Music artwork

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Music artwork are images directly related to an Artist or an Album, that are either scraped into the Music library from extenal sources or, in the case of Album art, scanned from the appropriate tags embedded in the music files. The images are, preferably, of high quality, that are displayed when viewing the Album or Artist entry in the library. They may also be used as visualisations while playing music. The Music section in Kodi is able to display up to six types of artwork. This page will describe the different types of artwork available in the Music category of Kodi.

It is important to note the following:

  • Artwork is skin dependent. This means that some skins display a small number of artwork types, while other skins will display most or all of the available artwork types.
  • In previous versions of Kodi and in older wiki pages, the term Thumbnails was used to describe Artwork. Kodi has now moved away from referring to thumbnails due to the amount of confusion and concern it caused users.
  • The base line for all artwork is the default skin Estuary. By default, Estuary displays the Basic artwork. Estuary cannot display the Extended artwork. Another skin must be used.
  • While high resolution images do look impressive on HDTV's it is important to be aware that the increased artwork size can negatively affect low powered hardware.


Contents

1 Requirements

As the Music section of Kodi has many differences to the Video section of Kodi, please read this section to ensure your music and artwork are correctly scraped and displayed.


1.1 Understanding the Music Library

It is important to understand the fundamental difference between video library operation and the music library operation:

  • The video library is based on using the filenames to obtain online data. If the video files are incorrectly named, then there are no scraper results and there will be no library entry.
  • The music library is based on scanning tags embedded in the music files. It ignores the folder structure and file names you have created to store your music files. Basic and correct tagging is essential to ensure the library is populated correctly. Having slight variations in the tags for artist and album names could mean duplicated and unwanted entries.
  • When searching for Local Artwork, Kodi determines the location of the artist and album folders by analysing the location of the music files.


1.2 Adding Music to Library

  • Populating the music library is a two step process.
    • The first step reads the tags embedded in the music files. This is referred to as scanning. If there is any embedded artwork, this will also be scanned and cached.
    • The second optional step fetches additional artwork, artist and album information. This information and artwork can be downloaded from either online sources or fetched from local files. This is referred to as scraping.


  • Scraping of additional artist and album information does not happen when you run a library update (including when first adding a source) unless "Fetch additional info on update" is enabled. Currently this defaults to disabled. It is recommended to keep this disabled for several reasons:
    • It allows you to perform the initial tag scan quickly. In v17 and below, when Fetch additional info on update is enabled, the two steps happen immediately each album and artist is added. This slows down populating the library. It is a background task, but still gives the impression that it is taking a considerable time to populate the library. In reality it is slowed down by the online scraping, and not the local tag scanning. This will be changed in v18 where Kodi will perform the initial tag scan then, once complete, will commence the online scrape.
    • The strategy of immediately scraping each album and artist as it is added can also have unwanted consequences. A common example involves compilation albums. Say for example you have both Fetch additional info on update and Show song and album artists is enabled, and a folder called "Compilations" containing all your Various Artist compliation albums. As the processing takes place in alphabetical order, this folder gets processed before the albums of artists in folders beginning with a letter later in the alphabet. The additional information for the song artists from these compilation albums gets added to the library and scraped before the other albums by that artist had been scanned, and so any artist.nfo file is never found and applied.
    • Bad tagging makes a messy library and then the online scrape compounds errors and makes the library difficult to unscramble. It is far better for the user to perform the initial scan, find and fix the bad tags, then perform the on-line scrape knowing there will be no further errors.
    • Scraping online also often leaves many gaps on first pass, then the user has to manually query for all anyway, often several times, to fill these gaps. This was because lack of correct throttling, and general server overload has meant that online scraping often failed (seen in the log as 503 server errors). This is expected to be fixed for v17.4 if released or v18.



1.3 Caching

All music artwork is cached. If artwork is cached from local files Kodi will not access the local files again. The only exception to this is Extra Fanart which is not cached, and the skin accesses the image files directly.

Also be aware of image adjustments made by Kodi during the caching process. See Cache

Music artwork for the library is cached in the following order:

  • Artist
    1. Local artwork correctly named and placed as detailed below. If this does not exist, then
    2. Online artwork from the scraper site
  • Album
    1. Embedded artwork within the music file. If this is not available, then
    2. Local artwork correctly named and placed as detailed below. If this does not exist, then
    3. Online artwork from the scraper site


2 Basic Music Artwork

The artwork in the Basic section is the only artwork displayed by the default skin Estuary with a standard install.

Note the following:

  • The following naming schemes apply only to the artwork you have manually sourced and saved. It does not apply to artwork downloaded by the Kodi scraper or any add-on processes.
  • To ensure auto-scraping of local artwork, the music files must be arranged in a certain folder heirarchy. There must be a unique Artist folder which then contains Album folders for all albums by that artist. These album folders contain the individual songs for that album.
  • This folder structure is only important if you want to use local artwork or NFO files for providing additional data, it does not contribute to the library contents.
See also: The AudioDB


2.1 Fanart- Artist

Artwork-MusicFanart01.jpg

Fanart, also known as Wallpapers, Backdrops or Backgrounds, are images that have, in most cases, been created by fans.

For Kodi, it means digital images, of high quality, that are used as full screen displays to enhance the user experience. The fanart displays the artist or band.

The image to the right is a typical example of music fanart. It is specifically designed to match the 16:9 ratio of current generation televisions and monitors. This allows the screen to be completely filled by the image.

Required file properties:
Note: The resolution may be increased but ensure the aspect ratio is maintained

File Type Aspect Ratio Resolution- recommended
*.jpg or png 16:9 1920x1080

Naming and Saving conventions for your own manually sourced artwork:

Music saved as File Name Save name & location example
Artist\Album\Songs fanart.jpg (or *.png) f:\Music\Madonna\fanart.jpg (or *.png)


2.2 Artist Image

Artwork-MusicArtist01.jpg

The Artist Image is also known as Poster, Artist Thumb or just Thumb within Kodi, and is saved as folder.jpg within the artist folder. They are high quality images of the artist or band members. The image to the right is displaying the Artist Image using the Infowall view in Estuary.

Required file properties:
Note: The resolution may be increased but ensure the aspect ratio is maintained

File Type Aspect Ratio Resolution- recommended
*.jpg or *.png 1:1 1000x1000

Naming and Saving conventions for your own manually sourced artwork:

Music saved as File Name Save name & location example
Artist\Album\Songs folder.jpg (or *.png) f:\Music\Madonna\folder.jpg (or *.png)


2.2.1 Manually Adding Artist Artwork

From within Kodi, you have the ability to manually change the artwork at any time as follows:

  1. Select the Artist whose artwork you would like to add or change.
  2. Call up the Artist Information page. (Image 1)
  3. There are two options titled Get Thumb and Get Fanart. (Image 1)
  4. Selecting Get Thumb will present you the options as seen in Image 2
  5. Selecting Get Fanart will present you the options as seen in Image 3
  6. These options are a list of available artworks at the scraper site, or you can navigate to a local or network location as shown in the images.
  7. Select the desired artwork. Once selected, simply back out of the screen. There is no option to press ok or confirm


2.3 Album Image

Artwork-MusicAlbum01.jpg

The album image is also known as the Album Thumb, Album Cover or as Thumb within Kodi. They are high quality images of the Album cover and each album folder would have its own album Folder image. They are saved as folder.jpg or cover.jpg inside the album folder. The image to the right is displaying the album images using the Infowall view in Estuary.

Required file properties:
Note: The resolution may be increased but ensure the aspect ratio is maintained

File Type Aspect Ratio Resolution- recommended
*.jpg or *.png 1:1 1000x1000

Naming and Saving conventions for your own manually sourced artwork:

Music saved as File Name Save name & location example
Artist\Album\Songs folder.jpg (or *.png) f:\Music\Madonna\Like A Prayer\folder.jpg (or *.png)
also cover.jpg (or *.png) f:\Music\Madonna\Like A Prayer\cover.jpg (or *.png)


2.3.1 Manually Adding Album Artwork

From within Kodi, you have the ability to manually change the Album artwork at any time.

  1. Select the Album whose artwork you would like to add or change.
  2. Call up the Album Information page.
  3. Select Get Thumb as seen in Image 1 below.
  4. You will be presented a list of available artworks at the scraper site, or you can navigate to a local or network location as shown in Image 2
  5. Select the desired artwork. Once selected, simply back out of the screen. There is no option to press ok or confirm


2.4 Source Folder Artwork

Artwork-VideoFolder01.jpg

The Folder Artwork, also known as Source Folder thumb, can be landscape, portrait or square images that are used to replace the standard folder icons when browsing your music sources in the files section. You will not see this artwork in the Music menu. This image file is saved directly within the Source directory.

To enable the image, navigate to Music>Files in the menu system. Highlight a source and call up the Context Menu. Select Choose Thumbnail. If you have saved the image in the correct location, it will be available to select immediately. If not, you will need to navigate to locate and select it. The image must remain in its original location once selected as it will not be cached. Deleting the image will remove it from view in the folder icon.

You are able to also apply the folder thumb by modifying the \userdata\sources.xml as follows

<source>
   <name>music</name>
   <path>xbms://192.168.1.100:1400/Music/</path>
   <thumbnail>F:\Apps\XBMC\thumbs\shares\thumb.png</thumbnail>
</source>

Required file properties:
Note: The resolution may be increased but ensure the aspect ratio is maintained

File Type Aspect Ratio Resolution- recommended
*.jpg 16:9 640x360
*.jpg 1:1.5 400x600
*.jpg 1:1 500x500

Naming conventions for your own manually sourced artwork:

Source File Name Save name & location example
Folder Artwork: folder.jpg f:\Music\folder.jpg
Alternative name: <foldername>.jpg f:\Musc\Music.jpg


3 Extended Music Artwork

To display the Extended Music Artwork, a skin supporting this function must be installed. Each skin varies in its ability to display the different types of artwork but most will display all the extended arwork. To ease the workload in updating your library with the new artwork, most skins will install the cdART Manager add-on as part of the skin installation process. You can also install via the Kodi official repository.

The job of the cdART Manager is to identify artists and albums in the user's library and then download all available Artwork, copy it to the right paths and register it with Kodi so it can be cached. The cdART Manager is not needed to display any artwork, it only automates the download and caching process.

Note the following:

  • The following naming schemes apply only to the artwork you have manually sourced and saved. It does not apply to artwork downloaded by the Kodi scraper or any add-on processes.
  • To ensure auto-scraping of local artwork, the music files must be arranged in a certain folder heirarchy. There must be a unique Artist folder which then contains Album folders for all albums by that artist. These album folders contain the individual songs for that album.
  • This folder structure is only important if you want to use local artwork or NFO files for providing additional data, it does not contribute to the library contents.


  • If using the cdART Manager add-on, it is important to note the following
    • The add-on has the option to use local artwork (if correctly named and saved) or online artwork. When viewing the Album and Artist information page for the first time, the cdART Manager will automatically scrape local artwork. If no local artwork is available, it will scrape online sources.
    • Using the Kodi scraper will not download extended artwork. The cdART Manager add-on is required to be run after the Kodi scrape process. i.e. you are performing two or three scrapes depending upon settings.
See also: The AudioDB


Artwork-MusicBanner01.jpg

Also known as Wide Banner Icons and Artist Banner. The image to the right shows the Banner view at the top right position. They are images that contain the artist or band. The banner image normally displays the artist or band logo which is of a size that is clearly legible. The view is from the Aeon MQ7- Krypton Mod skin


Required file properties:
Note: The resolution may be increased but ensure the aspect ratio is maintained

File Type Aspect Ratio Resolution- recommended
*.jpg or *.png 1:0.185 1000x185

Naming and Saving conventions for your own manually sourced artwork:

Music saved as File Name Save name & location example
Artist\Album\Songs banner.jpg or (*.png) f:\Music\Madonna\banner.jpg (or *.png)

Artwork-MusicBanner01.jpg

Also known as Clear Logo. This is the logo or name of the artist or band on a transparent background. The logo uses the distinctive font associated with the musicians and is uncluttered by other images. The transparent background allows it to be overlayed on other images or video with minimal impact. The image to the right shows the logo at the far right of the image, roughly in the centre and looks like a signature. The view is from the Aeon MQ7- Krypton Mod skin

Required file properties:
Note: The resolution may be increased but ensure the aspect ratio is maintained

File Type Aspect Ratio Resolution- recommended
*.png 1:0.388 800x310

Naming and Saving conventions for your own manually sourced artwork:

Music saved as File Name Save name & location example
Artist\Album\Songs logo.png f:\Music\Madonna\logo.png


3.3 CD Art

Artwork-MusicBanner01.jpg

CD Art, also known as Disc Art, is the image that is visible on the physical CD. It uses a transparent background.

The image to the right displays the CD Art in two locations- bottom left and bottom right corners of the image.

Required file properties:
Note: The resolution may be increased but ensure the aspect ratio is maintained

File Type Aspect Ratio Resolution- recommended
*.png 1:1 1000x1000

Naming and Saving conventions for your own manually sourced artwork:

Music saved as File Name Save name & location example
Artist\Album\Songs cdart.png f:\Music\Madonna\Like A Prayer\cdart.png
or disc.png f:\Music\Madonna\Like A Prayer\disc.png


3.4 Extra Fanart

It is possible to download and save additional high quality Fanart which the skin can display, usually in a slideshow. Extra fanart is reliant on a supporting skin and the images have exactly the same properties as the standard Fanart described above. These images are not cached, and are directly accessed by the skin.

Extra Fanart is stored in a separate Folder named "extrafanart". Create a Folder named extrafanart in the folder of the Artist. Each Extra Fanart must be named fanartX.jpg where X is a sequential number starting with 0 (fanart0.jpg, fanart1.jpg, fanart2.jpg, etc). There is a limit of 10 fanart images allowable. Be aware that some skins utilise less than 10 of the images. The location of the extrafanart Folder is as follows.

Naming and Saving conventions for your own manually sourced Extra Fanart:

Music saved as File Name Save name & location example
Artist\Album\Songs fanart0.jpg f:\Music\Madonna\extrafanart\fanart0.jpg

4 Embedded Artwork

As of v17, Kodi supports embedded album art in mp3 files with ID3v2 tags, WMA/WMV files with ASF tags, FLAC files with Vorbis comments/Xiph tags, and mp4 files with itunes tags. It does not currently support embedded album art in APEv2 tags or Ogg files.


To understand the priority of Embedded Images in Library Mode, see Caching above.
To understand the priority of Embedded Images in File Mode, see File Mode below.


Kodi cannot recognise multiple embedded images in a song file. It can only extract the "Front Cover" image assuming they have been tagged correctly within the file. All other images are ignored.

A list of embedded tags recognised by Kodi is available

see also: Tags Kodi Reads


5 File Mode

File Mode is similar to using the file manager provided by your operating system- eg Explorer in Windows systems. It is simply a file browser that allows you to view and play your media even though it has not been scanned and/or scraped into the Library. This mode does not provide the added benefits of Extended Artwork and Album/Artist metadata that the properly scanned and scraped library provides. As a result, Music Artwork is handled differently using this mode as follows:

  • The only artwork displayed in File Mode is Artist Image and Album Image.
  • You must have local artwork named and saved as detailed in paragraph 2 above.
  • These images are not loaded automatically. The Artist or Album must be viewed once to allow Kodi to locate and cache the image.
  • When Enable tag reading is Enabled the song must be viewed to allow Kodi to scan for embedded images if no local image is available.


Kodi looks for and caches artwork in the following order:

  • For Artist artwork:
    1. Local artwork named and saved as detailed in paragraph 2 above. There is no fallback image
  • For Album artwork:
    1. Local artwork named and saved as detailed in paragraph 2 above. If there is no local artwork then
    2. If you have Enable tag reading set as Disabled in Settings>Media Settings>Music then there is no fallback image
    3. If you have Enable tag reading set as Enabled in Settings>Media Settings>Music then Kodi will search for an embedded image to cache.


Be aware that if you use File Mode, then upgrade to Library Mode at a later stage, your existing cached artwork may interfere with the correct scanning and scraping of new artwork. There is no simple fix for this. Your choices are

  1. Manually amend the affected artwork as described in chapter 2 above
  2. Perform the delete textures13.db procedure. This will also affect your Video Library.


6 Best Practice for Local Artwork

How to organise your music to work around the current limitations Kodi has in identifying where local art (and NFO files) may be located, and what can go wrong.

For a great deal of music, where albums have one album artist, using a unique artist\album\song folder hierarchy is the obvious way to organise your music, and Kodi will have no problems finding correctly named image files located in that structure. It can often happen without any user intervention too, as much tagging software such as Musicbrainz Picard will create local album art files as part of the tagging process.

The algorthim used to determine the location of the artist and album folders has weaknesses. It can not handle collaborations (albums by more than one album artist e.g. orchestra and conductor), non-unique artist names, disc sets or singles. If local art is not being found then often it is because of the location of some of the song files connected to that artist or album.


6.1 No Suitable Artist Folder

However it is not always possible to create a unique artist folder, with all the albums by that artist, and only that artist, in folders beneath it.

  • Collaborations

The obvious example is when an album has more than one album artist, this is very common with Classical music where the composer, orchestra and conductor are tagged as album artists, but also happens in popular music e.g. "Riding With The King" is a collaboration between BB King and Eric clapton, or "The Juliet Letters" by Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet. There is no work around for providing local art for artists involved in collaborations like this. However the artist scraper will still be able to fetch online artwork for these artists.

  • Song Artists without Albums

Some artists may appear only on songs from Various Artists compilation albums, or as featured artist on songs on an album by another artist, but do not have any albums in your collection. These artists also do not have a unique folder containing all the songs they perform on, and so again there is no place to store local art.

  • Other Artists: Composers, Producers, Mixers, Musicians etc.

From v17 Kodi processes the tags that descibe the other people involved and musicians etc. in a song. These may be artists with songs and albums in their own right, but often will include people that are do not appear in your music collection in any other role. Again no unique folder containing all the songs they perform on, and no place to store local art.


6.2 Compilations

Compliation albums also have a reputation for causing difficulties with scraping local artist art. This is mostly because of the unwanted consequences of immediately scraping each album and artist as each is added. (This is solved in v18).

One way to minimise this problem is to leave Fetch additional info on update disabled, and initiate scraping of album and artist information and artwork using "Query Information for All" from the context menu after scanning a new source has completed.

Another is to group all compilation albums under a separate folder, named so that, alphabetically, it is the last folder in the list to be processed. So for example if your normal album artists have folders Musicpath\artistname\ then use Musicpath\zzzCompilations\

It can also be useful to put the compliations folder on a completely separate path to where the normal album artist folders are located, and add it as a separate music source. So for example if your normal album artists have folders Musicpath1\artistname\ then use Musicpath2\zzzCompilations\


6.3 Workarounds

In addition to the workarounds mentioned in Compilations above, the following may further reduce issues with scraping local artwork:

  • The cdART Manager addon does support a way to provide local art for song artists that do not have albums of their own. It involves creating empty (no music files) Artist folders for those artists. These Artist folders must match the artist name exactly. cdART Manager will create these empty folders for every song artist in your collection, that can be a lot of folders!
  • It is useful to have separate/multiple music sources that separates standard artists and albums, that can easily be organised in a artist\album\song folder heirarchy, from those such as classical music, soundtracks, and compilations which can not.



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