To anyone who collects vinyl for the love of music and pure sound, they know that their collection means more to them than any price tag would indicate.
But who could imagine that it is the artwork on the front of the album that has been the most priceless commodity in the record industry.
Where The Art Came From
Over 70 years ago, Alex Steinweiss, an employee at Columbia Records decided to spruce up the cover of these albums and ended up starting a trend that would change the music industry.
Before the creativity and ingenuity of Steinweiss, albums were sold in boring, plain, undecorated packaging. There was often nothing other than the name of the album to distinguish one package from the other.
How the Idea Took Off
It was not long before the industry realized how revolutionary Steinweiss’ idea was and how their boring records wouldn’t stand a chance against the aesthetically pleasing ones from Columbia Records.
Soon all the records on the shelves were covered with images that would eventually become iconic as some of the earliest images of music and the genesis of pop culture.
For album collectors there are few better finds than a vintage album with its original album art. One of the most famous album covers of all time, The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover, proved to be one of the most inventive covers of the time with cut outs and lyrics included.
Today, this album is not considered complete without its inventive and revolutionary album covers. Just like someone wouldn’t pay for a Beatles’ album without the complete album cover in 1960, the price for a Sgt. Pepper album is considered a ripoff without the cover.
Album Art Endures
Although the vinyl from the inside of the album covered has faded from popularity, the idea of album covers has continued to be a necessity.
Even today, when most of the music sales are done in a digital copy, with no physical album to necessitate a cover, artists always have album art to continue this tradition.
So next time you’re admiring an especially scintillating album cover, remember that if it weren’t for Alex Steinweiss we might still be buying only music rather than art.
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