3 Things You Need to Know About Cover Art

By Jacqueline Rosokoff, Editor

In order to distribute music to digital stores, there are a few things you need: Audio files, metadata (album title, track titles, artist names, release date, etc.), and cover art.  And these required components must be up to store specs.

Today we’re talking cover art: getting your artwork in the appropriate format so it flies through to digital store shelves.

All About Format

In order for the stores to accept your artwork, it needs to meet several technical criteria:

-JPG or GIF
-Perfect square
-At least 1600 x 1600 pixels in size
-Best quality RGB Color Mode (this includes black and white images)
-If you’re distributing your music to the Amazon On Demand store (for printing physical CDs), you need a resolution of 300 DPI.

Don’t Do It!

A few weeks ago we talked about the requirements for formatting the text in an album, single, or ringtone.   Well, the same applies to artwork. There are certain rules the stores have that dictate what can and cannot be included on your artwork.

Here’s what you CAN’T include:

-email addresses, URLS, contact info (this includes Twitter handles), pricing
-stickers from your artwork from a scanned copy of physical CD
-something that suggests format of the release “CD, DVD, Digital Exclusive”
-cut off text or images
-an image that’s compressed into one corner with white space
-names of digital stores or their logos
-words that express temporality, like “new” or “latest single”

Artwork Formatting

Also, this may sound like a given, but make sure the image isn’t blurry or pixilated. No one, including the stores, wants to have to squint to see your art.

If you do include some of those things in the list above, the digital stores will likely reject your release, and it’s tough to generate sales when your music isn’t in stores!

Game. Set. Match.

It’s really important that the text on your artwork match your artist name and album title.

Sometimes artists release a single off an upcoming album, in advance of the album release.  If you do this, you just need to make sure the artwork for the single is specific to that single.

Here’s what I mean:

You’re distributing a single “I Can’t Remember“ off your upcoming album Amnesia. The artwork for your single MUST say “I Can’t Remember “ as the title, NOT Amnesia, even though it’s a single from the upcoming release Amnesia.

Also, make sure that the artist name on the artwork matches the artist name in the release information.  Adding extra artists to the cover art who aren’t actually performing on the release isn’t a good idea.  For example, if you’re covering a song by John Lennon, his name can’t be on your artwork.

Your artwork can also just include the song/album title or just the artist’s name—it can even have no text at all.

Whatever you do, just make sure there isn’t a mismatching situation going on.

If You Have a Booklet…

Do you have a digital booklet to include with your release?  iTunes accepts digital booklets, and we can attach them for you so long as they meet iTunes’ specifications.  Go here for all the information you may need about booklets.

Need Some Art?

Don’t have your own artwork?  Not to worry! We’ve got you covered.  When you get to the ‘My Artwork” step in creating your release, just click the green button that says MAKE MY ART.  Then you can comb through pages of art options until you find one that speaks to you.  You’ll be able to add text to customize your release.

If you have any trouble while you’re uploading your artwork, make sure to contact our artist support team BEFORE you finish distribution. We’ll help you out and get your music on its way.

Ready to upload your artwork? Get started now.

  • rprentice

    Very good and informative instructions.

  • Jo

    Isn’t DPI a printing term and therefore irrelevant for on-screen-only artwork?

    • tunecore

      You’re right, we’ve corrected the line about DPI above. Thanks!

    • xvond

      It’s not irrelevant when setting up a raster image file.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.hartnett2 Daniel Hartnett

    Man l love this blog great content here

  • http://PeteBensen.com/ Peter Erik Bensen

    Very good info, IMO.

  • Gelio Marcus

    It didn’t menion anything about the resolution for the artwork. Best I could find anywhere else was 72p/in

    • tunecore

      Hey Gelio,

      Resolution should be at least 72 dpi (300 dpi is better)

      More info here: http://bit.ly/1ru6SlN

  • http://www.tuneupmedia.com Tuneupmedia

    Great read! informative blog.
    Thank you

  • Kelley

    If you plan to print your work, you’ll want CMYK then convert it to RGB for digital, that way there isn’t a drastic difference between your digital version and your hard copy. Also, please just hire a designer, you probably don’t want to have the same artwork as someone else with a different text overlay.

  • Herman

    i uploaded my single with a full HD 1700 x 1700 JPG-file cover art. But here on spotify, the resolution is extremely low ! What happened?

    • tunecore

      Hello, Herman! We apologize but we only deliver exactly what is uploaded from your account to all the stores. Unfortunately, we do not have any control over how the stores themselves convert artwork or audio files that fit to their store formats.

  • http://www.clippingpathspecialist.com/photoshop-retouching/ Suman Rahman

    Definitely some important points has been sorted out here that all the artist should be aware of. I have a question on the format of artwork, which format is better jpg or gif?

  • Bobbi

    I’m stumped. I looked online for a converter: 1600X1600 Pixels to inches for my design. It said 5.33 inches. But my art was rejected. WHAT is the size in inches?

    • tunecore

      Hi Bobbi,

      The conversion from inches to pixels will depend on the PPI (pixels per inch) of the original image. TuneCore requires resolution of at least 72 PPI for cover art images, and you can read more here: http://bit.ly/1ru6SlN

  • Abe

    I want to hire my aunt to create my own artwork. I assume I would then need to scan it in. Are there any good guidelines you recommend? I was told by a friend that I should probably have the artwork done larger and then work to scale it down as needed. I working toward a mainly digital release…any info would be greatly appreciated.

    • tunecore

      Hi Abe,

      If it is being done by hand, yes you will need to scan it to get it online. The larger artwork is, the less you’ll need to stretch it out and possibly compromise the work.

      I recommend checking your computer’s resolution, (PPI/DPI), and converting 1600X1600 pixels to inches based on that. That way, you’ll know how large or small of an image to start off with in inches. Learn more about our requirements here: http://bit.ly/1ru6SlN

      • Abe

        Great. Very helpful. Thanks for the quick response!

        • tunecore

          You got it, Abe ;)