15 Jan 2012

Nokia N9 Music Player and Album Cover Art

I recently got a Nokia N9 phone. One of the first things I did was copy my music collection into it. Since the player shows also album cover images, if such are stored, I started adding them -- not by embedding them into ID3v2 tags but as separate files, to avoid useless copies of images.

Usually it is as simple as putting a cover.jpg file into a directory, that contains a single album. Sometimes and in some cases, though, that does not work. I found out, that the N9's default music player is supposed to follow Media Art Storage specification. That gave me hints.

If a directory contains more than one album, you can name the cover image files according to the album, for example 'Back in Black.jpg' and 'Flick of the Switch.jpg', as long as the names correspond the ID3 tag album name (somehow?).

My real problem case was a directory full of songs downloaded from Nectarine. I edited them all (EasyTAG is a wonderful tool) to make the ID3 album tag "Nectarine" because I wanted to have them all under the same "album", and there are over 50 songs in that single directory. Simply adding a cover.jpg or Nectarine.jpg did not work.

There are two possible reasons that I found. First, the directory contains too many files, according to the Media Art Storage spec. Second, apparently the cover art is not taken into use, unless at least one song file, which would use that cover art, is touched (modification date updated).

I created a new directory, moved one Nectarine song into it, and put Nectarine.jpg there, too. And it started to work, for all my Nectarine songs.

There is software called Tracker in the N9, which maintains some sort of database of all media. Also album cover art gets used via Tracker. If you ssh into your phone, and move around your media files, Tracker update is not automatically triggered. You could use the command tracker-control -r to force a full rebuild when you launch e.g. the music player the next time, but the rebuild will take a long time. An easy way to force a faster rebuild is to plug the N9 into a computer via USB, and then unplug it.


damaltor said...

Please remember that using "tracker-control -r" will also delete all contacts, all feeds, all chat messages and all sms from your phone.

pq said...

Good grief, excellent warning. I never had any contacts or other on the phone, I was just happy it regenerated all thumbnails.

AlteaDown said...

I know this was posted a while ago, but the ideal solution for cover art in ID3 tags is to store the cover art as Binary Data within the actual MP3 file itself. This allows for the cover art to always follow the individual files. Only downsides to doing this is you use 2KB of storage per mp3 file, and it takes more time to save songs (as there likely isn't 2KB of padding in the mp3 file, so it will likely need to be completely re-written).

If you want, I made a free app, MP3dit, that automatically saves the album art inside the files.

pq said...

AlteaDown, yes I know, but I dismissed that approach in the first paragraph. 2kB sounds like an awfully tiny image, is that really usable when displayed on as 400x400 px or so?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, this helped me. I had put cover.jpg in the folders and rebuilt the music library but I didn’t realize that I had to touch *ogg