Before you can get started creating your artwork, you will need to get the format requirements correctly to make sure your artwork will be accepted by all DSPs:
- File format: JPG
- Aspect ratio: square, at least 3,000 x 3,000 pixels
- Colour profile: RGB
- Resolution: 72 dpi
- No further text than your artist name and release title (no text at all is also possible)
In addition to these specifications, make sure that your artwork is easily recognisable and not blurred, pixelated, uneven, misaligned or rotated, or has any other quality problems.
Accentuate your music with your artwork design
At best, your artwork should visually underline your music.
So you should for instance try and capture the mood, genre, or message of your release to give a glimpse of your music. For recurring releases add some recognisable elements to support your artist brand (e.g. same font, similar style). But don’t use the same image for multiple releases unless you create a series of releases with different editions.
Make it as unique as your music
Avoid creating a generic artwork. Rather put some thought in it, take your time and do some research. You can get inspired by your musical influences, other artists of your genre and look how they arranged their artworks. Pay attention to frequent motifs, colours, and recurring imagery. You can get inspiration from others and develop ideas from there, but you should not steal from others because also artworks are protected by copyright. Create your own unique artwork which supports your artist brand and represents you.
Choose a font fitting your style or genre
Say goodbye to Arial or Comic Sans. These fonts are very generic and not necessarily suitable for a cover artwork. Also, don't choose a font that is too unusual or too crazy and make sure that your artist name and release title are readable. Pay attention if you are allowed to use the fonts - because fonts are also protected and you may have to buy a licence to use them for your artwork. Therefore, find out in advance whether and how you are allowed to use a font.
Choose supporting colours and keep the contrast in mind
Carefully choose the colours for your artwork. Do you also have specific colours for your artist brand? Great! Then try to incorporate these. Try not to use too many colours or colours which are clashing. If you want to include some colour blocking (use of contrasting colours) use it cautiously. Also, don’t add text on a too busy background. Therefore, choose a font colour that stands out from the background.
Don’t make it too detailed
Avoid using small-scale elements. Those will make your artwork too busy, but also might not even be recognised because your artwork might not be displayed very big, for instance on Spotify or on mobile devices.
Get the rights straight
Don’t use any material you don’t have the rights for – no unauthorised images, nor protected fonts or other foreign graphical elements. When choosing images, make sure you own them, got permissions (e.g. by buying a licence), or they are explicitly free for commercial use.
If you let anyone else create your whole artwork, make sure to specify the copyright for that (add it in the C Line when creating your release on MusicHub). Typically, the label or band then buys the rights to the album artwork to have their name in the C Line. If you have created your artwork yourself, you are the owner of the artwork copyright.
If people are depicted on your artwork, make sure that you have their consent to use the image for your artwork. Every person has a right to their own image and with a written declaration of consent in which you also state what the image will be used for, where and for how long, you‘ll be on the safe side.
Get support when you need it
If you have some design skills and feel comfortable creating your artwork yourself, go for it. If you don’t feel capable of creating your artwork, don’t hesitate to get some support: there are services and designers out there to assist you with your artwork, but also free design tools where you can rely on some good templates and make sure you also meet the technical requirements. Do some research or feel free to reach out to us for further tips. Also, check out our social media channels: @joinmusichub (Instagram) and @joinmusichub.de (Facebook).
Dive deeper into MusicHub’s resources for DIY musicians
Get more useful knowledge and insights on distribution, promotion, rights & royalties, music production and more on our MusicHub blog. We regularly post artist and expert interviews as well as inspiring articles with lots of tips and advice.
Sign up for our MusicHub newsletter via the form below to get new articles on challenges and chances for independent musicians straight to your inbox.
Become part of our Discord Community and connect with other musicians and music business professionals, exchange knowledge and experiences, and perhaps meet your future collaborators.
Photo Credit: © istock/PeopleImages