properly creating playlists

On this SanDisk support page for their music players is the following inaccurate information:

How do I create a playlist on the Clip Sport Plus/Sport/Jam/Voice?  The Clip Sport Plus/Sport/Jam/Voice only supports M3U playlists and they must be stored in the same directory as the files in the playlist. The process below gives instructions for creating an M3U playlist using Windows Media Player for the use on the Clip.

The above page then explains how to do so.  While using that method does indeed produce compatible playists, it is not true that all music files have to be inside the same folder.   Actually the playlist format is identical to that of my old Clip+.  Note I’ve owned a Sansa Clip+ for about a decade and recently purchased two Clip Jam players for Christmas gifts that I have configured.  What one should do is move the playlist .M3U files into the player Playlist folder and then use paths to folders containing the music files.   The format of such Windows Media player folders is the same across player hardware and smartphones for compatibility.  There is always a Music and Playlist folder under the root hardware player memory.  The above SanDisk page would have users simply put all the say .mp3 song files and .M3U playlist files in the same folder because if so one does need to deal with adding a computer path prefix to each song line in a .M3U file.  Thus have dumbed down what to do for the sake of computer ignorant users.   The problem with that is if one has hundreds of songs in the same folder, it becomes awkward to work with using Windows Explorer because it is a big disorganized mess of unrelated music files that will disgust any computer users.  Although many users organize their local music files using music apps like Windows Media Player, far better is take personal control usings Windows Explorer just like one does with any ordinary computer files.

Far better is to create an ordinary sub folder system to organize songs by artist group.  Thus for instance using mp3 files under Music one might have dozens of folders with names of music groups and inside each folder only mp3 files for that artist.  So using Windows Explorer with the cursor on the CLIP JAM\Music folder, one right mouse depresses then on the pop down selects New…Folder.  Then with cursor on New Folder,  Rename and enter The Beatles.  Inside that folder one might move:

Hey Jude.mp3
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.mp3

If one creates a test playlist for those two music files using the above SanDisk page, say Beatles-playlist.M3U, the text within would be identical to the above two lines.  However using paths, the Beatles-playlist.M3U file needs to go into the CLIP JAM\Playlist folder where it was intended per the Windows Media Player standard.  The computer memory path text inside the Beatles-playlist.M3U file from that Playlist folder to those two music files must be changed to:

…\Music\The Beatles\Hey Jude.mp3
…\Music\The Beatles\Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.mp3

Do the above likewise to organize all music files by artist group as the player software does not care about sub folders below Music, only that music files are somewhere below CLIP JAM\Music.  To understand how the player interprets metadata within each mp3 file, right mouse click on a file and select Properties…Details.  If that information is not correct or blank, the music player will also not be able to associate a song with a music group, album of that group, and other ID3v2 tag information.  To fix minor information one can do so manually editing within Details, however will advise using the freeware mp3tag app for a lot of editing.  And how to do so is beyond this input.  I will add that one can use Rename to change a .M3U playlist file so one can open and edit it in Notepad.  To do so  per my example above,  Beatles-playlist.M3U is renamed Beatles-playlist.M3U.txt.  Open that txt file with Notepad, make changes, then save back as Beatles-playlist.M3U and delete Beatles-playlist.M3U.txt.



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Example: Three M3U playlists that reference mp3 files in multiple folders.


Music\Kim Carnes
   Break My Heart.mp3
   Bette Davis Eyes.mp3

Music\Elvis Presley
   Heartbreak Hotel.mp3
   Blue Christmas.mp3


The playlist files are in the M3U basic playlist format:

   Kim Carnes\Break My Heart.mp3
   Elvis Presley\Blue Christmas.mp3

   Break My Heart.mp3
   …\Elvis Presley\Heartbreak Hotel.mp3

   …\Music\Kim Carnes\Bette Davis Eyes.mp3
   …\Music\Elvis Presley\Blue Christmas.mp3

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The thing is, the m3u format has been around for 20 years or so, it’s a well-established standard.

If there are no paths to somewhere else, it’s just a list of file names.  On a Linux/unix machine you should be able to cd to the directory where your mp3 are and do something like “ls *.mp3 > mylist.m3u”.  No dragging and dropping or Windows Media Player or Windows Explorer or other nonsense.  If I remember right there’s a way, like “dir /b *.mp3 > mylist.m3u”, to get a bare list of file names from a Windows/DOS command prompt.

Yet made in Linux they don’t work, I’m guessing they don’t from a Mac either.  Maybe they need to have DOS line ends <CR><LF> instead of unix <LF> or Mac <CR>.  I’m in Linux with nothing handy to try that with.

Or the m3u parser in Clip Jams is totally non-standard and out to lunch.  It’s not rocket science, it shouldn’t be this hard.  And there are ways to write parsers that work with any type of line ends.

You are correct !!

Take a look at this message describing a batch file command to use for subfolders of music files on the Clip Sport and Clip Jam.

(and I am able to execute the batch file command using Wine on my Mac)

Yes, it’s a shame, maybe something to put on the bucket list for the next firmware update.  You just end an incoming line when you see either 0xD or 0xA and you’ll cover all 3 type of line ends.

Took me a while to test my own theory and then I didn’t have anything handy to do the conversions so I had to bang out a little C program to give me DOS line ends.  I remember 20 years or so ago my favorite way to convert line ends was to FTP the file to another machine as binary and FTP it back as ASCII.  It takes a bit of planning which direction you do the transfer which way.  I don’t have any Windows machines left running though, I’m mostly on Raspberry Pis under Linux.  No Wine.

In a hex viewer you can see the difference.  In the top line of dark blue, in the 3rd section you see a 0A line end.  That’s Linux.  In the bottom viewer is the same file converted to DOS line ends, the 0A has been replaced by 0D 0A.  This playlist now works fine in my ClipJam.

But without explicit fiddling you can only make playlists on Windows machines and have them work.


You may enjoy reading the question and various replies in this message stream from November 2017 on this Forum.