Does Album Art still matter?

Once upon a time, creative album art could help sell a release. But does it still matter when most music is streamed, and artwork has been reduced to a square inch or two?

Whether you were a Rolling Stones fan or not, the working blue jeans zipper on the Warhol-designed front cover of “Sticky Fingers” made it a must-have in 1971.

But while superfans still buy creatively packaged physical music and merch, the average fan consuming music via their phone no longer interacts with music-related visuals in the same way.

A different strategy is required for album art to be impactful in 2024.

Start with a list of the platforms you need to create images for. Sara-Lena Probst of digital music consultancy Blackbird Punk offers a solid list and roadmap to which I would add Bandsintown and X/Twitter.

“Some artists start with their album cover art and develop their visuals from there.” writes Probst. “Others take the official music video as the base.”

“Create a mood board of the vibe you are going for with your visuals,” she adds. “Are you inspired by your favorite 60s band? Is there a movie that signifies the feeling of the visuals you want to create?”

Stop thinking 12 X 12

Wherever your vibe is, the next step is to visualize how you can convey it as 1-inch by 1-inch art and then how that will translate as dynamic images on Spotify’s Canvas and short video platforms. There are many other sizes and formats, but if you start with those two – 1X1 inch and a short loop of moving images as your base – the rest should follow.

If you can find a graphic designer who can think in those terms, go for it. But it’s more likely that you’ll need to do it yourself or at least give real direction to the artist helping you.

So, as we do on every Flashback Friday, here are some previously published Hypebot articles to help you get started.

Remember… think small.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a Berklee College Of Music professor.

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