Artist information folder

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Steps to create your Music Library
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1. Guide Main Page
2. Music Settings
3. Music File Tagging
4. Scanning Music Into Library
5. Artist information folder
6. Scraping Additional Music data

7. Update Music Library
8. NFO Files
8.1 Music NFO Files
9. Artwork
9.1 Music Artwork

10. Import-export library
10.1 Music Import-Export
11. Backup & Recover
Home icon grey.png   ▶ Music_library ▶ Artist information folder

In v18 the concept of the Artist Information Folder is introduced as a new way to handle providing local artist artwork and information via nfo files. The Artist Information Folder is a user nominated folder that Kodi will look in first for artwork or NFO files for any artist.

This topic is of interest to those users that want to provide local artwork for artists, or capture their current artist art and additional data for transfer to another installation of Kodi

1 History

In v17 and prior releases of Kodi the ability to automatically fetch local art and information from NFO files depended upon the music files being in a strict Artist > Album > Songs folder structure. Kodi populated the basic library by using data embedded in the music files. It did not use the folder structure or filenames to populate the library, but it would try to identify a unique folder for each (album) artist and a unique folder for each album from the location of the related music files, and look there for art and additional information for the artist and album respectively.

Unfortunately not all music fits neatly under such a strict layout. For example:

  • Collaboration albums with more than one album artist (very common in Classical music with composer, conductor and orchestra credited, but happens in pop when two artists in their own right make an album together).
  • All the albums by an artist had to be on the same music source which made it difficult to organise libraries to suit personal preferences.

Art and additional information could only be provided for album artists, not those artists that only feature as a guest on some songs on an album by another artist or on a various artists compilation album, nor the other musicians and professionals that contribute to the production.

The way Kodi tried to identify folders from their contents, combined with a slightly inaccurate music file arrangement, produced some unexpected art results that were often difficult to pin down. [1]

From v18 the Artist Information Folder can be used to resolve many issues with providing local art and additional information for Artists. Local artist art and nfo files can be provided without requiring a specific folder for music files, and artist NFO files can be kept separately from the music rather than jumbled with it.


2.1 Do I need to have an Artist Information Folder?

No, Kodi will continue to be backwards compatible and pick up artist art and NFO files from the same places it does for v17. Of course, if you choose not to use the Artist Information Folder you will still encounter the same limitations described above. Also if you do not have any local artist artwork or want to use NFO files then there is no need for one either.

2.2 Why would I want to nominate a folder?

  • So that you can provide local art and NFO files for artists that are:
    • involved in collaboration albums
    • only song artists (no albums, only guests or on compilations)
    • musicians or other contributors
  • To keep artist art and data separate from music files.
  • To handle having music from one artist spilt across many music sources.

If you have ever had the wrong local art appear in an odd place then you probably need it.

2.3 How do I setup the Artist Information Folder?

See Section 3- Recommended Setup
The folder can be named in whatever way suits you and located with, or away from, your music files. We recommend away from your music files. Once a folder has been created on your file system, set it as the Artist Information Folder in either one of two ways:

2.4 How is the individual artist information organised and populated?

Any artist can have a subfolder within the Artist Information Folder which is named same as the artist name. Within that folder can be artwork and additional artist information as XML metadata in an NFO file called artist.nfo.

The artist folders can be created manually, however it is easiest to create the initial artist folders and contents using the export facility. See Section 4- Using Export. That way folders are created with the correct names, as slight differences in naming could prevent Kodi from locating the artist. The artwork and NFO files can then be manually edited and the library refreshed.

2.5 How does Kodi use the contents?

The artwork and NFO files in the Artist Information Folder are read by Kodi as part of scanning and scraping process.
If you have made changes to the NFO Files for Artists already in your library, then these changes need to be Refreshed into the library.

See: Refresh Artists
See: Refresh Albums

To change existing artwork or to add missing artwork, either use the Refresh method above or manually change the artwork

See: Manually Add Artwork

Note that the music library import facility does not make use of separate nfo files at all. Import only works on the single xml files that can be created via export.

See: Music Library Import

2.6 Does the Artist Information Folder have to be separate from my music files?

No, it is the user's choice but it will be less confusing if it is separate. Also note that using the export facility to populate the Artist Information Folder can result in thousands of artist folders. Decide if you want all these folders, containing just art and nfo files, mixed in with your other folders that contain music files. Finally if you find the explanation in the next question confusing then just don’t do it, make it a separate folder somewhere else.

2.7 What happens if I make the Artist Information Folder the same as my main music source?

Say you have a folder called "mymusic" that contains all your music files under an Artist > Album > Songs folder structure, and you choose to make that the Artist Information Folder, then Kodi will look first for artist artwork and nfo in folders in mymusic\<artistname> where <artistname> is the exact artist name. The names of your existing folders for each artist may match, or may not (remember Kodi does not care how music folders are named). What you read as the same name may not be exactly the same. Say they match, then the art and NFO files in them will be found and used. But if all you want is to use your existing artist art and nfo files already in your music folder layout then setting the Artist Information Folder the same as a music source is unnecessary, Kodi will look there anyway.
For art and NFO for extra artists you can create (or let export create for you) additional artist folders along side your existing folders, however you will end up with some that have music and some that don't. Some of the artwork addons people have used already do this mixing of music and art only folders, so it may be familiar and if the artist folders are correctly named Kodi will start to pick up the art on scanning rather than have the addon set it. However for others being able to use the Artist Information Folder to separate art and music will be a relief.

2.8 What happens when I have a separate Artist Information Folder but also leave artist NFO and artwork files above my music files?

Kodi will look first for the artist under the Artist Information Folder and use that artwork and NFO file. If it does not find a folder for the artist there, then for album artists only it falls back to looking for a suitable artist folder in an Artist > Album > Songs folder structure as it did for v17.
There are a few more safety checks in v18 to try and avoid some of the cases of mistaken identity, but in doing that it may also not show such art in the one place it is wanted.

2.9 Does this affect Album artwork and NFO Files?

No, this does not apply to albums. Local album artwork and NFO files still be looked in the folder common to all the music files for that album (if such a unique folder exists).
If album related folders and files are located within the artist folders of the Artist Information Folder then they generally have no effect, unless the Artist Information Folder is the same as the music source and the music files are also located there.

2.10 When using File View mode will I see the artwork from the Artist Information Folder?

No, the Artist Information Folder is a music library feature. In file view you only see the artwork found in the folder you are browsing.

2.11 Why won't the scan pick up my artwork?

There could be many different reasons for that, only some relate to the Artist Information Folder.
See: Music Artwork

3 Recommended Setup

A frequent question from users is what do you recommend?, in the case of the Artist Information Folder the answer is simple: unless you have local artwork for artists, or want to enter artist information via NFO files there is nothing to do. For a first time Kodi user the recommendation is to tag your music files accurately, scan them into the library and allow the scrapers to fetch additional artist and album information and artwork for you.

With v18 you can arrange your music files however you like and still have access to local art and NFO files. We would recommend that all the music files from an album are kept in a unique folder, perhaps with subfolders for each part of a multi-part set. Perhaps you choose to arrange those in artist folders of some kind, but that does not have to be strictly adhered too. You could divide a large music collection by genre (with an artist having albums in more than one), or by decade, or some broader music category e.g. Xmas music. Use an Artist > Album > Songs structure if it is convenient for you.

Once you start to extend your use of Kodi then a number of situations can arise:

  • you have artists that the scraper was unable to find information or art for
  • you want to manually edit some of the information
  • having selected particular art from the many choices the scraper has found, you want to backup that choice
  • you want to transfer your current library to another installation of Kodi

Now it is time to populate the Artist Information Folder with Artist folders. Use the Artists folders only method in the link below.

See: Import-Export Music Library

4 References

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