Introduction: How to Legally "Download" Music for Free (PC)

Picture of How to Legally "Download" Music for Free (PC)

This Instructable is for a PC. If you're on a Mac, click here.

Hi there! This Instructable shows you how to "download" any song you want to your computer, absolutely free.

From this Instructable, you'll be able to save to your hard drive your favorite music, expanding your music library.

Note: this system requires no outside reworking of your computer: no cables, no amps, nothing.

Step 1: How It Works

This system is called "internal recording." It's legal, free, and it's impossible to get a virus from it.

This system is the equivalent of plugging in a microphone and recording the music as it comes out of your speakers. However, this way, no quality is lost, because the audio being recorded has never actually left the sound card.

Legality: internal recording is legal under the DMCA, because it's essentially the equivalent of recording radio. (Note: I might be wrong, so don't sue me.)

Step 2: What You'll Need

You're going to require a few programs in order to get this system running.

Here's what you'll need:

1. Audacity: if you don't have this, get it. It's a wonderful (free) audio-editing app. This will also serve as the recording station for your music.

3. LAME mp3 encoder: save this in a place where you'll remember it, because Audacity's gonna ask for it.

That's it. Now you've got to configure.

Step 3: Configure

This is to set up the recording system.

1. Go ahead and install and run Audacity and the LAME encoder.

2. Click the little volume icon next to the clock (Windows XP). When it brings up the advanced volume controls, click Options-->Properties.

3. If you see two buttons labeled "Playback" and "Recording," click "Recording." If you don't see two button labeled "Playback" and "Recording," then click in the drop-down on the top, and look for something like "Stereo Mix."

4. You should now see in the bottom of the window a bunch of checkboxes. One of them will be called "Stereo Mix" or something like that. Make sure that it is checked. Click "OK."

5. Make sure that the Stereo Mix volume bar isn't muted, but it's only up about 25%. Otherwise, quality degrades. In some cases, you might have to click a checkbox under it labeled "select."

6. In Audacity, under Preferences, click "Recording" and set the Input to the option which best matches the "Stereo Mix" option you selected in step 4.

You're now ready to record.

Step 4: Record!

You now must find the audio which you want to record. If you're recording music, I'd recommend a site like or Grooveshark, both of which are sites that let you listen to entire songs for free.

Once you've located your music of choice, do the following:

1. In Audacity, click "Record."

2. Start playing the music. If you look in the Audacity window, you should see that something's being recorded.

3. When the music finishes, in Audacity click "Stop."

4. Select the parts of the audio that make up the sons, and click File-->"Export Selection to MP3..."

5. Fill in the asked-for data and finish the export.

6. Congrats! You've now internally recorded your first music! Go send it to iTunes and celebrate!

Step 5: Notes

So there you have it: you've now discovered how you can vastly expand your music collection using a simple, free, legal tool. Here are some notes:

1. It is rather important that you start recording in Audacity before you start playing the music. Otherwise, you'll miss recording the beginning of the song.

2. This system will record anything, anything, that comes out of your speakers. That means that if you're going to internally record something, you have to make sure that nothing's going to start beeping on your computer during the recording. Believe me, it's rather annoying to be listening to a song and have it be suddenly interrupted with the "new mail" sound.

3. In case #2 doesn't make it clear, internal recording will save any sound that may come out of your speakers. Needless to say, that means that you don't have to restrict this to just any music: use it to save music from YouTube, MySpace, etc.

4. The DMCA says that internal recording like this can only be used for "personal use only." In other words, don't sell internally recorded music, don't P2P internally recorded music, and in general, don't be stupid. Your actions are your own.

5. Have fun with your new music!


randofo (author)2009-01-26

Hey, this is a great instructable and is very informative. Just one thing is missing... pictures! It really helps a lot when trying to follow directions so you should consider taking some photographs. Once you do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks! Thanks for the cool instructable and we hope to publish this soon!

Kryptonite (author)2009-09-29

Nice idea! I do believe it needs some more pictures, using print screen would be easy.

ajaymohan (author)2009-02-28

yeah really silent

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