What is the real purpose of the album cover?

by RichardPearson
3 minutes
What is the real purpose of the album cover?

Well why, it is to protect those precious and delicate vinyls of course! But what’s the purpose of the album cover when we now live in a digital world? We don’t need to protect the disc inside a package so it arrives safely to the consumer’s hand, or stays in good shape for a longer time. Clearly when making physical copies a secure album cover is still essential, but why making one for online release?
Album covers will always be necessary regardless of the technological state which we’re in, for they serve too many purposes. From quickly informing the audience about the artist and the music style, to leading the listeners to an extra-musical experience of the sound.
In AlbumCoverZone we believe that the cover art is almost as important as the music it represents. So many iconic music albums or even singles light up an image in our minds the moment we remember them; which is the art they were presented with.
If you focus on a band right now, a few album covers will pop up in your mind. Give it a go! Nirvana, The Beatles, Metallica, John Coltrane, Björk… They all have powerful representative visuals that we so strongly associate their music with that it is literally impossible to separate the two. This is a useful method to analyse the visual-sound relation of your heroes, and if you apply the exercise to your music you might come up with a good and solid vision of your image as a musician as well.
So, it is safe to say that album covers became so necessary that they are now inseparable from the product they announce even if they don’t function anymore for the very first purpose they were made for. To many, album art is a vital part of the listening experience, and even though digital images don’t have the tangible feeling of the real touch, they do play an important role for the consumer.
Album covers help the audience to visually discover new music, as well as to guide through the listening experience. The cover is often used to sum up the musical ingredients in a symbolic way. The symbolism of the cover art changes intensity from decade to decade but it never fades away completely. You can see this change within one band, from their earlier albums to their latest ones, which is often a choice done with style and fashion of the time taken in mind.
So in short, even if it is not needed to protect the physical copies, the albums still need protection of their uniqueness that is stored behind an album cover. Here in the AlbumCoverZone we focus on a variety of musical and non-musical genres including podcasts, to serve this purpose. Each cover that you see in AlbumCoverZone is unique and can be purchased only once because we know how every artist needs to hold on to their authenticity in the market.
The industry of album covers will continue producing engaging visuals, keeping the dream of the inventors of this illustration branch alive, and enriching the musical experience of every one of us.
Album cover art is the visual identity of the sound, the artist, the label, and the listener.