Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Digital Music Robs Listeners of Album Artwork

My buddy at work who writes a metal column for has written another good one. 

The latest article is a long tome about how the move from vinyl to CDs to purely digital is a death knell for album artwork.

Justin suggests that it is a far greater loss to the metal genre, because metal bands leverage album artwork, inserts, posters, logos etc to help create an overall image of the band and to give the music a powerful visual not found in other music forms (like country for example).

I'd tend to agree with him but I think the loss cuts across every genre. He interviews a number of metal artists that back up his belief, for example King Diamond, who says:

“If I got a new album, especially in the old days, I would study that thing before I even put it on,” Diamond says. “It just created the atmosphere of the music to come. You could get into a certain mood before the album. It was created with the lyrics and the artwork. That’s still what we’re trying to do with CDs.”

I certainly did that. I remember poring over every Rush and Iron Maiden album cover, looking for little things the artists included, like a figure in a window or a hidden image. Hell, my friend Kevin and I decrypted the bizarre writing that was all over Ozzy Osbourne's Speak of the Devil album. I have no idea how we did it, but we did it, and it took a while.

These experiences are lost to today's generation who is now used to just grabbing digital songs off of iTunes. It's too bad.

Even Paul Stanley gets into the discussion in an AM New York article about the resurgence of vinyl. He says:

“The beauty in buying an LP used to be you got a package, a piece of art — something that someone worked hard on to make it creative, dynamic and interesting to look at it and maybe to put on your wall,” Stanley said. “And now with CDs, all you can see is someone’s name. In that way I miss it.”

Take the time to read Justin's article here, and let me know what you think.


Dr. John said...

Isorski - though I love the convenience of digital music, I do miss having a lyric sheet to read and pictures to look at. Metallica had stuff downloaded with Death Magnetic that seemed to be a relatively good compromise, though a bit small on my iPod screen.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Great topic. I do love the convenience of it, I wish there was a way to have both. I LOVE my old albums and the artwork. It really is a loss.

Chris said...

Vinyl is making quite a comeback. I would say I have bought more vinyl in the last 6 months than CDs. The ones who offer a digital download with the record, or the CD, are awesome. Best of both worlds, in my opinion.

Guitarman5150 said...

I agree. I was very reluctant to switch over to CD in fact I still have all of my records. They are like gold to me now. I even bought some I didn't have overseas when I was in the Navy to complete my collection from bands that weren't released here in the states.

With CD's and now ipods we don't have that. I love my ipod don't get me wrong I have over 2 days of music in it, but it can't replace the album cover and all the artwork and what went into the making of those things. It is a dead art I think needs to be revived and if there was anyway to do it I would love to see it happen again.