Arcade Fire pioneers album art in the digital age

The effects of the digital age on the recording industry is all-encompassing, both for better and for worse. We all listen to more music than we ever thought possible as children, but this often comes at the expense of both the musical artists and the thousands of people who are involved in the recording industry in non-spotlight capacities. You often hear about the tangibility of a record being lost by downloading it (duh), and people are referring to the experience of opening up a record or CD and pulling out the liner notes, seeing the beautiful artwork and experiencing the album as a true multi-media experience. But the loss of this experience certainly can’t outweigh the practicality of digital downloads, so a certain band called Arcade Fire and the artists associated with their visual representation, Vincent Morisset and Caroline Robert, have taken this as a challenge and delivered. Big time.

Included in the purchase of the digital download of The Suburbs (which we liked) from is what is called synchronized artwork. Morisset describes the rational for developing this new method of delivering album art with the following: “Win wanted that we create a version of the artwork that would be relevant in the digital world. Most of us now buy, share and listen to music through computer and portable devices. It seems absurd that it is still a single JPG that is attached to an album in 2010.”

But can there be a solution that makes sense and is relevant? Morisset continues, “The idea is simple… Tightly sync a series of images with specific moments in a song using the m4a format. Like some podcasters do, but with micro chapters for each lines of the lyrics. In addition to that, we were able to add good old hyperlinks also synchronized to the song. This gives the possibility for the band to add, at any moments, all kinds of references related to each song. They plan to change and update those links occasionally.”

The art will use the aesthetic of The Suburbs as a jumping off point but promises original art as well. Simply put, this could be the change in album art that we have all been waiting for and puts Arcade Fire at the forefront of forward thinkers in the music world. This shouldn’t surprise you, but the question has to be raised, what will they do next? Cover Jay Reatard? It is nice to see some of our heroes deliver time and time again, no?


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