Well Versed

It’s Not All About the Music You Know, Package Your Release Better

They say “never judge a book by its cover” however I’m 99,99% sure that I’m not the only person on this Earth to do exactly that and the same goes for music. So, when you have your hot new release it’s important to put the same amount of blood, sweat and tears into the cover art as you did into the crafting the release. Plus, it’s good to stand out visually on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and the rest…

It’s not important only so that the release is packaged with a pretty, striking or necessarily revolutionary image, it’s important because it is the first thing any fans, and potential new fans, will see and judge before hearing your track (apart from Spotify playlists, but let’s not get into that now). Unsurprisingly, it’s more likely that if a listener doesn’t like your cover art, they won’t be hitting play on your hot new track.

So, what are we talking about exactly? Well, we’re going to take a look at:

• What to consider when getting creative with cover art

• Ways to produce your next cover art

• Common issues we see when checking releases

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What to consider when getting those creative juices flowing

Cover art, if you like, is representative of your music (and genre specifically), your artist image and brand. You will see common themes across well-known musicians and the genre they are writing in. Just look at Hip-Hop – they’re either flamboyant cover artworks or simply dark and menacing looking. Metal, with their wild and jagged font, and Pop with just a good old selfie (well, not quite a selfie, but might as well be). The point is, you need to have a piece of art that is representative of your music and can give even the slightest bit of insight as to what would come out of the speakers if I was to press play.

So, what could you consider? Well, first you could take a look at your influences and analyse their cover art. The same goes for the genre you write in, look for common themes, use of colour, imagery etc. and see what you can draw from them. It’s also important to be unique, of course, don’t be stealing Wu Tang designs and passing them off as your own, that’s not cool, that’s just stealing… (and will get your release rejected 🙂 )

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Ways to produce your next cover art

We don’t expect you to have mad Photoshop skills, although it really would help if you did, so how do you get a top-notch cover art without spending your life savings? Well, you can always phone a friend that you know is able to help draw something up and bring your songs to life visually. Of course, this relies on having a visually savvy friend to lend a helping hand to your cause.

An alternative that won’t break the bank is our good friends over at Cover Art Factory who, believe it or not, create cover art for a living. They also have an offer exclusively for Spinnup users which you can find out more on here. In their own words “You select a Cover Design from our large portfolio, upload your picture and enter your information”. Simple!

For those of you with some skills or keen interest in creating cover art yourself (very DIY) there are some other options for you. There are plenty of YouTube Tutorial videos out there to help you learn the basics and get you going. If you have Photoshop then you will be able to create something in no time after watching a few beginner videos. If you don’t have Photoshop there’s a great site called Canva that is, in a nutshell, a free online image editor. The site has a wealth of tutorials and tips to help you get the most out of and to start using the platform.

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Common issues we see when checking releases

We spend each working day checking through a lot of releases, and now that the stores have become a little stricter on the quality of the cover art that they will accept, we’re seeing more common issues with artist artwork.

Here are some helpful things to bear in mind when finishing your cover art:

Pixels, pixels, pixels

One of the most common issues we are seeing is the quality of the cover art with the images being a little too pixelated. By being pixelated, the image will essentially look blurred or bleary. If images are stretched or enlarged they often become pixelated. Make sure your artwork is perfectly square, and at least 2800 x 2800 pixels for the best result.

“I just want to thank my family for…” – Too much text

Too much text is another issue. The stores are very strict on the text that is allowed on the cover art. There are many factors that change what can and can’t be included, which we don’t have the space to go into right now, you can read more about that here. As a general rule, only the artist name that appears on all tracks and / or the release title are allowed on the cover art. On the flip side, you do not need to include any text at all if you don’t want to. Simplicity is underrated!

.png versus .jpeg

This one is easily solved and it’s done by always exporting the original image source to a .jpeg. Files that are .pgn tend to not export layers correctly and often we see cover art where certain elements are faded or pixelated when really, they are not. Luckily .jpeg files do not have this issue.

And there you have it! We hope you find all of this info useful when creating your cover art for your next release. If you are still having issues and are worried about spec of files, why not head to our help centre that is full of, well, helpful articles.