By Jason Landry
Chillhop Music, a lofi music label from Rotterdam, Netherlands think well in advance about their album cover designs. For the last few years, the music label issued an album each season with a colorful illustration on the cover. When you place the 2021 albums together like four giant puzzle pieces, they create an oversized illustration of a house. The final image was not known to the consumer until after the final one was released.
Cut to 2022 where Taylor Swift is taking it a step further. She released her newest album Midnights with four distinct covers and four different colored vinyl albums inside. When you place the four albums together, the back covers create an image of a clock. You can even buy the clock parts directly from her website to actually make it a working wall clock. Just what the Swifties need, right?
In the case of the Chillhop albums, I find it to be a clever marketing concept. But regarding the Taylor Swift albums, for the most part, this is more of a cash grab. Many of the Swifties who purchase her physical albums may never even play them––they’re merely a collectable. In a time when vinyl is making a resurgence, and many of the vinyl pressing plants are backlogged with orders, this actually hurts the industry. According to Statistica, 41.7 million albums were sold in 2021, up 50% from the previous year. I’m not sure Taylor thought of the ramifications of this decision before committing to it.
Don’t take it from me, here’s Jack White of Third Man Records urging major labels to build their own vinyl pressing plants.