In order to distribute music to digital stores and streaming services, 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, its format needs to meet several technical criteria:
- JPG or GIF
- Perfect square
- Aspect ratio 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.
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. 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 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 (this can be adjusted via aspect ratio by the number of pixels your cover art is). No one, including the stores, wants to have to squint to see your art. This is where cover art size (1600×1600 pixels) is important. Keep in mind that stores and their requirements around cover art format can vary – for example just because Spotify albums / Spotify covers require a 1500×1500 pixel format, you shouldn’t discount how it might look elsewhere.
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 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 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. Head over 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.