A curious occurrence in the growth of the streaming industry is YouTube’s position as not just one of the most popular video streaming services, but also, to a lesser extent, a common venue for listening to music. In a world where services are dedicated purely to streaming music (Spotify and Apple Music come to mind) there are a shocking number of videos on YouTube that are just songs playing over a still image or a printout of the lyrics. In weird way, it makes sense. Streaming services like Spotify have to negotiate a contract with the artists whose songs they stream. Meanwhile, anyone can whip up a slideshow of lyrics in PowerPoint, play a song over it, and upload the project to YouTube as a video.
Oftentimes new songs that have not yet been made available for streaming or purchase are quickly uploaded to YouTube (and often just as quickly taken down for copyright issues.) Obscure songs that may be difficult to acquire are also a common sight on YouTube, one of the few places one can listen to little-known Portuguese jazz artists and such. Yet for all of the music on YouTube, it still isn’t a particularly convenient way to listen to music. YouTube is not functionally a music streaming service, and it lacks a lot of the features that make listening to music quick and easy regardless of place. Wouldn’t it be lovely to get songs off of YouTube for personal listening?
Good ideas rarely go long without being implemented, and many enterprising people have made it possible to convert a YouTube video to an audio format such as MP3. Doing so is often as easy as simply typing the video URL into a site and downloading the file it spits out.
Keep in mind that while this process may not yet legally be considered piracy, it certainly falls into a legal and ethical gray area. Be aware of who owns the copyrights for any videos you might be considering ripping to an mp3 file.
How to do it
A quick browser search will turn up any number of sites offering to convert YouTube videos to mp3 files. One of the most popular is YouTube-mp3.org, and most sites of this nature will follow the same process as they do. Some users prefer ClipConverter. Depending on your preference, we’ve provided instructions for YouTube-mp3.org as well as ClipConverter below.
Converting a YouTube video with YouTube-mp3.org
The first step is to find a video you want to listen to. In this case, a public domain recording of Bach will serve nicely.
Enter the URL from the video into the converter where prompted, then click “Convert video.”
The site will begin processing the video. Depending on the length, this process can take a few minutes.
Finally, the site will provide a link to download the .mp3 file. Click the link and choose a place on your hard drive to save the file. Note: always be cautious when downloading files from non-secure sites.
In addition to conversion sites, there are also a number of apps and browser extensions that will perform the same function. As with downloading files, always be cautious when installing apps from unknown developers. Check the ratings and reviews for any such program.
Converting a YouTube video with ClipConverter.
Step One: Copy video URL.
Step Two: Open a new tab and go to clipconverter.cc.
Step Three: Paste the YouTube URL into the field labeled Media URL to Download and click the Continue button.
Step Four: Choose the file format, bitrate (audio quality), and ID3 settings (artist and song name).
Step Five: Hit the Start button to proceed. When the conversion is finished, hit Download.
You’re done! If you’d like to make this process even easier in the future, you can install ClipConverter’s browser add-on. Once installed, it’ll place three buttons underneath any YouTube video you watch, allowing you to rip music without having to copy/paste URLs.