The Art of Music on the Wall

Recorded music takes on another dimension when record covers become art on the wall.

By Kristin Belz July 19, 2013 Published in the July 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

A picture rail makes a perfect place for displaying record album art.

Image: Kristin Belz

Soon, the college kids will be back to school, stuffing their belongings into a Subaru and carting it all up the dorm stairs. Will they bring their music? Of course. They’ve got their music library on a tiny computer chip. The old days of hauling milk crates of records up the steps, down the hall and finding space in your little dorm room for your prized collection of can’t-live-without music – well, those days are gone. It may be the one way in which going to college is easier now than it used to be.

And yet, vinyl hasn’t died. Or at least the album cover art is living on. Those vinyl records were clad with wonderful cardboard covers. And that art is ripe for display in a dorm room or anywhere at home. In DIY displays or ready-to-go frames, albums beat posters as an inexpensive way to decorate, especially in the dorm, kids’ room, or first apartment. 

In Portland, records (and actual record stores) are experiencing a revival. Local bands are releasing new music on vinyl with an optional  digital download. With the album art displayed on the wall, it's really the best of all worlds.

Reasons to use album art as home decor:

  • Display your hipster cred and originality with every obscure record on the wall.
  • Easily change up your visual environment by rotating your collection.
  • Inexpensiveway to acquire interesting original art – Goodwill always has plenty of old records with amazing covers. 

    Minimalist frame edges don't mean you have to dress up as your favorite artist. Here, Records On Walls frames with a Kiss fan.

Ways to display album art on the wall:

  • Simple framesUrban Outfitters, Michael's, Jo-Ann Fabrics all carry inexpensive frames made to hang 12" records. (Typically priced $10- $4 per frame; Jo-Ann is having a sale as I write this.)
  • Fancy frames - thicker black or silver frames (from Art Vinyl) with an easy pop-out function so you can change out the record easily.
  • Minimalist top and bottom edges into which the cover slides 
  • Picture rail – perfect for albums
  • DIY installation of black plastic tile trim (into which you slide the record cover). See how to on Instructables
  • Picture wire with clips attached - again, easy DIY and easy to change. 

According to anecdotal evidence from one-time DJ DeVon Harris of Ochre video, people are buying more records, but not listening to them. He tells us Nielsen Soundscan tracked US vinyl sales at just under one million in 2007, but over 4.5 million units in 2012. The hugely popular new album by Daft Punk sold 19,000 vinyl units in the first week of its release in May. (Even if you live under a rock, you've probably heard their "Get Lucky" or "Lose Yourself to Dance.")

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