SanDisk Clip Sport -- M3U Playlist exported from iTunes (Mac) shows up as "Empty"

I just got a SanDisk Clip Sport. I placed a MicroSD card in it and loaded it up with MP3 and AAC (.m4a) music files. They play fine and the info tags show up fine. But I simply cannot get a playlist to work with this device. I keep my music organized in iTunes (v. 12.4.0 119) on my Mac. I used the File>Library>Export Playlist command to export my desired playlist as a .M3U file. I placed this file in a folder, along with all of the MP3 and AAC files for the songs that the playlist references, in the same folder and then I placed that folder in the Music folder on the card. (This folder shows up as Music when viewed in the Finder on my Mac but it is labeled as Songs in the menu structure on the Clip Sport.)

When I open the playlist on my Clip Sport, it simply says “Empty”. I went back through every song and album title contained in the playlist and removed all of the following special characters: ? # [] /

Then I formatted the card and exported the music files and the playlist file again. Still no luck, the playlist comes up as “Empty”.

Any advice on what I should do?

I have had success using VLC Media Player (from VideoLAN project) on my MacMini (2012) to create music playlists on my Clip Sport.  I never tried to export playlists from iTunes on my Mac (or PC).

 Here is the web-link for the VLC software.

Here are some instructions how to use the VLC software to make playlists on the Clip Sport (and Clip Jam).

First, I use Finder to create subfolders on my Clip Sport (internal memory or external card) under Music. Then I copy my selected mp3 files from my Mac into the various Music subfolders on my Clip Sport

Then I use VLC Media Player to load the mp3 files on my Clip player into the VLC playlist window. 

(Cannot combine internal memory and micro SD card sources in the same playlist.)

Then I use "Media -> Save Playlist to file -.> Save as “abc123.m3u” and save the new playlist in any one of the Music subfolders on my Clip player.   Then I can use Music mode or Card mode on my Clip player to select the playlist and listen to music files across all the subfolders.

See this link for some helpful screen captures

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Thanks for your reply. However, I manage my music in iTunes and have no desire to try to manually reassemble a 600+ song playlist in VLC and continue maintaining it there every time I buy a new song to add to the top of the playlist. iTunes is almost certainly the most popular desktop software for managing and playing MP3s. It’s crazy to me that the software in SanDisk’s players is so poorly designed that it is apparently incompatible with M3U playlists generated by iTunes. (Those playlists, BTW, work just fine in various music player apps on my Android phone.)

If anyone else has an answer for this problem, please let me know! Otherwise, I guess my Clip Sport will go on eBay or just get thrown in the junk drawer.

Really sorry to read that you are unhappy with your Clip Sport.  I think it is a pleasant-sounding & fun alternative player to the way more expensive iPad Nano. But the thrifty price comes with a few challenges.

Anyways, I just experimented with exporting one of my iTunes Playlists to a “m3u” file on my MacMini.  Then I looked at the contents of the m3u file using “TextEdit”.  I immediately discovered one problem with pasting this m3u file into my Clip Sport.

  The iTunes m3u file includes the specific directory locations of all the listed music files in my iTunes library on my harddrive.

      “/Users/MacMini-2/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/VARIOUS ARTISTS/” etc etc etc

I can guess my Clip Sport will not be able to convert the location of these files on my Mac to my desired Music subfolders on my player (internal OR external).

        ->Maybe use a word processor and do “search and replace” in the transplanted playlist ??

OR,   maybe it would be possible to construct an iTunes playlist that referenced music folders and files that are stored on the player (or the connected micro SD card)??  But you would still need to create new playlists for your 600 songs.

One more side comment, I enjoy my Clip Sport without any playlists by carefully curating my ID3 tags (album, song title, artist, track number) and also using Folder mode with useful arrangement of sub-folders.    

      AND many times I just go wild and play “shuffle all”.  Ha ha.

Thanks. I also tried opening the M3U files in Text Edit and experimenting with making some alterations to the file to see if that would work but had no luck.

If all I wanted was to use the shuffle functionality, the SanDisk would work OK. And sometimes I do like to do that. But often I want to listen to my most recently acquired music which I have sequenced in a playlist.

It just looks like the trade-off of time and effort to create and maintain playlists that would work with the SanDisk is simply not worth whatever money is saved over buying an iPod nano. I don’t like the new touch-screen ones that have no physical buttons but I guess used older iPod nanos will still be floating around on eBay for awhile. Sad that there are so few options in terms of MP3 players available any more. It seems to be a dying product category as many people just use their phones for music and increasingly switch from downloaded music to subscription streaming services…

I agree with everything you said in your third paragraph. I am sorry I could not devise a quick fix for your request.

Since you already spent the $$$, why not just drag a few folders from your iTunes library onto the player and enjoy the simple features when you do not want to carry around a more expensive and precious device like a Nano.

I actually already have an old iPod nano, although sometimes these days it acts a bit flakey. I guess for now I’ll just keep using it and hope it lasts. In the meantime, maybe I’ll just store the SanDisk Clip Sport away. At some point in the next year or two, I’ll probably replace my iMac with a Chromebook or Chromebox (which can now run Android apps). At that point, when I’ll have given up iTunes as the hub of my music library, perhaps the Clip Sport will be a satisfactory solution.

As for this problem, I think maybe M4A files are incompatible with SanDisk Clip Sport. As I know, m4a files are encrypted named DRM tech. So, if you intend to transfer these songs to your Clip Sport, I recommend you can convert them to MP3 format with AudFree  Audio Converter, which can help you batch convert your songs to MP3 losslessly. Besides, you can keep and customize ID3 tags to manage your library easily.

I think I found a solution to transferring itunes playlists to the Clip Jam device (version 1.15).  It seems to work for me but it will require a purchase of Export for ITunes to run on your Mac at a cost of $8.

It will:

  1. convert your music to mp3 and an mp3u file that will point to your music library (i.e. not the Playlist directory).

  2. place your music in logical place for music to reside on your Clip Jam.  However, your playlist file is at the root level of your device, but will show up in Playlist menu on the device.

  3. Unfortunately, to update your playlist, you will have to export all the song files again, ugh.   You can use textedit to tweek your mp3u file on the device if you want.

See the attached screenshots for the main menu, advanced menu and destination of the playlist.

Can you tell us if this software works on the Clip Sport and Clip Jam without creating all those pesky ._ (dot underscore) files during the file copying?