Author: Gabriel Cebrowski
Music is universally appreciated. It serves as a form of escape, a moment of relaxation, even meditation. Rest assured, it is a form of art that touches many people. Much goes into the production, whether the songs are thoroughly conceptual or just senseless fun. In either case, the production of the music will try to match the “ambiance” of the artist album and use it as a gimmick for their concerts, or exposure, often used to divide one album from their previous one. A good portion of this “ambiance” goes into the booklets or casing of the music. Many musicians would use booklets or covers as a way to label those involved in the project, provide lyrics and to protect the music. Other musicians would use these booklets to their fullest advantage and incorporate the “ambiance” into the booklets, acting as an extender to their idea and providing a further view of the concept that they wish to deliver with their music.
One of the first and very popular forms of released music was the LP records. Born at the late 40’s, LP records became very popular and were one of the first forms of distributing music to the public. LP records were played on the phonogram. Since the records were huge, most of the “cases” were done with thick, square paper that was slightly bigger that the record itself. The case would sometimes have a pocket, where the records would be slipped on. The insides of the albums differ from album to album. Some don’t open and have the pocket on the side where the record would be. Others would have pages or photography or artwork with the records place in a pocket somewhere in the middle pages. LP albums don’t usually have many pages, since the booklet is already big enough, a lot of information can fit in one page. Most of the time the credits for the records were placed on the backside of the album.
The next form of capturing music would be the cassette tape, which are much smaller and portable than the LP albums, but slightly bulky. Although cassettes were innovative for their smaller stature, their booklets were not as complex as those of their previous relative. Cassettes booklets aren’t really “books” to begin with. They are a long, thin sheet of paper that is folded various times. The inside of the sheet would contain the lyric or credits from the album. Sometime, excerpts written by the artist fill those pages. The outside section would have the photography that represents the album, though if necessary, those too, are filled with lyrics or writings. Aesthetically, cassettes did not look as appealing as LP albums, but their portability proved to make them popular enough not to replace LP, but proved to be popular for those who own cassette players and became a more modern look for music collectors.
CD’s would become the successor of cassettes tapes. Having a slow rise due to its different technology, it quickly dominated over cassettes and is still being used to this date. CD booklets offer the portability that cassettes had, but with the detail and freedom that LP albums had. Depending on the success of the band will often depend on the effort the booklet will go through. Contents can range from photography of the musicians or artwork depicting the concept of the music or gimmick that the album has to promote the music. As with its previous ancestors, the CD booklets tend to hold the official lyrics of the music as well as the credits for who was involved with the production. The booklets are usually stapled right down the middle and are printed back to back, having a glossy finish or a slightly rough texture. A secondary form of CD booklets and one that has become popular since the 2010’s, was a more plastic, folded form. The booklets would either be part of the case or remain the same, simply slid inside one of the pockets, where the actual music would also be placed.
With the rise of digital downloads, physical versions of music are becoming a dying trend. The only art that can be seen with music nowadays is the album cover, seen next to the name of the band when their song is played. However, CD’s aren’t doomed to disappear too easily. It is still the main form of physical distribution and just like LP albums, people would collect them and stash them in their shelves, displaying their musical collection, mainly for looks, while the actual music is stored in their computers or other listening devices. This would mean that efforts to make an actual booklet will be slim, becoming much more simplified or completely absent from an album.