Best Sources for Downloading CD Covers and Artwork

These sites can help you complete your digital music library

Although streaming audio sites include album art within their catalogs, private collectors—especially of old vinyl—may be out of luck. Options are fewer today than they used to be, given the migration to subscription music services, but several sites still offer robust catalogs of album art you're free to download and use to flesh out your collections.

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Discogs website.
What We Like
  • Large selection.

  • Sort by genre, style, and format.

  • Sign up quickly using Facebook or Google.

  • Rare music selections.

What We Don't Like
  • Registration required.

  • Somewhat cluttered album pages.

Discogs is one of the largest online databases for audio. This rich audio catalog resource can be particularly useful for non-mainstream recordings where software media players such as iTunes or Windows Media Player might not be able to find the correct artwork. If you have hard-to-find commercial releases, bootlegs, or white-label (promo) material, then you might be able to source the correct album art using Discogs.

The website is easy to use for finding album covers not only for digital music releases but for older mediums, too, like vinyl records and CDs. For digital music, you can also fine-tune your search with a handy filtering option that can display certain audio formats like AAC and MP3.

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Musicbrainz website.
What We Like
  • Large mix of search options.

  • Download the entire database for free.

  • Helpful documentation.

What We Don't Like
  • Outdated website design.

  • Confusing site to navigate.

Musicbrainz offers a huge catalog of music information with included artwork. It was originally conceived as an alternative to CDDB (short for Compact Disc Database) but has now been developed into an online encyclopedia of music that sports more information on artists and albums than simple CD metadata does. For example, searching for your favorite artist will usually yield information such as all albums released by them (including compilations), audio formats, music labels, background information (relationships to others), and cover art.

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Internet Archive

Internet archive
What We Like
  • Free.

  • Easy to search.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited collection.

  • Not a dedicated art site.

The Internet Archive offers many gems, both old and new, including album covers. Although the cover art is limited—fewer than 1,500 items—the quality is high, and there's no cost to download it.

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Album Art Exchange

album art exchange
What We Like
  • Free service.

  • High-quality art.

  • Community forum.

What We Don't Like
  • Eclectic collection.

  • License model for the art is legally questionable.

Originally a hobby project, Album Art Exchange now has more than a half-million high-quality album covers contributed by members across the globe. The site also includes a request feature and community forums, so if you don't find what you're looking for, it's possible someone has it and can scan the album cover for you.

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Amazon and eBay

Amazon music search page.
What We Like
  • Established marketplaces.

  • Easy search patterns.

What We Don't Like
  • Hit-or-miss based on current product availability.

  • No guarantee that covers are available. If a cover is available, it may not be good quality for album art.

The reseller markets on Amazon and eBay often feature old or vintage music for sale by sharing images of its covers. It's a hit-or-miss prospect, given that when an item sells, the listing fails, but if you can't find what you're looking for, stop by these sites every few weeks and look again.

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Web Searches

bing search


What We Like
  • Easy to use—it's a search like any other.

  • Google and Bing offer image thumbnails.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited to content that's available on the open web.

For rare content, you might get lucky by searching your favorite search engine. Bing and Google both offer robust image-focused results that often uncover an elusive image that sources not from an online catalog but from someone's personal blog post.

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