Back in 1997 when the internet exploded into the public domain, we had no idea what it would eventually evolve into. The networking of computing was in it’s infant stages. However we still went to go get our music on CDs or tapes from stores. Mp3s were fairly new and would take at least a few hours for one song.
Today, the digital music scene is huge. A vast selection of music is available for purchase on the internet, entire albums even. That’s all very well and good, however I believe we’re in danger of losing something important, especially to design.
Everyone has their favorite album cover, or even covers. If you’re lucky, you have a lovely 12 inch vinyl sleeve displaying it proudly. However, in the age of instant gratification and music downloads, I believe we could lose the tangible aspect of album design. Hopefully, we will never fully go digital, but as more and more people become integrated into the iPod/Zune/etc. system, there may come a point where albums are only produced digitally.
For me, part of the music experience is the opening of the package and taking in the designs of the CDs/DVDs/LPs. The cover, the back, the sleeve, the inserts, and the disc itself all had conscious design/artwork produced to provide that extra bit of emotion that the music represents.
Popping on your online music catalogue, you are only given a measly 200x200 pixel album cover when you purchase it. Imagine that, you’re given a design brief to design an album cover for a new band, releasing their music to the world and all you have is a small 200px box. Sad.
So I warn those that are “going digital”, think about the joys of having a collection, having a library of music complete with amazing artwork and design. Designs that have become legendary and synonymous as an identity for the band itself.
Bring back music canvas’ of the 12inch, cherish the 5inch, and be weary of the pixel.