Cover art quality and strategy

Hello Jim,
Apparently you are not looking for the correct artwork for the edition you have.
How would you define what is your best artwork?

The Release Group cover can already be set from the Release Group page, but it is supposed to use the same art as the original release. Some releases get very different covers later in their life so automated options will not work.

As @jesus2099 points out - MB art isn’t about “best”, it is about “most accurate for that specific release”. Rear covers and Mediums are often very different between Releases. For example, you should not swap a low quality image for something found online unless you can show for certain it is the same image from the same version of that Release. Sometimes the differences can be subtle.


Is that actually written anywhere? It’s not unreasonable, but I’m not aware of a guideline to that effect.

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To be honest @highstrung, I don’t know. I assumed it was supposed to be based on the original release as that is what we do with Recording names, etc. But maybe it is the most common image? Or most recognised image?

I’ve been working on this Crass - Feeding of the 5000 and assumed the Release Group should be that original cover and not the more commonly recognised cover with a border. Every reissue of that album has changed what appears in the right hand margin. (Stands out well if you use @jesus2099’s must have FUNKEY ILLUSTRATED RECORDS)

Not that I am aware of. I’ve always been told that the release group image should be the highest quality cover from the releases in that release group.


Kia Ora jimmy2bob!

I’m not sure if this has been clearly addressed yet, but Picard/MB already provides this functionality.

In Options > Cover Art move ‘CAA Release Group’ above ‘Cover Art Archive’:


This will grab the release group image instead of the exact cover for your version.

If the release group cover is inferior, rather than fixing your files you can help everyone :partying_face: by setting the release group cover to the best quality version:


No need to remove low quality art from individual releases (unless you are replacing it with a better quality image from that exact release).

If there’s no quality cover available and no release to add a nice cover to, I often quickly import a digital release into the group so I can set the cover, only takes a min.

I always set the RG cover to the highest res square version. So it’s usually from new a digital reissue. As this is what users like jimmy2bob tend to be wanting for tagging.

But I think your point is that sometimes reissues get completely different artwork that doesn’t resemble the original at all? In which case I would also avoid using those covers if possible.

p.s. Created a ticket that might make it a bit clearer


Yeah - that’s what I mean. I look at the original release, and then find the best quality image that matches that. Which I agree is often a digital one (Bandcamp can be good for this). When it gets a puzzle is like the album I threw up as an example as the original release image is different to the more famous images of the album.

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For the crass one I personally would a use a newer ‘cleaner’ cover, even if it’s had some elements added.

Just based off what people seem to want (based off forum visitors) when they’re tagging with the Release Group image. It’s usually not too complicated - a big square image that is recognisable and looks good in my player/a big screen.

Usually MB is all about strict rules but imo the Release Group cover art function feels a bit more ‘go with what looks nice’. But I don’t think there’s guidelines so ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Thanks for all your replies. For reference I’m working with Hail to the Thief

*** Also realised I had a misconception of RG artwork. It’s not a separate upload. It’s artwork mirrored from an existing chosen release. ***

Here’s all the available cover art (fronts) for that release group:

Cover art for my Aussie release is highlighted red. It’s not great - 350x350px. Release group is yellow. That’s better - 2840x2834, but a little dark. The one highlighted green is the best IMHO - smaller at 1400x1400, but great colours and sharp. But it’s on a totally different release to mine, and there’s no way Picard would have ever found it.

To @jesus2099 's point, I’d argue all the artworks in those top three rows are the same, and correct for all those releases. It’s only the quality that differs, due to scanning technique, what “good enough” meant for whoever uploaded it, etc.

So, if we are happy to replace poor quality versions on releases with better quality, what’s the best way to do that? Do I upload 11 more copies of the same image (creating 11 more unique entries in the CAA)? Or can we move to a principle of least redundancy and have one copy of the file that several releases refer to?

Which brings me back to the idea of using RG artwork kind of like Amazon art. Make it it’s own entity, and if there isn’t anything specific defined for a release, present the RG artwork transparently through the MB backend instead. That way it doesn’t matter which order cover art preferences are set in the client (thanks for the tip @aerozol). The server will figure it out and the client will get something useful.

Or alternatively enable “Release Group CAA” by default. Is there a reason it’s not?

Either approach would allow for the guilt free cleanup of poor quality artwork, because if the RG artwork is better quality you can remove the crumby release artwork and the client side would still get something useful. The better RG artwork would still get suggested because there is no poor release artwork “blocking” it.

As to @aerozol and @IvanDobsky 's points about whether the RG artwork should be the original release or the best known, that’s probably going to remain a judgement call.

One of those options would be what I’m proposing. Keen to hash it out further if there’s interest.


Some possibly related threads:

I don’t understand sorry - If you’re using the ‘CAA Release Group’ cover, which should be set to the best cover, why would you upload it to 11 releases?

The same cover should never need to be duplicated :+1:

ps I once opened a ticket for CAA Release Group to default above CAA Release but it was considered too big a change


This seems like the only workaround I can see to make sure no one is stuck with poor or no artwork if they don’t have “CAA Release Group” checked. Not suggesting I would actually do that - more using it to illustrate a usability gap for new users.

But looking at your ticket it seems like CAA Release Group was eventually selected by default anyway? PICARD-2125: Enable CaaReleaseGroup by default by phw · Pull Request #1751 · metabrainz/picard · GitHub

With that at least now a new user would get the better RG artwork so long as poorer quality artwork was removed from the release they had as their entry point. Otherwise Picard is going to suggest the crumby art first.

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We should only upload covers that are coming from the specific edition.
So maybe you can do this for DL editions but not for physical editions.


It is ‘enabled’ by default, yeah. But as you noticed, the default order is below the ‘release’ cover. So a new user needs to drag it to the top in the Picard options screen if they want the most ‘taggable’ art vs the correct art for their version.

To reiterate: (correct) artwork should never be removed from a release on the basis of quality, unless a better image of that exact release is added.

btw, just double checking that you have now dragged the ‘CAA Release Group’ to the top of the list (in Picard’s options) for your needs? :slight_smile:


jimmy2bob wrote, " … ’ I’d argue all the artworks in those top three rows are the same, and correct for all those releases …"
If those are physical Releases and you have them all physically in front of you then you’d be well placed to make a sound judgement on that. Without the physical object however you would not be able to tell whether the screen image differences were due to different scanning technology and method, different printer inks, different environmental degradation of the print or different images being printed. (Unless you were the printer.)
A Release is defined by its coverart - if an Editor sees any difference in Coverart then they can create a new Release. If any of the Releases in the top 3 rows were created on the basis that its front coverart was different then ignoring that difference would introduce errors into the database and open a way for a duplicate Release to be added.


Thanks @jesus2099, @aerozol and @mmirG.

I get it now. Unless I have artwork scanned from the physical release I hold in my hot little hand, it mustn’t supercede any artwork already on that release, no matter how close it might look.

Apologies to everyone else trying to make that point and I wasn’t getting it.

Thanks all

p.s. yes @aerozol I have CAA RG at the top of the list :wink:


Just wanted to note that if the goal is to have high quality artwork that represents the release group or “album” best instead of having an exact scan of a specific release, then you might also look into the Picard plugins for and . Both focus on giving you high quality images that best represent the general release. E.g. here is the cover art for Pink Floyds “The Dark Side of the Moon” on theaudiodb and the scan of the original Vinyl release on MB.

There are of course many possible cover art sources on the web. The reasons why I find both and very interesting for Picard users is that both projects are also community driven and they both make use of MB metadata, that means those images are directly linked to a MB release group. With that different approach to handle cover art (cleaned, idealized artwork in standardized sizes) I think they both complement the CAA nicely.


Remember - MB is about identification, not tagging. It just happens to be a good place to find images. As @outsidecontext suggests, for tagging places like and give much prettier options.

@aerozol I was wondering about that Crass release as the iconic cover would be the Second Sitting LP with “Pay no more than £2.00” on the side. Trouble is many of the alternate images are sourced from Discogs and quite small. The only large images are reissues from 30 years later which would not be right. Also a search online brings up badly blown-up images only.

Before I started working on this Release Group it was suffering badly from “upload the same image to all the releases” issues. Too many of these incorrectly had that same wrong image attached.




I think a lot of people using CAA RG (entering abbreviation hell there sorry haha) to tag would prefer having the digital reissue cover applied, even with its changes.

But it’s certainly not a hill I would die on! Without guidelines it’s all a bit vague (+ I don’t use the function, except for with the funkey illustrated records script as well)


I don’t know. I’d expect to see a recognisable cover, not something that was created 30 years later. The text on the right hand border is too different to the iconic cover. Same with the text at the bottom - a dash\hyphen has been added that didn’t used to be there.

My cover is a 1990s edition, meaning it is blank on the right. Otherwise I’ll get that photographed at a higher res and use it. And I ain’t going to EBay for this one as “Pay no more than £2.00” copies go for £100!! Woo! Capitalism!! :moneybag:

You have started me on a mini-mission now to find the best image I can of a “Pay no more that £2.00” edition. :slight_smile:

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No apology necessary.
You’ve done well ijn a complx environment where we trying to fit the wildness of a little portion of reality into a digital database.

Please keep bringing things that don’t make sense or seem unnecessarily inefficient to others attention.
Things here can be improved further if people discuss them.