MP3 Album Cover Art, MP3ext, and Jessica Simpson

I’ve have MP3 files around for as long as I can remember. Actually – I had MP2 files way back in the day. So it’s safe to say that I’ve already organized my collection and everything is all nice and neat. All items tagged with ID3 tags and life couldn’t be grander. No matter what player or organizer I use, I can search, stream, and playback music all over my house, on my iPod, in my car – you name it, I’m there. This of course, wouldn’t be possible with the shear number of MP3 files I have without my trusty ol’ MP3ext program.

While it’s made my life of updating my MP3 files with the correct ID3 information about as easy as sliced bread, it wasn’t until I took on my next challenge did I found out what joy it would actually bring me. (Yes – I’m being cynical – wait for it…)

Album cover art.

And no – it’s not because the iPhone and the new iPod makes it look so cool to flip covers around…

You want to talk about wasting plenty of time to go back through my entire collection and search out album covers? Just searching Google for a potential program to help me out hurt my head… There’s so much junk out there that it just… blah.

But alas – I found a great program called Album Cover Art Downloader. The latest version is 1.6.0 – and by latest I mean – the Web site doesn’t exist any more and it’s almost 3 years old. But – it’s super easy to grab album art off of the Web and it’s free!! Click, click, click – PNG files are dropped into the Image ID3 (and I had it drop off a PNG file into the directory as well) – I’m now enjoying life. (For those of you that think iTunes is the greatest – it’s not bad. It’s just that version 7 doesn’t embed the images into the actual MP3 files any more and I don’t manage my collection with that tool anyway… And most of the tools out there to grab album art actually use iTunes to get the images – and it’s encrypted now – which of course breaks all of those other “free” applications.

Yes – I’m getting verbose… Now to the point.

Only about a third of my MP3 collection works with Album Cover Art Downloader. Hmmm, you say? What do I mean? At first I thought it odd that the program couldn’t read the ID3 tags when I clicked on the files. Surely this is a problem with the application. No other program has an issue with my MP3 files! So I typed in the song Artist and Album name myself. Search – bing… It shows up.

Go to save the image that I want:

Error.

Ugh.

What’s this TSIZ stuff? Found garbage where I expected a Frame Id?

Hey – Google – let’s go find a solution! (Knowing that I’ll never get a fix from either of these two pieces of outdated software…)

Well – I spent the last 2 months looking for a solution. I just had to find an easy way to bulk load images!! Grabbing images off of Amazon and manually going into my MP3-Info application was killing me! (I did if for a while… but I lost interest fast!)

Long an behold – I came across this tidbit from Google that actually was from an indexed Python script:

# MP3ext causes illegal frames to be inserted, which must be ignored.
_known_bad_frames = [
"\x00\x00MP",
"\x00MP3",
" MP3",
"MP3e",
"\x00MP",
" MP",
"MP3",
]

Well – the script was called MP3Info.py – I was like – A-HA! My ID3 tagger program was causing me issues!!

Okay – moving on.

So it seems that maybe I’m writing out bad MP3 files somewhere along the way. Back to Google for help. Let’s look for something to “fix” my “bad” MP3 files. Even though 1/3 of them work, maybe some had some bad headers in there. I use the same software to rip my CDs (Audiograbber) – same LAME plug-in I’ve been using forever. (I actually purchased it back when it wasn’t free… One of the few… Just like MOD4WIN!) – But I came up short. Try doing a search for MP3 cleaner or repair tool and you get thrust into a never ending set of $15 shareware tool links. Ugh. I tried most of them out – all of them said my files were fine! AGH!

At this point, I’m sad. Frustrated. Thinking all hope is lost. (How oh how will I be able to help Jessica Simpson into my MP3 files? She seems so sad!)

Now jump ahead to this past weekend…

I find this Google result – The ultimate way to tag and rename mp3s – Yeah – “mp3, tag, repair, mp3ext” – Martin talks about his #1 tool for helping him out with tagging MP3 files. I was like – okay… I’ll try one more. Maybe this one will help.

Long and behold – this one piece of Russian software was my miracle worker.

By simply selecting multiple songs, Tag Scanner will actually write out the songs from scratch with the correct ID3 information. I’m not even changing the information. What I get is a new file with all of my original tags in it – but without the offending header information! So I ran a few tests… Album Cover Art Downloader can now see the ID3 tags – it now saves the downloaded covers into the MP3 file and I’m halfway through my updates in no time flat!!!

What a sigh of relief!! My anguish no longer killing me! (Am I being too over dramatic yet? Can’t you tell how ecstatic I am finding this solution!!)

Of course, it’s almost all peaches for me… but a few items bug me. It renames the track number field to include “01” instead of the “1” I’ve so meticulously changed on all of my tracks. That’s okay – I can change that. (C’mon MP3-Info!) Of course, MP3-Info just breaks the ID3 information again – but, as well… That’s okay – I already have my album are safely tucked away.

So I’m writing this super long monstrosity of a post so that not only can I share my deep rooted need to have my MP3 files cataloged correctly (and now waste even more time getting all of the album covers!) – hopefully this will be helpful for at least one other person out there. (If it happens to be you – leave a message!)

Now it’s time to get those colorful screen shots put in here and head to bed!!

And yes – Jessica Simpson is now quite happy to be embedded in my MP3 files…

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