Cover Art for CD vs Digital Release?

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f31cad05ea0> #<Tag:0x00007f31cad05bd0>

So in the now cancelled edit I got the following feedback:

this is a cd release, and the image you’re uploading is digital. i’ll add an actual image of the cd instead.

Since the member have not responded to me yet, I decide to ask here:

I might have missed something, but is using product photos from Amazon, Target, etc. not acceptable? I was using the Amazon product photo on the CD listing, and I got two downvotes and two abstains. Amazon seemed to use the same product photo for all releases (streaming, download, CD, and vinyl). Is this why in this specific case it is not acceptable? I have definitely seen Amazon product photos been used in other instances, so want to be sure about that.



Those votes look out of line to me. Unless someone is able to provide evidence that the actual CD doesn’t match the digital image, it shouldn’t be voted down.

I’m sure there’s several topics from the administrators in the old forum about not voting against an edit like this.


I don’t think it is ideal if there are already digital releases in the release group, with the same image. Now that people can tag with the release group cover it seems like unnecessary duplication.

That said I wouldn’t vote ‘no’, as it’s not really downgrading data (unless I knew the CD cover looked different, or was digipak, etc). I think sammyrayy voted no because they have access to an actual CD cover/image? Which is definitely better. But I still wouldn’t vote no, I would put in an edit to remove it again instead, but I am very ‘no vote’-averse :grin:

edit: what yindesu said, but this no vote seems to be in good faith so don’t let it get you down @lateinautumn!


I mean if he is able to scan it and explain it as such, I’ll probably cancel mine anyways. I do have the CD, but getting the actual cover/booklet scanned is a bit of hassle for me as I don’t own a scanner. It’s just that what he said is a bit confusing and contradicting to what I have seen in other cases.


The funny thing is someone managed to get the Digital image through on Discogs.

As an image, it is a little too sharp, which makes it look odd for a CD. I agree with @aerozol that the RG can be used as a backup for the taggers.

Maybe @sammyrayy can see it is a slightly different shape when compared to their CD? It is quite common for a CD image to have a bit trimmed from the bottom for example. Amazon is often an unreliable source for images as they are a shop and don’t really care what they use.

Edit: Check this ebay image. Different cropping at top, left and right edges. Only small differences, but different.


I think it’s ok as the voter indeed uploaded the actual image.

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In this case, it would lead to much less confusion if he mentioned it in the original comment or replied as such. But since he did upload a scan, I guess it makes sense now.

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Well he said I’ll add….
But yes, it would have been better from @sammyrayy to do it first then asking for a cancel, voting no, passing the new edit link.
And you should paste a link to this discussion in the edit, so he can see it. :wink:

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This isn’t how Cover Art Archive editing or voting is supposed to be done to the best of my knowledge. @reosarevok ?

@yindesu I don’t understand what you don’t like. Was it was my personal opinion that the image looked odd and clearly not a scan? Or did you misunderstand my comment about tagging should not be a reason to grab a close match and add it to the release?

@sammyrayy has a good point that this image is wrong. It is not the same as the CD they have. That makes it a correct No vote. The differences in that image from Ebay may be small - but this is a difference. It happens a lot with a digital image vs CD\LP. The CD\LP is nearly always cropped in a different shape.

The simple thing to do is focus on the buttons on the cuff on the bottom right. This is where the cropping stands out the clearest on the three different images.

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There is no rule that says that the Cover Art Archive cannot store “sharp” Front images for a CD.

If the concern is that the digital image is zoomed out a little more than the actual booklet of the CD is, then we can do a lossless JPEG crop of the clean image (assuming that the difference is greater than 16 pixels in all directions). In general, consumers of the Front image prefer a clean image rather than a dirty/noisy scan. The guidelines ask for accuracy, but nowhere does it say that clean/“sharp” images are not allowed.

Depends on what is a consumer.
I like having the correct front.
Those who are tagging and just want any good looking front will use the release group front.

Anyway the later upload, I don’t think we can say it is dirty/noisy scan: Edit #84669756 - MusicBrainz

So why not asking for cancelling (by a no vote) a less good image?

Voting no is not criticism against an editor, in this case it is please cancel this in favour of a better replacement.

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In fact, How to Add Cover Art - MusicBrainz specifically says,

Both original images (for example, the ones included with a digital download) and scans are allowed; if you’re planning to scan your releases, we recommend doing it at 600dpi.

Style / Release - MusicBrainz then requests,

The cover art for a release must always exactly match the actual art for that specific release. Artwork for a release should not be added to another release: for example, digipaks are not square, and a square digital front cover should not be uploaded to a digipak release.

While high quality scans are preferable for all physical releases, it is acceptable to add a square digital front cover to a CD release if you are completely sure that it is exactly the same (both on shape and design) as on the CD. For example, if you have the disc but do not have a scanner, a good quality digital image that looks the same is an acceptable substitute. If you’re not sure, do not upload the image to the CD (you should of course still upload it to the corresponding digital release).


@jesus2099: Please do not take my quote out of context. I specifically said the clean image needs to be accurate in the very next sentence.

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Sorry for the misunderstanding. That is not what I said or meant. All I meant was the clarity of the image showed it was not real. It stood out as not being from the CD.

Now that is frowned upon. As far as I was aware we are not supposed to create faked images. This is why I was pointing to the RG just like @aerozol was suggesting. It is better for there to be no image than one that has been mocked up to look correct.

And this image was not the same. It may be only a small difference to you, but it is a difference. I have seen whole new Releases created over smaller differences than that.

Yeah, I realise this whole thread is about a tiny sliver of a difference on an image most people won’t care about. But the database does care about having exact images as on the CDs. Images are used for identification purposes so need to be accurate. Amazon is a shop and is well known to not care, but usually is accepted. In this case @sammyrayy knew they had the image available. They could also see that the uploaded image was wrong. I too have voted no on images like this before. There was a Radiohead cover only last week where a digital image was again zoomed out too far when compared to the CD.


They are served this via the release group image, right?

The release image should reflect how it was printed - including printing artifacts, colouring, all that good stuff. And then hopefully the group has a lovely digital release in it with a ‘perfect’ square digital cover. I’ve always found that guideline redundant, I think it was from before we had release group cover tagging abilities?

Still not saying I would no vote, but I would definitely replace with an actual release image if I could find one.


@lateinautumn , thank you for contributing to MusicBrainz. I see you have made thousands of edits in just one year. That is fantastic!

That said: no, I think uploading product photos from retailers as if they were actual artwork is not acceptable.

Why? Because the retailers are not reliable sources: they can be pretty sloppy in what they put up, they just want to sell goods, they are not trying to make the accurate database that we are. And because an image of one Release, accurate or not, is not applicable to another Release of the same Release group. A cover image of a CD Release should be a picture of the physical CD’s cover, not the artwork included with a similar MP3 digital download.

So, if you have the physical CD, then scan the front cover and upload that. If you don’t have the physical CD, then you are not in a position to provide cover art for that CD Release entry. If you have the MP3 digital download, you are in a position to extract the artwork embedded in that file and upload it as the cover for the digital media Release. If you do not have the digital download, then you are not in a position to provide the cover art for that digital media Release. If you can’t provide cover art, leave it empty, and let someone later fill in that gap.

I understand the appeal of providing an approximately similar cover art image where there is none, so that Release listings have pretty pictures, and media files on music players have a nice visualisation. But the project needs to make a decision about how similar is “similar enough”. I understand the MusicBrainz guidelines to say, sales-oriented artwork from unreliable retailers is not similar enough for the database we are making.

What are workarounds? The MusicBrainz system can find alternative images to fill in blank entries, without that alternative being labelled as the real thing. For a while, the MusicBrainz system used Amazon preview images in this way. And, anyone using Picard to tag music files can supply their own cover art image to Picard, even if that image is not really of the Release being tagged.

Do you see the logic of this standard?


Once again, this is not what the MusicBrainz documentation and style guidelines say. @reosarevok, can you please confirm whether the MusicBrainz documentation is correct, or all of these hardline opinions are the law of the land?

Well, Most of the time when I have the release, I reuse an image I find online if it is faithful.
When I cannot find any, I either don’t upload or sometimes very rarely* I scan my edition to avoid ambiguate editions.

* I took the time to tediously scan for only 3% of my releases.


@yindesu, thank you for asking good questions.

I think that what you quoted from me actually is consistent with the style guidelines you quoted above.

The style guidelines say, the cover art must “always exactly match the actual art”. They say, the digital artwork is OK “if you are completely sure that it is exactly the same (both on shape and design) as on the CD”. But how can you be sure if you do not have the physical CD? I think you cannot be sure. The artwork provided by online stores is not reliable enough for the purpose. Thus, if you don’t have the physical CD, then I think you are not in a position to provide cover art for that CD Release entry.

Similarly, the “How to Add Cover Art” documentation to which you linked says that “original images… are allowed”, but what is the original image for a CD? The documentation’s example of original image explicitly mentions “included with a digital download”. That clearly is relevant to a Release based on the digital media. But those How To instructions do not say, an original image from one Release can be applied to a different Release even if you aren’t sure they are the same.

The main point I would emphasise is, it is OK to leave out cover art from a new Release entry, if you don’t have a good enough cover art contribution. As the style guidelines say, “If you’re not sure, do not upload the [digital front cover] image to the CD”.

Some cover art uploads are worse than nothing, if they are inaccurate, but can’t be easily detected as such. They might mislead users of the data. They might also deter a future contributor from uploading the actual, accurate artwork, because it looks like there is no need to.