I can still remember buying Jay Z‘s, The Blueprint album. I can vividly remember tearing the packaging, popping the CD in and flipping through the album booklet to look at the photos and credits. This experience was unforgettable for me.
These days, most people stream albums without looking at the credits. Many major label releases offer digital booklets but only if you buy it on iTunes. In some cases, digital booklets are available online and on Genius, but for the most part, digital booklets aren’t really included with releases. (According to The Outline, in May of 2017, the iTunes Top 100 only had 16 albums with Digital Album Booklets)
For years, I tried figuring out a way to deliver an album booklet, digitally, that would give the user a similar experience to when I opened up that Jay Z album.
During the ASCAP Expo in 2015, we offered attendees a sneak peek of Kirby Maurier‘s album Doing The Most using Adobe’s new visual creation tool named Spark Page (formally Adobe Slate). It was a perfect way to visually prep people to preview an album we worked so hard on.
Once it was time to release the album, we played with the idea of having the digital booklet available exclusively on iTunes. But, we wanted everyone, even those who streamed the project access to it. So, since people had such a positive experience with Spark Page, we decided to use it for our digital booklet. It was a hit. The booklet featured never before seen photos, and even shots we took in Venice, Italy.
We were on to something. No other label was using this medium to deliver digital booklets. Recently, artists like Ty Dolla $ign and Solange offered digital booklets (or books) for their albums without a purchase. But prior to Kirby’s album, very few artists did this, especially independent artists. In 2016 we released digital booklets for The Pyrvmids Stadium Status, SIN’s Victory Lap EP and The Track Burnaz new release of Glory using Adobe’s remarkable Spark Page.
Adobe’s team took notice and featured Valholla’s use of Spark Page on their blog and on Twitter. It’s dope to be recognized for things we do creatively. Here’s an excerpt of what Adobe wrote about us.
— Adobe Spark (@AdobeSpark) October 3, 2016
Remember listening to an entire album while pouring over the cover until the paper all but disintegrated or buying CDs specifically for the included poster? As music moved online via streaming services, albums and their art have become increasingly divorced. But indie record label @Valholla creates album art for the digital age with Spark Page, meant to engage fans visually while they listen to the album, foster greater awareness for the artist, and promote album sales.
@Valholla Seriously, we love that you're bringing album art into the digital age, & making it even better.
— Adobe Spark (@AdobeSpark) October 4, 2016
My hope is more independent artists deliver digital booklets for their projects through Spark Page or any other way possible. People who listen to the music deserve more. And the people who work on the indie albums deserve to see their names in (digital) print… not just Wikipedia. Check out The Outline’s piece for more on Digital Album Booklets HERE. In this piece they quoted Sam Rosenthal, founder and manager of Projekt Records, an independent label in Portland, Oregon. He said “I don’t think anybody wants them because no one ever asks for them.” I disagree, people just have to be shown a better way to consume them and the labels have to make them and make them well. The need is there, we just have to serve it. Do you agree?