Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: The inventor of the album cover

I’m going to be that you’ve never heard of Alex Steinweiss before, but I’m 100% sure you know his work–or at least his legacy.  Alex was the inventor of the modern album cover.

Until about 1940, all records were sold in plain brown wrappers: no pictures, no liner notes. But then along came Alex, who was working as an art director at Columbia Records. He decided to put a picture on the sleeve for a Rogers and Hammerstein release. Sales soared 800%.

Then, in 1948, he introduced the cardboard album sleeve when Columbia introduced the 33 1/3 RPM long-playing record. That became the industry standard until the CD took over in the 80s. 

I wonder what Alex would think of the crappy little artwork we get with digital files today?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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