Spotify Playlist Custom Thumbnail - Photoshop Tutorial


I'd like to show you a quick-n-easy Photoshop tutorial for how to create your own Spotify playlist thumbnails. Unfortunately, the custom thumbnail Spotify feature for the common folk is still in the works, but there's no shame in having a little fun while they work out the kinks. 

Collins, a brand consulting agency in New York, created a new brand identity system for Spotify that could be replicated by their multitude of widespread designers. Powerful photography, a simple duotone treatment, unique typography and use of shapes. You can explore the full project here: Spotify Brand Identity.

One of the trickiest issues for the team was how to deal with photography. Since Spotify uses images borrowed from thousands of musical acts, it needed a way to brand a picture so that it looked like something from Spotify even if the company’s logo wasn’t plastered on it.

The answer came from a deep dive into music history, in the duotone photos from album covers and concert posters from the 1960s. That style originated with bands that were trying to find a low-budget way to promote their concerts.

The duotone look became so much a part of the brand identity, that Brett Renfer, Collins’s director of experience design, created a software program (subsequently nicknamed, “The Colorizer”) to automate the process—a critical issue for a company like Spotify which has designers across 58 markets, from Andorra to Uruguay, all scrambling to brand content with the Spotify look.

So let's play with history.

How to Create Your Own Spotify Playlist Custom Thumbnail

Extra Tips:

  1. Make sure your whites in the black and white are extra white. You can achieve this by boosting the brightness in the Brightness/Contrast settings. 

  2. The brightest colors work best for the Multiply Layer. Darker colors and tones tend to disappear.

More examples: