To distribute music to digital stores and streaming services, there are a few things you need: Audio files, metadata (album title, song title, artist name, release date, etc.), and album cover. And these necessary components must comply with store specifications.
Today we’re talking about album covers: preparing your album cover in the appropriate format so that it’s available on the shelves of digital stores.
All About Format
In order for a store to receive your album cover, the format must meet the following technical criteria:
- JPG or GIF
- The perfect box
- Aspect ratio at least 1600 x 1600 pixels
- Best quality RGB Color Mode (this includes black and white images)
- If you distribute your music to the Amazon On Demand store (to print physical CD covers), you need a resolution of 300 DPI.
I wish you’ve done this!
We’ve talked about the requirement to format text in albums, singles, or ringtones. Well, the same goes for album covers. There are certain rules that stores have that determine what can and cannot be included on your album cover. For example, even resolutions or dimensions that are less than requirements may result in rejection from the store.
The following cannot, including:
- Email address, URL/website, contact info (this includes social handles), or pricing
- Stickers from your album cover from scanned copies of physical CDs
- Something that shows the release format “CD, DVD, Digital Exclusive, disc”
- Cut text or a picture
- Compressed image into one corner with white space
- Digital store name or their store logo
- Words that express temporality, such as “new”, “latest single”, “limited edition” or “exclusive”
4,724 square inch album cover size
Then, this may sound like a given, but make sure the image isn’t blurry or pixilated (this can be adjusted through the aspect ratio to the number of pixels of your album cover). No one, including shops, should squint to see your album cover. This is where album cover sizes (pixels 1600 × 1600) matter. Keep in mind that stores and their requirements in album cover formats can vary – for example just because Spotify album covers require a 1500 × 1500 pixel format, you shouldn’t reduce that elsewhere.
If you include a few things in the list above, the digital store will likely reject your release, and it’s hard to generate sales when your music isn’t in store!
Game. Set. Match.
It’s important that the writing on your album cover matches the artist’s name and the title of your album.
Sometimes artists release singles from upcoming albums, before releasing an album. If you do this, you just have to make sure the album cover for this single is specific to the single.
Here’s what we meant:
You distributed the single “I Can’t Remember” from your upcoming album Amnesia. The Album Cover for your single MUST be titled “I Can’t Remember” as the title, NOT “Amnesia”, even though it is a single from the upcoming album release Amnesia.
Also, make sure that the Artist name on the album cover matches the artist’s name in the release information. Adding additional Artists to a cover that doesn’t actually appear in your release isn’t a good idea. For example, if you cover a song by John Lennon, his name can’t be in your artwork.
Your album cover can also include song/album titles or just the artist’s name — it doesn’t even have any text at all.
Whatever you do, make sure nothing out of sync happens.
If You Have a Booklet…
Do you have a digital booklet to include with your release? iTunes receives a digital booklet, and we can attach it to you as long as it meets iTunes specifications. Go here to get all the information you may need about the booklet.
Need an album cover?
Don’t have your own album cover? Nothing to worry about! We can handle it. When you get to the ‘My Album Cover’ step in creating your release, just click the green button that says CREATE MY ALBUM COVER. Then you can comb through those options pages until you find one that suits you. You can add text to customize your release.
If you’re having trouble uploading your album cover, be sure to contact our artist support team BEFORE you complete the distribution. We’ll help you and make your music easier on the go.