How do I record streamed music?

With the rise of music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, many people want to record songs or playlists they hear on these platforms. There are several reasons one may want to record streaming audio:

  • To listen to the songs offline when internet access is unavailable
  • To extract audio clips or samples for remixing
  • To archive favorite playlists or stations before they get removed
  • To share music with friends

However, recording streamed content does raise some ethical and legal considerations. Streaming services typically prohibit users from downloading, copying, or recording their streams due to licensing restrictions. While some limited personal use may be fair, sharing ripped audio files or distributing remixes without permission is generally prohibited. There are also technologies like digital rights management (DRM) intended to prevent unauthorized copying. This article will overview different technical methods for capturing streaming audio, but urge readers to carefully consider the legal ramifications before recording or reusing content without explicit permission.

Software Options

There are several software programs that allow you to record streaming audio from your computer. Some popular options include:

  • Audacity: This open-source audio recording and editing software allows you to record any audio playing through your sound card. It’s completely free and available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • OBS Studio: This free and open source software is designed for video recording and livestreaming, but can also record audio only. It captures audio the same way as Audacity.
  • AthTek Audio Recorder: This program lets you record audio streams specifically from music sites like Spotify. The free version has limited features but the pro version unlocks higher quality recordings.
  • Apowersoft Streaming Audio Recorder: Another program focused on recording audio streams from music platforms. It captures songs in original quality and supports various formats.

These programs have slightly different features sets when it comes to recording options, audio formats, editing capabilities and ease of use. Audacity and OBS Studio are fully featured but have more complex interfaces. Programs like Audio Recorder and Apowersoft offer more streamlined recording specifically for music.

Browser Extensions

Browser extensions like AudioCapture and StreamRecorder allow you to record streamed music directly within your web browser. These extensions work by capturing the audio stream as it plays in your browser. Some of the most popular browser extensions for recording music include:

AudioCapture – Available as a Chrome extension, this tool lets you record any audio playing in the Chrome browser, including music from streaming sites like YouTube, SoundCloud and more. It saves recordings as MP3 files.

StreamRecorder – This extension is available for both Chrome and Firefox. It can record audio from a wide range of sites. StreamRecorder gives you options like setting a custom bitrate and codec for recordings.

Replay Media Catcher – Available as a browser extension and desktop app, Replay Media Catcher can identify and download streaming audio from sites like YouTube. It captures audio as MP3, M4A or WMA files.

The benefit of using a browser extension is convenience – the recording functionality is built right into your browser. However, dedicated recording software may offer more advanced options like editing recordings. Browser extensions are also dependent on the browser being open during a recording.

Mobile Apps

In addition to desktop software and browser extensions, there are also apps available for iOS and Android that allow you to record streamed music.

On iOS, some top options include Audiomack, Musi, and iRecorder. These apps make it easy to record audio playing on your iPhone or iPad. iRecorder has advanced features like trim, boost volume, change format, and more. Musi integrates with streaming services to identify and tag songs.

For Android, good choices are Audiomix Recorder, BlackHole, and Hi-Q MP3 Recorder. Audiomix can detect songs automatically. BlackHole captures audio in high quality formats like FLAC. Hi-Q MP3 Recorder has options to edit recordings.

Compared to desktop software and browser extensions, mobile apps can be more convenient for recording songs as you listen on your phone or tablet. However, the recording quality may be inferior on mobile, and the advanced customization seen in desktop software is generally lacking.

Recording from Specific Sources

Recording audio from popular streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music requires using software designed for capturing audio from these specific services. Here are some tips for recording from the most common streaming platforms:

To record from Spotify, you’ll need a third party recording tool like Movavi Screen Recorder. This will allow you to capture Spotify audio playing on your computer. Make sure to have Spotify open and playing the audio you want to record.

For YouTube, you can use browser extensions like Audacity to capture the audio from YouTube videos. This will record directly within your browser as the YouTube video plays.

Apple Music can also be recorded on Mac using Audacity to capture the system audio. Open Apple Music, start playing the song or album you want, and use Audacity to record the audio.

The key for each service is using a program specifically built to extract the audio stream and record it. Generic recording software may not work properly due to DRM protections. Follow the setup instructions for your chosen recording tool to ensure you can capture audio from restricted services.

Audio Quality

The audio quality of your recordings depends on several factors. Here are some key considerations:


Bitrate refers to the amount of data used per second of audio recording. Generally, the higher the bitrate, the better the audio quality. For music, a bitrate of 128kbps is considered decent quality for MP3s, while 320kbps or higher is recommended for excellent quality.

Sample Rate

The sample rate is how many audio samples are taken per second. CD quality audio has a sample rate of 44.1kHz. Higher sample rates like 48kHz, 96kHz or 192kHz can potentially provide better audio fidelity, but also result in much larger file sizes.

File Format

MP3 and AAC are common compressed formats that discard some audio data to reduce file size. Formats like FLAC and WAV preserve more data for higher quality, but also take up more storage space. When choosing a format, consider your audio quality needs vs storage constraints.

In general, lossless formats like FLAC provide the highest audio fidelity, while lossy formats like MP3 balance quality and file size. Selecting the right settings can help optimize your recordings.

Storage Considerations

When recording streamed music, especially at high quality, the storage needs can add up quickly. For example, a 3-minute song recorded at 320kbps will be about 10MB. If you’re an avid recorder with thousands of tracks, you may need multiple terabytes of storage. There are a few options for managing all these recordings:

Use a large internal or external hard drive to store your music locally. Modern HDDs and SSDs can offer multi-terabyte capacities for a reasonable price. Just be sure to have a good backup solution as well, as hard drives can fail over time. Some enthusiasts use RAID arrays for redundancy and performance. See []( for more tips.

Cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox can provide abundant capacity, especially with paid plans. However, downloading recordings repeatedly can be slow. Syncing to local storage is recommended for frequent access.

When organizing your library, use a consistent file naming and tagging convention. Group by album, artist, genre, or year for easy browsing. Consider hierarchical folder structures. Maintain playlists and databases to search across massive collections. Specialized media server software can assist with categorization and discovery.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Recording streamed music does raise some legal and ethical concerns that should be considered. Legally, most streamed music is protected by copyright laws. According to a legal analysis on StackExchange, recording streamed audio for personal use is generally considered fair use under copyright law. However, distributing or selling recordings of copyrighted music without permission is illegal.

Ethically, some argue that recording streamed music without compensating artists and rights holders is problematic. Musicians often rely on royalties and licensing fees for their income. Bypassing that system by recording from YouTube or other free sources could be viewed as unethical, even if not fully illegal. The counterargument is that most streaming platforms already underpay artists, so individual streaming does little harm. Either way, consumers should be conscious of how creators are compensated when considering recording streamed audio.

Alternatives to Recording

While recording streamed music may seem convenient, there are other options that allow you to listen to songs repeatedly without having to directly record them. Here are some alternatives to consider:

Create playlists on the streaming service. Most services like Spotify and Apple Music allow you to create customized playlists to save your favorite songs. You can access these playlists anytime without having to manually record each song.

Purchase downloads of albums or songs. Many services give you the option to buy songs to download and own permanently. While more costly than a streaming subscription, purchased downloads allow you to listen offline and avoid the need to record.

Use offline listening options. Some services like Spotify and Apple Music let you temporarily save songs offline so you can listen without an internet connection. This gives you access to songs without recording them.

Consider alternatives like terrestrial and satellite radio for passive listening. For music discovery rather than owning specific recordings, traditional broadcast radio provides a way to hear new songs without recording.

By using playlists, purchases, offline listening, and broadcast radio, you can listen to your favorite music repeatedly without having to directly record streaming audio.


Several options exist for recording streaming music. Browser extensions like Audacity and apps like Spotify Recorder and Audify give users simple ways to record music directly from sites like YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora. While recording quality depends on the source file and extension settings, most provide an adequate experience for personal listening. Just be aware of storage needs for large music libraries and copyright restrictions on sharing full tracks from recorded streams.

In the end, recording streaming tracks gives you more control over your music library and listening experience. If you regularly return to certain songs or playlists, recording them for offline playback can be more convenient than relying on an internet connection. Just be selective in what you record and mindful of storage capacity, audio quality, and copyrights.

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