Album art now embedded in our MP3 files
Until today, album art hasn't been automatically associated with our music downloads.
And now, as of today, all our music automatically includes album artwork.
What does this mean? Until today, if you put one of our MP3s into iTunes, the artist/album/year was there, but a generic graphic was shown for the album cover:
now, all our albums have the album art embedded in the MP3 file itself, so that iTunes shows:
on your desktop, the album art should be automatically displayed for the file's icon: (old is on the left of this image, new is on the right of the image)
and when you click "info" in iTunes you see the album art:
The album art is automatically included in:
1) single mp3 song files you download
2) single m4a (i.e. Apple AAC) files you download
3) zip files of entire albums in High quality MP3 (VBR)
4) zip files of entire albums in medium quality MP3 (128k)
5) zip files of entire albums in M4A (Apple AAC format)
The album art is a 300x300 highly optimized JPEG file, which on average is 10kb to 20kb, for about a 1% to 2% file size increase on the 128K MP3 files. I felt that was a tiny amount of disk space to use for what is a very helpful feature.
This very helpful blog about MP3 album art:
argues that 300x300 is the best current choice, as this is what will display at full resolution on current generation iPods, and is also the size the BBC has chosen. That's why we went with that.
Note for FLAC/OGG users: I couldn't find a standard way to embed artwork in those file formats, so for the time being our artwork in not embedded in those two file formats.
A big THANK YOU to Magnatune member David Hopkins for pointing out that this was possible, and for nagging me to do it!
Posted by John Buckman on June 9, 2012 at 01:06 AM | Permalink
great, thx john and David of course.
Posted by: ruediger at Jun 9, 2012 1:56:14 AM
This is excellent news. Thanks for taking the trouble to do this :)
Posted by: ProtoKol at Jun 9, 2012 3:22:51 AM
Excellent! Now I don't have to do it manually anymore.
Posted by: Daniel Clements at Jun 9, 2012 6:55:53 AM
For FLAC files, use the flac encoder at flac.sourceforge.net and try reading the documentation on --picture. That should do what you want.
I did the following and it worked in Totem (with a sample track in my present working directory):
$ wget 'http://he3.magnatune.com/music/Cancer%20Killing%20Gemini/It%20Only%20Hurts%20When%20We%20Breathe/cover.jpg'
$ flac --picture=cover.jpg -f 01\ -\ Christcontrol.flac
$ totem 01\ -\ Christcontrol.flac
to see the cover art with the person in the welding helmet looking at a tree with no leaves.
I imagine one could use PBM tools, Imagemagick, or a workalike to scale cover art down to a 32x32 PNG suitable for embedding as image type #1—file icon.
Posted by: J.B. Nicholson-Owens at Jun 9, 2012 3:01:08 PM
The command line utility "metaflac" (part of the official flac package) has options for cover art. See the --import-picture-from option, that supports 21 different picture types (the appropriate one here is the default, 3: Cover (front)). At least VLC shows me such covers, and e.g. the albums from Floex (Tomáš Dvořák) on Bandcamp do include such cover art. See:
Also the Big Buck Bunny soundtrack OGGs include album art that can be displayed by VLC, but neither ogginfo, vorbiscomment nor VLC's metadata dialog tell me how the cover art is stored. I only know that there is cover art because VLC *displays* some. Anyway the Xiph Wiki says that you should just use a FLAC PICTURE tag encoded as Base64 in a Vorbis tag called "METADATA_BLOCK_PICTURE". See:
TagLib supports FLAC PICTURE tags:
So for OGG one just can render a FLAC::Picture into a ByteVector, encode this ByteVector in Base64 and sets the Vorbis tag "METADATA_BLOCK_PICTURE" to that. I even found a gist that does that:
This is supported by the most players (VLC, Winamp, etc.), so it would be standard enough for me, even if it wouldn't be recommended by Xiph.org. Or is it that the tools that you use don't support this?
Posted by: panzi at Jun 9, 2012 3:47:59 PM
Thanks, guys for letting me know how to add the covers to FLAC files. I'll make the changes and hopefully next week the FLAC files at magnatune should all be rebuilt with artwork.
I'll give it a try and see if I can make it work.
Posted by: John from Magnatune at Jun 9, 2012 10:16:17 PM
Thanks for fixing this issue. It will be a pleasure not to have to manually download the artwork anymore. much appreciated!
Posted by: Alan at Jun 10, 2012 12:25:50 AM
Thanks for doing this! Up until now I've just been copy/pasting the graphics into Windows Media Player, but then to get the album art to display with the songs once I moved them to my Mp3 player I had to use Stamp ID3 Tagger or I'd just get the generic icon.
This means now I can spend more time listening and enjoying and less time managing files.
Posted by: Spike Page at Jun 10, 2012 9:13:04 PM
Thank you. This will save me a lot of time!
Posted by: Frank at Jun 11, 2012 6:16:45 PM