What makes an album art concept become a “classic” cover? When you think of album covers, which one directly comes to your mind?
Furthermore, album covers have always had a decisive impact on record selling and popularity of artists. Recent examples might range from Nicki Minaj’s revealing “Anaconda” to Adele’s “25”. Some of the most iconic album covers and their interesting background story can be found here.
However, nowadays when you buy new music or a new album from the store or online services, what importance would you say the album cover plays in your choice of a record or on you listening experience?
Recently we gathered data of 332 participants from an online survey conducted here at MusicStats.org with the aim of investigating role that album art covers’ plays in a consumer’s purchase choice. Results revealed that only 21% of respondents consider that they pay attention to the physical aspect of an album and implied that they rather focus on the music. This can be seen, for example, with the rise of streaming music services.
And more: streaming services are even changing the relationship between art exposure and listening experience.
Streaming services services currently suggest a range of possible fitting songs to you (e.g. according to the time of the day) together with an attractive imaginary. But not necessarily the original album cover, developed and conceived intentionally by the musician. Such imagery is the first stimuli consumers see next to the title of the playlist. This may have a direct impact on listeners choice of playlists, similar to album covers impacting previous vinyl purchases.
The exposure to of a random visual stimuli in combination with the sound may induces the listener to question their identification with the song. Many times I found myself listening to songs I would have never listened to, simply because I liked the “album art” of the playlist. However, the artist had no influence in the choice of such imagery and it may not necessarily reflect the creative intention of the musician.
Nowadays there are even apps who help you change an album cover if you’re not fond of the actual one or if the art got lost during a transfer from one device to another. And this is now possible of happening without any input from the artist.
So next time you search for an album or see a new album launch, take your time to appreciate and interpret the cover. Musicians may have taken a huge care to communicate their message and create a listening experience for you.