What's the best way to include album art?
July 24, 2008 4:42 PM   Subscribe

If I'm making an album available on the web, whats the best album art file names and dimensions to include with the download? Is it worth it to include a playlist file?
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That depends on a lot of things. Typically you'll see naming conventions for album art like:


Or whatever you want to do. As far as dimensions, most I see fall between 350x350 and 600x600, although I like to sometimes see both a full resolution large scan of the art, along with a small scan for the ipod/portable player/etc.
posted by rooftop secrets at 5:03 PM on July 24, 2008

Regarding the naming convention, I personally have always preferred file names that are in lower case and where hyphens are used instead of white space, i.e.:
I find this to be a good compromise if you want to avoid file naming incompatibilities when working with different platforms. For example, if someone decides to put the files on a web server, you won't have uppercase characters and whitespace causing you any trouble or usability issues. I added the artistname and albumname boilerplate because you never know how people organize their files; if somone dumps all of their document, video and audio files into one directory, Inside_right.jpg isn't descriptive enough. Also, if you have a lot of album art, put the files in their own directory. The only files in the root directory should ideally be audio files, a play list file, and, maybe, a readme with more info about the album and the artist who created it.

Include the play list. It doesn't cost you or your listeners anything and if only a couple of percent use it, it has done its part. Personally, I like the fact that I can load an entire album into Winamp by just clicking on a pls file instead of dragging and dropping individual files.

I agree with rooftop secrets about the art files' dimensions. Include at least two sets: one where the dimensions are that of typical thumbnails, the other where the files have big dimensions and great quality. People use album art in many different ways (to organize their music collection, to add an image to their blog post, etc) so it doesn't hurt to provide them with large files which they can scale down to their liking.

You don't mention anything about audio quality. I just want to remind you that high quality audio is far more important than a naming convention or album art.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:39 PM on July 24, 2008

As well as including the art files - could you ensure that all the metadata and the art is pre-embedded within the MP3 files themselves?

I use MP3Tag to do this.
posted by jkaczor at 7:26 PM on July 24, 2008

As far as I know, there aren't any real conventions. I like including original jpgs and thumbnails, as front.jpg, front_large.jpg, back.jpg, etc. I would recommend you don't embed them because some people (me!) don't like album art. None of my downloads so far have included embedded album art.

Include a playlist file. Folks who like m3u's will thank you, and the rest of them can delete it.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 8:24 PM on July 24, 2008

In Windows XP, I find that folder.jpg is instantly shown as a full-folder image ... I'm not sure exactly how to explain this. Change an image in an MP3/jpg folder to folder.jpg, go "up" and view the folder listing in thumbnails.
Because of this, I tend to rename front cover jpgs to folder.jpg.
posted by Xere at 9:34 PM on July 24, 2008

Xere is correct: it is built in to Windows Explorer to display folder.jpg as the thumbnail image for the folder when viewed as thumbnails at the next level up. Whatever filenames you do use for your album art, include an extra copy of the front image called folder.jpg and Windows users will be happy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:16 AM on July 25, 2008

I hate hate hate getting an album with a m3u. If you add the tracks to itunes by dragging the folder, you end up with two copies of the album in your library, and then you have to go back and delete the extra tracks. It's quite the pain in the ass.

I imagine that most people don't organize all their music manually. I also imagine that most people listen to music using itunes and not winamp. But I have no numbers to back this up.
posted by kpmcguire at 10:37 AM on July 25, 2008

On the other hand, winamp certainly won't create two copies of the CD in the playlist, and to make matters worse it won't automatically sort by track #. The only way to do so is to have it already in the library, do it yourself, have an m3u, or put track numbers in the file name. I don't like the last one, but it happens to be both useful and the standard.
posted by gensubuser at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2008

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