iTunes and banner ads were supposed to kill the album cover as an artwork form. The square little bigger than a postage stamp on the iTunes Store or Spotify's New Releases page offers little opportunity for true creativity wailed the doomsayers – just as they had one when cassettes took over from vinyl as the most popular way to buy music (with CDs being a minor upgrade).
However, its never been a better time to design vinyl records – what's possible with extended gamut printing and a wider choice of materials means that while there's less demand (unless you get your own records pressed), there's more scope.
What's perhaps surprising about the covers of the albums up for this year's Mercury Music Prize is that they largely work as tiny web graphics and as full-size LP covers. For example, you're going to notice the rainbow colours of Jamie XX's In Colour (shown here) among the mass of covers on the iTunes Store homepage – but its design really delights in LP form with different coloured vinyl and a bundled CD.
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