How to add or change your podcast cover art – TAP117

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Apple recently emailed podcasters to remind them (again) about the requirements for being featured in iTunes. The language is very specific for easily misunderstood. I’ll explain this for you and tell you how you can change your podcast cover art or add some if you don’t already have it.

“New” cover art “requirement”

iTunes has been completely redesigned and there are new requirements for podcast cover art. To be eligible for featuring on iTunes Store, a podcast must have 1400 x 1400 pixel cover art in JPG or PNG format using RGB color space. The image URL must end in “.jpg”, “.jpeg” or “.png” and the server hosting the image must allow HTTP HEAD requests. See our technical spec for details.

This really isn’t new. Apple has said that featured podcasts needed cover art at 1,400 × 1,400 since May 18, 2012.

The most important takeaway is that Apple won’t feature podcasts with smaller cover art. That means you can be in the iTunes podcast directory with small artwork, but you just won’t have a chance at being featured.

LibSyn and Blubrry support HTTP HEAD requests. To check whether your podcast cover art’s URL supports HTTP HEAD requests, enter the image’s URL into web-sniffer.net, and switch request type to “HEAD.” If it works, then the server supports HTTP HEAD requests.

I’ll mention how you can change your cover art further down.

Server configuration requirement

Podcast streaming playback on iTunes requires all hosting servers to enable Byte Range Requests. Please confirm your hosting servers have this functionality enabled. If you work with a third-party hosting service, please contact them to confirm this functionality is enabled on their servers.

This is also not new. Apple announced this requirement shortly before they launched the Podcasts app for iOS. Now we know that the app can stream podcasts over data or wifi from any playback location in the episode. This is possible with byte-range requests.

These types of requests allow an app to request a specific portion of a file, such as bytes 300–600, instead of having to start at the beginning to download to that point.

Popular media hosting services LibSyn, Blubrry, and even Archive.org have supported these requests since the beginning. If you host your media somewhere else, enter the download URL into web-sniffer.net, switch request type to “HEAD,” and look for “Accept-Ranges: bytes.”

web sniffer byte range requests How to add or change your podcast cover art   TAP117

Why you need big cover art

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1,400 × 1,400 always seemed like an odd size to me, until Apple updated the Podcasts app for iOS to somewhere around version 1.1. In this and later versions running on a Retina iPad, cover art displays at 1,400 × 1,400 pixels when you have the podcast playing and the iPad vertically oriented.

Oddly, Apple still doesn’t recommend 1,536 × 1,536, which is the retina iPad’s largest display size for a square. In fact, cover art will display at exactly this slightly larger size when a podcast displays on the retina iPad’s lock screen in vertical orientation.

The larger artwork size also ensures that your image will display beautifully on Apple TV connected to a 1080p display (even though this would only display at 1,080 × 1,080 pixels at its largest).

How to resize your artwork

You can ignore Apple’s recommendations, but this means your cover art will never look good at high resolutions and your podcast will never be eligible to be featured by Apple.

You have three options for resizing your podcast cover art.

1. Enlarge the image

If you want to follow the “letter of the law,” then you can simply put your JPEG or PNG image into an image-editor and blow it up. This will give you a larger image, but it won’t enhance the quality because you’re just blowing up pixels.

Some image-editors are better than others at enlarging and enhancing details. But remember that this isn’t Hollywood and your image still won’t look as good as if you follow the next two options.

2. Scale or redo from the master file

Depending on how your image is designed, you may be able to go back to the master file and enlarge it while maintaining the detail. A vector format works best for this: AI, EPS, shapes, dynamic gradients, and editable text.

You may also be able to upgrade a stock image or photo you purchased to a higher resolution, and simply replace it in your enlarged master file.

3. Redesign your cover art

Maybe this is a good time to consider completely redesigning your podcast cover art. You or the designer you hire (like me!) can design to follow or exceed the new specs. RawVoice (parent company to Blubrry) has reported stats indicating up to a 25% jump in subscriptions when podcast cover art changes.

If you’d like to hire me to design podcast cover art for you, I design at 1,400 × 1,400, but I can increase that to whatever size you want for an extra fee.

How to add or change the cover art

Watch this video tutorial or subscribe to the video edition of The Audacity to Podcast to see the following steps demonstrated.

You need your podcast cover art in three places:

  1. 144 × 144 in the RSS2 image tag in the RSS feed.
  2. 1,400 × 1,400 in the iTunes image tag in the RSS feed.
  3. 600 × 600 – 1,400 × 1,400 in the MP3′s ID3 tags.

1. RSS2 image

This 144 × 144 image may not seem important, but it’s what many non-iTunes podcast directories read.

The technical location for this is under <channel>:

<image>
<url>http://path.to/image.jpg</url>
<title>The podcast title</title>
<link>http://podcastwebsite.com</link>
</image>

Practically, you can easily add this depending on what service you use to make your podcast feed.

  • In PowerPress (recommended), “RSS2 Image” is under the Feed Settings tab for your default feed, channel feeds, and category feeds. You can upload your image through this interface or insert the direct link to your image.
  • For FeedBurner’s SmartCast (only recommended if you’re not using PowerPress), first upload your image somewhere, then insert the direct link to the image under Optimize > Feed Image Burner. Also complete the other information on the page.
  • For LibSyn-powered RSS feeds, click on the gear icon (show settings), upload a 1,400 × 1,400 image to Artwork.

2. iTunes image

This is where your 1,400 × 1,400 (or larger) image must be. Some other podcast directories read this, too, but it’s most important for iTunes.

The technical location for this is under <channel>:

<itunes:image href=”http://path.to/image.jpg” />

Practically, you can easily add this depending on what service you use to make your podcast feed.

  • In PowerPress (recommended), “iTunes Image” is under the iTunes Settings tab for your default feed, channel feeds, and category feeds. You can upload your image through this interface or insert the direct link to your image.
  • For FeedBurner’s SmartCast (only recommended if you’re not using PowerPress), first upload your image somewhere, then insert the direct link to the image under Optimize > SmartCast.
  • For LibSyn-powered RSS feeds, click on the gear icon (show settings), upload a 1,400 × 1,400 image to Artwork (you may have already done this for the RSS2 image).

3. ID3 tags

This is the image that will display in most apps when an individual MP3 is playing (but oddly not the new Podcasts app for iOS). This is also what affects which image shows for desktop iTunes when you’re already subscribed to a podcast.

You can easily add this image with iTunes. But I recommend free MP3tag (Windows) or $15 ID3 Editor (Windows, OS X) for adding the image to your ID3 tags with the maximum compatibility.

Review my episode about adding ID3 tags to MP3s to learn more.

You don’t have to update your old MP3s with the new cover art unless you really want to.

How long does it take?

As with any update to your podcast feed, iTunes will usually take 8–48 hours to update your listing in the iTunes directory, and other podcast directories may be the same. Or you may need to contact those other companies to have them refresh your podcast’s cover art.

But MP3s will your new cover art will display the new image right away on apps that show those images.

Need help?

If you get lost in this process, we can schedule some one-on-one consulting or I can fix your podcast feed for you. Or I can redesign your new podcast cover art. Just email me and we can work it out.

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Disclosure

This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship. I may receive comissions or bonuses from your actions on such links

 How to add or change your podcast cover art   TAP117

As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and succeeding in business. Daniel designs websites; offers one-on-one consulting; speaks on technology, social media, and theology; and Daniel hosts a network of award-nominated shows covering how to podcast and use Audacity, clean-comedy, and the #1 unofficial podcasts for ABC’s hit dramas Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

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  • Dave F. Fowler

    This app took care of my cover art and metadata for my video (bit
    torrent, ripped video) and audio files!

    A/V Cover Artist – http://www.wiseowltech.com/avcoverartist

  • http://dslrvideoshooter.com calebpike

    Thanks for the video… If I’m already have a video podcast using a Feedburner (yuck… I know) feed, can I switch to PowerPress? Looks so much better than what I’m doing now.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Yes. It’s just a matter of copyright your SmartCast information from FeedBurner to PowerPress, just the same as audio. Then either turn off SmartCast or delete your feed with permanent redirection to your PowerPress source feed. Just make sure you don’t have any email subscribers before you do this.

      • http://dslrvideoshooter.com calebpike

        Thanks for the quick reply!