Is album cover art still relevant?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by qwerty, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH Forums. Thread Starter

    Back in the day, an album's cover art was an important thing. It reflected the music within, and made a statement about the band. When flicking through 12" records one would often pause and look at a cover and ponder the artwork - admire it, try to work out the music genre, etc.

    Great sums of money were paid for cover designs. For example, The Beatles Sgt.Pepper's cover was designed by a noted artist and too considerable time/money to produce. In other cases, elaborate illustrations and photography raised a promotional tool to being artwork in it's own right, eg. Hypnosis and Roger Dean. In some cases people would buy albums for the artwork alone, the music was a bonus.

    Nowdays artwork is reduced to a few inches in size, digitalisation and smaller overall sales has resulted in cover designs being a less critical part of the marketing process. Sure, computer graphic software allows complex imagery to be created more economically. But the time of iconic cover designs appears to be a thing of the past.

    So is album cover artwork still relevant? Will it ever be as significantly associated with music releases they way it once was? Please discuss...
  2. So long as we still have physical media I would say it is still relevant. However, the heyday of the "album" seems to have passed and the album artwork perhaps isn't therefore as culturally significant as it once was perceived to be.
  3. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Still some great, full size art being produced...
    As for Iconic 'Roger Dean, Storm T' etc maybe not but Peter Saville is still designing
    There is still some great stuff being done, but maybe not for mainstream
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  4. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    As a marketing matter? Yeah. It gets circulated in advance of an album's release by artists and labels on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, fans share it, and it ties in with a whole look and feel presentation of the album's release -- even if most people wind up streaming the album, not buying it, or listening to it via a download and almost never see anything but a thumbnail; it is still part of the marketing process. So to that degree, sure, it's still relevant.

    Will we ever see covers where the covers are entertaining in and of themselves -- like St. Pepper or all those incredible Pedro Bell Funkadelic covers with the stories inside the gatefold that you could spend hours reading and perusing? Maybe not, we don't have the real estate. But maybe we'll get more games and apps and the like associted with or released side-by-side with the album instead, or more multimedia albums like Beyonce's last couple or whatever, since music plus cover is a kind of multimedia package.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  5. Pizza

    Pizza With extra pepperoni

    It's done. The impact is lost on the postage stamps used in iTunes.
    andrewskyDE, lightbulb and qwerty like this.
  6. JohnnyQuest

    JohnnyQuest Forum Resident

    Cover art? You mean the little picture that pops up when the song plays on my phone/ipod? ;)
  7. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Sorry I can't stick to one avatar. I get bored.

    I would say yes, it's still relevant. Human beings are visual creatures. They haven't gotten rid of album covers because they are still a valuable marketing tool (especially when it comes to artists with a large cult of personality--take Beyonce's "Lemonade" from this year). I know I still associate cover art with albums and there have been some solid visual representations on covers in the past year. Two that spring to mind (regardless of what I think of the music): James Blake's "The Colour in Anything" and blink-182's "California."

    As pointed out above, the images still get passed around on social media and are a huge part of the sales plan for any new release.

    BLUESJAZZMAN I Love Blues, Jazz, Rock, My Son & Honest People

    Essex , England.
    That's beautiful.
    qwerty likes this.
  9. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA
    In 2016, Is Album Cover Art Still Relevant?
    Yes. as others have responded, the image of a new release is virtually posted in all social media applications, so the image is still viewed and identified for an artist's new release.

    However, Is Album Cover Still Relevant, in the same manner as in earlier decades?
    That's a relative question to ponder -

    For example, many here would attest to, at least once, listening to a new LP album release, possibly spinning on their parent's turntable, while staring intently at the detailed 12" by 12" cover artwork (think Roger Dean), identifying each of the band's individual musicians by name, or reading each lyric line along with the music.

    I cannot imagine this scenario happens too much in the 21st Century.
    joshm2286 and qwerty like this.
  10. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing

    Yeh. Even if I only have the digital album, I like to import the art to my iTunes library to view as I'm playing, or so I can see it as I'm playing the album in the car on my flash drive plugged into the USB shows on the little dashboard screen as it's playing.


    So yeah. Album art was, is, and always will be a major thing, for me.

    keyse1, BeatlesBop, ramdom and 2 others like this.
  11. A Saucerful of Scarlets

    A Saucerful of Scarlets Commenter Turned Viewer

    Yes. I’m a young teen who uses digital for my music, and I’d definitely say so. Not nearly as much as a CD or vinyl but it is important. I have very strong feelings towards the covers of my favourite albums and instantly recognise all albums I’ve ever heard from their covers. The main issue is that it’s only the front cover. It’d be great if there was a way to click and explore the cover, back to front, in and out. Especially since iTunes in particular uses very high quality and accurate images of each cover which are nigh impossible to find on Google at the same quality.
    OptimisticGoat and qwerty like this.
  12. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing

    Sad really. But then I am a graphic artist, so the visual is as important as the sonic.

    Just got a new turntable and amp. (after my old one died) spinning the vinyl (800+), and gazing at that LP art is as relevant as ever.
    But then I would be one of those old folks you refer to. Bought my first SONY stereo system in 1971. Ouch.

    :edthumbs: :magoo::tiphat:
    Gasman1003, qwerty and lightbulb like this.
  13. sleeptowin

    sleeptowin Forum Resident

  14. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing

    You said it better than I...

    OptimisticGoat likes this.
  15. If I Can Dream_23

    If I Can Dream_23 Forum Resident

    United States
    I'd say it's relevant in theory (as long as physical media stays afloat). But impressionable? And larger than life? It's hard to say yes unless artists start exclusively releasing their albums on vinyl. And while that practice has regained momentum, I can't see it fully returning.

    I like CD's, and enjoy many, but in my view CD's don't have "cover art". They have booklets or digipak designs that simply accompany a CD. :)
  16. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA
    As a graphic artist, it must drive you mad to see such instantaneously forgettable album artwork, on many releases; even if it is reduced to the size of a postage stamp (another popular art form).

    It’s as if the pure marketing perspective of music cover art is an afterthought, and just purely insignificant.
    If I Can Dream_23 likes this.
  17. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    Who needs cover art when we’ve got colored vinyl now? :shh:

    Seriously, I think colored vinyl can complement cover art - and makes the whole package more relevent...
  18. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing

    Yes. There are so many thoughtful cover designs. And so many that are just, boring.

    Even the simplest design can be provocative and beautiful...the thought and design is so evident in some that I love:
    Two of my faves...simple, powerful beauty.


    keyse1, qwerty and lightbulb like this.
  19. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA
    These are great examples wherein if each was reduced to a small thumbnail pdf, they’d still be recognized...
    Or is that so, just because over the years the music has built up a mutual coexistence of notoriety along with the art...?
    BeatlesBop and lemonade kid like this.
  20. TimB

    TimB Tube be or not Tube be?

    Galion, Ohio USA
    Is the music content even relavent anymore?
  21. Yesternow

    Yesternow Forum Resident

    I'm a big fan of album covers.
    The covers, liner notes, booklets, recording details... all factors why I still buy physical format music.

    I recall the day I spent at my uncle's house staring at this one:
    The music was a bit of a shock for someone who thought Pink Floyd was Dark Side of the Moon. But the cover was great.

    I'm sure I'd bought some albums just based on the covers.

    The CD covers don't have the same impact. But there are still ways to improve - check the "tool" CDs for example.

    It's not their fault, and they will never understand our love for it; but young people... don't know what they've missed.
  22. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    If I love the music it's far from a deal breaker...
  23. Mr-Beagle

    Mr-Beagle Forum Resident

    Look at how many members here display album artwork as part of their profile.
  24. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    Seems pretty relevant.
    Dondy likes this.
  25. PaperbackBroadstreet

    PaperbackBroadstreet Forum Resident

    I think a good cover can still help sales somewhat.

    Side note I wish Hipgnosis would come out of retirement (the members still around).

    They designed great stuff.
    BeatlesBop likes this.

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