YouTube content is always served as video files and therefore if you only want to download audio files, the process of obtaining an mp3 file from YouTube will forcedly require two steps. In the first step, you download the regular video file in mp4 format and in the second step you convert that video file to mp3. In this tutorial, we will show you how to do this by using youtube-dl and ffmpeg as a YouTube to mp3 converter. As a second option, we will also show you how to do the same using My Film Kiosk, our own video downloader, organizer and player.
Youtube-dl is a free YouTube downloader and ffmpeg is a free tool for converting multimedia files between formats. Both programs are available as command-line tools for the Windows platform and when used together they can make up an effective mp3 converter.
To install youtube-dl, please refer to our tutorial How to Download Videos from YouTube.
For the ffmpeg converter, visit the Official Download Site for ffmpeg. Here you need to select version 4.2 or later, architecture Windows 32-bit or Windows 64-bit depending on your computer and linking Static for a self-contained ffmpeg so that you do not have to worry about any dll-dependencies. As we are running the tutorial in a Windows 10 64-bit laptop, we have chosen the Windows 64-bit architecture as shown in the figure below.
Once the download is completed, you get a zip file named according to the build you have selected as shown above. In our case, the downloaded file is named ffmpeg-4.2-win64-static.zip. Now we need to unzip this file and locate the program ffmpeg.exe. The folder structure and the location of the desired file should be as follows. In our particular example, the file ffmpeg.exe is located at "C:\ffmpeg-4.2-win64-static\bin".
Copy the file ffmpeg.exe to whatever location you have placed the file youtube-dl.exe in. The main point here is that these two programs need to be put together in the same folder. This is not strictly required, but having them together will make things easier for us.
Both youtube-dl and ffmpeg are command-line programs and as such the most convenient and reusable way of using these tools is by creating a DOS Batch File. A batch file or BAT-file is a script file containing DOS-commands that command-line programs can understand and execute. Creating a BAT-file is very easy and it is a good way to automatise the execution of command-line programs.
First, open Notepad or any other text editor you prefer. In Windows 10, type "notepad" in the search field as shown below.
Write the following lines in Notepad. Do not worry about the meaning of these lines yet. We will explain them in detail in a moment. Note however that the example code below assumes that both the youtube-dl downloader and the ffmpeg converter can be found in the folder "C:\YouTube-dl\".
"C:\YouTube-dl\youtube-dl.exe" --newline "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MmB-0UY5rA" -o "C:\Music\Music Video from YouTube to mp3.%%(ext)s" --extract-audio --audio-format "mp3" --audio-quality 0
C:\YouTube-dl\youtube-dl.exe: This line tells the Windows Command Prompt (cmd.exe) to look for the file "youtube-dl.exe" in the folder "C:\YouTube-dl\" and execute it. You need of course to enter here the actual full path where you saved the file "youtube-dl.exe".
--newline: This option tells the video downloader to output the progress of the download process line by line.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MmB-0UY5rA: This is the link or YouTube URL of the video you want to download and convert. To find the correct YouTube URL, please navigate to YouTube with your preferred web browser, find the YouTube video you are interested in, copy the full video URL from the address bar and simply replace our example URL with yours.
-o "C:\Music\Music Video from YouTube to mp3.%%(ext)s": This command defines the path and name of the resulting audio file. The symbols %%(ext)s simply tells the video downloader to add the corresponding file extension. In our particular example, the output will be saved in the folder "C:\Music\" with the name "Music Video from YouTube to mp3.mp3".
--extract-audio: This option instructs youtube-dl to extract the sound track from the downloaded video. This option requires the ffmpeg converter to be installed in your computer in order to work. Note that by default the downloaded multimedia content will be deleted after it has been successfully converted to mp3.
--audio-format "mp3": This command tells ffmpeg the sound format you want the downloaded multimedia content to be converted to. Some of the supported formats are aac, flac, mp3, m4a, opus, vorbis and wav. In our example, the program will download and then transform the video into an mp3 served as a single file.
--audio-quality 0: It specifies to ffmpeg the desired sound quality. The accepted values go from 0 (best) to 9 (worse). If this option is omitted, the default value is 5.
Pause: This is a DOS-command and it prevents the video downloader from closing automatically when it has finished executing. In this way, we are able to read the full output.
Save the file as "Convert-from-youtube-to-mp3.bat". You can think of this file as a YouTube to mp3 converter.
To start the download process, simply double-click the bat-file and wait for the program to execute. You should see the following output. Just press enter to close the program when done.
The output file "Music Video from YouTube to mp3.mp3" can now be found in the folder "C:\Music\".
To avoid editing our mp3 converter batch file every time we want to transform new YouTube content into mp3, we need to add a few new DOS-commands. These new commands will define variables that will allow us to dynamically enter the YouTube-link and the output path. The code should then be rewritten as follows:
set /p YOUTUBE-LINK="Please enter a YouTube link: "
set /p YOUTUBE-FILE-PATH="Please enter the output path: "
"C:\YouTube-dl\youtube-dl.exe" --newline "%YOUTUBE-LINK%" -o "%YOUTUBE-FILE-PATH%.%%(ext)s" --extract-audio --audio-format "mp3" --audio-quality 0
@echo off: This command suppresses unnecessary output so that we get a cleaner output screen.
set /p YOUTUBE-LINK="Please enter a YouTube link: ": This command prompts you to enter the YouTube URL of the video you want to convert to mp3. Remember to copy the full video URL from the address bar of your web browser.
set /p YOUTUBE-FILE-PATH="Please enter the output path: ": This command prompts you to enter the full path of the output file. Note that here you should enter the folder and the file name without its file extension, e.g. "C:\Music\Music Video from YouTube to mp3". The correct file extension will be automatically added by the tools.
You can also see that the original YouTube-link and output file are now replaced by the variables YOUTUBE-LINK and YOUTUBE-FILE-PATH so that those values are now dynamically populated every time we run this BAT-file.
Save the new file as "Convert-from-youtube-to-mp3-advanced.bat" and double-click on it to execute it. The execution should now go as follows.
First you need to enter a YouTube-link and then press enter.
Then you enter an output path for the resulting mp3 file and press enter.
Our new YouTube to mp3 converter begins immediately to download and then transform the selected YouTube video. Remember to press enter to exit the program when finished.
As before, the output mp3 file "Music Video from YouTube to mp3.mp3" can be found in the folder "C:\Music\".
My Film Kiosk is a convenient option if you would like to create a centralised collection of music videos from where to create mp3 files to listen to on your phone, your tablet or your car. A centralised library of music videos makes it in addition very easy to come back to any of your videos, to group them into different categories, to create playlists, to watch them and much more.
On the other hand, if you are only interested in downloading directly to mp3 without caring about the original video file, My Film Kiosk can still be interesting as it can also function as a stand-alone YouTube to mp3 converter. My Film Kiosk offers a user-friendly interface and a few additional options to control the resulting mp3 file.
To install, simply download My Film Kiosk, start the installation program and follow the instructions on the screen. Once installed on your computer, you will be able to try the full functionality of the application free for 30 days.
Start My Film Kiosk and once running, select from the main menu File/New or press Ctrl+N. You are then presented with the main dialogue box for downloading videos. From here you have two possibilities. Either you can use the mp3 converter option and transform YouTube content directly to mp3 or download and add the YouTube video to your video library for then transform it into mp3. In this tutorial, we will explore both alternatives.
Regardless of the approach you want to take, select the tab named YouTube in the dialogue box you just brought up. Here you can use the built-in YouTube search to locate the video you want to convert to mp3. To search for a video, enter in the corresponding field, the name or the user of the YouTube video you are looking for. To obtain the best results, you need to be as precise as possible. Alternatively, you can enter the ID of a YouTube video or even the entire YouTube-link. In this case, only one item should be retrieved. Basically, this search functionality works very much in the same way as if you were looking for a video on YouTube directly from your web browser. To make sure you find the correct YouTube video, you have also the possibility to preview any video listed in the result page just by clicking on its image.
Enter chill out copyright free music as your search text and then click Search. After a few seconds, the system will display the most relevant YouTube videos.
Once you have found the desired video, select it by clicking on Add to My Film Kiosk. The full name of the selected video together with its ID will be displayed at the bottom of the dialogue box.
Once you have selected the YouTube video you want to transform into an mp3 file, select Download Audio. The From and To fields gives you the possibility to leave out a long introduction and/or a long ending. You can use the preview function to find the points where you want your mp3 file to start and end. Any video listed in the result page can be easily preview by clicking on its image.
The parameters we have selected above are as follows.
Download Audio: This option allows you to download the sound track of a video in mp3 format. This option will automatically transform a YouTube video into mp3 without adding any information to your collection. In other words, this option works as a plain YouTube to mp3 converter.
From: Allows you to define a start time so that you can skip long introductions.
To: Allows you to define an end time so that you can skip long endings.
Note as well that as indicated in the dialogue box, when you select Download Audio to use My Film Kiosk as an mp3 converter, the YouTube video will be directly converted to mp3 and the original video will not be added to your video library.
When ready, click OK. You will then be prompted to enter the name and location of the output file. Once done, the built-in converter will download and then transform the YouTube video into an mp3 file.
Once the process has been started, My Film Kiosk will first download the video and then it will transform it into mp3. You can follow the progress of the download and conversion process by clicking on the Download Arrow. You can also cancel a download and conversion process by clicking on the X besides each process. Cancelled processes can be found in the Download Manager where they can later be either re-started or deleted.
The Download Arrow will turn from green to gray to signal that the download and conversion process has been completed. You will then find your audio file in mp3 format in the location you entered before.
You can transform any item in your video library to mp3. To learn how to add videos to your library from YouTube, please read our tutorial How to Download Videos from YouTube.
In order to transform a video from your library to mp3, you first need to select it. In My Film Kiosk, the selected video is not the one that is highlighted, but all the videos that are visible in either the list or icon view. You can select the videos you want to transform into mp3 by setting up a filter using any of the filtering capabilities offered by My Film Kiosk.
If you are in the List View, write the title or part of the title of the video you want to convert to mp3 in the Title column. Alternatively, you can click any cell containing the value you want to filter by and then select Tools/Quick Filter or press Ctrl+F.
In the Icon View, the easiest way to set up a filter is to simply write in the Search Panel the title or part of the title of the video you are looking for. Do not worry if you get more videos than the ones you want to transform into mp3. We will fix this in the next step.
Once you have found the videos you want to transform into an mp3 file, select Tools/Convert to Audio from the main menu. The Convert to Audio dialogue box will appear.
In this dialogue box, enter the path and select the type of the audio files you want to create. In our example, we want to save the resulting mp3-files in the folder "C:\Music\".
In addition to the format and location, we have a couple of other options we can use.
Add numbering: This option allows you to prefix a number to the name of the output files. In this way, you can control the sorting and hence the playing order of the files. The result may for instance look as follows.
Delete all existing files: If this option is selected, the target drive or folder will be emptied before any output file is generated and stored there. If possible, the system will move the files to the Recycle Bin instead of permanently deleting them.
If in the previous step you did not manage to select exactly the videos you wanted to transform into mp3 files, click on Customise. This button brings up a new dialogue box where you can directly select which videos to transform into sound. In addition, you can also change the name of the resulting files by pressing F2 and define the order in which the video files are to be processed by dragging the rows up and down. The processing order is important only if you have chosen to add numbering to the resulting file name. Click OK once you are satisfied with the items you have selected, their processing order and names.
Once back in the Convert to Audio dialogue box, click OK to start converting your video files to mp3. After all the files have been processed, you will be presented with a dialogue box showing you a summary of the outcome of the conversion process.
Combining youtube-dl and ffmpeg as a YouTube to mp3 converter is an excellent solution for downloading and converting YouTube videos to mp3 one by one. This alternative is free and relatively easy to use when set up as shown in this article.
On the other hand, if you want to build-up a video library for music videos and at the same time you want to be able to convert your collection to mp3 format, My Film Kiosk is probably the tool you need. My Film Kiosk also gives you the possibility to download and convert videos to mp3 one by one outside your video library as when using youtube-dl and ffmpeg. One important additional advantage of using My Film Kiosk is that all the generated audio files are by default normalised. This means that all the output files have the same volume level regardless of the volume level of the original video file.