Well Versed

The Ultimate Guide to Cover Art

Ah, artwork. A fabulous 3000 x 3000 square to look at and use to entice new fans to click play on your music. It seems so simple – choose a picture for your release and upload it – but it’s so much more than that. Follow us as we guide you through the process of submitting the perfect square.

There are various things that can slow down a release going live in stores – and a lot of it comes from problems with the artwork.

The stores have really strict guidelines around cover art and if there are one or a few things that need to be tightened up, that leads to messages back and forth between you and our support team and corrections before a release can go live. And although that’s A-OK, an even better option is to upload artwork that is spot on the first time and get your release live as soon as possible.

 

How do you do that?

We get asked a lot about artwork and what is required, so we have collated that information here. There are a lot of royalty free image sites that supply image files that are large enough that you can download and use for the basis of your cover art, keep reading for a list of the ones we recommend. Just remember your cover art must be a perfect square so either choose a square image or find one you can crop.

Once you have a large enough image, you can use an image editing software or website to add other design elements, or your artist name and/or release title if you wish.

 

Artwork dimensions

Artwork needs to be 3000 x 3000 pixels.

Minimum. 

A perfect square.

1:1 ratio.

The maximum it can be is 6000 x 6000pixels. Having these dimensions right from the get to means it will be a good quality file and will be accepted by online stores. 

You don’t have to be a whizz with Photoshop or Lightroom – there are other alternatives you can use. A free online graphic design site like Canva will help you make sure you have a perfectly square image, minimum 3000 pixels square. On Canva you can also add extra design elements, and your artist name and/or title if you wish.

The most important thing that will help you with your artwork size, is to start with a large image. It is much easier to scale down than to scale up. Scaling up is possible, but you’re much more likely to end up with a stretched, blurry or pixellated image, which will get rejected. Start large is our advice.

These dimensions are the requirements for online stores and so we can’t accept anything less than this. When all elements of a release are correct, distribution is seamless.

 

What CAN’T I do with my artwork?

Often, knowing what isn’t acceptable will help you zero in on what you CAN do. There is less room for error when you follow the points below, and if you don’t get it right the first time that’s ok – we’re always here to guide you.

Let’s get into it!

Cover art cannot be:

• Blurry

• Pixelated

• Misaligned

• Oddly rotated

What we do love is a crisp image that is balanced and not rotated.

 

Image can’t contain:

• The name or logo of a retailer

• Any registered trademarks

• Copyrighted logotypes

• Content you don’t own the rights to

• The word ‘exclusive’

• Production credits (it’s okay to mention Producer of the release)

• Any reference to physical packaging, or it being a digital product

• Pricing

• Pornographic images or links to pornographic websites

• Any promotion for another product

• Any misleading information (e.g. it can’t include another artist not

featured in your music)

• Reference to content that isn’t there

• Websites or URLs

• Offensive imagery or symbolism

• References to social media Channels

• Spinnup Logo

What we love (if you’re adding text) is the title of the release and the artist name. This is the only text you can include and these must match exactly what is written in the metadata (what you write in the boxes when creating your release on Spinnup). You can also leave text off the image altogether if you wish – never underestimate the power of a nice clean image

 

A little more on artist name and release title:

• The text must be exactly the same as what you enter in the release information (metadata)

• Keep the text to a minimum – we like detail but this is not the ending credits on Star Wars.

• Do not abbreviate your artist name, unless that’s how it’s written in the release information.

• Do not include production credits (it’s okay to mention Producer of the release)

• A featured artist can only be featured on a cover when he is featuring on all tracks of a release

 

Can I use logos or other peoples images on my artwork?

No. It’s a copyright thing. We don’t allow other people to use your music without permission, and we don’t allow artists to use other peoples protected images and logos on their artwork.  This includes logos on any clothing you are wearing in the artwork.  That Nike hoodie?  Hide the logo (or delete it post-production) or find a different top. There you go, an excuse to go shopping.

 

What if I want to put more than my name and title?

Online stores set the rules we have to follow. You may put the title of the release, the artist name, and featuring artist name if there is one.  A simple clean image often has more impact, so this works in your favor. There can be no extra text or logos on the artwork and the title name and artist name must match the release information on Spinnup.  If your name on the release data says Missus Yellowstone, you can’t then write Miss Yellowstone on the artwork. 

Consistency is what we need.

And of course, you can leave your artwork without any text. 

   

 

Ok phew!  Now we know all that let us breeze into what types of files are accepted:

JPG

JPEG

PNG

Easy.

 

I don’t have Photoshop, what can I use for my artwork?

There are a few royalty free sites like Pexels, Unsplash, and Stocksnap.  You can get amazing images that are large in size, which are so much easier to work with and stunning. Take one of these images, or one of your own A+ pics (remember, minimum of 3000x3000pixels), then head over to Canva and you can design your artwork in there.

Canva will help you create artwork that starts at 3000×3000 pixels and is 1:1 ratio – a square. Just make sure when you click ‘Create a design’ you select ‘Custom dimensions’ in the top right corner and add 3000 in both boxes for width and height. 

 

A quick debrief

• Start with a large in focus image that is not rotated, and edit from there

• 3000x3000pixels: 1:1 ratio:  A square

• File type can be JPG, JPEG, or PNG

• Text can only include title and artist name (and featuring artist name if the featuring artist is featured on all the tracks of the release)

• All text on artwork must match the text in the metadata (on the release information)

• No logos or use of other peoples or companies images.

• The only thing left to do now is upload it to Spinnup.  Then we upload it to the world.

 

How to upload artwork on Spinnup:

We have a cool video about uploading artwork.  Watch here (or below) for all you need to know.  The process is simple and quick.  A click of a button if you will.  It goes over the requirements again quickly in a visual format. You can find other ‘how to’ guides relating to creating releases through to transferring your music to Spinnup on our Help Centre.

You are now ready to submit your artwork along with your release. Armed with this information the online stores will love you! We already do.