Album Art: The Importance Of Album Art And The Impact It Has On Your Music
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Album art became a thing almost a century ago when Columbia Records, the first record label company in the world, started to use it in order to increase the vinyl sales in the stores at the time. However, slowly album art became a part of a musician’s identity.
Despite the changes that we are experiencing when it comes to putting your music out in the market, album art is still very much relevant. Why? Well, simply because music is not (and it shouldn’t even be) just an auditory experience. Today, it might be that we kinda don’t pay that much attention to album covers as we used to. However, if we did, it could be a game changer for our work.
If in the past bad album meant that your LP will be just another one in the pile at the store, in today’s age where we are absolutely overwhelmed with music on the internet, it can be a scroll forgotten for good.
Remarkable album arts through the years
I’m just going to put it this way: Pink Floyd and “The Dark Side Of The Moon”? Nirvana and “Nevermind”? The Beatles and “Abbey Road”? You don’t even have to be too much into these bands to already know what I just said. It is most likely that you already have the images of the album art in your head. This is because they were absolutely iconic. Just like many more from many other artists. The influence that album covers like these had at the time still lingers in modern culture as well.
Even though they are classics, they still influence a lot of today’s art just like they were created yesterday. Even today, in the whole transition towards digital we have great album artwork. Woodkid and “The Golden Age”, LCD Soundsystem and “This Is Happening”. The very popular minimalistic cover art on “AM” by the Arctic Monkeys. All iconic visuals of modern day music.
Nearly 40 years since its release, the cover art for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” album is back into modern culture, giving a good example of how album art can be timeless.
Physical and digital squares
The square of the album art became smaller and smaller through out the years. Today it’s smaller than our fingers. However, as I said, this does not make it any less relevant.
Your album art, being the first and probably the essential part of the visual aspect of your work, can then open up even more opportunities for this aspect to grow. For example, it can go on merch like t-shirts and posters.
(If you want to read more about merch, you can check out our article about it.)
There are still rules to follow when it comes to album art. Even in the digital world. Online music stores like Amazon and iTunes require from their users to use 1400×1400 pixels JPG image. The image should not contain social media symbols, links or unclear images. They also shouldn’t be explicit.
You and your album art
So, how do you create an album art good enough? I would say creative freedom is the answer. Don’t limit yourself. An album cover does not need to have the name of the artist or the name of the album printed in the front so it can speak about the music.
We are living and creating in times of transition. We’re standing in between and there’s nothing wrong with that. Use that in your gain. You can always make art that applies to all of it: CDs, vinyls and digital squares. Even merch. It can always be something minimalistic and well designed, yet remarkable and with a strong statement. Leave some mystery to it. The cover doesn’t need a lot of words to say something. Try to leave out social media links, lyrics and e-mail addresses. Instead, just add your website somewhere on the back.
At the end of the day, you know best what truly represents you as an artist, and what truly represents your art. Keep that with you while working on your album art.
Why is album art so important?
Because it is an essential part of your artistic identity as a musician. At the end of the day, it is a contribution to the world of art in general. Though there are people that will tell you that album art is dead, I personally think that it’s far from dead. And that it’s actually very important. It can become an artist’s greatest trademark and an inspiration to others. Always makes me think about Alex Grey and his artwork featured on Tool’s albums. It’s an amazing point where a great artist and a great band come together the create something iconic.
Take your time for your album art. It’s worth it!