Music artwork

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Home icon grey.png   ▶ Music Library Index ▶ Artwork ▶ Music artwork

Music artwork are images directly related to an artist or an album, preferably of high quality, that are displayed when viewing the album or artist entry in the library. They may also be used as visualizations while playing music. The artwork support in Kodi's music library is very flexible and able to display many types of artwork, depending on the skin in use.

It is important to note the following:

  • To enable local artwork from separate image files to be added when scanning new media items, the image files must be arranged in a certain folder hierarchy.
  • Each artwork type, other than the basic thumb and fanart types (that are sufficient for Estuary), must be whitelisted in advancedsettings.xml in order to be added to the library automatically during scanning or scraping.
  • Kodi 18 is required for expanded artwork type support in the music library.

1 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

2 Fetching Additional Artwork

v18 introduces an experimental feature that will auto-load extended artwork from local files without the use of additional add-ons, and can be adapted to future changes in the results returned by the music information providers (album and artist scrapers) without changes to Kodi itself. It is considered an advanced feature. Usage and practicality of this feature are being monitored and may change in later releases.

The common artwork available for items in the Music library can be categorised as follows:

Artist Artwork
Basic Artwork Extended Artwork
fanart folder banner clearart clearlogo fanartxx (extrafanart) landscape
Album Artwork
Basic Artwork Extended Artwork
folder back discart spine

Basic- This artwork requires no special setup as they have always been natively fetched by Kodi from local files and by the default music scrapers. These are displayed by Estuary.

Extended- Many skins are more rich in art than Estuary and can show extended artwork as well. Historically cdART (now defunct) was used to fetch and apply this art, and more recently Artwork Beef is used.

Users now have the facility to load any artwork without add-ons providing either they have that art locally or use a scraper that returns that artwork. However the default skin Estuary does not display the extended artwork, if you are using Estuary then there is no need to consider this feature.

To enable this feature first the Extended art types must be whitelisted in advancedsettings.xml, an example is given below. There is no need to include the Basic artwork in the settings below.

 1 <advancedsettings>
 2 	<musiclibrary>
 3 		<artistextraart>
 4 			<arttype>banner</arttype>
 5 			<arttype>clearart</arttype>
 6 			<arttype>clearlogo</arttype>
 7          <arttype>fanart1</arttype> <!-- Multiple fanart -->
 8          <arttype>fanart2</arttype> <!-- Add as many as required. -->
 9          <arttype>fanart3</arttype> 
10 			<arttype>landscape</arttype>
11 		</artistextraart>
12 		<albumextraart>
13 			<arttype>back</arttype>
14 			<arttype>discart</arttype>
15 			<arttype>spine</arttype>
16 		</albumextraart>
17 	</musiclibrary>
18 </advancedsettings>
Note: The code box adds common extended artwork that many skins will utilise. It is your choice which extended artwork you add. If you add additional to that shown, ensure the skin has support to display it.

Then decide where the art is going to come from, most likely this will be via the music scrapers. The Universal Artist Scraper and Universal Album Scraper for v18 can fetch extended types of artwork. They currently have settings that enable what art types are fetched as well as the remote sources these come from (see images below). This over complicates matters, where things come from will always be part of the scraper settings, but the decision what to apply belongs to Kodi and the whitelist. For now ensure that the types of art you want are enabled here too, so the scraper fetches a full list of the art available, but these settings should be simplified in due course.

Extended artwork can also be provide in correctly located and named local files. The general rule for local extended artwork file naming is <arttype>.<ext>, for where these need to be located see below.

Extended art from local files is automatically picked up and applied as part of music library scanning or scrapin When local art of the types in the whitelist is not found then the first avialable art of that type returned by the scraper is automatically applied as part of scraping.

The process applied is as described in What Artwork is Used Automatically

3 Local Artwork

All types of artwork can be read from and saved to local artwork files.

Local artist artwork can be located in the Artist information folder (shown in image) where the name of the artist subfolder does matter, or a common unique artist folder among your music files if Kodi can find one (where the name of the subfolder does not matter).

Local album artwork can be located in the album folder (shown in image). This folder is identified from the music files it contains, not the folder name.

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.

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

The remainder of this page is additional technical information and can be safely ignored.

5 Library Artwork Source Priority

Music artwork is automatically allocated using the following order:

  1. Local artwork files
    • Album and artist artwork from local files always takes precedence.
  2. Album cover artwork embedded in tracks (when "Prefer scraped album art" is disabled)
    • By default the first embedded front cover art found while processing the music files of the album is taken as the album cover.
  3. First available scraped art
    • The music information providers (scrapers) return lists of available artist and album artwork. The first of each the type of art for that artist or album is applied as the art if none has already been found locally.
    • Scraping only happens as part of library update if the option in Kodi Settings -> Media -> Music -> "Fetch additional information during updates" is enabled
  4. Album cover artwork embedded in tracks (when"Prefer scraped album art" is enabled)
    • Use of cover art from the music files can be unprioritised by enabling the "Prefer scraped album art" setting. This could be desirable if the embedded art is of low quality compared to what the scrapers may return.

Songs also have associated art, most of it is the art of the related album and artists but they can also have individual “thumb” type art automatically set. The thumb type artwork displayed for a song on both player OSD and library screens has a fallback strategy:

  1. Art embedded in that music file provided that all songs on an album do not have the same embedded art
  2. Falls back to album thumb. This is either from
    1. Local image file e.g. folder.jpg
    2. The common embedded art when that is the same in every music file in the album and "Prefer scraped album art" is disabled
    3. The remotely scraped album thumb result (when "Prefer scraped album art" is enabled or neither a) or b) are found)

This means that if the embedded art is a jumble, say one music file with a different image, then the musc player OSD will show the individual embedded art not the album cover however it is set.

6 File View Mode

File View 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 only provides the added benefits of album and artist extended artwork and information when viewing music files that have been scanned into the library (so album and artist enries exist) and these have been sucessfully scraped. However basic artwork from local files is supported for music files that are not scanned into the library.

For non-scanned music files and folders artwork in file view mode is as follows:

  • The only type of art supported is thumb artwork
  • Every folder in the hierarchical structure can have an associated “thumb” artwork. The “thumb” for the folder on display is picked up from any suitably named image file found in that folder.
  • A thumb for individual music files will be read from tag data embedded in the music file providing the Enable tag reading setting is enabled. Only front cover is currently supported.
  • These images are loaded automatically and cached when the folder or music file is first viewed

7 Kodi version updates

  • Kodi 17 and before did not have the "Artist information folder" option, so could have trouble identifying a local folder for artist artwork in some cases.
  • Kodi 17 and before was limited to just "fanart" and "thumb" for artist images and "thumb" for album images, it did not have the flexibility to add a wide variety of artwork. Expanded artwork is new and still being explored from multiple angles, so not all skins or scrapers or tools will support a full selection.
    • Skins for versions of Kodi prior to v18 could use Skin Helper Service for some support of expanded artwork, but that has been superseded with this Kodi built-in functionality.
  • Kodi 18 adds a flexible collection of artwork for music items, but each artwork type must be whitelisted in advancedsettings.xml so that Kodi will add the specified artwork from scrapers and the file system automatically.

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