iTunes New and Noteworthy Podcast Cover Art

Podcast cover art is often a potential subscriber's first impression of your podcast. Here are the technical specs and ten elements of great podcast artwork.

UPDATED 9-24-2014: The following has been revised in accordance with Apple's latest specifications. Please note that the minimum is now 1,400 × 1,400 (no longer just a recommendation). But contrary to popular belief, PNG is still a recommended option, as long as it (or JPEG) are in the RGB color space.

Click here to download the Podcast Cover Art Toolbox

The current podcast cover art specs from iTunes

Check back with this post as I'll keep these specs updated on the latest standards from iTunes.

Core requirements

  • Minimum 600 × 600 1,400 × 1,400 pixels (maximum 3,000 × 3,000)
  • RGB color space (not grayscale, CMYK, 8-bit indexed, or transparent)
  • Hosted on a server that supports HTTP HEAD requests
  • JPEG or PNG file format (JPEG is more highly recommended)

Here are some things to avoid in your cover art.

  • Explicit or self-censored explicit language in podcast titles, subtitles, or descriptions
  • References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence in the title, description, or cover art
  • Images or language that could be construed as racist, misogynist, or homophobic
  • Images depicting sex, violence, gore, illegal drugs, or hate themes
  • Third-party trademarks without authorization or usage rights
  • The words “iTunes Store,” “iTunes,” or “Apple Inc.”
  • iTunes Store logo, Apple logo, or the term “Exclusive” without prior authorization from Apple

Requirements to be featured

Apple has extra requirements for anything they'll consider featuring.

  • Attractive, original cover art that does not include Apple-branded content. Include a 1400 × 1400-pixel JPEG or PNG file in the RGB color space for your cover art to be eligible for promotion.
  • A robust and accurate description for the podcast and all related episodes
  • A clear and complete author listing
  • Proper tags regarding language, category, and explicit language or content
  • New episodes being posted regularly

The cover art, and all other podcast elements must be original and cannot contain any of the following:

  • Pixelation, artifacts, high-contrast background art, blurry or hard crops (unless stylistic), or other style issues
  • References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence in the title, description, or cover art
  • Images or language that could be construed as racist, misogynist, or homophobic
  • Images depicting sex, violence, gore, illegal drugs, or hate themes
  • Third-party trademarks without authorization or usage rights
  • The words “iTunes Store,” “iTunes,” or “Apple Inc.”
  • iTunes Store logo, Apple logo, or the term “Exclusive” without prior authorization from Apple
  • Any visual representation of iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or any other Apple hardware

Note that even with the above elements, promotion is not guaranteed.

<itunes:image> technical requirements

The `<itunes:image>` tag points to the artwork for your podcast, via the URL specified in the `href` attribute.

Cover art must be a JPEG or PNG file in the RGB color space at a minimum size of 600 × 600 pixels. For best results, and to be considered for promotion in the iTunes Store or the Podcasts app for iOS, cover art must be at least 1400 × 1400 pixels. Note that these requirements are different from the standard RSS image tag specification.

UPDATE: Cover art must be in the JPEG or PNG file formats and in the RGB color space with a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels. Note that these requirements are different from the standard RSS image tag specification.

Potential subscribers will see your cover art in varying sizes depending on the device they’re using. Make sure your design is effective at both its original size and at thumbnail size.

If the `<itunes:image>` tag is not present, iTunes will use the content of the RSS image tag, but your podcast will not be considered for a potential feature placement in the Podcasts app and the iTunes Store.

We recommend including a title, brand, or source name as part of your cover art. For examples of cover art, see the Top Podcasts section in the Podcasts app or the iTunes Store.

If you update the cover art for your podcast, be sure to avoid technical issues by doing the following:

  • change the cover art file name and URL at the same time
  • verify the web server hosting your cover art allows HTTP head requests

The `<itunes:image>` tag is also supported at the `<item>` (episode) level.

For best results, we also recommend embedding the same cover art within the metadata for that episode’s media file prior to uploading to your host server. You may need to edit your media file via Garageband or other content-creation tool to do so.

10 elements of great podcast cover art

You don't have to be a designer to create decent podcast cover art. Hiring a designer will bring more skills, experience, and resources to your project. But if you want to design your podcast cover art yourself, here are the ten most important elements to include. Download the podcast artwork toolbox to help.

1. Unified branding

If you already have any kind of branding in place (imagery, colors, fonts, etc.), reuse these in your podcast artwork. This will unify the different outlets of your brand.

This doesn't mean you must use your company's logo for the cover art. You could include the logo as a branding banner (like I do with Network), or just use repeatable elements, such as color or fonts.

2. Highest-resolution or vector foundation

Resolutions and standards can change often. The standard used to be 300 × 300 pixels, then it was 600 × 600, then 1,200 × 1,200 (for a very short time), and then 1,400 × 1,400 for a couple years. 1,400 × 1,400 was probably based on a CD case insert, which was 4.75 × 4.715 inches, or 1,425 × 1,414 at 300 pixels per inch (PPI).

Now, higher-resolution devices are coming out and for podcast album art to look great, the image should be larger. In Fall, 2014, Apple set a maximum recommendation at 3,000 × 3,000.

Keeping up with these sizes can be difficult or costly. There are two ways to future-proof yourself.

  1. For photo/image-based artwork, acquire the largest version possible and design within its dimensions.
  2. For color- or illustration-based artwork, design in a vector editor (like Adobe Illustrator) to make artwork that can scale to any size without losing quality.

3. Recognizable concept at small sizes

Many of us have 17″-or-larger screens on our computers and we may create the podcast cover art in full screen. This can lead to design problems as we're looking at the image when it's huge, but most people—especially your potential subscribers—will see it much smaller.

When you design, zoom out so the podcast artwork is about the size of a postage stamp. How well can you read it at this size? Can you still recognize the design elements? Can you still get a general idea of what the podcast is about?

Remember this small size guideline, as it should affect everything else you do.

4. Big, legible text

You need to stand out with your cover art, so make the text as big as possible. This could mean having one word per line.

Just like you can never have too many lights on a Christmas tree, you can never have text that is too big in your podcast cover art, as long as it fits without being cropped.

Again, view the cover art at about the size of a postage stamp. If you can't read the title then, you have some more tweaking to do.

Part of making the text legible is using the right fonts, colors, and especially character spacing. Serif fonts (with “feet”), like Times New Roman, Garamond, or Bodoni, often have thin lines and small details that get lost or blurred at small sizes. Script fonts can be too ornate to be legible, unless they're really big (and never put a script font in all-caps!). Sans serif fonts (“without feet”), like Arial, Myriad Pro, or Futura, work really well with thick or uniform-thickness lines, clear characters, and strong contrasts from the background.

With any font, spacing the letters out a little more (called “character spacing”) can make it more legible at smaller sizes.

5. Few words

Your cover art is not the place for you to explain what the podcast is about, or maybe not even to list who hosts it. Keep this as simple as possible and only include what can be legible at a small size, like 125 × 125 pixels—or remember that postage-stamp size.

The easiest word to remove from your cover art can be the word “podcast,” as it's really unnecessary in your title. My Once Upon a Time podcast is simply titled “ONCE” in its cover art. This Week in Tech doesn't need the “podcast” word, too.

The times this may be more difficult is when you have a “the” based name. For example, “The Ray Edwards Show” wouldn't work as “The Ray Edwards” or even just “Ray Edwards.” Think of “podcast” as the label for your distribution method (which it actually is, technically) and not part of your title unless necessary.

6. Bold contrast

Make sure design elements contrast each other. If you put text over an image, ensure the image is blurred or low-contrast enough that you can easily read the text. Avoid clashing colors or subtle differences (like not-very-light gray text on a not-very-dark background).

If you truly have enough space to include more text, like a tagline, some keywords, or the host name(s), then contrast them from your title by either color, size, or separating them physically.

7. Relevant imagery

Your podcast cover art needs to communicate your content visually. This involves a more psychological process, but here's an easy trick to it.

Think of everything your podcast is about and summarize it into one to three, specific terms. For example, “dog training,” “children,” and “outdoors.” Now, find imagery, such as on Dollar Photo Club, that communicate these keywords. You could be extremely lucky and find (or custom-make) an image that shows a child training a dog outdoors.

The more complicated your concepts are, the harder it will be to find an image that communicates simply. So you may need to pick just one or two of your keywords to portray in the cover art.

For ideas, search a stock-photography website, like Dollar Photo Club, or even try Google Images for brainstorming. But do not use an image without a license!

Show other people the image you're thinking of using, tell them it's for a podcast, and ask them what they think the podcast is about based just on the image. You know you have a winner if they're anywhere close to your keywords. If they don't quite get it, say the name of your podcast (any nothing else) to see if they make the connection then.

For example, a photo of a sitting dog on a leash may convey “dog training,” “owning pets,” or “dog showing.” A photo of just a dog leash may communicate “pet training,” “exercise,” or “losing weight” (it's possible a leash could look like a belt).

Try to use only one or two pieces of imagery in your podcast artwork—and a logo counts as one.

8. A template for episode images

Episode specific images can be a great way to brand your podcast and enhance the uniqueness of each episode. But you don't have to make individual images for each episode.

An easy way to do this is to make your cover art in a way that it could function as a template. This could mean you place a photo each time, or maybe you remove something and place the episode title, or you move and scale items a enough that you have a wide open space for something new.

9. No clichés

Warning: pet peeves and big opinions ahead.

Don't use any clichés in your podcast cover art. For podcasting, this is usually a pair of headphones, a microphone, or the RSS icon. Don't do it! I would only recommend these elements if they actually fit the theme of your podcast, not just fit the distribution method of your podcast.

For example, you usually don't see pictures of books on book covers unless the book is actually about books in some way (writing books, a novel about a book, publishing, etc.). Similarly, you almost never see cameras, lights, and microphones on movie posters unless the movie is actually about movie-making, someone who made movies or was often behind the camera, or other meta concepts.

(Also think about this with your title. This is “The Audacity to Podcast,” but if you want to call it a podcast, you would actually have to say, “the The Audacity to Podcast podcast.” So think outside the box and title your show in a way that doesn't include your medium—even try to do it without “show”!)

There are other clichés to avoid within each industry. For example, a handshake photo is far overused is business marketing. So try your best to avoid that cliché (unless your podcast is actually about handshaking!). I've designed podcast artwork for other clients who listed specific cliché images to avoid—like a dove for the Holy Spirit or blood and needles for diabetes.

But don't be afraid to use something someone may call cliché if it communicates your theme perfectly.

10. Consideration for circle-crops

No, I'm not talking about alien “crop circles.” Some social networks (like Google+) and podcast apps are starting to crop avatars and artwork to circles. First, I think this is generally a horrible decision by those developers, unless you can upload a specific image for that app/network (as you can on Google+). But when a podcast app crops your image to a circle, you most likely can't control it because the podcast album art is being loaded from your RSS feed.

You don't have to design your cover art to fit into a circle, but at least consider it. You could account for this by having your largest word, icon, or focal point of an image in the exact center of the artwork. But fitting your entire cover art into a circle is difficult and often looks awkward on other networks.

Get the toolbox to create your own podcast artwork

4 places to put your podcast cover art

Now you have your podcast artwork, so where do you put it?

Show-level RSS2 <image> tag

This is the oldest part of the podcasting specification. This would be a full <image> tag in your RSS feed to contain a URL to your artwork, as well as the title and website URL. This goes within the <channel> tag, but before any <item> tags.

According to the RSS2 specifications, this image can be, at most, 144 × 400. Yes, it can be a tall rectangle, but most people will simply use a 144 × 144 version of their cover art.

Here's how the RSS would actually look.

  <title>PODCAST TITLE</title>
  <url>URL TO IMAGE</url>
  <link>WEBSITE URL</link>

Show-level <itunes:image> tag

Since iTunes has supported podcasting, they have offered an additional RSS tag for podcast cover art. This is where you absolutely must have your larger version of your podcast artwork.

Like the <image> tag, the <itunes:image> tag goes within <channel>, but this show-level image goes before any <item> tags. The RSS looks like the following.

<itunes:image href="URL TO PODCAST COVER ART" />

This should be a minimum of 1,400 × 1,400 pixels up to a maximum of 3,000 × 3,000 pixels and I recommend no larger than 512 KB.

Episode-level <itunes:image> tag

The Podcasts app for iOS (now preinstalled and unremovable on all iOS 8 and later devices!) and other apps can display a different image for each episode. This image is pulled from your RSS feed (desktop iTunes currently pulls from the ID3 tags).

You use the same <itunes:image> tag, but this time within the <item> tag, for each episode.

<itunes:image href="URL TO PODCAST COVER ART" />

Blubrry PowerPress, LibSyn, and many other podcast-feed generators support this per-episode image, but you may have to enable that feature.

Like the show-level iTunes image, this should be a minimum of 1,400 × 1,400 pixels up to a maximum of 3,000 × 3,000 pixels and I recommend no larger than 512 KB.

Episode-level ID3 tag

As a show-level or episode-level fallback, you can embed an image within the ID3 tags for MP3 and M4A audio files.

This image is best to be 600 × 600 pixels and no larger than 200 KB (some Android and TV set-top devices will have problems with ID3 tags that contain too much data).

Download the Podcast Cover Art Toolbox to take action


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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Gary Carpenter
Gary Carpenter
9 years ago

Love the resource, thanks. I assume that this was an email list sign up.

I didn’t mind, but nowhere in the podcast or in the show notes did you say “join my mailing list to get a free download.” This could be interpreted as deceptive.

I love the show.

Kim Krajci
9 years ago

This is the podcast I will give to my art designer. Thanks!

Marcio Etiane
9 years ago

Hi. I’m Marcio from Brazil, so first of all sorry for my poor english writing.

I host to Podcasts
#1 (The Philosophical Path) <- this the blog Title and already has a visual identity and logo; the podcast Title: Papo Filosófico (Philosophical Talk) and yet uses a 3rd part image without a license.
#2 LexCast
The frist one has already a visual identity logo for de art work but uses a 3rd part imagem for the header image.

As you said in the show the we may no use images tha are already a cliche i'm wondering what kind of elements could i use.

See The LexCast podcast is about Brazlian Legal Issues and Theorys so i'm using the balance that is the universa symbol for Writ mixed whit a Mic image and honestly i dont know what kind of image i coull use to raplace it.

The same for The Philosophical Path. I'm usin an owl image, that is the universal symbol for Philosophy Graduate Courses (or at least it is here in Brazil) and a drawing symbol of a road.

So my question is: what kind of image i couls use to replace the ones i'm using right now ?

Juergen Berkessel
Juergen Berkessel
9 years ago

Hi Daniel: Great episode and thanks for the resources!

I have a question: I noticed that when I embed a 250K episode level .jpg file, using the ID3 tag editor, the file size for my .mp3 file jumps a LOT!

I start with a 12mb .mp3 file, exported from Adobe Audition, and add tags to it with the ID3 tag editor. When I save this file, the size is still ~12MB. But after I embed a show level piece of .jpg artwork (RGB, only 250K in size, 1400x1400px), the resulting .mp3 file size jumps to 55MB !!

Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong? Could this be an issue with the ID3 tag editor?

Many Thanks! Juergen

JD Sutter
9 years ago

I’ve been listening to TAP for years (since the beginning, I think) and I have to say that this episode is by far the most valuable information and best presentation of said information of all. I appreciated the explanations and thoroughness on this often confusing topic. I may have to start referring my clients to this episode because it’s so information-packed. It’s not just a listing of specs, but an explanation of why those specs matter and how to comply with them. Great job.

I also couldn’t agree more with your points on the overuse of podcasting themed graphics in a podcast’s cover art.

Here’s an idea that I’d love to hear you address as a sort of reprise of this topic: Solicit a few volunteers to submit their artwork to you and then go over them point by point and critique them. I think it’d be valuable for folks to see your recommendations compared to real examples of actual cover art. I’d be willing to submit the artwork for one of my shows if you ever wanted to do this. Perhaps this would be better suited for a video episode, but in any case I’d certainly enjoy it.

Anyway, this was a fantastic episode. I’d love more of these “definitive resource for a particular topic” style of episodes. Keep it up!

Bob Sheffield
Bob Sheffield
6 years ago

I agree with JD, on art work. Feel free to use mine as an example. comment image

Stephanie b
Stephanie b
9 years ago

A note about fonts: sans serif fonts tend to be the most accessible for the largest number of people. Sans serif fonts are easier to read for people with low vision and people with cognitive differences (such as dyslexia).

Stephanie b
Stephanie b
9 years ago

Wow. That was really condescending.

9 years ago

You can’t figure out how it was condescending because it wasn’t. What you said was true regarding the similarities, so thank you for your response.

8 years ago
Reply to  SPlows


9 years ago

Thanks Daniel for this very informative (and timely!) podcast. I only came across your show recently as I was researching ‘how to’ info for setting up my own podcast. I must say yours is the best and most informative show I’ve come across!
I hadn’t put much thought into podcast cover art until I listened to this episode but I found myself agreeing with every one of your points up to #9, clichés! I wanted my mic and headphones in my artwork!!
But your points why they shouldn’t be make perfect sense so I ditched my gear and tried to focus on what the podcast is about, not the medium of communication.
So the pic below is my first pass at cover art for my first ever podcast. To take up your challenge can I ask for feedback for any of your contributors. What do you think this podcast is about and who are my target listeners???

Keep your podcasts rolling in, they’re GREAT!


9 years ago

Appreciate the feedback. I squared the size, included both shoes, tweaked the colors and made the text stand out more. I’m definitely happier with how it looks, thanks again for a great episode.


Michael Dohlen
Michael Dohlen
9 years ago

Hi Daniel,
Your podcast and show notes are just incredible resources! Thanks a lot!
I am looking for some further advice:
When would you recommend to use the own face/profile picture on the cover? What are benefits or disadvantages?
I hope you read this and find some time to help out, even months after the episode gone live.
Thanks so much in advance!

Michael Dohlen
Michael Dohlen
9 years ago

Thanks again so much for your quick advise. Helps a lot!


[…] a whole lot of space. It’s really your first impression on what your podcast will be about. The cover art is SUPER important as a visual marketing […]

8 years ago

Can anybody help me out with the blubrry powerpress poster image size? I’d like to put my podcast cover art there, but can’t seem to keep it from looking stretched.

8 years ago

Thats what I see on blueberry too, but my square is stretched: Even a rectangle with a length double the width is stretched, tho less so: I’ll keep tweaking the settings or try longer rectangles if all else fails! Thanks for confirming what the dimension is supposed to be and for all your great podcasting information!


[…] You’ll need some custom artwork (minimum 1400 x 1400) to accompany your audio. This website has some great tips to help you create that artwork […]

Deepak M
8 years ago

I’d like to get some advice here. I have created 4 episodes of my Podcast and the feed lies at: However, when I try to submit this into iTunes, I get the following error: Podcast cover art must be at least 1400 X 1400 pixel JPG or PNG, in RGB color space, and hosted on a server that allows HTTP head requests.
I have checked that my cover art complies to the requirements and so are other requirements. I am left surprised as to why is this happening. Any thoughts here?


[…] Lewis, D.J. (2014, September 22). How to make great podcast cover art—TAP 191 [Web log post]. The Audacity to Podcast. Retrieved from: […]

Jerod Killick
6 years ago

Great tips! My image looks amazing at 3000×3000. However on itunes it looks a bit blurry. I will use the steps above to comb through my settings and ai export to make sure it all okay. Again, thanks!

Jerod Killick
6 years ago

Thank you!!! Yah, we love the name too. Had a blast putting together the logos. Does png have the same challenge with compression? Thanks again for your comment!!

Jerod Killick
6 years ago

That is very helpful. I may give it a try. Thank you again!


[…] for 150 x 150 pixels. If it looks good that small, you know you won’t run into any problems. Daniel J. Lewis at The Audacity to Podcast also recommends that you treat certain types of images differently so they always look their […]


[…] for 150 x 150 pixels. If it looks good that small, you know you won’t run into any problems. Daniel J. Lewis at The Audacity to Podcast also recommends that you treat certain types of images differently so they always look their […]


[…] For tips on designing great cover art, read this article. […]


[…] Want more specifics? Daniel J. Lewis from The Audacity To Podcast goes deeper into the subject of great podcast cover art in his article (and podcast episode) called How To Make Great Podcast Cover Art. […]

Jim Freedom
5 years ago

This podcast about podcast cover art was SO complex that it seems like you are almost trying to discourage someone starting out from even making the effort to make some cover art. We could have used a more K.I.S.S. strategy.

5 years ago

Great but there are those of us who have only used macs. We don’t know code, where code lives or how to insert tags. Do you need the brackets? !!! Your tips on title and artwork are fantastic. How to insert tags remains a great mystery is it available on all platforms? Soundcloud? No idea.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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