Release Group cover art guidelines

From this weeks meeting - you can read the logs here.

Release Group Cover art was largely implemented for data reasons (so people don’t have to call a specific release to get the cover), and thus never came with guidelines, leaving it up to interpretation.

We arrived at the following:

Release Group Cover
The release cover that is the most representative of the concept of the release group/album (usually the original cover, although if another cover is the most common/recognizable, that should be used). Providing it is still representative, secondary considerations are to use the highest quality image, and to prefer a square ratio, for display purposes.

Does this sound right to you? Or wrong? Please share your feedback and suggestions for improvement below!


Most of that is pretty reasonable, but I have a problem with “most common/recognizable.” This is too open to opinion, I’m afraid.

I can’t think of a way to make it less open to opinion that is not just “always use the first” (but in that case we could just get rid of the whole system and literally always use the first). My thought was, say there’s an album that gets self-released in a small batch, then re-released commercially by a bigger label in a popular way - people would probably expect to see the second cover, not the first, in this case. But I might be wrong!


looks good to me~ might consider adding a note on Artist Intent, for example on this release, where there’s pretty clearly intent.

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I agree with the concept but there are some unavoidable loopholes due to text:

Most representative: Does it mean we take it from first release available or best artwork available among the releases? ex: Should a cover from a Digital reissue prevail among a crappy original Vinyl scan (given they are the same artwork)? Are there any priorities among identical artworks between resolution (pixels), definition (DPI), size (Mb) or fidelity (color, dithered, moirage,…)?

Most common: Make senses when there was some misprints but how to handle the censorhip cases? There are plenty of Albums where the censored cover is more famous despite majority of releases are relying on the “correct one”, then there’s just one step to imagine someone arguing for a change based on that. Also this is country and age dependant.

Could be nice to have something more tangible like:

  1. Artwork from first release available
  2. If an identical artwork among the other releases is proven to be more respectful to original it can prevail (some scale would be nice but outside of resolution and size it’s hard dto define parameters around color fidelity, format,…)
  3. If a different artwork among the other releases is proven to be more recognized than the original one if can prevail
  4. If there is no consensus on 2. or 3. (=Supermajority >2/3), apply 1. :slight_smile:
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Artist Intent always applies though. Not sure why it should be mentioned specifically here that wouldn’t also warrant “a note” on it in pretty much every other Style guideline… ?


Which is why they’re guidelines and not strict rules. No matter how “airtight” we try and make the guidelines, there will always be edge cases and exceptions. These do not all have to be accounted for and it seems RG cover art is not something that has seen massive contention so far, so I doubt it’d be something that’d suddenly come up with some light guidelines. If it does, hopefully it can get resolved in the edit notes or, failing that, in a topic here on these forums. :slight_smile:


Does this mean we would be uploading data twice - or is it simply a checkbox next to an already submitted image like RG Primary or something?

It’s not a new feature, rather a guideline for an existing one. You can see what’s being discussed e.g. on (the “set cover art” in the sidebar on release group pages).


Oooh, I see - nice, not something I’ve ever used :laughing:

Why wouldn’t the guideline prefer the image used by the official website of the artist/label, in cases where they have a concept similar to the release group?

In the K-pop world, albums are usually released in multiple physical editions with different concepts, styling and thus different cover arts. Usually, those are normal and limited versions, a limited edition and multiple normal versions, or just two or more normal versions. Just picking the cover of the first release wouldn’t work in this case.

In most cases, the first normal version cover could be used for the release group, or more preferably, the digital release cover if it’s different since that’s the one used in social media announcements and marketing and (usually) has the highest file quality available.


Is the concept of Release Group Art only the cover image (Front) or does it include all of the other types of artwork?

When you click Fresno’s link, you can see:

Set [release group] cover art

Only releases with a front cover on the Cover Art Archive can be selected.


It wasn’t clear to me. The use of the term ‘Cover Art’ is confusing to me. It should be ‘Front Cover’, ‘Cover Art’ means a lot more as I know you know. :grinning:

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I’m late to the discussion on the concept of Release Group Cover. I struggle with the concept because it seems to be the opposite of the MB focus on identifying different releases and documenting carefully and identifying how to distinguish between them. Yes, there are release groups, but each one is separate with a separate set of artwork including cover art, back cover etc. If I had my choice, I’d remove Release Group Covers!

If an api is really needed to get the best cover, then all kinds of rules can be defined, but it’s hard… just ask a Pink Floyd fan what is the correct Dark Side of the Moon cover - with or without the sticker?

Focus on getting the cover art for releases better.

Anyway… assuming release group covers remain… For release groups of releases by artists such as ‘The Beatles’, there are different releases of the same content on various mediums beginning with by vinyl then CDs, downloads and streaming… Why isn’t the earliest release in the original release country the default cover?

That’s the intent, because a lot of users don’t actually need that level of accuracy. Take for example the Wikipedia article about The Dark Side of the Moon - they have to choose one specific image to illustrate the article, and it should be as widely recognizable to casual browsing users as possible.

It is the default (I think), but you can choose to override the default (Release group sidebar → “Set cover art”). And the guidelines also acknowledge that this will be the most common case.


I think its going to be very difficult to determine what is ‘widely recognizable’ as it depends on the audience and will probably change over time…

First sentence perfect. The rest well worded, but I don’t understand the need for the square requirement. This will cause problems with digipak releases. If the Digipak is the best and more representative image then that should be selected. As the majority of releases are almost square I don’t think that suggestion is required.

The only time you come across not “almost square” is cassette and 8-tracks. In those cases it would seem fair enough if a CD\digital is swapped into place.

Don’t think MB should set an internal guideline to help taggers. Any external website using this will already be resizing, so it seems logical they can handle their own square cropping.

I just get worried there may be a “must be square” argument kick off. I have seen people add square images to a CD release “for tagging” which always seems plain wrong to me. It was not how I was taught is the MB way.

A slightly battered hi-res LP scan should take priority over a modified shop image. We should always prioritise Artist Intent. :slightly_smiling_face:

(Hope above makes sense. I am a big fan of the artist who makes these iconic images. I collect albums not only for the music, but also the imagery)


@elomatreb - notice that Wikipedia has picked the original album image. A smaller prism on a black background. No sticker, nothing making the front fussy or mess. Just exactly as graphic artist intended.

Stickers on covers are always contentious - look a the 1800+ post at Discogs if you want to see insanity on this subject. :joy:For an RG image I think we should have something clean and as close to original as possible. And @dpr, I don’t know if you realised what triggered this thread but it was Dark Side of the Moon.

The first image can’t always be used. Sometimes the only image of the original LP is a small 500x500 image. So a swap to a better quality version makes sense, but not one that has been edited by a shop to look different. There needs to be common sense flexibility in the guidelines, with Artist Intent always respected. :slight_smile: The normal MB way.

Not meaning to upset anyone. Artwork is as important as the music itself and I was asked to take part in this conversation.