Best Music Album Covers
While the language of “don’t judge a book by its cover” is certainly relevant to musicians, let’s be honest: having a great album cover can’t hurt. Whether you’re new to the music scene or crafting a brilliant track record, the cover is very important. Think of it as a spokesperson for the music your band worked so hard to create, and the mood the music embodies with each chord. Here, we’ll dive into the best album covers learning from past hits, exploring best practices, and helping you take the next steps in creating an album cover design.
The World’s Most Iconic Album Covers (And What They Teach Us)
- “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac
- “Abbey Road” by The Beatles
- “Nevermind” by Nirvana
- “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd
- “The White Album” by The Beatles
- “Enema of the State” by Blink 182
- Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”
- “Unknown Pleasures” by Joy Division
- “The Velvet Underground & Nico” by The Velvet Underground
- “Aladdin Sane” by David Bowie
Cover of The Beatles’ Abbey Road via EMI, Olympic and Trident Studios
Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover via Sound city studios
Pink Floyd’s The Pink Side of the Moon album cover via Abbey Road Studios
The Beatles White Album Cover via EMI Studios and Trident Studios
Blink 182’s Enema of the State album cover via MCA Records
Michael Jackson Thriller album cover via Westlake Recording Studios
Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover via Strawberry Studios
The Velvet Underground & Nico album cover via Scepter Records
Looking back at iconic album covers, what they all seem to have in common is instant recognition. The cover doesn’t have to be game-changing (the songs will take care of that part), but it does have to be memorable. Look at the Fleetwood Mac “Rumors” and the Michael Jackson “Thriller”. Both covers support a simple aesthetic and feature quintessential images of the artists. They are not controversial nor are they particularly conversation worthy, yet they have stood their ground as some of the best known album covers ever.
Some of the more celebrated album covers don’t feature the band at all. And in the case of “The Dark Side of the Moon ”by Pink Floyd, there aren’t even words – just the artwork that ended up being so iconic that it became a timeless, ultra-recognizable logo for the band. Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Blink 182’s “Enema of the State” also omit images of the band and have become widely recognizable not only as album covers, but as conversation pieces as well.
For Nirvana in particular, his music was a niche. However, regardless of a listener’s interest in grunge, they can quickly identify the baby swimming toward the dollar bill. Sure, it’s weird, but it’s memorable, and it’s worth talking about.
Then there are the classics, like The Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” possibly the most famous and most imitated album cover. While not quite “The White Album”, the cover of “Abbey Road” is also quite simple. Sometimes simple is really good. In the case of The Beatles, a minimalist album cover allows the music to speak for itself.
Inspiration to create the best album covers
We love the classics. Who doesn’t? And while many current album covers use principles similar to proven favorites, there are new concepts to consider as well. Think fresh shapes, ultra-saturated colors, and contemporary themes. Consider who you are as a musician and how you can best express yourself in a whole new way on your album cover. Here are some routes to explore:
Geometric album covers
Think “The Dark Side of the Moon.” There were no people on the cover, and in reality, most were just black. But the parts that we’re black were geometric, and this concept is a solid approach to a modern album cover. You don’t need crowds of people and tons of text to help tell who you are, and there is something very intriguing about geometric designs. They lure the listener in.
Guy Rickard album cover design by Floating Baron
Simply Three album cover design by __Ossobuko__
Bold, colorful album covers
Your album cover is not just an album cover. Is a T-shirt. It’s a poster. It’s everywhere and everything, really. When done successfully, a vibrant album cover is a winner. Do you remember Santana’s “supernatural”? Yes, just like everyone else. Go bold
Santana’s Supernatural album cover via Fantasy studios
Foes album cover design by JETARTS
Gotta Go album cover design by litlast
How U Been album cover design by LazebraArt
Surreal, futuristic album covers
The music industry is a place where it’s totally okay when you don’t fit 100%. Look at the success of Tori Amos: Decades later, her music still can’t fit into a specific genre. If your music is more than one thing, or one thing that defies categorization, your cover should be too. Consider a route that incorporates your non-traditional style and serves as the perfect companion for your music. An artistic, hipster album cover shows potential listeners that you’re a bit ‘out there’, but in the best possible way.
So It Goes album cover design by Shwin
Lithium album cover design by Minima Studio
Say What You Say album cover design by saska
Tori Amos’ From the Choirgirl Hotel album via Martian Engineering
Turn up the volume on your next album cover
You’ve caught up on the best album covers and seen inspiration from some of our favorite modern designers. Now is the time to do it and get an amazing album cover that deserves platinum status. Our designers will help you make the ideal arrangement!