Changes in Becoming Visible

by RichardPearson
10 minutes
Changes in Becoming Visible

We go to music stream platforms, full of content, full of suggestions, our heavily filled up playlists, input from the friends and colleagues we follow… It became a much different experience to discover new music than when it meant going to a record store and browsing through the shelves, looking at CDs one by one. We would be at the mercy or under the blessing of the record store owners, depending on their willingness and talent to discover fresh and good music. Today AI systems, full time working playlist designers and willing to share listeners are suggesting us what to discover next, but is it always as helpful as we think it is?

Deciding on purchasing a CD without knowing what was in it (maybe besides that one hit song that we kept on hearing on the radio) certainly came with its own excitement that today’s technology successfully erased from our lives, still we discover cool stuff while streaming new content, hopefully at least sometimes based on pure luck.

How do we decide? What makes us click on this album rather than that album? That decision is done very quickly, and sometimes is done almost without thinking. When all the possibilities are visible and one click away, hunting someone down for discovering your music stays as challenging as it used to be, when the way passed through appearing in radio stations, getting into the shelves of the stores. If you were lucky you would become part of a local label, if not, you would be lucky to find an independent record store that would be willing to let you put your work in their limited shelf space. Challenge levels are still high, but now the task is different.

How we notice things have changed throughout the history of album cover art and design. What used to be a plain, text-based tag to keep information written down on the LP turned into a stylish, highly fashion-driven artform of its own in only a few decades. Definition of “catchy” flipped from one meaning to the other every year. First the typeface started to create the difference between the labels and music styles, then the paintings and photographs entered the game.

The surface size of the cover formatted things differently: LPs’ large cover surface had so much area to do text-based artwork that would look flashy with lots of details. The art of using empty space on album cover designs was still possible with hard-to-read yet extremely pretty or impacting fonts since the surface size was large enough to have such gameplays whereas that personalized text artwork lost its power when we had to adapt to the way smaller CD covers. With smaller size surface area, the empty space could only be left alone when the text was small as well, and readability of the fonts gained priority.

Lots of music streaming platforms have kept the square shaped image model to remind their listeners what they are experiencing is still the same content that they were once used to purchase in the format of a CD. It kept the visual value and the physical reality of the music as detached on the screen as possible. But even so, the platforms were not kind on keeping the dimensions of the artworks that were prepared to be held with one or two hands to be seen up front. Some of the album covers and album cover design ideas began to lose their strength on the screen in such smaller formats. So once again, the visual of the album art had to rearrange itself to still tell lots of messages, still promise lots of good quality music; but this time in an even smaller format.

Today’s musicians have to work their way in various fronteers. From LPs to CDs the text-based covers and the dimensions and ratios have been altering, but today’s musician also has to deal with the lookability on online platforms, where your album is right next to the other and you need to hunt your audience down for that click or tap before they move on to the rapid scanning of the next album art.

Highering the chances of readability, many stream-platform active artists and musicians which kept iTunes and Spotify in their minds for monetizing adopted the white-text look regardless of the style of music they made, since the 2010s. Between so much content that is equally reachable as any other, readability became a priority, that is, if you want your ideas to reach out through words. With higher resolution screens things did change once again of course, the text could become smaller now, giving more importance to the image and to the empty space once again. But the idea of simple, readable text nevertheless kept itself in high fashion.

Besides the dimensions being altered, since 2015, various interfaces were returning to the look of the old days, renamed as The Dark Mode. The dark mode and the various ups and downs of it has been argued ever since it has arrived, nevertheless it is not going anywhere, at least for the time being. The dark mode had given album cover designs another chance to change and adapt. To keep the organic look pop up, some artists started to adopt an even more vintage color palette than the musicians of the “vintage days” themselves. The album cover design’s temperature if we may say, became more vividly recognizable over the dark background. Music that belonged to dark environments with neon lights got to have even more flashy covers than before, whereas music that always carried itself with dark and gothic covers blended themselves even better with their dark surroundings.

Just like how you discover new music in one of the many music streaming platforms, we recommend you to do a rapid scan on our grand catalogue.  The one album cover that “talks” to you will talk to your future audience as well and this conversation will last less than seconds. This is how your music is going to get discovered. By reflecting your unique sound through one of our unique covers, you will see that in no time you will be recognized on the online platforms.

To examine your personalized premade covers in an environment similar to the platforms you will show your music in, we wanted to give you, the musicians, a similar experience when you are still personalizing your album cover designs at our website. Which is why as of this month, the AlbumCoverZone has switched to the dark mode as well. We hope you enjoy.