Analysis of Existing Digipaks In order to develop a subtle understanding of the technical features and conventions of digipaks, I have studied examples from a range of artists and genres. Here I have looked at two digipaks of constrasting genres closely
<ul><li>1. A special edition release of Jack Johnson 's album "On and On“, of the acoustic/easy listening genre </li></ul>
Outside 3 Panels The sticker on the front of the album shows that this is a “special edition” digipak. This appeals to loyal fans of the artist, as it is a collectors edition, which holds a more personal connection with the artist than an internet download. The inclusion of the “uk bonus track” also gives the audience a feeling of exclusivity, as it is additional content is not widely available, much like the elusive “hidden track” at the end of some albums on the end of the final song, which only some fans will discover. The use of sans serif font connotes the straightforward image of the artist, reflecting the raw quality of acoustic music. It is also recognisable to the loyal fans the digipak is targetted at, as the same font is used on almost all his other albums. The silhouette of the artist playing his guitar from behind in the image on the front cover indicates that the focus is on the music itself rather than his image, and a similar technique is used in his later album “In Between Dreams”. This is typical of the acoustic genre, where artists are often pictured with their guitar in hand to indicate the importance of the basic melody of the music. This contrasts with many pop and RnB albums, where an airbrushed close-up of the artist’s face is often the main image, reflecting the greater importance of the personal image in these genres.
Inside 3 Panels The absence of text on the inside of the album (with information such as lyrics included in a separate booklet) reflect the easy-listening element of the music, as the sea and water in general are often associated with tranquillity and well-being. The seemingly endless expanse of water which spans the 3 panels relates directly to the album title “On and On.” The pale blue shades of the water create associations of serenity and infinity, which also relates to the title and calm, melodic style of acoustic music and unassuming image of the artist.The use of the 6-panel format for this digipak has allowed more of the essential text (e.g. copyright info) to be positioned on the outside of the album so that the image inside is more effective The image of the sea is also meaningful for loyal fans of the artist, as he is well-known for being raised on the coast of Hawaii background and passion for surfing. The sound of the ocean also features on the penultimate song on this album, “Symbol in my driveway.”
Intertextuality This guitar tablature book (see right) uses the same image as the front of the digipak, which links the 2 products together and makes it immediately recognisable and attractive to people who have bought the album. It also appeals to the audience for the acoustic style of music, who are often aspiring musicians themselves. The use of intertexuality is an important feature in creating an artist identity, making adverts and merchandise instantly recognisable and appealing to the target audience. On the left we can see the clear intertexuality demonstrated across the poster, as the text, layout, colour scheme and image are the vinyl and CD for the same artist’s live album ‘En Concert’. This creates a common identity for effective promotion of the artist as a package. When intend to use intertexuality between our video and two ancillary products, so that the audience can recognise the link between them.
Artist identity The digipak has an important role to play in establishing the artist as a recognisable brand and creating familiarity with its audience. This means that fans who own one album will subconsciously be drawn to an advert for a new album release. All the Jack Johnson album covers shown here all use a similar sans serif font for the title of the album. They all use pale colours to reflect the mellow tone of the music. The simplicity of each image also reflects the artists ‘no frills’ image, which is conventional of the acoustic genre, as it focuses on the relaxing melodies and the lyrics. The short, uncomplicated album titles fit with the easy-going image of the artist.
2. A 4-panel digipak release of goth-punk band Alkaline Trio ’s album “Agony and Irony.”
2 Outside Panels The iconic ‘heart and skull’ front image of the digipak and the use of red and black is immediately recognisable to fans of the band (see next slide.) These colours are typical of the pop-punk genre, and commonly used by bands of the same genre e.g. Bullet for My Valentine, My Chemical Romance and Greenday- see below . The aged effect used on the front panels is reminiscent of the fragile vinyl sleeve, and the serif gothic font used for the track list has an anachronistic appeal for fans of the gothic genre.
Band identity/intertexuality The image of a heart and skull is universally recognisable to the band’s loyal following, as these images show that it has featured on the front of previous releases, on a large amount of merchandise and is a popular chose of tattoo for dedicated fans. Thus the inclusion of the band’s unofficial logo it as the main image of their 6 th album immediately attracts the attention of fans and achieves intertexuality.
Inside 2 Panels Like the Jack Johnson digipak, the inside panels of this example do not have any text and use a singular image across the panels. It is conventional of the pop-punk genre that the band do not feature on the front cover of the album, and if featured at all it is usually on the inside cover, as here. The muted colours create a retro feeling, also created by the fact that one of the band members is wearing 1970s ‘aviator’ sunglasses. This fits with the aged effect of the outside of the digipak, making the image appear like a snapshot from the past. The direct mode of address connects the artist to the audience and creates a sense of intimacy despite the use of a long-shot. The plant in soft focus in the foreground of the image obscures some of the scene behind, creating a sense of mystery.
Indie Digipaks Here are some examples of front covers from digipaks from the same genre as the music we are promoting. ‘Indie’ music is often associated with a lower-middle class background and a rejection of the cultural and economic trappings of affluence. The sartorial codes in indie albums often promote these ‘bohemian’ values, through the use of simple images in typically working-class urban settings, with the people wearing informal clothing such as checkered shirts, scruffy jeans and ‘hoodies’. The images are styled look like a snapshot into every day life, rather than an obviously stylized/airbrushed photo shoot which promotes mainstream celebrity culture, such as would be typical of the ‘pop’ genre. This is appeals to ‘alternative’ target audience and makes it easier from them to relate to the artist on a personal level, as it suggests that the band are down-to-earth. They often do not feature the artist themselves, which connotes the greater importance of the music over the persona of the artist. This image from the front of a Does it Offend You Yeah? album uses a distinctly working-class setting- shown by the two beds in one room and dingy appearance of the carpet and walls. The muted colours of the background contrast with the scarlet dress of the young girl to make her the central focal point and her position mid-jump in the air reflects the unconventional values of indie This chaotic, disorderly image from Jamie T ’s “Panic Prevention” reflects the bohemian image of the artist and the genre as a whole On the cover of this Vampire Weekend digipak, the traditionally symbol of affluence- the chandelier- is shown at a canted angle, which connotes a rejection of convention The clothing of the band on this Arctic Monkeys album cover suggests a rejection of convention, as the ‘hoodie’ top is typically associated with youthful deviance, as is the turned-up collar. The absence of a direct mode of address makes the image appear more realistic and suggests the band are down-to-earth. The image of a block of cheap, possibly council housing in this Arctic Monkeys album promotes the ‘real’ image of the band
Overall Findings/decisions <ul><li>The album track list almost always appears to be on the outside panel adjacent to the front cover </li></ul><ul><li>Intertexuality is a key feature to consider when composing a digipak, as the image and font often links it to merchandise and other promotional material in order to create familiarity with the audience </li></ul><ul><li>There is a close relationship between the digipak design and the target audience </li></ul><ul><li>The digipak design usually relates directly to the genre of music, and there are identifiable generic conventions in each example </li></ul><ul><li>Digipaks of the genre we will be creating (indie) often used simple images in familiar urban settings such as a street or bedroom- so we will use an image which fits this convention </li></ul><ul><li>We will use the 6-panel format, as this allows for a less condensed layout </li></ul>
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