Throughout the music industry’s golden age, the hype sticker was a necessary evil. Loosely pasted onto the LP or CD artwork, its main job was to hype the product. Sometimes it added valuable information to the release. And sometimes it was even well designed or funny. But usually, the sticker’s intrusive presence interfered with the purity of the Gesamtkunstwerk, subverting the autonomy of the artwork and undermining its aesthetic and creative value. What’s more: it turned a masterpiece into a commodity.
Wherever it was positioned – in the top-right corner of the shrink or at the center of the jewel case – the sticker remained an object non grata. Removed and thrown away by most, it was condemned to a marginal existence. Unloved and demonized by music aficionados and record companies alike, and collected by only a few, the sticker became obsolete before it could be removed.
But this removal left traces: besides the physical evidence (glue residues, discolorations, tearing), the aura of the physical product sustained damage. Neither present nor absent, something akin to a phantom limb pain remained. As a result, sticker became stigma.
But digitization has changed all this: with the disappearance of the CD and the overall availability of streaming services, a dialectical spinback set in. Vinyl culture underwent a revival, opening up new realms for the hype sticker. Reevaluated as an important player in the context of design, typography, and music marketing, the sticker now faces a different future – and will hopefully be recognized as the independent entity and artform it is.