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Digital Liner Notes Design

Liner Notes are NOT DEAD! Even with so much music now being sold digitally, many even digital-only, that doesn’t mean liner notes aren’t important. In fact, digital liner notes provide even more opportunities to provide information, photos and other features to fans.

Read on to learn more about my
Itunes-compatible Digital Booklet design
to complement your digital and physical releases

Case Study – Beth Patterson’s USB Digital Album

Beth Patterson just released an innovative Digital album on USB WRISTBAND and the internet. She included a Digital Booklet PDF file along with the MP3 files. At 17 pages, this would have been very expensive to print, and we were able to include an interactive table of contents, all her lyrics, images, hot links to her websites (including her cool new Japanese site), and even a printable insert and traycard for the fans to print and assemble their own physical copy.




Click here to learn more about Beth Patterson’s Digital Release and how we designed her Liner Notes PDF

Tell your story!

Including a digital booklet as part your digital release is a great way to make additional content available to your fans with lyrics, pictures and liner notes.

A digital booklet is the equivalent of the liner notes often included with physical formats. Most digital booklets include the same basic facts found in the typical CD insert, such as song lyrics, photos, recording details, acknowledgments and other information from the artist. The new interactive booklets can even include video and links to websites.

Digital liner notes are much cheaper than making CD booklets. No physical material is needed, unlike CD’s where every copy requires paper, printing and a plastic jewel case or cardboard case. Just invest in the initial layout and design.

Give Credit where credit is due.

Including credits for musicians, engineers and designers is just good etiquette. How would you like it if you play on an album and no credit is given? This is happening every day now that albums are released digitally.

Learn more about the Recording Academy’s (Grammy Awards) campaign to “Give Fans the Credit”: Real music fans want to know who wrote, produced and played on their favorite tracks and all music creators deserve to be credited for their work.  Credits in the hands of fans will lead to more music discovery, as fans will want to know what other songs a songwriter wrote or a producer produced. “The staggering pace of digital innovation gives consumers access to more and more information but in this case — digitally released music without liner notes — the music fan is getting less information,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “As a songwriter, producer and music fan myself, I love the way technology has allowed us to listen to more music in more places. But without liner notes, fans have no way of knowing who wrote, produced or played on the songs they love. ‘Give Fans the Credit’ will help music fans learn more about those who created their favorite songs — and ultimately discover more great music.” — Skylar


How it works on the Itunes Store

Apple introduced the first Digital Booklet with U2’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” album in 2004.

Because the booklets are PDF documents, they are easy to transfer from an iTunes library to another location on a computer or to a compatible device, such as an iPod or iPad.

If a digital booklet is made available as part of a release, when someone purchases your release the booklet will automatically be included as part of their download. Digital booklets can only be made available as an ‘Album Only’ item which means the booklet cannot be downloaded individually, will only be made available when purchasing the entire release.

It is important that it is designed specifically for the iTunes store and meets with all their specifications. Other sites can use the same file.

Digital booklets cannot be attached to a release that has already been delivered to iTunes.  DO NOT set your release to Final until you have attached the booklet and are certain it meets iTunes extremely strict specifications. If they do not meet their specifications iTunes will reject it.

With the purchase of the albums on iTunes, buyers will automatically receive the digital booklet. This booklet is in PDF form and can be accessed from the Purchased media list in iTunes. Double-clicking the booklet will activate the default PDF reader, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader on a PC or Preview on a Mac, and open the file.

The PDF can then be included in iTunes playlists – iTunes then treats it like another song on the album.

The file can also be imported into iBooks where they are easily read on the iPad. Sync it the way you do any Ebook.

Not all distributors can submit the booklet file with the music. Please check with who you use (CD Baby, Tunecore, etc.) to see if they do this.

Digital Distribution Options


Currently CDBaby has no way to make the liner notes accessible through iTunes. I suggest contacting them and telling them they need to add this feature and that they should be submitting them to iTunes and Amazon!

Here’s what they emailed me when I inquired: CD Baby does not have a way to host digital booklets, and our standard distribution does not include a digital booklet. You can use the “links” section on your account to include a link to where you have a booklet displayed on your own site.


If you use Tunecore, they will send your PDF to Itunes for an additional charge. Read more here on their site.


They will include bonus items with any album downloaded from their site. You can add PDF booklets, videos, alternate art. Read more here on their site.


“Not At This Time” (November 2013)


You will receive an Itunes-compatible PDF that can be submitted to iTunes,, other download sites, emailed to fans, and of course posted on your website.

Existing projects I’ve already designed for print:

  • $10/page to transfer and redesign existing artwork. Note that Itunes requires your file to be a minimum of 4 pages.

New Projects and additional pages to existing projects:

  • Cover design: $125
  • Inside pages: $20/page plus $5/photo
  • Table of Contents: $20

Projects designed by someone else:

  • I’ll need to see the files/packaging before I can quote this.

Prices include TWO proofs and assume text submitted is final. Changes and corrections (other than my errors) after 2nd (final) proof will be charged at $85/hour. Call for a free consultation to discuss your design needs.


Note that you must have permission to include lyrics from cover songs (songs you did not write) in your liner notes, whether printed or digital.

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