Knowledge To Get Known

The Evolution Of The Album Cover

As we move to a fully digital way of discovering music, a new technology has caught the eye of the music industry and the independent music makers recently.  The company TAD is in the middle of launching a campaign to push for ‘video album covers’ to be adopted across online music platforms.  

TAD the App could be a game changer.

To get an idea of what that might look like quickly check out this video, especially around the 2-minute mark, where we are given a preview of how those video album covers might appear on iTunes:

It is less than a century since the concept of an album cover was born. It was in 1938 when artist Alex Stienweiss ideated original artwork to pair with music. Previous to this there was only a cardboard protector sleeve. Each creation was unique as they were produced by hand, one by one.

A few years later photographs were used on album covers, at first only black and white, but as we got closer to the 50’s more and more color was included, not just in the photographs themselves but also on the fonts and complimentary artwork.

                           Some early Stienweiss

The 60’s was a decade of experimentation (that is well documented!) and when it came to cover art it was no different. High-quality photographs were now the norm, giving covers a much more ‘modern’ feel, but there were also lots of pop-art influences such as collages using photographs, materials, and printing.

In the early 70’s one of the biggest changes occurred, when in ’73 the world was introduced to computer imaging. This opened up the door for even more possibilities and by the 80’s nearly all album covers had some element of computer generated art elements.

Since the 80’s more and more covers are generated completely by computer technology.


From the 1990’s to 2000’s, design-wise not that much changed, aside from advancements in the programs used to create cover art and the effects that they can create.

In the early 2000’s though, we had one of the biggest shifts in musical history that has greatly affected how we define an ‘album cover’.

Is The Music Industry Ready For The Next Great Album Cover?

Since the birth of online music platforms such as iTunes and Spotify, now we don’t always think of album covers as tangible things we can hold, we have gotten used to it meaning a tiny square on a screen (or ‘thumbnail’).

This has meant a lot of new design elements have had to be taken into consideration in order to make sure an artist’s cover stands out.

TAD the App, the company mentioned at the beginning of this article, released a cover art design app for musicians late in 2015, and that has proved pretty successful in creating those little thumbnails for iTunes etc.

But, looking ahead, do you think they are right that the future of album covers is in video form?  The future is here.  Embrace it.

If you haven’t already used TAD, why not give it a go, and see what you can create: 

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