About.com has published an extensive investigation of what digital downloads mean for the aesthetics of heavy metal, in particular album art and liner notes. The story features numerous interviews with major metal musicians, graphic artists, representatives at major and underground labels and others. Excerpts follow:
King Diamond on listening to metal before the digital age:
"If I got a new album, especially in the old days, I would study that thing before I even put it on. It just created the atmosphere of the music to come. You could get into a certain mood before the album. It was created with the lyrics and the artwork. That's still what we're trying to do with CDs."
Tony Lazaro of VITAL REMAINS on digital downloading:
"The full package is everything. It's getting the artwork, the booklet, the lyrics, the photos. It's the whole experience. When a fan of underground music goes to the store and picks it up the excitement is high. You want to get in your car or get home and rip the package open and throw it in your stereo and just crank it and look at it. Nothing's changed for me. I still want to come home, give it a good four or five listens and read the lyrics. It's really important to have that initial shock value… you do lose that with something like iTunes where it's just the music and nothing else."
WARBRINGER's John Kevill on how downloading makes fans less appreciative of music:
"If you want to know my biggest worry...it makes people take music for granted. It's as if there are two kids in the candy store. One's a really fat kid and his mom is going to buy him anything he wants. The other kid is a really skinny poor kid who has 50 cents so he can get one or two candy bars at most. Who's going to appreciate their candy more? It's the same way with music. If you go seek out your music the albums you find you are going to appreciate and listen to front to back and not just a couple of songs. Whereas if you download a record you have no investment in it."
Metal Blade president Brian Slagel on the positive side of digital music:
"The possibilities could end up being really cool but it's going to take the dedication of artists sticking to their guns and making sure the art side doesn't get lost as we move into the digital age," he says.
Read the entire story at About.com.