3 Things You Should Know About Cover Art

In order to distribute music to digital stores and streaming services, you need a few things: audio files, metadata (album title, track titles, artist names, release date, etc.), etc.

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

What Is Cover Art & Why It’s Important?

Professional cover art is the quickest and most time-honored way to make new fans. It makes your album stand out from the others competing for an audience's attention. It's a marketing gold mine, the skeleton key to unlocking engaging merchandise designs, social media posts, and themed music videos. If a third party creates your cover art, it can teach you how your songs affect new, open-minded listeners. Professional cover art is invaluable.

All that being true, you probably have many questions about what constitutes professional cover art. "What should the size of an album cover be for streaming platforms?" "How many pixels should that album cover be?" "Should my cover art for YouTube be the same as for Apple Music, Spotify, and other platforms?"

Luckily, we have the answers.

All About Format: Album Cover Size & Dimensions, Resolution & Aspect Ratio

In order for streaming stores, such as Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music, SoundCloud, Deezer, etc., to accept your artwork, its format needs to meet several technical criteria:

  • Image Format: JPG or GIF

  • Aspect Ratio: 1:1 (Perfect square)

  • Resolution: 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 CD covers), you need a resolution of 300 DPI.

How to Add Cover Art to Your Music

If you sell your music online through TuneCore (and we're biased but think you should be), you add cover art to your tracks at the beginning of the distribution process. You click "Add Release" and then click the "Add Artwork" tab after inputting other necessary fields to upload your cover.

These two steps are the easiest way to add cover art to your music. They ensure that your cover art accompanies your music on any streaming platform, from Spotify to YouTube Music.

If you're manually adding cover art to MP3 versions of your music, here are the three to nine steps you need to take.

For Mac:

  1. In your Music player of choice (likely Apple Music), select the song you want to add artwork to

  2. Click “Song > Info,” and then click “Artwork”

  3. From there:

    1. Click ”Add Artwork” and select the image file of your choice

    2. Drag the image file of your choice to the “Add Artwork” area

For Windows:

  1. In your Music player of choice (likely Windows Media Player),

  2. Click Library.

  3. Select images.

  4. Right-click and Select Advanced Tag Editor.

  5. Click the Picture.

  6. Click Add.
    Locate the image to be used for Album art.
    Click Open.
    Click OK.

Don’t Do It!

We’ve talked about the requirements for formatting the text in an album, single, or ringtone. Well, the same applies to artwork. There are specific rules the stores have that dictate what can and cannot be included in your artwork. For example, even a resolution or dimensions short of requirements could result in store rejection.


Here’s what you CAN’T include:

  • Email addresses, URLs/websites, contact info (this includes social handles), or pricing

  • Stickers from your artwork from a scanned copy of the physical CD

  • Something that suggests the format of the release “CD, DVD, Digital Exclusive, the 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”

Also, this may sound like a given, but make sure the image isn’t blurry or pixelated (this can be adjusted via aspect ratio by the number of pixels your cover art is). No one, including TuneCore digital store partners, wants to have to squint to see your art. This is where the cover art size (minimum 1600×1600 pixels) is important. Keep in mind that stores and their cover art format requirements can vary. For example, to get your music on Spotify, your album cover must be in a 1500×1500 pixel format to get your music on Spotify.

If you include any 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!

Cover Art

Game. Set. Match.

It’s really important that the text on your artwork matches your artist name and album title.
Sometimes, artists release a single from an upcoming album before the album's release. If you do this, you need to make sure the artwork for the single is specific to that single.
Here’s what we 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.

Also, make sure that the artist's name on the artwork matches the artist's name in the release information. Adding extra artists to the cover art who aren’t actually performing on the release is not 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 include the song/album title or the artist’s name—it can even have no text.

Whatever you do, just ensure there isn’t a mismatching situation.

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 as long as they meet their specifications. Head over here for all the information you may need about booklets.

Need Some Art?

Don’t have your 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 uploading your artwork, contact our artist support team BEFORE you finish distribution. We’ll help you out and get your music on its way.