99% of the album covers out there suck. They suck because of a thing called "Noise Reduction" and people not knowing how to use it. (I guess that's what happens when most kids steal Photoshop and think that makes them an arteest, but it wouldn't hurt to actually read a tutorial or two.
I'm going to show you an example of the difference NR makes when making hi-res scans of album covers.
Let's pretend you have no musical taste and you're looking for the cover to Nicki Minaj's new album Pink Friday, go away. I'm going to use the Talking Heads album cover Speaking In Tongues, because I do have taste. While not my favorite band, the album cover is perfect to show you what I'm talking about.
Here is the album scanned by someone with no clue:
Click on them, yes one is bigger than the other and one is darker...but that isn't the point. When you click on it and see the larger images...take note of those ugly ass squares and dots all over the album cover. That means someone used their hi-res scanner and didin't do any touching up.
Now look at an album cover that was scanned by someone that used NR:
Notice all those ugly squares are gone?
Depending upon what resolution you scanned the image at, will depend on how much noise reduction you use. To use Noise Reduction, go to the "filter" menu and select "noise" then "median". Enter a value of 1 if you scanned an image to a smaller resolution...and enter a value of 2 if it's very high res.
You'll see a huge difference, and your stuff won't suck on the internet.
Here's another example that is even more obvious:
Can you figure out which Photoshop user used Noise Reduction?