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I’m a PC user. I like iPhones so I’m stuck with iTunes. This is a summary of what I did to convert my iTunes music library to MP3, generate a playlist, and put it all on a USB flash drive. I can Select USB as the source. The playlist works. Sorting by album, artist, or genre works. Direct access to the folder structure also works. Song info and CD cover art display on the dashboard LCD. I only used LameXP (it is freeware) to make the MP3s and playlist.

Took a few online orders to get an extremely low profile USB flash drive that did not have an activity LED. I don’t like another blinking light nor a flash drive sticking out of the USB slot under the dash. I recommend (re)formatting the flash drive. FAT32 with 64kb allocation unit size (largest). If you care why then google “allocation unit size” and make an informed decision. It probably doesn’t really matter as the car’s processor is not that fast, and USB drive storage space is plenty.

I allow iTunes to ‘organize’ my library because I’m lazy. I gave up trying to undo iTunes tagging albums as “compilation” so moving files out of that folder and keeping a simple and easy to use “\artist\album\song” structure is one of two manual steps. Editing Playlist.m3u is the other. Simple find and replace to modify the paths.

The USB drive folder structure is:
\artist\album\song
gracenote_NA_September2016.up
Playlist.m3u

That gracenote file is from Mazda. Was supposed to make song selection by voice command work. I have mixed results with that. The USB has plenty of room so why not.


LameXP has good documentation. These are the features that helped make it a simple process:
Use the FILE menu and choose “Open Folder Reclusively” to open your music folder. For me that was:
C:\Users\Sean\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music
Have it search for only *.m4a files (iTune 12 lossless CD ripper format, I think it is AAC) so it doesn’t try to load any ‘bonus’ video or PDF.

Output to your hard drive first. I output to “C:\_fromlamexp”. On the output tab make sure to select the “Prepend relative source path to output file” option. Otherwise you get all MP3 files in the same folder. That works, but it makes browsing the folder directly in your car more difficult because you have to scroll thru the list file by file to get to the end.

Meta Data tab I selected both options:
Write meta information to encoded files
Automatically generate playlist file (.m3u)

Set compression and quality as you like. It is going to take some time regardless of my choice (time based on your PC’s system specs) so I just max the quality setting and go do something else. File size is not an issue. Top quality .mp3 are smaller than .m4a and 32GB flash drives are cheap. I have about 1200 songs and they take about 9GB of space.

When LameXP is done there are two ‘manual’ things I need to do to organize things like I want them.
Example source path: C:\Users\Sean\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music\AC_DC\Who Made Who
Example output path: C:\_from_lamexp\Users\Sean\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music\AC_DC\Who Made Who

I open the “C:\_from_lamexp\Users\Sean\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music” folder and copy everything EXCEPT the “Compilations” folder. This is my preference. It works if you do not do that, you just have an extra folder to look in to see the list of artists\albums. Copy them to your USB drive. So the USB drive now has “AC_DC\Who Made Who” (and all the other folders).

I then open “C:\_from_lamexp\Users\Sean\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music\Compilations” and copy all of those folders to the USB drive.

Lame should have created a “00 Playlist.m3u” file. It is a simple text file. I copy that to the USB drive and rename it to “Playlist.m3u”. I thought the “00” would be an issue with voice commands. I have not tested if it is. Edit “Playlist.m3u” with NotePad. Observe that all your song files have the full file path. I changed the file path by only copying the \artist\album\song to the USB. Need to edit the playlist to match the USB drives file structure. Edit menu, Replace… (or CTRL+H). For me it is:
Find what: C:\_from_lamexp\Users\Sean\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music
Replace with:
Leave the second box blank so it deletes the part of the file path that is not on the USB drive. You should have something like:
\AC_DC\Who Made Who\01 Who Made Who.mp3
Notice the “\” at the beginning of the path. You need that. You may be used to something like “C:\AC_DC\Who Made Who\01 Who Made Who.mp3” so it looks weird. Your USB drive does not get a drive letter when the Mazda reads it so don’t have one in the playlist.

If you have a “Compilations” folder and want to not use it in the car like me then repeat the above to get rid of the “\Compilations” from anything.

Save the playlist and close NotePad. Take the USB to your car. Enjoy.

Random thoughts:
The Mazda processor doesn’t need to be that fast so it isn’t. Give it a few minutes to load everything. The more folders and files you have, the longer it takes.
The Mazada seems to read at USB 2.0. Getting USB 3.0 (or newer) will ONLY improve the speed of copying songs onto the drive from your PC (if it also supports USB 3.0 or newer). It will NOT improve how fast it reads in the car, or the sound quality. USB 2.0 is inexpensive because it is getting replaced with USB 3.0. Age old trade-off: time vs. money.
 

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Good post 1 - I wish I'd seen it 2 weeks ago when struggling with the same issue.

I just copied my iTunes music folder to the USB stick (I only have .mp3 files) and the tracks played fine in the car. I exported playlists from iTunes and put them in a separate playlist folder on the USB stick. I had to edit the path as mentioned in the first post. Is there a way to automate this?

Tip - create some Genius playlists in iTunes then export the playlists (suitably edited) to your USB drive. That's a really lazy way of creating some semi-random playlists.
 

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From my experience, Gracenote in its current implementation is a pretty useless feature because it tends to ignore present ID3 tags in your music collection and suggests some really strange genres most of the time. Thanks, but no thanks.

But what really pi**es me off is the fact that the MZD does not memorize the folder you previously searched. When changing back into the folder selection menu, it always resets itself to the top of the folder structure. Also, your telephone book allows you to quickly scroll through contacts based on a first-letter index accessible on the very left side of the MZD screen. Why the f*ck doesn't this work for a large music collection?
 

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I agree Gracenote is utterly useless. 1/3 of my ~800 music collection is either has the title, artists, album or album art wrong. You can't turn Gracenote off besides intensionally bricking the database update process.
 

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I spent about 2 hours and recently updated all my music with the proper ID3 tags and album covers into each song using MP3tag, an application for windows. It allows you to batch update entire albums. It can also parse filename portions with proper delimiters into the ID3 tag, or vice a versa create a filename fitting ID3 tag info.
Now with all the proper tags and filename format, I have a 64gig usb filled with 45gigs of my entire music library of the past 17 years and it loads within 2 minutes of infotainment bootup allowing me to album/artist search. I believe if there are no errors or deviations in ID3 tag formats the building of the voice/navigation list for the albums/artists is much quicker. Maybe just a placebo effect not sure considering it used to take much longer relatively before I did a full standardization.
 

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I spent about 2 hours and recently updated all my music with the proper ID3 tags and album covers into each song using MP3tag, an application for windows. It allows you to batch update entire albums. It can also parse filename portions with proper delimiters into the ID3 tag, or vice a versa create a filename fitting ID3 tag info.
Now with all the proper tags and filename format, I have a 64gig usb filled with 45gigs of my entire music library of the past 17 years and it loads within 2 minutes of infotainment bootup allowing me to album/artist search. I believe if there are no errors or deviations in ID3 tag formats the building of the voice/navigation list for the albums/artists is much quicker. Maybe just a placebo effect not sure considering it used to take much longer relatively before I did a full standardization.
That sounds good! I will try that program!

All the mp3 files have just to be added in the USB drive? Or have to be organized in folders by artists, album,...?
 

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For my own sanity in doing album searches through my pc folders I have each album separated by folder as well. This way drag and drop becomes simple as well, rather than trying to sort through a folder with 1000s of files.
 

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Music playlist(s) on USB

I followed these instructions here and it worked perfectly. However I reworked my playlist the other day and improved it from my original trial version. I performed a quick format of the ultra USB 32g and saved my revamped playlist. Now I am wondering whether there could be a problem with the Mazda3 audio system re-recognising the USB when I replug it into my car? If so, what do
I do about it?
 

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Still having problems with generic/ phantom album covers and band photos showing up, definitely not on my USB drive. Reading abut 2 other ways to possibly eliminate problem: either disabling Gracenote or renaming the root folders. Hopefully that will solve problem once and for all.
 

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Good post 1 - I wish I'd seen it 2 weeks ago when struggling with the same issue.

I just copied my iTunes music folder to the USB stick (I only have .mp3 files) and the tracks played fine in the car. I exported playlists from iTunes and put them in a separate playlist folder on the USB stick. I had to edit the path as mentioned in the first post. Is there a way to automate this?

Tip - create some Genius playlists in iTunes then export the playlists (suitably edited) to your USB drive. That's a really lazy way of creating some semi-random playlists.
Genius playlists are a good idea. I use Word to edit the music path on the USB playlist file using Search & Replace - all done in a few seconds.
 

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I agree Gracenote is utterly useless. 1/3 of my ~800 music collection is either has the title, artists, album or album art wrong. You can't turn Gracenote off besides intensionally bricking the database update process.
I had this problem which was due to MP3 tagging errors. See my guide at post 10 to correct. Gracenote now only screws up the genre but I never sort by genre anyway.
 

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I spent about 2 hours and recently updated all my music with the proper ID3 tags and album covers into each song using MP3tag, an application for windows. It allows you to batch update entire albums. It can also parse filename portions with proper delimiters into the ID3 tag, or vice a versa create a filename fitting ID3 tag info.
Now with all the proper tags and filename format, I have a 64gig usb filled with 45gigs of my entire music library of the past 17 years and it loads within 2 minutes of infotainment bootup allowing me to album/artist search. I believe if there are no errors or deviations in ID3 tag formats the building of the voice/navigation list for the albums/artists is much quicker. Maybe just a placebo effect not sure considering it used to take much longer relatively before I did a full standardization.
Correcting all the MP3 tags and album art content is a key step. I preferred to use Tagscanner.
 

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Still having problems with generic/ phantom album covers and band photos showing up, definitely not on my USB drive. Reading abut 2 other ways to possibly eliminate problem: either disabling Gracenote or renaming the root folders. Hopefully that will solve problem once and for all.
I had those problems - see post 10.
 

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I had those problems - see post 10.
After spending countless hours on this, I'm giving up. Still have exact same issues with strange album/ band artwork showing up on many songs. All tags are correct, and everything shows up correctly when I put the flash drive in other devices. I created a top level folder and copied my music over, yet problem persists. Taking car in to service tomorrow and see if they can figure out what's going on with USB, among other things.
 

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After spending countless hours on this, I'm giving up. Still have exact same issues with strange album/ band artwork showing up on many songs. All tags are correct, and everything shows up correctly when I put the flash drive in other devices. I created a top level folder and copied my music over, yet problem persists. Taking car in to service tomorrow and see if they can figure out what's going on with USB, among other things.
Is every track tagged with the correct artwork & ensure you don't have multiple artwork images tagged.
 

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Is every track tagged with the correct artwork & ensure you don't have multiple artwork images tagged.
Yes they are each tagged with the correct artwork. I had updated my playlist and after reformating, added it to my flashdrive in a top level folder.

When the flashdrive is installed in the Mazda USB drive, using Commander Control Knob, I can switch from ROOT to FOLDERS to MUSAK (the name of my top level folder). The albums from my updated playlist are there, but the songs are playing in alphabetical order. And incorrect album covers.

If I instead turn the control knob over to ALBUM or ARTIST, all music choices are from the old playlist.

I wonder if I did something incorrectly when creating the top level folder on my imac?
 

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FWIW, the dealer service dept was no help. I made some changes with mp3tags (Mac), including adding a leading zero with track numbers. Now when I access the music through FOLDERS, the songs play in the correct order, instead of alphabetically. Strange how some of my own supplied artwork appears on certain albums every time, but not on others.

When we looked at flash drive on service managers computer, all the correct artwork appeared (including everything I supplied myself). However, when we stuck my flash drive into another Mazda on the lot, the mysterious band photos and generic images showed up again.
 
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