How To Use Episode Artwork To Stand Out
How To Use Episode Artwork To Stand Out
With the recent announcement of iOS 17, Apple Podcasts — one of the most popular podcast apps — has announced a new feature that’s a game-changer for podcasters, bringing even more branding, marketing opportunities, and customization to their podcasts.
Starting with the release of iOS 17 for iPhone in September 2023, as well as Apple operating systems, episode-level artwork will be displayed on iOS and macOS devices, along with other updates to the Apple Podcasts app which you can see here.
They’re not first to the party on episode artwork, with other podcast listening apps allowing this for a while now, including Spotify, Castbox, and Podcast Addict.
Let’s explore the details of this exciting update, and also dive into how podcasters can use episode artwork to stand out from the crowd.
Where Does Episode Art Appear in Apple Podcasts?
With this new update, Apple Podcasts will display your episode artwork in various locations across their platforms and beyond. Here's where you can expect to see episode artwork:
- Now Playing screen and Queue: When a listener hits play on an episode, the individual episode artwork will display on the screen, as well as in their queue when they line up your episode to listen to next.
- Lock Screen and Control Center: Similar to the Now Playing screen, Apple Podcasts will pull through the episode artwork to the iPhone lock screen and control center — same applies to iPad and macOS devices.
- Within Up Next in Listen Now: The Listen Now section, which is essentially the homepage of Apple Podcasts, features a carousel called Up Next; suggestions of episodes for listeners to hit play on next. This section will display your episode art with your show-level artwork will be included underneath.
- On the show and episode page: When listeners visit your show page, your episode artwork will be displayed alongside the long list of episode titles and descriptions. And this carries through when listeners click ‘See all’ on the episode page.
- Through link previews in other apps: Apple Podcast links to episodes will pull through your episode artwork in link previews in other apps including; Messages, Mail, and on social media platforms.
With all these new places for your podcast episode artwork to pop up, creators should keep these placements and sizes in mind when designing episode art.
Important to note: If you don’t have episode artwork, all placements will just be your usual show artwork — so no need to worry if you’re not creating episode art.
What is Episode Artwork and Should I Make Them?
Episode artwork is unique imagery for the individual episodes of your podcast. Like your main podcast’s artwork, it should be on-brand and recognizable for your show but a new one is created for each episode you publish.
The first thing to know is that episode artwork is not required, and it doesn’t affect your show negatively if you choose not to create them. As we mentioned, Apple Podcasts and other apps will just display your main podcast artwork instead.
However, there are definitely upsides to taking the time and effort for episode art. Here’s why:
Episode artwork adds depth and context
The episode art is additional real estate to allow creators to give the listeners greater context to the content their listening to, offering a fuller experience beyond audio-only. For example, it could be a photograph of the guest being interviewed or even an original illustration based on the story the episode delves into.
More impact on social media and promotion
If you’re creating episode artwork, you’ll definitely want to get mileage out of the asset by using it across your social media promotion and other marketing channels. Having a unique image for each episode is a great way to keep things fresh and exciting, rather than a neverending feed of the same show artwork. The same goes for all your other marketing channels too, newsletters, press kits, website, etc.
They make for better Audiograms
Related to the above point, but Audiograms are promotional assets that take your episode audio and create highly shareable and customized videos to share on your socials and marketing. If you’re creating episode artwork, you’ll have the perfect image to use in your audiogram that’s specific to the latest episode you’re promoting.
Here’s an example of episode artwork on Spotify from Distraction Pieces with Scroobius Pip, who uses a Polaroid photo with his guest.
How Do You Get Episode Artwork On Podcast Apps?
There are a few ways to deliver episode artwork to podcast-listening apps: ID3 tags and the RSS feed.
Using a podcast host like Acast
We like to make things easy for our podcasters on Acast, so if you’re hosting your show with us, you can directly upload your episode artwork to your RSS from your dashboard when you’re publishing a new episode. You can use PNG or JPEG image files of a minimum of 1400px to a maximum of 3000px.
You need to embed metadata called ID3 tags allowing you to add episode artwork directly to your audio files. You’ll need to use an ID3 tag editor to add your image data, here’s a guide for doing that. It's best to use a single image to avoid confusion for listening apps.
Alternatively, you can manually include episode artwork in your RSS feed using the
<itunes:image> tag. This tag allows you to specify the URL of the episode artwork hosted on a remote server. However, it's important to ensure that the image is accessible and properly linked to your RSS feed.
If you want advice on making podcast artwork generally, we have a guide that also applies to episode artwork as well, check it out here.