MCA Master Series
This series of pages is about the recording label MCA Master Series, which existed between 1986 and 1990.
My complete collection of the MCA Master series is comprised of 45 CDs with 15 unique artists. Many times, artists within the label would collaborate or play on other artists’ albums, giving the label a consistent sound and encouraging more purchases from other artists on the same label. It was a smart and clever concept.
In addition to the artist’s releases, MCA Master Series also released many sampler CDs. In the years long before the Internet, this was the way to efficiently experience a lot of what a label had to offer. Typically, two sampler CDs were released per year. Also, two special-issue releases were made: one focusing just on the label’s guitar players, and one containing exclusive recordings for the holiday season. One rare sampler CD was released for BMW automobile owners as an audio system reference disc.
The CD artwork and design was preeminently 80’s, with a cohesiveness that was unmatched. It was easy to spot an MCA Master Series album. This decision came with pros and cons. On the plus side, it made the label stand out and possibly raised the exposure of all the artists on the label. On the negative side, the artists weren’t able to stand out on their own and possibly felt like the label’s “property”. This design rigidity broke down towards the end of the label’s life and the last-released album only had a couple of the identifying marks of the label.
The art director for most albums was Virginia Team, who started a company called Virginia Team Design, Inc. in Nashville, coincidently in 1986. Virginia Team Design Inc. was sold to Luellyn Latocki Hensley and renamed in 2002 to Latocki Team Creative. Sadly, the company never seems to have had an Internet presence.