Three reasons album artwork remains important
December 02, 2014 in digital music by Dan Gravell
There was a time when album artwork was considered almost as important as the album itself. From Sgt. Pepper's iconic cover to The Durutti Column's famous sandpaper sleeve, we've celebrated design, both great and awful, beautiful and ugly, thoughtful and nonsensical.
In the days of the digital download and streaming, is album artwork still important?
Sure it is. Here's why.
Album artwork helps you find your music quicker
Humans recognise illustration, design and shape faster than they can read and interpret text.
Back in the day when we had Nowadays with our hipster vinyl collections we enjoy picking out album sleeves and can easily select the correct LP by recognising the album sleeve design. We don't go through each sleeve, read the title and artist (if they are even shown) and go from there.
The same thing applies to computer music libraries. Any music player worth its salt will show album artwork as you scroll through your collection, and it's far easier to identify the music you want to play by looking at the artwork rather than the titles.
(Assuming you've got the album artwork, of course!)
Album artwork is a better talking point
I know a lot of people focus on the audio quality of their music collection; ripping lossless quality, downloading 24-bit-better-than-CD-quality tracks and so on. Well, it's also important that your collection looks as beautiful as it sounds.
The artwork is a way of representing an album in short form; it is like a shorthand vocabulary for musical history. When others see the artwork, they are more likely to recognise it, talk about it, interact more.
Therefore it's important to invest time in finding and installing the best album artwork, to represent your music collection in all its glory! If album artwork is displayed on large screens, ensure that the artwork is of a high resolution.
It makes your library feel complete
As I said above, back in the day of vinyl and CDs, album artwork was an intrisic part of of the musical experience. It was a visual echo of the musical work contained our old fashioned media.
But even with our more modern (or absent) media, we don't appear to want to relinquish album artwork. Streaming services seem to understand artwork both improves the practical work of navigating their music services, plus it makes the entire experience feel more complete by providing that visual cue.
So that's why I think album artwork will continue being an important part of our music collections, for years and years to come!
Thanks to shrff for the image above.