In a server update last April we quietly said that “we’ve also improved cover art support slightly.” What we actually did was release the first version of the Cover Art Archive, a cooperation between MusicBrainz and the Internet Archive. First, a little background:
Cover art (the images associated with music products) adds a great amount of value to the digital music experience. Many projects and apps on the net use these images to add color and depth to their music tools. However, there isn’t a cleanly organized, publicly available resource where everyone can access these images. You can use Amazon product images, but your project needs to be able to abide by their Terms of Service, which doesn’t work for everyone. Many projects use Google Images to source their cover art, but that is an inexact science since they may not always find the right image.
The Cover Art Archive aims to solve these problems by making these images available to the public. But since we are not lawyers, we can not say what can and can not be done with these. So use them at your own risk! That said, everyone on the internet is using these images anyway and the common understanding is that if you’re selling music you’re pretty safe. We suggest that when you try to figure out what to do, make sure that you respect the artists and their labels and make the music world a better place.
All images in the Cover Art Archive are indexed by the release’s MBID, and all metadata can be parsed by a JSON document. For instance, to fetch the front cover for any given release, construct this URL:
Once you GET this resource, you will be redirected to the proper Internet Archive URL that yields either an image file or a 404 error if we do not have this image. For lots more details on how to use the Cover Art Archive, please take a look at our API documentation. So far, there are Java, C and Perl bindings to the API.
For some stunning examples of what people have already done with the Cover Art Archive, please take a look at these links:
- Jerry Lee Lewis: The Ultimate: The Sun Years. 109 images that carefully document a large box set.
- Star Trek box set
- ベスト☆きらり A Japanese release with lots of fun and colorful images.
So far, we’ve collected nearly 100,000 images that are attached to 54,000 releases for a 5% coverage in MusicBrainz. The largest file we have clocks in at 23MB and the largest image is 16,000 x 7842 (125 megapixels!). For all of the juicy stats on this project, check out our cover art statistics page.
We’ve just gotten started and we need your help! Won’t you please consider uploading some images to this archive? To get started, log in with your MusicBrainz account (or create a new one) find your favorite release and then click on the cover art tab to view the existing pieces of art and/or upload new ones. For more details, see our How to add cover art guide.
Thank you to everyone who has worked hard to make this project a reality! And thank you to Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive for fostering this project!