3 Things You Need to Know About Cover Art

[Author: Jacqueline Rosokoff *
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.

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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/websites, 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, disc”
-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”, “latest single”, “limited edition” or “exclusive”

Album cover size 4.724 inches square

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!

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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

*[Editor’s Note: Updated October 8, 2015]

  • rprentice

    Very good and informative instructions.

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

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

    • I agree with you

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

  • 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!

      • kimcliftrn

        What if I just want to use pictures of my artist as my artwork

        • tunecore

          Hey there – just as long as you don’t include text that doesn’t match with the title of the release or the artist, you should be fine.

          In the event that your artwork is not in the right format, there’s no need to worry! You’ll promptly receive an email from a member of our Content Review Team when they begin reviewing the release. They’ll give you instructions on how to fix any errors, and once you do so and email them back directly, your album will be ready to be approved and sent to stores!

    • xvond

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

  • Man l love this blog great content here

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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 😉

  • samefacemuzik

    Can I put the record labels logo on the cover?

    • tunecore

      Hey there! You can add record label logos on the cover as long as the label is listed with the other metadata when you’re filling everything out.

      • jclaude66

        Is it okay for me to use Chinese/Japanese letters if I use them for design purposes? I have an Album with full Japanese words but they are not the name of the album/artist.

        • tunecore

          At this time TuneCore’s systems are not set up to deliver content with Chinese text and characters to iTunes and the other stores.

          For Album cover art design, iTunes can be pretty stringent when it comes to *matching* the artist/title of the album with the metadata you submit. This would be case-by-case – as long as you have the name of the album and artist clearly displayed and the symbols you’re using do not suggest otherwise, you should be fine.

          Regardless, before anything gets sent to iTunes, our Content Review Team will contact you via the email associated with your account to let you know if you need to make any edits. Hope that helps!

  • Tyler

    Should I add the parental advisory in the corner? or is that done somewhere along filling out the information in iTunes?

  • guna

    how do i change single cover if already distribute or release?

  • Vaughn

    Should I add the parental advisory in the corner? or is that automatically generated as you select explicit lyrics?

  • Komplicated Savage

    ARE YOU GOING TO PUT THE PARENTAL ADVISORY STICKER ON THERE FOR ME! Two people ask this question and I didnt see not ONE response from you TUNECORE!!

    • tunecore

      Hi There – if you’ve marked your release as ‘Explicit’ in the distribution/uploading process, it will be marked as such in digital stores and streaming platforms. Please read more here: http://help.tunecore.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/102/

      • Komplicated Savage

        Thanks Tunecore

  • jasoncampbellsmith@hotmail.com

    Do I need to add specific artwork for each individual track on a 7 track album?..if I do not will the cover for each track automatically be the same as the album artwork?

  • I’m specialized in album cover art design and logo design.I have worked with many musicians coming making various styles of music from chilling songs to death metal. My work can be found on my website http://www.zyekil.com I also have some premade designs for sale on my shop page http://www.zyekil.com/shop …..also be sure to check my fb page http://www.fb.me/zyekil for my recent projects updates.

  • Alan Gartner

    Hi, I want to know how can I do to upload my artwork that is not square. It’s like a DVD format. Thanks!

  • Eric Vera

    I want to know… what happens when an album cover looks a little like
    other album’s artwork, I mean, you took a picture and you want to use it
    as the Album Cover. Everything’s ready but you found out that other
    artist has a similar picture like yours already, other angle, font and
    colors, but still looks a little bit like yours. You didn’t knew but
    still you want to use it. Is that cool or is that an issue?

    • tunecore

      Hey Eric –

      As long as you’re not using any copyright-protected work or totally ripping off the cover of another album, you should be fine. If you’re worried about violating any sort of copyright, it’s in your best interest to go another route. Similarly, if you think that the two album covers share so much in common that it might hurt your brand image or confuse listeners, maybe think about choosing a different image.

      At the end of the day, if they’re just a couple of similar looking album covers and that’s about the only thing you and the other artist have in common, you should be OK. Just think in the long-run how it may impact the way your album is received and whether or not it has any negative implications for other artists.

      Hope that helps! Thanks for reading 🙂

      • Eric Vera

        Thanks for all the info. I appreciate it. I’m adding the picture I was telling you about so you can tell me what you think, if it’s ok or if I should change it. It’s missing the title, but it has my name on it.
        Thanks for replying in such short notice. Thank YOU for Reading. (:

        • tunecore

          Hi Eric – this isn’t likely to inspire an artist to request a takedown of some sort, and you should be fine!

          • Eric Vera

            Really? Great!! Thank you very much! (:

    • Stanish Lobete

      I want to have in my album information…, Changes happen 2017. is it ok to use it Instead in my final artwork txt is only Changes Happen?

      • tunecore

        Hey Stanish – if you need to make changes to a release that has already been distributed, you can either fill out a request form for TuneCore to send to stores, or re-distribute entirely. Read more about your two options here: elp.tunecore.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/9/

        • Stanish Lobete

          No problem..if its already submitted in the stores that would be fine thank you. i just want to know if there is no problem about my submission.

  • Ser Sinestesico

    I create artworks for bands, soloist and musical projects. Feel free to see my work and contact me if you want:
    https://behance.net/sersinestesico / fb: ser sinestésico

  • Naleen
  • Ser Sinestesico

    I create artworks for bands, soloist and musical projects. Feel free to see my work and contact me if you want:
    My artworks are in Coldplay videoclip “Up&Up”, Collagecollectiveco annual 2016, and music artists.
    https://behance.net/sersinestesico / fb: ser sinestésico

  • Underground Gems

    When can I tell my release has arrived at itunes? How can I verify I am being supplied with the correct services.

    • tunecore

      Hey there – you should receive an email from our Content Review Team when they have reviewed your release. If it’s good to go, they’ll indicate that in the email and you should see your release live in iTunes within 24-72 hours. If there’s an error or issue with the release, the email will give you instructions and you can correct anything from your account.

  • Underground Gems

    @tunecore how do I know when it’s on Pandora itunes and spotify

  • Sarai Bailey

    @tunecore:disqus I recently emailed you all concerning my cover art. It refuses to upload and the error message isn’t stating what the problem is

    • tunecore

      Hi Sarai – if you emailed our Artist Support Team, they will be getting back to you soon with instructions or assistance in properly uploading cover art!

  • Also do checkout https://CoverArtworks.com its a marketplace were Musicians and Bands can buy Pre-made or custom Album cover art for their music at affordable price

  • Elvis Eloho Johnny

    Please I uploaded the wrong artwork and I was informed about it after distribution, how do I go about it?

  • Gentleman’s and ladies, if you need cover i can make this for you, check my site: shoxart.com.

  • Keith Czerwinski

    What if my album art already has the parental advisory logo on it? Do I need to remove it?

  • Star Rios

    Hey, I uploaded my artwork, I made sure I met all the requirements. I had realized after I sent it that it was a little blurry. I don’t know if it’s the actual photo or if tune core compress your artwork or something until it’s released. but it was a perfect square and I met all the requirements so I’m just confused. Is this the final look? Please someone help me, thank you.

  • Clipping Masking

    This is very informative post…Thanks for sharing !

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    Line for pc download messenger application available to send and receive messages worldwide.

  • Dimitrios Perontsis

    What if i have the name of the producer on the artwork “Produced by bla bla”? Do i put this info in the artist name section?

  • Good guidelince on cover art.

  • frankwestphalk

    Question: when my music is uploaded to tunecore and distributed to online stores, does the album cover get embedded in the metadata? Example: I open an mp3 that I purchased from google play, and was distributed to google play, via tunecore. When I play that mp3, will I see the album cover art in the player? I believe this is part of an ID3 metadata tag. Does anyone know if the art will be embedded? Thanks!

    • tunecore

      Hi Frank – ’embedded’ isn’t really applicable here, but to answer your question, yes, your cover art will be visible on downloads and in streaming platforms when streamed.

  • Silvia Vecchini

    Can I include “Artwork by nameoftheartist” in a cover even though it is not indicated on albums metadata?

    • tunecore

      Hi Silvia – unfortunately that extra copy on the cover art will cause it to be rejected.