For better or worse, streaming has left an indelible mark on every facet of music. It’s changed everything from the way we listen, to the way an artists presents the music; no longer are albums mandatory, cover to cover experiences.
Speaking of the covers, those too have changed.
Now delivered digitally, album art is often superfluous. If available at all, digital booklets are missing the all important tangibility. The feeling of ownership, of having, of being able to listen while perusing a booklet and getting that extra level of connectivity to a project.
Album art is more meant to stand out on a timeline or news feed among a barrage of images and videos.
With his striking Level Up artwork, however, Stevie Stone has found a balance between standing out and lasting connectivity.
Sure, the all white, gold-splashed cover jumps out on a timeline scroll, but there’s also a deeper significance to it.
In an exclusive interview, we talked with Stevie about what his Level Up artwork means and the role it plays for the overall album experience.
What does the artwork, the gold-dipped microphone, represent?
The whole booklet is dope, it’s representation of Level Up. Leveling up on everything all the way around the board. That was my whole thing; from the music, to the visuals, to the concepts, to the booklet.
It’s something different, I didn’t want to do the same old. I wanted to do something different and be a little more creative.
When did you develop the concept?
We were far into the album. Real deep into it. There’s different phases of an album, first I was just concentrating on the music, but then me and Korey Lloyd started getting on the phone and started talking about additional ideas.
After a couple of conversations we agreed on using the old school microphone which represents me, on my first level coming into the game, into music. We agreed on that then we went to work and voilà.
With streaming, there is less of an emphasis on album artwork, why is it still important to you?
The album is a representation for the project of course, but it’s more than that. We have so many fans that still like the booklets, that like to get it signed. That’s why we do the signed pre-orders, for the people who are really tuned in.
The industry is getting away from that, but there’s still a lot of fans that want the memorabilia.
Though streaming has changed the landscape of music, the vision of artists who are truly committed to creating long lasting experiences remains pristine. Artist like Stevie are not sacrificing their vision but creating one that fits both the old and the new.
His art invites new, causal listeners who may stumble across it on Twitter, while still staying true to those who value the full album experience.
Now it’s on the listener; how you Level Up is up to you.