus!”

As a kid, I was totally transfixed by the cover-art of certain albums. It could sometimes defined the way I listened to particular albums. I bought The Clash’s “London Calling” after reading how great it was in a British Magazine in high school. The image of Paul Simonon smashing his bass and the Elvis Presley reference in the typography was one of the coolest things I ever seen. When it came time to listen to the disc I was slightly disappointed that the music didn’t match Simonon’s anger and frustration. What was this reggae shit? It’s supposed to be punk!  (For the record, London Calling is one of my favorite albums of all time).

If album cover-art keeps “shrinking” as the Times referred to it, a valuable part of music will be lost. It’s just another casualty of the presence of digital music and furthers confirms my theory that music is becoming more and more of something to listen to in the background rather than actively listening to it for its own merits.

 

 

 

 

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173 Comments

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173 responses to “Is The Album Cover-Art a Dying Art Form?

  1. Agreed! I love album cover art, and the “surprise” photos or art on the inside sleeves. I clearly remember looking at my sister’s Elton John albums, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Captain Fantastic” and studying the crazy, colorful designs and pictures.

    Even on CD’s, I love reading the liner notes and lyrics, touching the pages–it’s becoming a thing of the past way too soon.

    • Liner notes were how I learned so much about the artists I listen to. I’d read over production notes…and then realize I’d see the same producers name again and again. So it kind of led me onto different artists I might not have otherwise have listened to.

    • Derek Diaz CVAS-Computer Training Instructor

      Yes “Captain Fantastic” That image is well embedded in my head, in remembrance of looking at my brothers albums. That was the best album cover I could recite.

  2. Kevin

    Interesting stuff, but I think your last paragraph goes too far. While I love good album art, I’m not sure that it’s so integral to “active listening” or appreciating music “for its own merits.” Isn’t the musical merit of a record unrelated to the artwork?

    • I guess I didn’t make my argument clear enough. But basically, it’s just another part of the musical experience that is being lost as the digital form takes over. As a result of the portability, a lot of people tend to listen to music while they’re doing other things. It’s in the background not necessarily the thing they’re focusing. Maybe I didn’t make that clear.

      • Kevin

        I think we disagree about how important the album cover is to the musical experience. Many, if not most, of my favorite records have perfectly mundane covers; I was listening to Astral Weeks at work today and didn’t need that weird picture of Van to enjoy the album. It’s also worth remembering how little attention people paid to cover art in the 50s and early 60s (usually just a black and white photo of the group smiling at the camera). Lots of great music without much in the way of interesting art.

        Still not sure about your last point. It’s not like background music is anything new. Is there any evidence, beyond the anecdotal, that people listen to music differently today? If so, that might be a good topic for a future post.

    • Last paragraph goes too far? Oh i think it’s ok.

  3. Giving my undivided attention to music is being taken away more and more. Be it that I am older and have a family, or the portability and instantaneous nature of music now I am not so sure. But having a album to look at (or better yet a gate fold with the lyrics printed on) enhanced the music to me and I do feel it is slipping away.

    • Yeah the whole experience seems to be slipping away. It’s sad, but maybe that’s just the sign of the times.

      • I’m not sure that it’s such a bad thing. It’s kind of the ubiquity of music not needing the album. We have soundclouds and bandcamps and myspaces and reverbnations; using an album is kind of old hat.

        But then again, looking at it from a web marketing perspective, a compelling image makes people click — just like compelling album art makes people buy. So I feel like we’ll see more album art — it’ll just be called something else — maybe a tag.

      • I get what you’re saying – but I also think that you lose some of the emotional pull of the music when it’s all down to one individual track instead of being taken as part of a whole piece.

        You might be right about “the tag” – that certainly seems to be the case now. Key words and you suddenly have a viral hit.

  4. It’s funny you posted this one on the same day I write a blog about album envelope art. People have been bemoaning the death of album art since we’ve been alive. Before CDs they pointed at the tiny, truncated cassette art as a culprit. Now the internet is killing it off.

    Which, for all intents and purposes, I’m usually okay with. Most album “art” is anything but. Most is “chosen” by an artist out of a limited assortment provided by the label. I can’t remember the name of the second band, but I can remember a band apologizing to the Butthole Surfers in the early aughts after they used the artwork the Surfers had already picked for an album (After the Astronaut) that the label refused to release.

    I ran into this again in college when we had a professor who had written one of the books we had read speak in class. One of the questions she was asked was, “How does the book’s cover relate to the work?” She had no clue, couldn’t remember what the cover looked like, admitting that you write the book, and your publisher handles the rest. I quickly struct professional writing from my list of potential careers.

    There are still some outposts though. Generally I’ve found the less likely you are to listen to the music, the better the artwork/package becomes. Dominic “Prurient” Fernow released “Pleasure Ground” originally on cassette, after breaking up with his (longtime I believe) girlfriend. So he included a lock of her hair in every package.

    • Yeah artists don’t really have too much of a say sometimes in the cover-art I suppose. I remember reading that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had worked with the designer for Stadium Arcadium who created most of the iconic Floyd albums and they didn’t like his concept so they made another one. Dude was pissed from what I remember and blasted them for it.

      I know that some bands do have a say – Pearl Jam made the collage of photos themselves for No Code (an under-rated album I’ve always thought)

  5. mysailingvessel909 reblogged this from MySailingVessel and commented:

    Favorite Beatles Album Art

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  6. fireandair

    It’s just a matter of real estate. LPs have a whole square foot of space to cover; you can get pretty fun and detailed with that much area. It’s not a symptom of anything artistic more than that you just have a smaller area to work with and have to make what amounts to an icon rather than a piece of art.

    I do miss it, though. I loved that panel-van graffiti look to the 80s rock band albums. But it’s not changing tastes, just changing SPACE. Even back in the day, when artists had small areas to work with, they made simpler art.

  7. As a child of the ’70s (damn, that makes me feel OLD), I remember spending countless hours perusing my parents albums with giant headphones on while listening to the records…

    Sad that my children won’t have the same experience!

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  9. As a visual artist, I say: What is art without uniqueness and experimentation and, every now and again, an epic creation? This is far and few between with album art, now, and it’s kind of sad.

  10. These things are really cyclical. Although right now cover art is more streamlined, I predict that we will see it’s return once consumers are saturated with faces & symbols.

  11. I would have gone with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover over Revolver. But yes, I totally agree that the real “art” of music is being lost. Arguably though, it’s not the performer’s fault, it’s the listener’s limitations that cause it. When people would rather throw on a Justin Bieber cd than to pull out a good ole Beatles record. It’s sad, but the world has moved on musically into something unrecognizable. Lyrics, music, images are all fabricated to something conveniently packaged and force fed to the teeny boppers. Lady Gaga considers herself edgy by dressing up as a man or “hatching” herself from an egg. But it’s all really pretty boring stuff.

  12. I agre with you that album art generally seems to be designed to fit the mini-screen these days. The superb intricacies of the great psychedelic covers will never return, I think. Shame. They threw up some great art and ideas. Perhaps todays covers are aimed mainly at the need for marketing – hence so manyportrait covers. It cannot be denied though that a good cover does help to sell the music. I guess I’ve talked myself into a marketing circle.

  13. I totally agree that the act of listening to a new album as an activity has died. It was on its way out when I was a teen and CD writers and mini-discs became widely available. (Dated myself there!) But when someyhing we’d been waiting for came out, one of us would go down the record shop after school and buy it and we’d all sit around in their bedroom, or the living room if we were lucky and their parents were still at work, and we’d all listen to the record togther and pass round the liner.

    I used to stick the best album covers up on my bedroom wall too. It still makes a difference I think, and while the new, more spare designs look lovely and shiny on my laptop, they’re less enjoyable to sit and pore over.

    I used to be mad into No Doubt and I knew exactly who had written each song and the musical fingerprints of each band memberfrom studying the inlays. They hand drew and collaged the artwork for their first album because they got so little money for it. You only get that on EPs now.

  14. Totally agree. Why is Lada Gaga morphed into a motorcycle and why is a picture of a band with a nice, scenic background the only thing these people can come up with? It doesn’t have to be psychedelic but it needs to be original.

  15. Katie (Blog from Bookstores)

    I feel the same, I’ve actually gone through the “download the cover art for every album in my itunes library” project that you’re working on right now. It was like a compulsion for me.

    Your post caught my attention though because I just read that the man who designed the cover for The White Album (Richard Hamilton) died yesterday. It was like a weird metaphor reading that and then coming across this post. I hope album art sticks around even if it changes for formatting purposes.

  16. That’s a tough one. I remember as a kid, sitting down with a new album and listening to it on my record player over and over again while looking at the album cover, words, etc. … that said, now I am older, have a family and a career, and I have many of the same ADD tendencies that todays kids do: a song or two from each artist, flipping past the artwork on my iPhone, etc.

    I do have to say, that as an artist, I still enjoy album art, when its good.

    KLooDoo.com – daily picture puzzles

  17. Carlie Chew

    I love your post. I own a bunch of albums and I was just looking at the covers the other day. It’s amazing how intricate and detailed some covers are.

    • Hey thanks for the reply. Yeah, the covers were a lot more detailed. It brought out a certain magic, that I think is missing from music these days, which is a shame.

      • “A certain magic” — yes, that’s a good way to describe it. And in those days before the internet, the album cover and liner notes could be a way to learn more about your favorite band or artist, and to feel a little more connected. Just as film photography, once the standard, is becoming a specialized art niche, so too will the album cover be seen as an artistic anachronism, like fruit crate labels, perhaps?

        Congrats on your “Freshly Pressed” status, Matt!

      • Thanks for the feedback! I used to read the inside sleeves of albums all the time and it helped me become connected to the artist – and in a way set me down the path about writing music which is something I want to do professionally. If people aren’t connected in that way – perhaps more will be lost than just album art.

  18. i really love this post! creative idea.
    i think in recent years christina aguilera’s “bionic” was pretty dope
    as was jay-z’s “the blueprint III”
    but i am often underwhelmed by album art these days
    they really don’t put much effort into it (but music on the whole these days is similar)

    as far as your project.
    i tend to just copy/paste album art i don’t have by searching the album title in google and picking the biggest image available.
    what’s also cool is sometimes the international releases of some albums have different cover art (which is sometimes a lot cooler) so i get both.

    anyway great article.
    subscribing to your blog now!

  19. Thanks so much for posting this–I completely agree. While, yes, it might not ruin the music, there’s just something that’s a special touch about great cover art. I don’t buy music on iTunes, only by album (or on iTunes if it’s really too hard to find) just because I like being able to see the full cover.

    http://howficklemyheart.wordpress.com

  20. dweebcentric

    this question comes up every so often – whether album art is a dying art. as for myself, i took interest in the album covers being produced by indie bands in recent years. there is still care in creating a nice package to go with the package, however it is viewed. whether accompanying a song on your ipod or an article in a magazine, it is still as much an important aspect of a musician’s work as the music itself. well, in most cases. shitty album covers didn’t disappear, either.

  21. Steven Segal

    To answer your question, no. No it’s not a dying art form. Pick up any one of the ‘Radical Album Cover Art’ books (I think there are like 3 or 4 out there now at least) to see some of the interesting, innovative stuff being done today in regards to album art. It’s only a dying form if your appreciation of popular music, or the album as a product is waning. Meaning, if you haven’t bought a record made past 2000, then I’m sure you probably think no great art is being made in the field (which is beyond ignorant).

    I don’t understand comments like this, “As a child of the ’70s (damn, that makes me feel OLD), I remember spending countless hours perusing my parents albums with giant headphones on while listening to the records…

    Sad that my children won’t have the same experience!”

    Why can’t they? Headphones, stereos and music aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. If it’s just the vinyl you loved they that is just object fetishism which points to a reality that you never really liked the tunes, just the objects they were contained in.

  22. As a teenager in the 70’s and 80’s, I loved buying record albums and looking at the album covers while listening to the music. The best was if the album opened and had glossy pages. One of my favorite albums was Fan Mail by the Dickies, because the record was red. I think somewhere in the 80’s when compact discs (CD’s) started to replace record albums, the art of the album cover was history. I recall making the choice to buy CD’s as opposed to albums. While I enjoyed the wonderful sound from a CD as opposed to vinyl, I recall something missing which was the big beautiful pictures or illustrations and lyrics on album covers. Although some CD’s had paper fold outs it did not smell and feel the same as the glossy or mat cardboard of a record album. Now, when I purchase music it is only about the music and enjoying what I’m listening to. I can’t get into looking at a digital version of a album cover on iTunes – it’s just not the same.

  23. You never know. LP’s may come back someday as the next big fad. This idea comes from the saying if you want to do something new search the past for the forgotten. “everything old is new”. The other thing is kids usually look for something their parents aren’t using or are into. Imagine the horror if their kids return to Books and LPs in 15 years because their parents can’t relate to it.

  24. I just listened to an interview from the guy who created the classic Rolling Stones lips and tongue logo for their Sticky Fingers album cover. It was fascinating to hear how it came about with approval from the band members. Perhaps the art form was short lived as the 1960s and 1970s was such a time of experimentation and, some days, it feels as if that love for trying new things has gone away.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  25. Robert Whitfield

    I’ve always been an keen admirer of album art, its one of the reasons I started buying albums on vinyl, but I do agree that in recent years it has seemingly become a dying art form. I imagine much of this is to do with the way music is purchased (or not). It’s becoming less common for the average ‘fan’ to go to a record store and browse. Where once you’d have searched racks and bought something because the cover looked good, now you just go to iTunes, see a tiny image and instead rely on 30 second previews (or you head to spotify and listen to albums there).

    However, I disagree that there has not been any ‘iconic’ album covers of recent years. Whilst true for larger acts there are some absolute gems from the last decade or so. Daft Punk’s series of covers for example, or the first LCD Soundsystem album. In fact one of my favourite covers, and from an album released this year, belongs to ‘Last of the Country Gentlemen’ by Josh T Pearson. (http://www.forfolkssake.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/JoshTPearson_LastOfTheCountryGentlemen.jpg)A singular image, no text, but it fits the music perfectly due to the raw emotion it exhibits.

  26. Justin Pelletier

    The album cover and package inside intrigues me almost as much as the music associated with the album.

  27. A section of The Artitorium is strictly dedicated to album art. I can’t stand albums that only release digitally.

    http://theartitorium.wordpress.com/category/album-art/

  28. I’ve thought about this ever since I read an article years ago at the onset of the CD about the death of album cover art. I’m thinking of interactive covers like Sticky Fingers and Led Zeppelin III, or Sgt Peppers, Rickie Lee Jones’ first album, Breakfast in America, Wish You Were Here, The Cars first album, Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits… Iconic images from a less corrupted, raw, fearless time in music. Yeah, you could go to the record store and flip through stacks of albums, and it would almost feed your soul just to see those albums. We listened to music Side A, beginning to end, over and over, and Side B, maybe a little less often, unless it was Abbey Road, then Side B mostly. No videos, no Myspace sites, just the album cover and liner notes if you were lucky. For me, it was everything, all together.

  29. I completely agree with you!! It feels like the more that artists are becoming unoriginal no-talent hacks, the less they focus on the true artistry of, not only the music, but what the album cover should represent.

    Thank you for writing this post!

  30. I can still remember the covers of all of the albums I owned in my life….and the ones I didn’t have…but coveted.

    I don’t think people are going to remember “thumbnail” app art as much.

    Suddenly, once again, I feel old.

  31. I love good album art, but much was lost after the LP gave way to the CD in the 1980s, and the art shrank into its tiny plastic enclosure. Musicians or others would often write extensive notes on the back of the album cover, which gave a glimpse into the soul of the musician and placed the music in a larger context.

    I loved the album art for “The Band,” released circa 1969, in which the brown cover and old-timey photograph of the group set the stage for the terrific music inside.

    Little-known fact: SNL comedian Phil Hartman was a graphic designer in the 1970s, and you can see some of his fine work on albums by Michael Murphy, among others.

  32. noir33

    There are great covers still being produced. Covers, like music, is a sterile and generic wasteland consumed with image…not talent. Want great covers? They are where the good music is….on Indy and local labels. Great post.

  33. disagree. there is great album art out there. just comes from independent sources. mainstream artists use trash…

  34. If album art disappears I will be really sad. Album art sort of makes the music sound better, it gives a image for the music and sets the mood.

  35. I like the fact that a number of independent artists still do cover art for their albums and are usually pretty good at getting the art to go with what’s inside. I think it just comes down to a difference between people that still buy things on CD and those that buy more and more with downloads. Yes, the bigger artists have management and producers that are less interested in the actual fans, yet the smaller artists still haven’t “sold their soul” as it were to cause them to forget who’s listening regularly.

  36. Is The Album Cover-Art a Dying Art Form? Absolutely not. Like most culturally related things in this world that are worth while, you won’t find them at best buy. Check out an indie record label or an actual record store. I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
    http://www.insound.com/vinyl-records/
    http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home
    http://www.thinkindie.com/state.html

  37. This is such a stupid statement. First, it is a good idea to make sure the art can be seen on an iPod as so much music is listened to that way. Second, there is a growing trend to listen to music on vinyl, in part so that one can see the artwork larger. Rather than just background music, doesn’t the lack of the extraneous like artwork and booklets make it more about the music itself? This article is just worthless rambling from a nobody and the Times article is just trying to turn a non issue into an issue.

  38. I love vinyl because the album art and liner notes are very important! I have an album each of The Dead Weather and Electric Six displayed on my wall along with the first three records from The White Stripes… I love old record players now but grew up with CDs and cassettes with liner notes…Great post! I love The Beatles album covers and own quite of few of those along with many classics, mostly picked up in vintage or thrift stores… or inherited 😀

  39. As someone who was a teen in the ’70s, I truely miss LPs. Not for the sound quality that would decay with use but for the large-format artwork the format allowed. Not ony did The Greats of Rock offer their music within masterpieces of visual art but so did lesser-known bands. Montreal’s Mahogany Rush, for example, commissioned an artist named Fido to create album art that was not only intricate but included clues as to what the listener could expect from the music contained therein and was immediately identifiable from album to album.

  40. Agreed!! I don’t listen to mainstream music of today but I see a lot of the “photoshopped” album covers in the stores which look really bad. I love the old abstract art/photography from the 70’s and 80s. Progressive album covers especially. The art was as deep as the music.

  41. I have to agree. If an album looked interesting and I’d never heard of the band before, there used to be a time that I would buy it for that reason alone. Nowadays, covers are so small that there’s no point in going all out because you can’t see it anyway.

    I also miss coloured vinyl and album inserts, like posters.

  42. inretrospect21

    Interesting post…I definitely feel like there’s a lack of effort being placed into album art in general today, although there are some notable exceptions, like Silver Sun Pickups’ Carnavas and Swoon albums, where they personally commissioned an artist to do both pieces that ended up as the album art for both records.

    I don’t know if I would use the word ‘dead’ or ‘dying’ to describe the state of album art today necessarily, but I do believe that it’s changed and not for the better. There’s a definite lack of creativity for most album art these days, however, I think a song still has the potential to be incredibly powerful and poignant though the visual art in the form of the album cover or music video may not do it justice.

    Lilian (http://inretrospect21.wordpress.com)

  43. I think cover art has been an important aspect of albums in years past. I guess Pink Floyd is probably my favorite band and I can’t imagine Dark Side of the Moon or Wish You Were Here without the cover art imagery. It’s kind of like it is part of the music itself in a way. As for a current album that has some pretty amazing cover art, I would say DMB’s Gru Grux King. Pretty incredible. Thanks so much for this post.

    -Janna
    http://www.HiFiLives.com

  44. I think cover art has been an important aspect of albums in years past. I guess Pink Floyd is probably my favorite band and I can’t imagine Dark Side of the Moon or Wish You Were Here without the cover art imagery. It’s kind of like it is part of the music itself in a way. As for a current album that has some pretty amazing cover art, I would say DMB’s Groogrux King. Pretty incredible. Thanks so much for this post.

    -Janna
    http://www.HiFiLives.com

  45. I hope not! Going through album covers was always one of my favorite experiences of buying a CD. The good news is that things tend to stick around if they’re in demand. Maybe it’s time we all bought more CDs and vinyl!

  46. Fleet Foxes’ album released this year (Helplessness Blues) has some excellent Artwork, as does pretty much every Radiohead album (“The King Of Limbs” this year). Beck I believe would have won an award for best album packaging for “The Information” a few years ago, but was disqualified I think because it was too good (i.e. the packaging became more like a “deluxe packaging” moving it into another genus I guess).

    I think album artwork may have gone down on the whole, but I think Indie or other “off the radar” artists have been carrying the torch. Bright Eyes did that really cool “Magic-eye”-esque cover for “Cassadaga” a few years ago, and Arcade Fire, Wilco, Belle & Sebastian, ad nauseum tend to put out excellent covers. I’d say my favorites however belong to Bob Dylan’s “Freewheelin,” Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” and The Velvet Underground & Nico’s self-titled.

    I agree on The Clash cover! Cool post, fun to read and think about!

    • I remember the Beck album….that did have some cool art-work! Much better than the actual album itself – and I say that as a fan. The Information just didn’t do it for me. Totally agree with you about Helplessness Blues…don’t know I forgot about that one.

      The Freewheelin’ album cover is a classic…for a lot of reasons. I guess it represents a bit of innocence before things really took off for him and showed him as a vulnerable kid wandering aimlessly around the streets of New York.

  47. I can only half agree with you. When it comes to pop bands (radio music not the style pop) album art is indeed dying. Spending money on art doesn’t make sense for them. There is little return on that investment and the bands don’t need to express themselves with cover art. They have websites, twitter, and blogs for that. Also, pop fans really don’t ask for it either.

    However, art is alive and well in the underground scene. It seems like the independents have a bigger love of art. They also need it to catch the eye of a music fan. When They don’t have clearchannel pushing their new single they need everything they get.

    • Yeah there definitely is a sense that mainstream artists don’t care for artwork as much and indie oriented artists do more. I’ve often wondered if that is a result of a lot of indie artists have more of an art background or being from part of a scene where that type of expression is encouraged.

      • I think it might also have to do with the fact that mainstream artists (like Beyonce, for example) are themselves a *brand.* Indie artists aren’t really caught in that same kind of marketing dynamic, you know?

  48. PS. I saw your “Tag cloud” and was reminded of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” and I was also going to comment on album art shrinking. I hate that so many people don’t buy tangible albums anymore. I know part of why I do is snob appeal, but, like a newspaper, I like the sensation of being able to touch an album, if that makes sense. I feel like I really own it then. There is also about 5% of me that worries that somehow in the future all good music will be scarce, and owning pristine hard copies will save my life and others (haha)

    • I’m totally with you on newspapers as well. The physicality of those things is important to me. I like the way a newspaper sounds when you go through the pages. And maybe part of it is snob appeal, but also seeing the newspaper and artwork as a physical entity makes you appreciate the work that went into it. Well for me at least.

  49. It’s too bad but it seems like it is a dying art form, interesting to know that someone else is bothered by the cover missing haha!

  50. chunter

    Since music is no longer the stuff of the few, anything that gets more attention is worthwhile, if attention is what you want. There is so much music available now that anything that gets more than one listen has to be doing something very special, nevermind buying a disc or paying for a download.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t good stuff out there, but you have to look, and it helps to have some friends looking with you.

    • I’m wondering about how the availability of music alters how people truly appreciate it. I know I have shiploads of songs on my computer but I’m not exactly sure that I’ve listened to it all. And I don’t think I’m alone.

  51. This just makes me incredibly sad. The downfall of Tower Records, the uprising of iTunes. I’m guilty of giving in to the convenience of buying online, but I still love having a good old fashioned record/album in my hand. I hope the art doesn’t go down with the physical albums themselves. I’m an 80’s child, but I agree with Mikalee! I’ve still got a few vinyls lying around so my kids can hear what white noise sounds like some day 🙂

    • Vinyl is definitely the best, for sure. I agree with you that seeing Tower Records go south is disappointing. The Virgin Store as well…and let’s not forget Borders…those were all great places to buy music. Luckily there’s a couple cool places to buy CDs and good vinyl around here.

  52. Great article and an enjoyable read. I was rather partial to the early Santana album covers myself.

  53. I fully agree with what you are going for. There have been many times in which I picked up an album just for the art itself.
    The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battle the Giant Pink Robot: I had heard the music before, but the art of ths album just blew me away. Gorlliaz, old RHCP, neon trees, phoenix, MGMT. All great examples of what the cover-art indistry used to be like.

  54. Something else to consider- the shrinking relevance of a proper home theater system. Can you get a truly representative sound from your ear buds? Perhaps. But more and more, people are playing mp3s through their *ugh* computer speakers. Shame.

    • I’ve wrote about that before actually. I totally agree with you – I actually bought a new stereo awhile back with an iPod dock and detachable speakers – it makes such a difference. Even though MP3s aren’t my favorite source of music it sounds infinitely better this way.

  55. Will

    RE: “I recently started downloading the cover-art of albums whose covers I don’t have and then trying to import them into iTunes. It’s a long, laborious project.”… there is an add-on app for iTunes (3rd party, not made by Apple) that scans your music collection and downloads matching album artwork really fast and easy, called “TuneUp” [it does many other useful functions in iTunes too.] I’ve been using it for a couple of years and can recommend it:

    http://www.tuneupmedia.com/

    Personally, while artwork was nice to have when music was on vinyl, I don’t feel I’m missing anything by not having it only in tiny format, as above, on my iPod.

    Except for the high-art albums you mentioned, as you mentioned, like Sgt. Pepper and Captain Fantastikc, I never paid it much attention at all to album art.

    And since there seem to be no “high art” musical artists anymore, I guess I’m just glad I was around when those those big acts and their exceptional artistic presence lived!

  56. I remember when I couldn’t wait until I got the CD to flip through the actual booklet that came inside. The pictures which depicted the artists, most of the time recording, or the behind the scenes pictures. My favorite was getting the Aerosmith CD’s and finding all the hidden meanings to the pictures in the booklets. There was always some kind of artistic sexual connotation, or a drawing inside of a drawing… I miss great album art work.

  57. Perhaps you’re looking in the wrong places, and at the wrong releases for countless examples of striking cover artwork…

  58. shiftlesslife

    I love looking at old records in person and seeing all the details I missed by looking at the tiny mp3 thumbnails.

  59. Well said.My daughter asked me what that round thing was that you use a needle to play music with. Enjoyed your blog.

  60. AMH

    Because music is so subjective and personal an experience, another angle on what you seem to be suggesting is going on I would argue, is a subjective personal shift in paradigms. Paradigm swhifting in self help and personal growth literature is often brought up in terms of science and the scientific community. Only in times of upheval such as War, do we think of social paradigms shifting and breaking apart. But essentially, isn’t this exactly what you and others are attempting to express?

  61. good idea for a post – cheers

  62. Kai

    I love album covers and booklets. I love hard cds in general, rather than buying music online. I feel like digital media takes away from that and artists don’t really spend the time or effort on creating an interesting album jacket anymore…

  63. Music’s just not the same without music covers; it’s what helps to give the music character.

    • Oh definitely. It’s funny…I sometimes think that certain songs and album have a color…and usually this pertains to the album art. It’s hard to explain, but I believe it adds to the dept. I guess that’s why I’ve wanted to manually add the art-work – otherwise all albums would seem “gray” if they didn’t have art work.

  64. I think album art used to provoke the mind to wander into realms of magic and wonderment all the while anxiously anticipating that first highly awaited note that signifies the music has begun. I have a cousin who does album art in Hawaii for a couple of bands. His unique take on his part is he is a quadriplegic and mouthpaints. He is an exceptional artist with his mouth and can even do portraits very well, tailored to his style, of course. Thank you for sharing a great post that I know many of us have thought of before but you have put into words. Thanks….

  65. Beatles White Album vs Styx Grand Illusion (art only) I would watch and hold the album and examine it. It made me think about the music. So, I believe that the album cover art could be used as an important launch and connection to the music…. sometimes the lack there of, could do that as well.

    • Did you see that the guy who designed the cover for the white album died the other day? It’s a shame. It’s odd, because I saw the headline today and then suddenly my post on album covers is on freshly pressed. I wrote this last week so I had no idea what would happen…

  66. Pingback: Album Cover Art | Matt Gordon

  67. i remember Led Zepplin’s last album came with a black and white sleeve with invisible watercolors – just wipe with a damp cloth and viola!! – color!! To this day i still think it was pretty cool, and probably worth a damb fortune now! Wish i had managed to hold onto my old albums!

  68. This is a nice article and you make some interesting points, but it is definitely from a biased perspective (and that’s OK…it’s your blog after all). Although I agree that cover art, and the music industry in general, is definitely in a low point by my personal standards, I am not convinced that cover art is really “just another casualty of the presence of digital music”. I’m sure the change does have an influence, but in general through the course of my life so far, what I’ve seen is that cover art is a reflection of what pop culture consumers want or will at least accept from their graphics; and, as we all know, what pop culture consumers want or will accept is usually what mainstream companies offer up. Very few mainstream companies care about the connoisseur.

    Even if you go back and look at all the cover art for albums that came out around the time of Revolver, they weren’t all brilliant, and the majority of them follow a similar style with a few stellar exceptions (like Revolver). It’s been like that for each “generation” of music. Minimal payout for maximum payoff is what the music INDUSTRY does. The pendulum swings, we follow if we want to or we drift off into indy land for a while to weather the storm. Then, on occasion, we are rewarded with something nice.

    …and to address your conclusion. As a person that is 100% digital in my music (and have and look at every album cover regularly, even when listening on my nano), I can tell you that, for me, my extensive library is a great deal more than background noise and the accessibility that digital offers has helped me stay even more in touch with some of my music (and its cover art) that would have otherwise gotten lost on a dusty shelf. And the ability to explore massive catalogs of music easily from my home, sampling anything I want with a click of a button has also introduced me to quite a few artists I would never have heard otherwise. I don’t find that digital is killing anything (greed is doing that more than anything else). Digital, like any change, is just making us look at things in a different light. Vivre the playlists and shuffle my entire library! …and don’t forget to collect your vinyl. It’s a whole other kind of cool ;-D.

    Thanks for making me think about it.

    jlmunn

    • Thanks for the thoughtful reply. You make a lot of good points – its comments like these that inspire me. Most of my music is digital and I love and do find it useful. I wasn’t trying to suggest that everyone whose music library is digital is that way – but the tendency is there for it to be background noise due to the portability. It doesn’t help that most head-phones and speakers on computers have absolutely awful quality.

      The ability for a playlist is pretty awesome…it makes it so much easier to create a list and the tendency to forget a song is less as well.

      Thanks for reading!

  69. myhaphazardthoughts

    I think it has a lot to due with albums being more digital these days. Hardly anybody goes into a store to buy a CD. It’s all purchased online. However, I used to love to see the inside of albums for all the pictures and lyrics, etc.

    • Looking at the cover and the inside sleeve was how I came to know a lot of music. I used to read the inside booklet to “Achtung Baby” all the time as a kid. I remember reading the inside of Pear Jam’s “Ten” and the lyrics were re-printed using Eddie’s handwriting. It somehow made it seem like he was actually speaking to me.

      Now I feel that unless you’re willing to pay out for a deluxe set you’re missing out on a lot of cooler stuff that would have otherwise been available in a normal album.

  70. Cover art was certainly much limited even with the coming of the CD to say nothing of virtual music. The space to work in is reduced if not non-existent.

  71. I don’t think we still need iconic album cover like what artist Andy Warhol did for Velvet Underground or Roger Dean did for most of Yes’ albums anymore, as people has stopped buying CD and the music nowadays is getting suck.

  72. Great post! I also believe iconic album covers are gone forever, perhaps to be replaced with some sort of iconic metadata we can hold onto, who knows?
    A few years ago I painted a mural behind a door in an old apartment I used to rent which blended some album covers (abbey road, dark side of the mooon, never mind, and so on). Maybe not as original but still I liked it, I should do it again on a surface I can’t leave behind.
    congratulations on being freshly pressed

    • Thanks for the reply! That sounds like an awesome mural. Abbey Road is another one of those iconic images – just think of how many people have traveled to that intersection specifically because the Beatles walked across the street there.

  73. I also bemoan the loss of cover art. I used to love looking through my uncles records back in the day while I listened to them. Pink Floyd was always a favorite. I’ve actually purchased albums using the cover art as a deciding factor. For example, the Guggenheim Grotto’s album “Waltzing Alone” was totally old school–slip cover, separate pull-out liner notes, a gorgeous mock leather exterior. It is a great album, and they intentionally went the route they did to pay homage to great covers. Music is a total sensory experience, and there’s something to holding it in your hands while you listen that’s just getting lost in the speed of our downloading age. It’s the same debate we word nerds have been having about ebook readers for the last few years!

    • Haha I’m also with you on the e-book debate. There’s nothing like having a long book, taking a bookmark out when you start and seeing how far you’ve read when you’re done. I’ve often wondered what people will use to help fill out the houses and apartments if books go away? Sure, part of it is also vain – “Yeah I read all those!”

  74. I don’t think album artwork is dying. It’s fading into the background until someone decides to revive it. I love cover art, and think that the artwork is what often draws consumers in, not just names. A good cover is always a good thing, never a negative one.

  75. too true. Staring at the cover and liner notes of albums while listening to a new cassette or CD (over and over again if it was something great like Metallica And justice for all or Ween chocolate & Cheese) was one of my absolute favorite activities as a kid. Now I’m ashamed to say if i want to learn about an artist i turn to wikipedia. It’s not the complete experience anymore but on the other hand I’m older with kids now and couldnt fit a cd collection even if i was motivated to build one.

  76. Drats! If cover art fades to history, so goes secret dreams of many artists raised in the era of art and music so entwined, the fantasty of someday creating cover art.

  77. Z

    I totally agree. Albums are part of the listening experience. Whenever I buy an album, I play the first song on my computer as I flip through the album pictures, just to see what the artist has (in some way) bothered to put on the album. It feels like finding an easter egg when you look at the cover’s inner art.

  78. I also recall my first fascination was with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” as well! That led to the discovery of covers by YES, Pink Floyd and many other progressive artists. That was part of the great joy of buying an LP as a kid. I still miss it.

  79. AD

    I agree with you saying, it’s just another part of the musical experience that is being lost as the digital form takes over. It does although it does not necessarily have to just because of the small size. For example, I always loved the splendid record covers of New Order (e.g. for Blue Monday, Technique, etc.), and this group perfectly continued its sophisticated cover art on CD as well (e.g. for Get Ready, Waiting For a Siren’s Call, etc.). Since most of New Order’s art work was done by Peter Saville, it’s evident that quality is a matter of skills and mastery. Today, we are increasingly blunted by the floods of pictures everywhere. I know this is a rather sarcastic perspective, but the ambition to create demanding cover art is decreasing to the same degree as a lot of people are becoming less able to express themselves with writing or even speaking.

  80. As a teenager I would copy the artwork, I’ve kept every album I ever had -even the really bad ones! Now I’m an artist I collect old album covers -they are inspirational. Sadly I went to the theatre not long ago and I think sets are going the way of digital now too and how can you scribble over the top of a kindle or Ipad? Very sad.

  81. It’s sad- before moving abroad I sold all my vinyl records- each one reminded of where I was when I bought it, who bought it for me, CD’s still retained an element of that but now with MP3’s there is no ‘physical presence’ to the music- there is not even a physical limitation of the length of the ‘album’- people talk about the concept of access replacing ownership- we have access to MP3’s or cloud computing but we don’t own a physical object. It’s a generational thing, too- I did a copy of one CD for a friend- he loved it and immediately went out and bought it as he wanted the ‘real thing’.

    Of course the same idea access versus object exists with digital photography – we machine-gun photos load of thousands on to our computers sent them out, post them, and then delete them and writing- one day earlier this year Blogger and WordPress published a total of 360 million words. Will they be read? Will they last?

    If this interests you I’d be delighted if you’d visit my site- everything(99%) posted exists in my written journals- sketches, photos, writing,- and they are simply scanned- they exist outside of cyberspace . Look forward to seeing you there.

    http://www.reallyaccessiblememory.com

  82. I do the same as you, copying the covers Itunes don’t recognise. I can’t relate to the album aswell without them, now the days have pretty much passed where I would rush out for a new release then sit in my room in anticipation as the opening chords start as I am leafing through the sleeve.

    Or falling for a great album began whenn leafing through the records at the independant record store and having a great cover leap out at you and that alone would make me buy it.

    I agree with previous posters, I think it will be revived, we’re in the middle of a throwaway society, everything is instantly demanded and we move on to the next thing, good music and it’s traditions will always remain and make a comeback.

    Great post

    • Thanks for the feedback. I’d like to think that the pendulum will swing the other way – but right now it doesn’t seem that way. I agree that going to an indie record store is the way to go – luckily we have one of the best here in Baltimore.

  83. paraleaglenm

    The flash drive and i-pod have killed album art.

    I played some vinyl and was pleased with the sound, but digital music has better dynamic range and NO SCRATCHES.

    As a sidebar, I had a friend in college who purchased records solely for their album art . . . even if he never heard the music. It was a phenomenal collection.

    • There are upsides and downsides to digital music. The idea that I can listen to any song I want on a whim is pretty fantastic. But i’ve also found that the ability to choose makes it harder to find out what I really want – sometimes I get so overwhelmed because there’s so much.

  84. As a product of the seventies, i was raised with album over work by Roger/Martin Dean, Roger Matthews et al. With the rise in downloadable electronic media, surely taking over the world, surely the album cover as we know it will be dead. Video may not have killed the radio star, but it’s certainly going to kill the album cover.

    Nice post and congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  85. Rai

    I agree with you, but on the other hand, there is a small collection of artists who still do the traditional album artwork, and they’re really respected for that.

    Maybe it will turn into a hipster fad!

  86. fluxwonda

    HOt Damn, you make a good point. As an Illustrator and Graphic Designer I’ve done my share of both for Album Covers and sometimes the musician themselves fail to see the colorful vision of their own music. I love Album Art work but you got a lot of followers out here that want what someone else has.

  87. Never would have I imagined someone tackling this, but it certainly does not seem too mundane to have done so. This brings up point, and hits a home run with graphic artists, myself included. I sympathize that this dying breed of art would be a waste if such would be completely obliterated. I do agree that as it might have nothing to do with the music, it may have everything to do with first impressions and grabbing attention. This is a form of advertising as well. A presentable album cover goes a long way.

  88. Pingback: Interesting article: Album Cover-Art « TILLA WANT YOU

  89. Album art has been shrinking since the 1980s with the proliferation of the compact disc. 12″x12″ was replaced with 5″x5″ and now with iPods and such, it’s even smaller. Agreed.
    But also, an artist’s visual representation has been replaced from the still photos of an album cover or album sleeve to the live motion of a music video. What is the more iconic image: Michael Jackson lying on his side for the album cover of Thriller; or Michael in zombie make-up dancing with a troop of zombie dancers? The answer: the video is more memorable.

    As for the covers of Beatles albums. They don’t hold up well over time. For their time, they were the most innovative covers. But once the 1970s kicked into gear and artist and artist collectives like Hipgnosis and Roger Dean started creating album covers, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper just seem kind of old-timey and poorly constructed.

    The last truly memorable album cover is probably Nevermind. And that cover, I would argue is pretty mundance on its own. The relevance of the music is what made that album and therefore the cover memorable.

  90. great article!!

    as a musician, i have to say i think it is sad that beautiful album art is dying out. i think it is because of the new millennium’s music scene. everything is digitally produced in cookie-cutter fashion. i feel like major labels are merely throwing the album art together, as well as, the music. its all done on a computer… fast and cheap.

    i do miss those brilliant album covers though! the “bat out of hell” album cover from meatloaf and kiss’ “destroyer” cover were pure bliss to stare at while listening to those records.

    but maybe we all are just missing the point. i mean, with faux artists like lady gag-me who lip-synchs a great majority of her shows and is autotuned to death and i’m not sure she actually has anyone play an instrument as it is all samples and loops, maybe the cover art IS reflective of the “music” and the “artists,” fast, cheap, and without any soul.

  91. It’s a shame as the cover art adds to the album ‘experience’. However as creativity shall remain, they won’t completely disappear!

  92. Pingback: beautiful album covers « Young For You

  93. i COMPLETELY AGREE! Its many of the unique touches that make listening to an album all more enjoyable. I see that music videos are not what they used to be and novella’s are still out of favor for publishing. I really enjoy these things along with many other creative touches that are not seen bankable to to the music industry, not nessesarily the artists themselves. As an artist/writer, or more so a creative person, I just can’t see that a band or artist doesn’t care about what the album looks like- or perhaps they have and lost touch with their audience. WHatever the reason, I hope it’s something that comes back into style.

  94. I fully agree that the art has lost it’s..err well art. The beatles had a few iconic covers and revolver is one of them. Being a fan of Oasis especially the early stuff the cover of What’s the story will probably remain my faviroute album cover. Music is certainly changing and although things are made to be easier it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.

  95. A collection of cover albums, I’ve been listened to,
    http://aidoma.wordpress.com/interesele-mele/muzica/

    Which of them do u like?;)

  96. Carmon Thomas

    I, too, think cover art was a medium that allowed us a glimpse into the mind(s) of the artist(s), album covers by The Beatles and the Beach Boys particularly. A kind of visual blog before there were blogs – the pictures in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band definitely helped tell the story! And this landlocked girl would never have known what a woodie was without the picture on the cover of Surfin’ Safari! 😀

  97. Mr. Bones

    I miss the ritual. You’d stand at the shelf with the albums on it, taking some time to pick out a record, and then walk to the record player. You’d carefully remove the inner sleeve, then the disc, taking care to only touch the edges. You’d place the record on the turntable and carefully lower the tonearm, then sit back with the cover and pore over it while the music took you on a little 45-minute ride (with a little intermission around 22 minutes in). You LISTENED.

    The death of the album cover (and the album, really) is a symptom of a larger cultural issue: nobody listens anymore. They don’t listen to music, they don’t listen to other people, they don’t listen to reason. They just shout. Anything to keep the noise level constant, because you can’t have silence. Silence might allow you to think, and thinking leads to consciousness and awareness, and we all know how little most people want THAT.

  98. dmhamby2

    The sell of vinyl LPs has reached its highest peak in decades over the past two years–sure it’s still not a noticeable chunk of the listening public but go into any record shop in a mid-to-large sized city these days and its new and used vinyl keeping them alive as college kids and teens become album collectors and/or audiophiles as a niche hobby. I’d say the cover art, collectability, and listening to records as an experience has as much to do with that as sound quality. With digital media rampant there will always be artists and fans of every medium who seek out tangible products that they can look at, hold, and immerse themselves in no matter how available digital versions become.

  99. gidgetwearsglasses

    I wanted to ‘be’ an album cover designer when I was in high school. Now, I’m an office manager. How lame is that?!

  100. MrTheKidd

    Couldn’t agree more, I find it frustrating that music seems to moving into the ‘white noise’ section of life. I love nothing more than to sit back, close my eyes and slip into Dark Side of The Moon, which is becoming increasingly rare these days (small children) To use Pink Floyd as an example, they have made Storm Thorgerson into a household name with his imaginative artwork. I think that the beast of the consumer isn’t refined enough to study and appreciate good cover art. Even most classic music wouldn’t meet modern tastes, the likes of the Stones, Beatles, Clash, Weller, The Who etc would come and go in an instant becasue bands aren’t permitted the time to grow and evolve – they need to produce their best work the first time or they are dropped by the public. If cover art is merely an eye-catching wrapper, it’s no wonder it’s dissapearing. Give it time and they’ll all be white with black sanserif text *shakes head sadly*

  101. I just remembered a scene in Nick Hornby’s “About A Boy” where the kid shyly tells his crush that “Nevermind’s” cover image “means something.” Are we going to lose such scenes due to digital formatting?

    • Man you caught my attention with Nick Horby! Love him. It makes me wonder sometimes. Are teenagers going to awkwardly give their crushes mixtapes/ mix CDs anymore? Its cliche and trivial – but I think everyone in the last 20 years has ever given or received one of those at one point in their lives. Be a shame if that went away….

  102. Couldn’t agree more. Cover art is a beautiful skill and artist representation that is being lost.

  103. Colin

    Great stuff, I am a photographer and I am currently in a competition to design a cover for a statewide compilation cd. I am in the exact same boat as you, I feel no time or artistic process is put behind today’s music marketing which is a huge shame.

    I am going to share a link with you to a recent collage I made of some of my more precious vinyl….http://www.flickr.com/photos/colinroohan/6013051798/in/photostream .

    Again, good post. Let’s try and get this MAC-CRAP off of the shelves!

  104. as an artist myself, i take pride in presenting cover art to my listeners that I take pride in and think they will enjoy. i know a great graphic designer by the name of marwan shahin from egypt who has done 2 masterful album covers for me…

    the first one he did was this one (he did all of the design with ACTUAL toy figurines)

    http://topbillion.bandcamp.com/album/lets-make-a-movie

    the second one he did (it looks plain at first but if you look closely the lyrics to the songs are embedded in the red)

    http://topbillion.bandcamp.com/album/based-on-a-true-story

    but i’m not trying to make this post all about me… i agree that cover art designing is becoming a lost art… more artists should be trying to be creative with their works. oh, and kanye… if you’re reading this… please note CREATIVE doesn’t mean putting a picture of you fucking a griffin with a pickle… that’s just incendiary lol… your best album cover was graduation

  105. Well, bands still make their own album art – White Stripes, My Chemical Romance etc. – but I guess not images as iconic as something like Nirvana’s Teen Sprit album. The type of album art you see depends on what you choose to listen to. Sometimes the music may be not as good and the cover art can be great. So I don’t think album art and the music are meant to be seen as a cohesive whole.

  106. Nice post. You’re comment about “London Calling” being your favorite album of all time was all I needed! lol

    • Man…that is such a great album. That album is so important to me for a lot of reasons. Musically its amazing, but as a teenager it was the first thing I listened to that actually made me question my own existence. What was I doing with my life, and where was I headed? I credit that album with making me an outright progressive (i don’t like the term liberal because of its connotations).

  107. Every album still has its cover. Some is good, some is not. Stupid article

  108. Great post… I could share my own memories but they would be more blah blah blah. The digital age givith and takith away. Now I can find any song I want to listen to in a matter of seconds, but the tactual enjoyment of holding the record and the visual stimuli of the cover are gone.

    • Yeah…it’s kind of hard to talk about how the digital movement has taken away much that listeners hold dear without sounding like a total luddite. There are certainly some advantages for sure. But it also does take away from the overall experience.

  109. My favorites are the Yes albums from the ’70’s. Wow! “Fragile” in particular comes to mind. Beautiful to look at, my brother and I would put them up on the wall to view.

  110. I really love this post. very well job dude. I’ve no words for appreciation :p
    Keep it up :p

  111. To all of us that started buying LPs in the late 60s and the entire 70s, the art cover work, the lyrics and data sheet and art/photo inserts were a part of what we purchased. I remember buying albums that I didn’t particularly favored their music but their art work, made their records a must have. As well, it saddens me the absence or un-dedicated investment of today’s art in music. Perhaps the studios saw this part as a selling point.
    I suppose the main reasons for these are: Saving the cost of hiring a top artist to design unique and fantastic art work. The small format of today’s media doesn’t leave a lot of room for that. Last, regardless of anything, today’s market is that we purchase CDs regardless of anything and for as long as we like the content. In the 70s the recording industry was pretty much an emerging industry compared to the monster of today.
    Thanks!

    • You’re welcome! It’s funny…I feel out of place sometimes in terms of my listening habits. Most (but not all) of the stuff I listen to is a lot older than me. I think that the music industry forgets that music can conjure up feelings that other mediums cannot. And art-work is part of that. It’s all part of the experience as a listener that seems to be eroding.

  112. I love this post! One of the greatest things about buying an actual LP was the work of art it often came in.

    The Beatles, Queen, Rush, Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake & Palmer all had some albums with cover art as unforgettable as the music they wrote.

  113. Great article, I totally agree. I’m 21 years old and I’ve started buying new albums almost exclusively on vinyl now. For me, It’s all about the whole experience, If I sit on my laptop listening to music I won’t be paying my full attention (as I write this I’m listening to the new Laura Marling album). But when I listen to a vinyl record, I get rid of any distractions, I put the record on, I sit on my bed, and look at the album art, I read the lyrics book if it comes with one, as well as any additional inside notes, and as a result I truly listen to the music.

    I’m probably moving a way from the point, but what I’m trying to say is that the album art and all the additional little extras make a huge difference to me, It says a lot about the artist when you can see the care that has be taken.

    • I’ve also found that if you listen to vinyl it takes you away from anything else except the music. It forces you to connect with it. I definitely makes a huge difference for me as well. As a kid I was always disappointed when the liner notes were just a sleeve and no other information was included. It felt like a letdown.

  114. Great article, I totally agree. I’m 21 years old and I’ve started buying new albums almost exclusively on vinyl now. For me, It’s all about the whole experience, If I sit on my laptop listening to music I won’t be paying my full attention (as I write this I’m listening to the new Laura Marling album). But when I listen to a vinyl record, I get rid of any distractions, I put the record on, I sit on my bed, and look at the album art, I read the lyrics book if it comes with one, as well as any additional inside notes, and as a result I truly listen to the music.

    I’m probably moving a way from the point, but what I’m trying to say is that the album art and all the additional little extras make a huge difference to me, It says a lot about the artist when you can see the care that has been taken.

    • Thanks for the reply! I totally agree with you – as a kid I worshipped the liner notes and art-work. It was like looking into this world that I was being secretly let into. I always think that both the artwork and liner notes shape how you listen to the album. I’ve always liked one where the lyrics are actually the handwritten lyrics the artist originally used. It’s such a cool companion to the album itself.

  115. AD

    Well done. I agree that contemporary cover art is just another casualty of today’s consumerism. It is although it does not necessarily have to. For example, New Order always had splendid covers on their vinyl (e.g. Blue Monday, Technique), and they continued great art work on CD (e.g. Get Ready, Waiting for the Sirens’ Call). Thus, the size of the medium is not the underlying cause of the decreasing quality. The fact that most of New Order’s single and albums covers have been designed by Peter Saville in a period of almost three decades proves that mastery is the key.
    Today, we are flooded with pictures and graphics just as much as with information and news. Furthermore, everything is consumed, too less is appreciated. Being rather sarcastic, people are losing creativity and becoming increasingly less capable of expressing themselves in the various forms of communication—why should covert art be an exception?
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    • You make a good point about information being flooded everywhere and creativity being lost as a result. I think people are seeing what’s around them way too much and becoming exposed by these ideas rather than look for something creativity themselves. As you said, cover art is just something else that is being lost as a result of that.

  116. Album art is dying for sure. Itunes has seen to that. I Can’t remember the last time I bought a CD. The ones I have I haven’t played since putting them into my library.. I suppose we have done it to ourselves. Everything changes I guess

  117. Great article. Completely agree!

    I miss proper thought-provoking album artwork!

    Share some of your thoughts on my blog 🙂

    loudandclearmusic.wordpress.com

    Loud and Clear

  118. lifespelledout

    I was personally very disappointed with the cover for I’m With You by the Chili Peppers. I’ve been trying to work out some symbolism behind the fly on the pill but I have yet to decide on anything. I don’t understand how anyone could want more basic cover art just because of how it looks on an iPod…that just seems ridiculous to me.

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