Like many middle-aged music lovers, I must admit to numerous impulse purchases of CDs (yes, CDs) based solely on the quality of the album cover. My first purchase was by chance as I walked by Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Of course, I knew who the Beatles were, but my 16yr old uninitiated ears were completely unprepared for what I was about to hear. Instantly, a Beatles fan was formed, a great starting point for an entry into musical genres I never imagined I'd seek out.
When payday came, I'd rush to the local record store ready to drop $100 on a grip full of CDs (my wallet is definitely thankful for Apple Music today). I would spend hours, flipping through the endless plastic cases, only stopping if I recognized the artist or if the cover artwork jumped out at me. From a marketing perspective, it's brilliant. Without the eye catching moment, that disc would have easily been passed by.
Was I being lured into a purchase thinking the band was as good as the cover art? Usually I couldn't resist and plenty of times I was extremely disappointed.
As my interest in the arts began to grow, I began to decipher decent art versus genius. With this new found knowledge, my first exposure to The Velvet Underground was the iconic Andy Warhol cover, or the unique pictures and paintings that fit so well with Pink Floyd, whose album covers told you the musical story you were about to embark on.
With the the advent of the digital age, I'm seeing a steep decline in the effort to continue with the tradition of classic album covers. Rarely will someone look down on their device to see the artwork, and when they do, it's mostly likely to like or dislike the song itself, not to see the cover. As album sales drop, there seems to be drastic decrease in the marketing creativity as it likely won't improve the decline in physical sales.This is not to dismiss there is still an active collaboration between the collaboration of good art and music.
What we've seen is a shift on where the art is moving - to live posters, shirts and stickers sold specifically for artist's events.
Some may say the correlation of music and good art is disappearing.
It's simply evolving from the cover of the album to the t-shirt on your back or the limited edition poster for the concert you attended.
BY: KEVIN FINKBEINER
Contributing from Metro Detroit, Michigan