The Precarious State of Album Art

With desire for the actual physical object of music recordings waning among the general public, the fate of album art hangs precariously in the balance. This piece (written by Bryan Borzykowski) captures the prevailing attitude among young music fans and major-label execs, who seem to be all whatevs about cover art, credits and liner notes. (Indie labels, one hopes at least, will continue to issue LPs and CDs with art work, even as they branch out into digital releases.)

While graphic artists and folks who appreciate aesthetically pleasing images get the shaft in this future-shock scenario, Borzykowski observes that “Multimedia will play an even larger role than it does now, as will product endorsements, TV show guest spots and pretty much anything else that will help showcase an artist. 'The movement for the artist to become more of a brand has definitely increased,' explains [Allan Mamaril, director of consumer products, retail at Puretracks.com]. 'Artists will be able to utilize a wide array of media including videos, press kits, and interviews.'”

Call me an old curmudgeon (I've been called worse), but I see this development as disturbing. Great cover art enhances my listening experience—plus I'm one of those people who love to read the credits to every damned thing I listen to, and not just because it pertains to my job. I really do want to track down where every sample originated on that Kanye West full-length and I want to know who engineered Battles' latest magnum opus. And, most crucially, I want to gaze lovingly at awesome images like those below while I absorb the sounds therein.


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