How to Download Music From YouTube

By: Talon Homer  | 
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Before you download YouTube videos or music, make sure it's legal to do so. picture alliance/Getty Images

Streaming services like YouTube offer a lot of conveniences but there may be a time when you wish you had access to some of that massive video and music library offline. Ever find yourself wondering how to download music from YouTube? The solution may not be obvious at first, but it's actually pretty simple.

In this article, we'll recommend two of the best methods for downloading YouTube music and other assets. Plus, we'll go over the legality of saving clips offline, and how they may affect the company's terms of service. With just a few clicks, here's how to download music from YouTube.


Downloading Music Via YouTube-DLG

A lot of programs and websites have come and gone with the intention of letting users download songs from YouTube or convert YouTube videos to MP3 format. However, the issue with a lot of those online downloaders is that they're filled with bloatware, pop up ads or just aren't reliable. That's where YouTube-DLG comes in.

DLG is an open-source program available for free on Github and was created as a graphical front-end for a text-based version called YouTube-DL. The beauty of this interface is that nothing gets in your way. You simply enter one or more URL addresses that you wish to download from, select your choice from a range of video and audio formats, and let DLG do its work.


All of the downloaded audio or video files will be ripped to a YouTube-specific folder, or to another one of your choosing. DLG also has the ability to read files from Facebook, Twitter and many other video streaming sources. However, you must be careful with that kind of power, as some use cases for programs like YouTube-DLG aren't strictly legal.

What Can You Legally Download From YouTube?

As with any third-party YouTube music downloader, you should stick to downloading assets that are considered public domain or fair use. (Of course, you can also legally download your own personal YouTube videos and audio files.) Under United States copyright law, works that have entered public domain can be downloaded, reproduced and modified as the user sees fit with no penalty. They're truly free.

As outlined by Stanford University, there are four common ways that works enter the public domain:


  • The copyright has expired.
  • The copyright owner failed to follow copyright renewal rules.
  • The copyright owner deliberately placed it in the public domain, known as "dedication."
  • Copyright law does not protect this type of work.

Where YouTube Stands on Fair Use

A trickier facet of copyright law is something known as fair use. Fair use applies to those who want to use others' work in a critical, educational or transformative capacity. For instance, using a short movie clip as part of a film review can be protected under the fair use clause, but uploading an entire scene without commentary cannot.

From the U.S. Copyright Act Section 107:


... the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

With that in mind, downloading copyrighted music straight into your library for personal use would not be considered legal. YouTube also sees third-party downloaders like DLG as a violation of their user agreement, as outlined in the terms of service:

The following restrictions apply to your use of the Service. You are not allowed to: 1. access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except: (a) as expressly authorized by the Service; or (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders;

The company could use downloading content with this method as a grounds for account suspension or termination, so be careful. Keep in mind that you can legally download YouTube music directly via the YouTube music app called YouTube Music Premium. Let's explore that option next.


Downloading Music Via YouTube Premium

Luckily, we have an even safer method when it comes to downloading YouTube video or music, which is guaranteed not to infringe on any laws or terms. In recent years, the company has implemented a feature that allows users to save content directly from the website or mobile app. It can then be accessed again any time you load up the app, even if you're completely offline.

In the U.S. this feature is locked behind the paid YouTube premium subscription, but it is available for free in some other regions. Once the feature is enabled, you can find a "Download" arrow button under "Videos", next to where you'd usually find sharing and commenting features. The compiled list of songs and videos can then be found and viewed in the "Library" section of the app. There, a YouTube Music Premium member can enjoy offline listening and offline playback.


Yes, you can save YouTube music videos and songs with a YouTube premium subscription. The only drawback is that any downloaded file or other asset can't be moved, copied or modified by the user in any way. They are still considered locked to the YouTube service and can only be accessed through the app, much like the way Apple Music and Spotify work.

Additionally, if any saved video is deleted from the YouTube server, it's also likely to be wiped from your device the next time you get online. This is considered a necessary function so that no copyright violations can be allowed to occur.


Download Music From YouTube Without Worry

To sum it up: A program like YouTube-DLG allows the user the greatest degree of flexibility when it comes to letting you download YouTube audio or video online. However, using it at all quickly falls into a legally murky area. So, before music enthusiasts hit that download button and start building a pirated YouTube music library, they should consider the potential consequences.

Getting your downloaded music via the YouTube app is the most worry-free method to save the content on your device. However, you will have no say in where those songs and videos can go, or even how long you will be able to access them.