Even before listening to your music, your audience is first exposed to the cover art. We can say the cover art provides the visual gateway to your music.


Potential listeners are put down by a poor cover art and they will never press “play”. Also, the cover art must comply with the guidelines issued by the streaming and downloading services. Here are a few guidelines to get the best cover art for your digital music.

Important cover art guidelines

· Make the cover art unique for every single release so that the audience can identify each release by the cover alone.

· Make sure the text placed on the cover will match with the information entered for the release including the artist name and the title of the album.

· Handle artist name abbreviations carefully in a way it follows the popular fashion.

· There is no need to place the record label info on the cover artwork.

· Unless there is at least one track with explicit lyrics, there is no need to mention parental advisory warning such as ‘explicit content’.

· See that featured artist information matches. The list found on the cover art text should be included in the metadata for the release.

· Trademark or copyright infringement is a blunder that can lead to the removal of your music from streaming services. Never use logos, products or characters that represent or belong to other people, institutions or companies.

· Do not use the picture of an artist you are influenced by or you are covering.

· Avoid watermarks. While using a stock image, purchase it so that you can download it without watermark.

· Do not stretch the image to different aspect ratio which can result in blurriness, awkward borders or pixelation. Also scaling up the image to a larger size which can seriously affect the quality.

What you must not include

Never include contact information, advertising messages like, referring to the contextual time, barcodes, referring to the format of the product, source of availability, Nazi logos, pornography, images of CD jewel case, white or black square without any text, text messages, irrelevant information, images with a bunch of text, and gruesome images that will suggest a violent content in the music.

What is allowed on the cover art

· There are no casing rules to cover art. You are free to include all caps or lower case or the mix of them as you please.

· You may use the same image for all the singles provided the text is different on every release.

· Image without text is permitted but never use the same image for another release.

· You can use the name of the artist only if the release is a tribute to that artist.

· Karaoke tracks must mention ‘Originally performed by’ on the cover art. These tracks must feature the same design of the Karaoke genre.

· Include the proof that you are using it in the public domain by placing public domain images.

· As long as you follow the rules governing the use of stock art, you can use it.

· You may use the social media handle without mentioning the name of the social media platform.

By Patrick Hill on October 2, 2018.