Please do not post a support request without first reading and following the advice in

Quick and easy guide for adding music to Emulatonstation on RetroPie. Noob friendly!

  • Posted this guide over on reddit and figured it would make sense to post it here as well.

    All credit goes to synack for putting together the easiest method for playing mp3's while in emulationstation. He left out a few steps in that specific post that I'm going to cover so that setting it up will be foolproof.

    I felt that synack's method was somewhat lost in the shuffle of that topic, as there are now nearly 200 posts and many are only aware of the python method posted by the topic creator. Having set this up on my Pi and for a couple friends, I figured I'd share it here as well and also to refresh my own memory should I need to set it up again in the future.

    Everything written in code should be done in terminal (or via putty) unless otherwise stated.

    Now on to the guide!

    Step 1.

    Install mpg123

    sudo apt-get install mpg123

    When prompted, type "y" and hit enter and it should install quickly.

    Step 2.

    Edit (note: this is not meant to be a link)

    sudo nano /opt/retropie/configs/all/

    Once in nano, hit enter to create a line break above emulationstation #auto. Go up to the blank line and type/paste the following:

    while pgrep omxplayer >/dev/null; do sleep 1; done
    (sleep 10; mpg123 -Z /home/pi/bgm/*.mp3 >/dev/null 2>&1) &

    NOTE: You can delay how long it takes for mpg123 to begin playing music on boot, which is handy for those with splashscreens. Just replace the 10 in the second line(sleep 10; with any value in seconds you'd like. As shown, it's currently set to a 10 second delay.

    Hit CTRL+O followed by Enter to save the file and CTRL+X to quit nano back to terminal.

    Step 3.

    Create and edit the runcommand-onstart and onend files.

    sudo nano /opt/retropie/configs/all/

    Once inside, type/paste the following:

    pkill -STOP mpg123

    Hit CTRL+O followed by Enter to save the file and CTRL+X to quit nano back to terminal.

    sudo nano /opt/retropie/configs/all/

    Once inside, type/paste the following:

    pkill -CONT mpg123

    Hit CTRL+O followed by Enter to save the file and CTRL+X to quit nano back to terminal.

    At the terminal, type/paste:

    sudo chmod a+x /opt/retropie/configs/all/  

    Followed by:

    sudo chmod a+x /opt/retropie/configs/all/

    Step 4.

    Edit .bashrc

    sudo nano /home/pi/.bashrc

    Once inside, scroll to the very bottom of the file and create a line break under retropie_welcome but above # RETROPIE PROFILE END and type/paste the following:

    [[ $(tty) == "/dev/tty1" ]] && pkill mpg123

    Hit CTRL+O followed by Enter to save the file and CTRL+X to quit nano back to terminal.

    Step 5.

    Create the folder /home/pi/bgm

    mkdir /home/pi/bgm

    And you're finished! Now all that's left is to add your mp3s to the bgm folder you just created via your favorite ftp client or usb. Upon reboot after adding some songs, your music should play automatically and will pause when a game is launched and resuming when you return to emulationstation.

    I hope this helps some of you out and if there's any questions, please feel free to ask! Also, if there's any suggestions in how to tidy this guide up, please let me know as well.

  • administrators

    Now just need to compile this functionality into emulationstation ;) good guide

  • @MapleStory This looks pretty cool. Question for you regarding the pkill command to start and stop the music. Is there a way to set the music to kill once you enter into a system detail page in emulationstation? I am running video preview with audio so it would be cool to have the music start after a splash screen video and play only on the main system selection screen. Once you enter a system the music would stop. Exit a system to main menu, the music would start. I am assuming this is probably to complicated until it is integrated into ES as @herb_fargus has indicated as you are using the launching and exiting of the roms as a command to start and stop the music.

  • @TMNTturtlguy Unfortunately, I haven't set up video previews, so I have no way of testing out a method to get music to pause/mute when highlighting a game. I'd imagine that it is a bit more complicated, considering it would have to specifically run commands based on your actions in the emulationstation interface. Hopefully once it's integrated, someone will find a way to make that feature a reality.

  • @MapleStory great guide!
    Since it's a noob friendly guide, I would like to suggest an improvement: the chmod part is unnecessary. ;-)
    The runcommand calls onstart|onend scripts in a way that they don't need permission to execute.

  • Is it possible to use a different format alike midi or ogg?

  • I don't know about midi files, but ogg, I'm sure.
    For midi, there would need to be a base sound (like a piano or something) in order for it to work.

  • @itsnitro I know some applications that plays midi files but i dont know how to make them run under the retropie
    the applications are:
    wildmidi (as used by gstreamer)

  • Running those under retropie would need an emulator of some type.

  • I have implemented the updates and one thing that I noticed is that I couldn't get my mp3 file to run if it had underscores it in so I removed them.

    Also a second item of note is that if you execute the command to stop when exiting to the command line even though it does so cleanly when you enter back into EM it will not start again. I am assuming that there are other configurations required.

    lastly I wonder if there is a way to set the volume level so that the mp3 track does not interfere with the game audio on video previews for games?

  • OK I did everything step by step and it works but.......once I shutdown or switch over to Attractmode and get back into ES no music. I get back into file and the command has disappeared! What could be happening? Any help is appreciated,thanx.

  • Great guide. Thanks!

  • Great guide and works perfectly! I do have one small problem though, I installed Moonlight into Retropie and once I launch it the music just continues :/

    does anyone know a fix for that?

  • @roci

    i dont use this method to have background music, but here is the start of this way here

    got through and maybe someone asked a similar question

  • @roci

    I installed Moonlight into Retropie and once I launch it the music just continues :/

    I think this is because Moonlight is launched directly and not through the Runcommand like every other emulator in RetroPie. So basically and are not called.

    does anyone know a fix for that?

    You might need to manually edit your script and add "pkill -STOP & -CONT mpg123" to it.
    Something like this (I haven't tested it):

    pkill -STOP mpg123
    moonlight stream -app Steam blah blah blah...
    pkill -CONT mpg123

  • Hi,

    This works all fine! Thx!
    But i have a question.

    I have many songs in the rome file.
    Also i set a startsong for the first boot from ES.
    This all works great.
    Song play at start and than random music.

    But i wanna have a second "startsong" who plays if i leave the game /emulator.

    for example:

    RPI3 boot -> ES Starts -> Startsong "A" plays -> after song, random music starts -> Start game -> exit game -> Startsong "B" plays -> after song, random music starts

    can someone help me?


    • RPI3
    • Retropie 4.2.16

  • @MapleStory

    Could this be used to give audio control to google assistant? I have it working in desktop mode but during emulation station bootups it cannot grab the audio control because the audio device is busy (presumably being used by emulation station itself) I wouldn't even need it to check for emulators running to reduce the volume because I would want the google assistant to be able to output during gameplay

  • Thank you for posting this guide, I just implemented the music player on my build and it works great!

  • I’m curious how this works in a set up with video snaps. Will the music pause or fade out when you are previewing a game video in the game select list? Or will it play over it and I should just wait until this is ironed out?

  • I believe I might've missed something or typo'd somewhere. RPI3 starts up and song starts in the 10 seconds. Go into game and when I exit said game, mpg123 does not continue at all. How do you go about editing this sort of thing? Thanks! ^.^'

    Edit: I had checked and found that "[[ $(tty) == "/dev/tty1" ]] && pkill mpg123" was typo'd and missing a "K" in pkill. However that didn't resolve the issue.

Contributions to the project are always appreciated, so if you would like to support us with a donation you can do so here.

Hosting provided by Mythic-Beasts. See the Hosting Information page for more information.