John L. Walters on music design

Author: Colin | Published: 18/11/10

Thought provoking piece on the Eye Magazine blog by John L. Walters:

Think about design for music, and record covers spring to mind (…) That’s understandable: graphic design has borne witness to an extraordinary canon of independent work over the past 70 years. But there has always been a multitude of ways to combine sound and music: in an age of digital dissemination and extravagant audiovisual performances, album covers are just one part of a music design story that goes back more than a century, and will continue to be relevant long after records have died.


The lesson for designers was that design for music was shifting away from products towards … everything else: identity, branding, ‘creative management’, social media, live promotion, video, animation, Web design.

There are certainly more opportunities than ever for music-related design. There doesn’t seem to have been as much digital innovation as might have been expected at this point, though perhaps I haven’t been looking in the right places. In addition to the solitary extant virtual design on Hard Format (Snow Patrol’s A Million Suns app) I plan to cover Ghostly’s brilliant Discovery app in the not too distant future and Eno’s three iPhone apps are characteristically impressive. I’m not sure to what extent the examples that Walters cites are anything new, more a gradual shift in emphasis as music’s availability becomes more pervasive. Posters, videos, costumes, stage shows, t-shirts and programmes are all familiar items to any music fan. The web as a popular medium is more than 15 years old and there’s been little innovation relating to music and design that’s become widespread except for distribution technologies.

It might seem inevitable that I’d disagree with Walters’ observation :-), but I’m blessed to see so much imaginative new work being produced and much of the quality of that work, I believe, is prompted by the changing environment. The persistence, or lack of it, of the ephemeral as signifier for music – an art-form that is by its very nature already transient – would make for an interesting discussion. If the medium is transitory and atomised, shouldn’t its visual associations reflect that – to be true to the medium? For the time being at least, I remain a firm fan of the music object as a primary focus for design.

I also wonder, does the popularity of a medium or even a cultural object necessarily determine its importance or value? Convenience is king and ‘free’ rules.  Even when physical music media become a niche, will it also become culturally insignificant? It may do as creativity reroutes to a wider audience. I think digital and physical media will co-exist together for a long time to come, though the balance will shift increasingly towards the virtual. Hard Format will be happy to promote quality in whatever medium best shows it!

Well worth a read: Time to find some new, meaningful associations between music + design, Eye blog.


  1. There is noticeably a bundle to find out about this. I assume you made certain nice factors in features also.

    Comment by cheap jordans — September 19, 2020 @ 8:08 pm
  2. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs rather more consideration. I抣l probably be again to learn much more, thanks for that info.

    Comment by balenciaga — September 21, 2020 @ 10:49 pm
  3. Once I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any way you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

    Comment by adidas yeezy — September 24, 2020 @ 12:23 am
  4. That is the suitable blog for anyone who desires to seek out out about this topic. You realize so much its nearly arduous to argue with you (not that I truly would want匟aHa). You positively put a brand new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

    Comment by supreme hoodie — September 26, 2020 @ 1:49 am
  5. Good post. I study something tougher on completely different blogs everyday. It’ll all the time be stimulating to read content material from other writers and follow slightly something from their store. I抎 prefer to make use of some with the content material on my blog whether you don抰 mind. Natually I抣l offer you a hyperlink in your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by kobe 9 — September 28, 2020 @ 3:48 am
  6. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. ?

    Comment by off white — September 29, 2020 @ 11:38 pm
  7. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read something like this before. So nice to find someone with some authentic ideas on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is one thing that is needed on the web, somebody with a bit originality. useful job for bringing one thing new to the internet!

    Comment by pg 4 — October 1, 2020 @ 11:52 pm
  8. Aw, this was a really nice post. In thought I want to put in writing like this additionally ?taking time and precise effort to make an excellent article?however what can I say?I procrastinate alot and in no way seem to get one thing done.

    Comment by adidas yeezy — October 4, 2020 @ 6:34 am
  9. It抯 exhausting to find educated people on this matter, but you sound like you recognize what you抮e talking about! Thanks

    Comment by yeezy 700 — October 12, 2020 @ 4:58 am
  10. you’ve a terrific blog here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my blog?

    Comment by nike react — October 14, 2020 @ 1:41 am


You must be logged in to post a comment.