Apple has been quietly hiring iconic artists to design Apple Music playlist covers

The discs should have good art. For albums as diverse as London Calling Horses and Fear of a Black the images on their covers were as recognizable as the music in the wax. Although Apple Music is not a record label (yet), recently decided to add original art to their playlists. His goal was to bring that instant recognition to his own content, so the company recruited everyone from the creator of the iconic AC / DC logo to the person who designed the art for the Migos album of success Culture to make it happen.

The artwork is intended to "connect more directly with the communities and the culture to which they were intended," says Rachel Newman, Apple's global editorial director. Before now, Apple's playlists had a uniform presentation that did not necessarily speak to music. "In many ways, it's a visual representation of the music you'll find within that playlist," Newman said. That includes Hip Hop Hits, Dale Reggaetón and The Riff, which are immensely popular.

The new art will appear in the coming months; Newman tells me that Apple has a lot to reveal. The company plans to redesign "many thousands" of Apple Music playlists, and now they are only hundreds. The movement shows that Apple is becoming increasingly serious about its musical ambitions. Last summer, Apple Music outperformed Spotify in North America in the number of subscribers, and creating custom art for their playlists could distinguish their offers from those of Spotify. That is a great task that involves coordinating both the fleet of Apple's human editors and the artists with whom he chose to partner.


apple has been quietly hiring iconic artists to design apple music playlist covers

These artists are big names in the industry and they are very close to the genres for those who design the work. "The Apple team mentioned in our initial conversations that they were great fans of my work," Gerard Huerta wrote in an email. He began his career making personalized lyrics for bands like Blue Öyster Cult, Boston, Foreigner, Alvin Lee and Ted Nugent. He has designed, among other things, the iconic AC / DC logo. Apple approached him to make art for the "Classic Metal" and "The Riff" playlists.

"The inspiration was really to go back to a time when these old pieces were created, they come from the drawing, not from fonts or fonts," Huerta continued. "Notice what is unique to the presented forms of letters and just start moving. the pencil. "His process, he says, involves creating a lot of loose miniatures and then turning them into pencil drawings.Only after that step, Huerta starts using a computer." As always in the design of logos, you want to create a blocking that is unique in its form and has an idea of ​​the emotion it is trying to convey, "he said." I'll have to say that I made reference to my old job. "

Robé" Moab "Stojmenov, a graphic designer from Italy who designed the cover for the Migos album Culture felt similar.For Apple, he worked on "Hip Hop Hits." "The main references were some of my previous work," he wrote in an email. nico, noting that he considered it very important to preserve his style. But his real inspiration was music. "It's always been music. But this time it was different, "Stojmenov continued. "Because of this mix, I had the chance to be inspired by countless realities and play and mix them in a unique way." There were, he said, endless possibilities.


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Stojmenov's goal was simple: to represent the sound, atmosphere and idea of ​​a musical project. "Giving a form and an image to music is never an easy process," he wrote. "My style and my creative process have always been characterized by a significant presence of powerful symbols and images, as well as a very simple and minimalist design. I think this project was a bit different, but it also gave me the opportunity to create a real manifesto of my style. "

For Carlos Pérez, who directed the video for" Despacito, "which received 1,000 million views on YouTube. in less than 100 days, and who has worked with some of the most important names in Latin music through his company Elastic People, working on art for an Apple Music playlist was also an opportunity to take up previous inspirations "I think the most important part of the whole creative process was that Apple really gave me the freedom to explore and really pushed me. I think the key word was authenticity. "With Apple, Perez worked on the" Dale Reggaetón "playlist, along with" Puro Jefe "and" Al Cien Con La Banda. "

"You know, reggaeton is Caribbean," Pérez said. "We are only referring to what we understand that culture is behind the whole genre, which is: there are many bright colors, everything is dance and sensuality." And it's a playlist that he and his team enjoy for themselves. "We spend our days listening to music and we definitely have many clients on the Latin / urban side, so we are not only tuned to see what people react to," Pérez said. "But above all, you know, inspire you and let it influence some of our work."

That rooting in specific cultures was something that Apple wanted to emphasize when I was commissioning art. "Suddenly, in reality there is no longer a definition solid of a genre like the one I used to use [be] in the old days, "said Newman, the editorial director. The genre is now, in his words, a crucible. There are as many different styles and sounds as artists, and they are all borrowing from everyone else, which means that having a persistent visual identity is even more important.

"The connection with music is, it has always been about the class of a tribe or a culture," said Newman. "I just think the difference is, these days, there are many more." In the old days, you could tell the style of the music on a record by what was on its cover. (In a very general sense.) Newman said part of that art has been lost over time. "I think a lot of these artists had done that job, and even those who had not been very close to much of that work," he said. "And I think I love the concept of being able to return to that kind of lost art in many ways."


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The type of art that Newman is talking about, of course, is still immediately recognizable. That is part of what makes it special. Apple Music seeks the same, although it is difficult to say what kind of impact art could have today. Streaming services are primarily distribution mechanisms for other people's work, and it is usually work that matters. That said, it is a competitive advantage that the packaging and marketing of other people's work have the highest possible value because it improves the user experience. In that sense, giving a platform a visible human touch becomes a very good idea.

Huerta was philosophical. "The value of a logo is not only in its design but in its use," he wrote. "The reason we are aware of the ACDC chart is in its 42 years of use." It is likely that Apple is not waiting for its playlist to remain the same for four decades. But as Newman said, it's a good indication that Apple Music plans to continue investing and supporting the artistic community. "You will see how we are more supportive to make sure our clients know that there are people behind the scenes who create excellent musical experiences and provide context around those experiences as much as possible."

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