The Juno Awards – as Canada’s version of the Grammy Awards – are the top honour Canadian musicians can receive for their work. Taking place on Sunday April 1, 2012 in Ottawa the program airs at 8pm on CTV, and host William Shatner is sure to provide a night of entertainment alongside some incredible music.
To help celebrate this year’s Junos, the Canadian Museum of Civilization is showcasing two special displays from March 16th to April 9th.
One of these exhibits shows off candid and live photos of Juno nominated performers and winners over the year – many of whom are now known nationally and internationally. The journalistic images capture notable moments in time such as when politics collided with music when Joni Mitchell took the Juno stage alongside Pierre Trudeau back in 1981.
The other exhibit celebrates the art of the album cover – displaying every winner of the Juno Award for album design since Bruce Cockburn’s Night Vision won during its inception in 1975.
The exhibit has people talking about the fate of the album cover, now that digital music is the future of the industry.
The display shows off the older albums on 12×12 record sleeves - the size album artwork was originally meant for and perfected on. For newer releases though, they are displayed as CDs – which are too small for the design to make much of an impression.
The curator’s decision to display them in this way is obvious as it also serves to show off the development of the music format over time, but if the future of music is digital – does that kill off the album cover completely? Will future exhibits rely on computer screens to display album artwork?
It is unlikely that musicians would want to release something without a cover – but when it is only available digitally – it is just a photo on your computer screen.
Such a development could make the production of album artwork financially irresponsible. Why would the team behind the album spend so much money on something that likely won’t be seen for more than a few seconds?
CDs already dim the magic of this particular artform - literally looking like a thumbnail of the art in comparison to the record sleeve.
Although vinyl sales remain a very small piece of the pie, records are currently the fastest growing segment of the business – a trend that started a few years ago.
As children of record collectors have grown up and realized what their generation missed out on, the demand for a reemergence of the format has been noteworthy. And for those millennials who obsess about music, vinyl is the only way to go.
Most labels have started releasing on vinyl again, usually providing a free digital download of the album in the record sleeve. This fulfills the need for a legal and purchased copy of the album they can listen to on their computer and MP3 player, as well as a physical copy that feels much more significant and worthy of the hefty price tag than a plastic compact disc.
As we watch big chain CD stores like HMV begin to die away because of downloading, it is likely only the small vinyl stores that will remain. Though the demand may never be huge, there will always be clusters of music collectors around the world who will be willing to pay for a physical copy they can add to their collection – which would ensure the album cover remains.
Sources: Canadian Museum of Civilization, Junos, National Post
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