The problem with streaming audio or video on the web is the difficulty of saving it for later. I faced this recently when the IndieReCon writing conference was going on. I really cannot spend any more time sitting at my desk than I already do. I needed a way to get the con’s talks off my computer and onto my iPod so I could listen in the car or at the gym. First, let me reassure you that what I’m talking about here is totally legal. I’ll explain why later. After some hunting around, I found this great site: Peggo. Plug in the URL of a YouTube video, and the site will offer you some download options. You can keep the whole thing, video and all, or you can just get the audio. For the IndieReCon programming, I found that grabbing the audio was sufficient, since the video was usually talking heads and not important illustrations. When you see the video on the source site, you can get the YouTube URL by clicking the share link in the upper right corner. Copy that URL into Peggo, and you’ll get a screen of recording options, including what definition video you want. If you’re recording an MP3, click “More Options” to set the bitrate.
Record Internet Radio
Back in the day, when we were students with no money, we would record songs off the radio onto cassette tapes. Now, as a grown-up with no money, I sought a similar way to record songs off Internet radio. Thanks to Cnet, I found Wondershare’s app AllMyMusic. This is a Mac app, but if you look on Cnet, I bet there’s something similar for Windows. The app is just a recorder that captures every sound on your Mac. Problem is, if you try to record when you’re working, bleeps and other noises your Mac makes are also captured, so you’ll want to go into the System Preferences and turn off “Play user interface sound effects.” Then you can listen to Pandora or Spotify or whatever, and the app captures all the songs. AllMyMusic does a pretty good job of capturing metadata and automatically labeling songs with artist and track info if they are well know, but with some of the more obscure instrumental tunes in Pandora’s database, it often comes up wrong or empty. But it’s simple enough to edit the data. Exporting the tracks into iTunes is a one-click operation.
How Is This Even Legal?
In olden times, when cassette tapes roamed the earth, a wonderful new invention debuted: the video cassette recorder. People used these to record TV shows, just like you would use a DVR today. The TV studios tried to sue the VCR manufacturers, claiming that recording TV broadcasts violated their copyrights. The courts ruled against the TV studios, finding that as long as the consumer was using the recording only for personal use, they were covered by the fair use principle of copyright law. So you can record YouTube videos or Pandora songs for your own use, but you may not distribute them or use them in a public performance.
There remains the ethical question of how artists are to survive if we consume their product for free. Pandora, for example, pays a licensing fee when songs are played, but not if I record the song and play it back later. So when I come across an independent artist I truly love, I will go and buy their album on iTunes when I’m able.