Album Cover Design is important to success in the music industry. Starting from the 1940s to 2010, thereabouts, album covers used to be the impression you got when shopping at the music store. From the gate fold covers of the 1960s to the sleek, compact gleaming images under the plastic casing of CDs, art has always been part of success in music marketing and the sentimental aspect of music as collectable art. As such good music, has always been accompanied by great artwork.  In the digital age, music album art has faced the greatest challenge, with some fearing it would become a relic of the past. To the contrary, cover art has lived on and grown as an integral visual part of artistic self-expression alongside music.


A glimpse into the history of music album cover art

Album cover art has traditionally gone hand in hand with both the business side and the creative side of music. As such, the kind of cover and art an artiste chooses to package and market music was and is in many ways a holistic face of success.  The album cover gives an outline or a graphical representation of music as a distributive commodity.  This is basically a sales and marketing tool, which helps in promoting music as a commodity. In addition, album art also gives an impression of artistic creativity and finesse.  It is a statement to an artiste’s style and originality.

The idea of album covers and cover art was the brainchild of Alex Steinweiss, first art director of Columbia Records. Before Alex Steinweiss came along, there was no album cover artwork design. Plain covers were used instead. But Steinweiss and Columbia, changed the landscape, paving way for widespread adoption of artistic covers, beginning from the 1940s.

Creative legends of music album cover art
After Steinweiss, the interesting history of Song cover art kept evolving with Columbia leading the way. Other leading contributions to the industry include the legendary Bob Cato. In his long and illustrious career, Cato also served as VP of creative services at Columbia Records, before moving to United Artists later. The collection of cover design under his watch had a notable influence on music. Other icons of the trade, noted for famous album covers include Rodger Dean, Peter Saville, Aubrey Powell, Stefan Sagmeister, and Bernie Bubbles, just to mention but a few. The work of these legends includes some of the best album covers of all time. Not a mean feat. Thankfully, they have shown that it pays to be unique, creative and experimental.


The impact of the digital age on music album cover art

The advent of the digital age has revolutionized a lot of things. The album cover design, like many other aspects of music and entertainment, has been affected. Beginning from 2010, music albums became more accessible with digital promotion and sales outdoing the traditional in-store music buying experience. Instead of going to the music store and picking albums that caught your interest, music is now delivered at the click of a button on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube. In short, there has never been a more exciting time for music marketing like the digital age. However, on part of  Album cover artwork design, the internet, has also meant a new landscape with new challenges and opportunities.

The new face of album cover design

While the album-buying has graduated into an online experience, it doesn’t necessarily spell the end of album cover art design. In such a versatile environment, artistic creativity entails finding ways to hack this new trend. And include album art in different, imaginative ways. Technology only means a slightly different system of the art delivery, but the essentials remain intact. For example, with the prominence of social media, the aesthetics of branding music heavily incorporates color, style, and emotive images much the same way traditional cover art used to work. Bottom line is, album cover art is here to stay, even though the form of delivery has changed.  Showcasing the visual side of music still remains an intact, necessary art for success.

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