Album Art for BandCamp MP3s (WORKAROUND)

Hi all,

TLDR: If album art is not showing up for MP3s from BandCamp, use Kid3 to change the “text encoding” for the APIC id3 frame that holds the album art, from UTF-16 to ISO-8859-1.

I have an issue in Engine Prime (1.3.4) on macOS with album art not showing up for tracks purchased on BandCamp (tried multiple imports, “Re-import Track Information”, etc. to no avail). Here’s the workaround that worked for me, with technical details that I can see.

From BandCamp, I download tracks in “MP3 320” CBR format. I use Kid3 software to inspect/edit id3 tags. In freshly downloaded BandCamp MP3s, only id3v2.3.0 tags are present, and album art is there (and visible in other software, in Finder, etc.) in the APIC frame. However if you go to “edit” the picture tag, you can see that the frame’s “text encoding” is set to “UTF-16”. I think this confuses Engine Prime. After changing the “text encoding” of the APIC frame and saving the file, album art will successfully import in Engine Prime (both re-adding the track and the “re-import track information” option work).

Hopefully devs can fix this issue and read the APIC frame correctly!

2 Likes

You should let band amp know that their album art doesn’t appear when everyone else’s album art does. They’re clearly doing something wrong

I’m not convinced that BandCamp are doing anything wrong per se:

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ID3#ID3v2 there are 4 possible text encoding types in ID3v2, with only two of them supported in ID3v2.3: ISO-8859-1 and UCS-2 (which I suspect Kid3 mistakenly calls UTF-16; they sound like similar/related encodings). The other two encodings (UTF-16BE and UTF-8) are only supported in ID3v2.4; I didn’t test those.

I have no idea why non-ascii text is needed in the album art tag (perhaps for the original image filename, which seems to be preserved?), so I’ll reach out to BandCamp in case they want to maximize the compatibility of their files, but it seems to me that Engine Prime should be able to read the album art from their files as-is; all other software I’ve tried is able to.

It’s all down to the path of least resistance

If two dozen major sources can all supply paid for tracks with album art that works, then why can’t one source, who’s somewhere shown in the 3rd tenth of major suppliers, adjust their “against the grain” way of doing things. I agree that you could inform them of a way that they can make their service appeal to more people. for them it’s probably just ticking the 3rd box on the left instead of the 4th one … no biggie

I was wondering why the album art wasn’t showing up. Hope a future update will fix this, but thanks for the workaround!

I’m gonna try this next time I get a new cart of tunes.