Now that I have a record player and I'm reminded of the huge canvases LP sleeves provided in the “good old days” I sometimes dawn my old codger cap and bemoan the digital music revolution. But David Byrne isn't worried:
Lots of people will miss these olde objects of veneration — even CDs will be missed. The photos and the lyrics, the liner notes, the credits, shout outs and thanks can be perused in a comfy chair while the music plays — you don’t have to be at your computer screen to savor the graphics and text.
But downloads could offer so much more. They could be an opportunity to expand the experience rather than a whittling away of the music/image connection. For less than the price of printing those sleeves and CD booklets you could get slideshows, photos, videos, bios, credits, lyrics, merch…. some of this stuff could play on your MP3 player along with the music, the rest could be on your computer to view or print out. You could get way more than could ever fit on a dinky little CD booklet. The LP sleeve was a package, a square billboard advertising the record. Now it is possible to connect this material to the music, but it is no longer packaging in the physical sense. It is liberated, in a way.
Update, Sept. 2006: The new iTunes 7.0 revives the album art.