How to setup Kodi: Music library

Adding music to your library is the second big part of your Kodi setup. As of Kodi 16 Jarvis, it now follows a similar process as adding videos above, but that wasn’t always the case.

New Music Library

Prior to Kodi 16, there was a definite difference between how you used the Music Library and the Video Library. For some odd reason, scanning files into your Music Library was a two-step process, unlike the automatic scanning available in the Video Library. You actually had to manually pull up the context menu and select Scan to Library.

Now the system will ask you if you want to scan all the files in the folder immediately after you add a new source – just like it does for the Video Library.

Advantages to the Music Library

Kodi first announced the new Music Library in December 2015 on a blog post on Kodi.tv. They listed quite a few enhancements which I’ve highlighted below.

  • A consistent looking library view just like for Movies and TV Shows
  • Searching your music files is now enabled
  • Library splits up the music in sections: Genres, Artists, Albums, Singles, All songs, Years, Top 100 (based on your playback), Recently added/played albums, Compilations
  • Ability to use Smart Playlists to further filter
  • Rate your music and filter based on that rating
  • Share music over you home-network provided that the clients support UPnP
  • Scan for additional information like artist biography or album review/synopsis using the Context menu in album or artist library
  • This can be enabled by default in Settings -> Music -> Library -> Fetch additional information during updates

Tagging Music in Kodi

In the Video section I mentioned that Kodi needed files to be in a very specific format in order for the scrapers to figure out what the files were. The same holds true for your Music Library.

Unlike Videos and TV shows, Kodi doesn’t look at the file names themselves, it looks at the ID tags embedded in the file.

What this means is that each file (song) must have ID3v1, ID3v2.3, ID3v2.4, Vorbis Comments or APE tagging. If the files aren’t tagged, Kodi won’t be able to figure out what the song really is.

Why Tagging?

If you think about it, this makes sense. When you look at a movie, you only need a combination of the movie title and the year in order to figure out what the movie is. For example Transformers (1986) is very different from Transformers (2007), but with those two pieces of information, you can easily determine which is which.

With music, it’s much harder. If an album is released, a song can have live and studio versions of the same song, acoustic or full band versions, even karaoke versions – all on the same album. Or worse, different artists can release different songs with the same title in the same year.

How can Kodi figure it all out without making the file names incredibly huge?

That’s where tagging comes in. Tagging embeds information in the file itself including Artist, Album, Year, Track Number, Genre, Length, and Bit Rate. Tagging can even hold information on the beats per minute or rating of the song.

What if your music files aren’t tagged?

I’m not going to say it’s an easy thing to fix, but there are programs that can help you with the process. I’d suggest looking at MusicBrainz PicardMp3Tag or TagScanner.

How to add music to  your library

Because the new Music Library is modeled after the Video library, this will hopefully look very familiar if you’ve been following along. If you haven’t been following along….why not? 😉

Start by scrolling down to Music on the side menu. The submenus underneath Music may look different than the screen on the left. This image is from a fresh installation with no music files whatsoever. If that’s the case, Kodi is smart enough to realize that you’re either going to want to install a music add-on, or set up your library. There’s no need for it to show any additional information such as Artists, Albums, Songs or Library since they don’t exist yet.

Whether you have nothing in your library yet, or you want to add files to an existing library, click on Enter Files Section to continue. If you already have don’t have anything in your library, it will take you directly to the screen below.

Either way, we’ll be going to the Files section to set up your music library.

Depending on how Kodi is set up on your network, your shares may appear in this menu. If you know the path of your media server, you can take a shortcut and enter it directly in the box here. If you don’t know the path, you’ll need to Browsefor it.

If you already have some files set up, there’ll be a list of folder shares in an intermediate menu before this with an option to Add Music. I covered folder shares in the Video section above, but just in case you skipped that section, I’ll touch on it again in a little bit. But as you can see below, the shares I set up in the previous section are listed here.

My music is stored on the same NAS (Network Accessible Storage) server as my movies, so I’ll select Windows Network (SMB) to continue. Depending on how your network is set up, you may have your files stored on an external drive or even a UPnP server somewhere else on the network.

Since I know the name of my NAS server, I’ll select it from the list.

Once I select a device, Kodi then looks at any folders that it finds and asks where my music is located. In this case, I only want to go one more level down, since that’s where the Artist sub-folders are located. As you’re navigating through your folders, Kodi will keep updating the file path at the bottom of the screen.

Once you get as far down as you want, click OK.

That will take you back to the Add Music Source window and add the file path to your media server in the box.

By default, Kodi will choose the folder name as the name for the share, but you can change the name of the share in the Enter a Name for the Media Source box.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the big improvements to the Music Library is that it will automatically as you if you want to add the media from this source to your library. Unless you’re adding multiple folders and want to scan at the end, I would always select Yes.

Scanning your Music Library will usually take considerably longer than scanning your Video Library. Most of us have libraries with several thousand songs in them, and that can be time consuming to scan and index. Be patient here.

Once Kodi finishes, you’ll find the recently added albums on top of the main ribbon on the Kodi home window.

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