Taking YouTube videos and turning them into downloadable audio files used to be standard practice on the Internet. One of the most prolific converters was YouTube to MP3 (or YouTube-MP3.org), until it was shut down in 2017 following years of legal threats from the platform.
What happened to YouTube to MP3 was a turning point for the world of audio downloads. Now that it’s 2022, you might be wondering: Is recording music from YouTube illegal? Can you get in trouble for downloading MP3 files from the site to use in your own media projects?
The short answer is yes, it’s illegal. Unless your video is for personal use only — which means it’s not shared anywhere online — you have to get permission from the copyright holder before you use any music from a YouTube video. Otherwise, you’ll need to source music and other sound effects from a verified royalty-free website.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the legal and safety concerns surrounding illegal YouTube downloads, as well as a few alternatives for collecting audio clips for your media projects.
Is It Legal to Download YouTube Videos to MP3?
The legal problem plaguing the conversion site YouTube to MP3 wasn’t an isolated incident. Across the board, media companies and recording industry organizations have been pushing back against sketchy online sites that allow users to rip audio from YouTube.
Copyright law is a complicated topic, but it’s simple when it comes to video content. Whether you’re monetizing your media project or just posting it online, you could end up in legal trouble if you use illegally downloaded audio files. In most cases, copyright holders focus on legal action against those who make audio ripping software — not the people who use it. That being said, individual users aren’t entirely safe.
At best, you might be asked to take your video down. However, you could end up with serious consequences, like a copyright strike on your YouTube account or even a copyright infringement lawsuit. While some users of these audio-ripping sites claim that the odds of getting caught are slim, it’s not worth the risk.
Is It Safe to Download YouTube Videos?
While more well-known sites like YouTube to MP3 were known for being relatively safe, most of them were plagued with advertisements (mostly pop-ups). Besides being irritating to get through, some of these advertisements could even put your online safety at risk.
Less reputable audio-ripping sites may pose as safe conversion sites to lure in unsuspecting visitors. However, they could be trying to steal your information or launch a malware attack against your computer.
How to Legally (and Safely) Source Music for Your Project
To avoid the legal headache, it’s important to only use alternative sources for audio. Let’s explore some of the best ways to legally source music or other audio for your project.
1. Get a Music License
The best way to access legal tracks is to obtain a proper usage license. Purchasing a royalty-free license allows you to access professionally produced instrumental music tracks, all cleared for commercial use.
While you can purchase a royalty-free license for individual tracks, a license like the Media Producers License with Stockmusic.net includes a monthly fee that gives you access to the full catalog of music and sound effects. With no limitations on usage or distribution, this method of sourcing music makes it easier than ever to find exactly what you need, without the legal trouble.
2. Use YouTube’s Audio Library
If you need access to music or sound effects on a budget, you can also use tracks that are in the public domain. For free access to tracks, you can browse the available music and sounds in YouTube’s Audio Library.
The downside to this method is that it puts serious limitations on what you can and can’t do. Very few tracks are in the public domain, making it hard to find music that suits your specific needs. The other problem is that the music still isn’t “copyright free.” Essentially, YouTube gives you a free license to use their music, but you’re still bound to specific rules to avoid breaking that contract.
While this might be an easy way to access free music tracks without fear of a copyright strike, we wouldn’t advise it.
3. Get Permission to Use the Music
What if there’s a piece of music on a YouTube video that you’ve completely fallen in love with?
While the process can be difficult and expensive, it’s still possible to ask for permission to use a particular track. The first step is determining who owns the copyright of that particular song or sound. This can usually be found in the description of the video if you scroll down to the Copyright section.
Get in contact with them (if possible) and request permission to use it. Many companies will have public contact information online, allowing you to send an email or a letter inquiring about their work. Some owners will allow you to use songs for free if it’s not for commercial use, but if you plan to monetize your content in any way, you can expect to pay a fee. Independent artists may offer their songs for as low as $100, but larger artists may charge several thousand dollars or more for the right to use their work.
In some cases, there won’t be any information on the song or the copyright in the description of the video. If you still want to find that song, you can use a YouTube music scraper to take a small sample of the song. Then, send it to various royalty-free music sites — one of them may recognize the track and help you find the song you’re looking for.
4. Find Music on a Royalty-Free Site
Instead of trying to find the exact same music that you heard in a YouTube video, sometimes it’s better to find the next best thing.
Using a royalty-free website, you can search for a new piece that matches the genre, mood, and instruments you’re looking for. Or you might find that a completely different piece of music — with a whole new feel — is a better fit for your project. Stockmusic.net has a robust search engine that can help you find the perfect match whenever you need it. Buy the rights to just one track, or opt for a broader license so you can download as much audio as you need.
The Best Place to Find Royalty-Free Music
If you’re a creator looking for new music to add to your media project, you might be asking: how can I legally download MP3 from YouTube? The answer is simple — you can’t. There’s no reason you should resort to stream-ripping or other questionable practices to find music for your project, not when there are plenty of legal alternatives to find excellent tracks.
For advertisements, movies, and other commercial use, the answer is simple. With the wide range of tracks available on Stockmusic.net, it’s easy to find the perfect one for your project. Using the site’s search functions, you can break down your results by genre, instruments, emotions, and even beats per minute (BPM) to find exactly what you need.
Ready to find music that makes a real impact (legally)? Take a look at our library today and find the music to fuel your next media project.