Technological Overthinking #2 | Sony Walkman Album Art


One recurrent technological question I have is why MP3 players never display album artwork consistently. The issue often seems random; when I get some albums working, others are blank in their place. So I wanted to figure out what the problem was and write them down for future reference.

As I’ve used some kind of Sony Walkman MP3 player since about 2008, I initially checked posts and articles about Sony players. However, the same issue applies with multiple brands of MP3 players and various other devices like digital photo frames.

Many people with Sony Walkman players have posted about cover art issues on Sony’s support website. But the official answers just tell people to transfer songs to their Walkman using Sony’s Content Transfer software, without explaining why the issue exists. I wanted to fix the issue within the music programs I already use (MediaMonkey and Mp3tag) instead of adding another program into the mix.

After looking on multiple subreddits and software forums, I found three essential criteria for making album art and other tags show up properly on the Sony MP3 players. (All criteria may apply to other MP3 players as as well, and the “baseline” JPG criteria may resolve issues with car infotainment systems and digital photo frames).

1) Every song must be tagged using ID3 tag version 2.3.
2) Every song’s artwork must be embedded into its ID3 tag.
3) Every artwork image must be a JPG. More specifically, it must be a “baseline” JPG rather than a “progressive” JPG.

Now I’ll explain what all of those words mean, and the steps that I followed to make my song files and cover artworks fit these criteria. It’s important for me to clarify that each individual part was figured out by someone else; I’m just putting them together so that I can show the steps all in one place.

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