Podcast artwork best practices

Introduction

There are many different image assets for podcasts.

Technically speaking, only one image is strictly required (square series-level artwork), though additional assets are recommended. Some image sizes are platform-specific, and others need to be ready for when promomotional placement is requested.

Square series-level artwork

This is the only visual asset that is strictly required. We cannot publish a new podcast series without square series-level artwork. Apple’s cover art requirements are the de-facto industry standard. According to Apple:

Cover art for your podcast must meet these technical specifications:

Additionally, artwork must be original and can’t contain any of the following:

Before you create your podcast cover art, review the Top Podcasts section in Apple Podcasts for examples of compelling cover art.

Great podcast artwork is

Things to avoid

Scalability

Podcast cover art needs to scale down gracefully. Most podcast apps display cover art as a thumbnail, at a small fraction of its original size.

Apple Podcasts will resize square podcast artwork to many dimensions:

The Podcast Cover Art Size Preview & Check tool from OnlyPod can help you see what your square series-level artwork will look like in context. 

A word on logos

Often, brands have a strong desire to include their corporate logos in podcast artwork. For some shows, a logo from an established media brand can add value (think about The New York Times branding on The Daily’s artwork). For other shows, a brand’s logo can act as a speedbump that may keep some listeners from sampling. Be extremely careful with corporate logos, especially if they become tiny or illegible when scaled down.

Additional resources

Widescreen series-level artwork

Often, square podcast artwork isn’t a good fit outside the podcast ecosystem. For example, take social media, where you might want to market your show. For detailed specifications across social platforms, please reference:

Think beyond the square. Build versatility into your show’s overall visual identity.

Episodic artwork

Episode artwork provides an opportunity to visually reinforce the episode-specific audio content. 

However, many platforms do not display episodic work, so Pacific Content recommends creating episodic artwork when it will be used for leveraging audience on other channels. Episode-specific promotion that could include:

Consider the episodic artwork from Choiceology, where host Katy Milkman's social post point towards the specific episode. In this case, having episodic artwork embedded within the podcast website that's shared on a social platform—helps reinforce the message.

If you do opt to create episodic artwork, ensure that it scales gracefully (just like your series-level cover art), because it will be displayed at very different sizes in very different contexts.

Consider creating widescreen versions for social media, in both portrait and landscape orientations.

For detailed specifications across social platforms, please reference:

Apple Podcasts

Episode artwork appears on devices with iOS 17 or later. Users will need to ensure their phone is up to date, and may be required to install several updates in order to install iOS 17. E.g. 16.7.1 then 16.7.2 then 17.0.3.


Episode artwork will appear on the Now Playing screen and Queue; the Lock Screen and Control Center; in Up Next on Listen Now; on show and episode pages; and through link previews in other apps, including Messages, Mail, and on social media platforms.


When episode artwork is not supplied to Apple, series level show artwork will be displayed.


Apple guidelines for episodic artwork:


Specs (you can find a template here

Where does Episodic Artwork appear?

Apple Podcasts, which will likely be your show's biggest platform in share of downloads, does not display episodic artwork.

So before you commission episodic artwork, consider the objective and cost-benefit of this endeavour.

What will my podcast look like when I share it on social media?

These tools can help you preview how a link to your podcast (e.g. Chartable SmartLink, direct link to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.) will appear on social before you post:

Apple Promotional Artwork 


Pacific Content has access to Apple’s Podcast Promo Request tool, which we can use to request editorial placement from Apple.

Any promo request we submit should be accompanied by Apple-specific widescreen artwork (called Hero and Show Page Tall). 

Apple has extremely strict requirements about this artwork (both technical and editorial). The specs for this artwork (and a PSD template) are available on their website.

*Note, once a show has been given Apple promotion, the Show Page Tall becomes the default artwork for the show page, meaning if the artwork is changed for a new season, new Show Page Tall artwork must be created and submitted before the launch so it will match the other artwork. 

Common mistakes

Here are some additional examples of the difference between square artwork and custom widescreen artwork. Note that in the examples below, the crop factors and additional copy along the bottom have been added by Apple. The crop and copy are not part of the submitted artwork. Do not crop or add any additional copy.

Castbox paid promotion

Castbox offers a paid unit within their mobile app.

Required asset: a Photoshop PSD file.)
Specs: 720 x 400 pixels. In our Android app, the search bar runs through the top portion of all banners, so all important text and images must fit within the 720 x 256 area measured from the bottom.

Make sure no text or other highly pertinent elements appear in the top non-safe area denoted by the red highlight.

Castro paid promotion

Castro offers a paid unit within their mobile app. This placement requires a 16x9 JPG at 1392x783.

More details available at Castro's website.


This list is not exhaustive

We've tried to include the most popular and useful podcast artwork format, you may encounter scenarios where additional visual assets need to be generated. You might buy an ad in an email newsletter. You might need to create custom artwork for a social app that hasn't been invented yet.

The best way to be proactive about this is to design your podcast's visual identity to be as flexible as possible.