The White Album (Beatles, 1968), The Black Album (Metallica, 1991). Neither one of these landmark records technically even had a name. The fact that they became known by their album covers highlights a truth about how people relate to and identify music. Whether simplistic, complex, busy, or non-existent, the artwork on album covers are how we formed our first impressions of much of the music we love.
As physical formats of music slowly but surely disappear, music downloaded increases exponentially. Most often there is a small thumbnail avatar of the album cover next to the title, but how long will that last? At some point, will new releases be simply “updates”?
“Hey, do you have Lady GaGa 6.0? What? You’re still on version 5.2? Dude, that’s so 2021.”
With the digital age we are losing the gate fold record covers. The intricate artwork, the lyric sheets, and photos of skinny 25 year olds shaking their leather clad fists in front of a shower of sparks, all gone. Perhaps one positive aspect of this will be the death of “image bands”. The music has to be good without visuals to bolster it.
Perhaps the music industry will embrace some as of yet undiscovered tech that will bring imagery back to recorded music. Perhaps instead of adorned album covers we will soon be enjoying interactive music videos on our virtual reality headsets?