Eugene writes a variety of articles on the Maven coalition network of sites, covering topics such as gardening, DIY, photography, and STEM.
How many audio CDs have you got? 10, 100? 1000? Wouldn't it be nice to have your entire music collection at your fingertips on your phone, tablet or notebook computer? YouTube Music allows you to do this and the steps to uploading music from your CDs to the cloud are reasonably straightforward and something you could do on one of those rainy days!
What Are the Steps to Getting Your Music Collection Online?
- Rip the CDs using iTunes, Audio Grabber, Microsoft Media Player or similar software.
- Upload the tracks from hard drive or flash memory to the YouTube Music website
- Once the tracks are online, they can be accessed from a desktop computer or mobile device
What Does "Ripping" a CD Mean?
Ripping music from a CD refers to extracting the digital audio sound tracks from the disk and saving this music data (e.g. in the form of an MP3 file) on another CD, PC, mobile device or mobile music player.
Is Ripping Tracks from a CD Legal?
It depends on the country. Copying CDs and giving the copy to a friend or giving them the copy so they can make their own is a definite copyright violation and illegal. Putting music tracks on a website and sharing your collection is also illegal. Making backups for your own personal use is a more fuzzy area. In many countries a levy is paid to content producers to compensate them for any loss due to copying. The situation is different in the UK however. Legislation in October 2014 made it legal to rip CDs for backup purposes or "format shift" so you could play the MP3s on your phone or PC. Now that legislation has been overturned and it's illegal to do so. In the US, according to the RIAA, it's ok to copy content onto an Audio CD for personal use and:
"...transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player, won’t usually raise concerns so long as....The copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own...."
How to Rip CDs
Step 1. Install iTunes or Other Ripping Software
There are several well known media player applications that can be used for listening to CDs, MP3 or other format audio files, podcasts, Internet radio stations, watching videos or movies and management of a music collection. ITunes is just one of these and it's very easy to use. ITunes can also rip CDs or extract the tracks off them and store those tracks as files on your computer. You can download iTunes from the Apple website here:
Apple iTunes download
Once tracks are imported, they end up in your iTunes library.
The iTunes Music Library Screen
This differs somewhat between versions. The first screen capture shows an older version I used to rip a CD. The reason it's older is because the laptop I used runs Windows Vista and has a CD drive. It's the last version of iTunes for that operating system. Newer desktops and laptop computers don't normally have integrated CD/DVD drives, but you can buy an external one that plugs into a USB port. The second screen capture shows what the latest version of iTunes now looks like on Windows 10.
Step 2. Insert a CD
When you insert a CD which iTunes hasn't seen before before, it starts retrieving information about the disk from an Internet database. This information or metadata includes attributes such as the CD title, album artist, track names, track artists, genre etc. CDs are effectively "dumb" and an evolution of the vinyl record, just containing bumps or pits on a spiral track to represent stored bits of digital data. They don't normally have any title or track info actually stored onboard in a file, because originally they were designed for players that didn't have the technology to access, decode and display this type of information. Newer compact disks possibly may have metadata stored on the disk itself. Once metadata is retrieved, a list of tracks is displayed and iTunes prompts you with a dialog as to whether it should import the CD.
Step 3. Before Importing, Choose Import Settings
ITunes will use default import settings for tracks that it rips from CDs and stores as files in MP3 or other format on your computer. If you want to change these settings, click "Cancel" when prompted to import and then click "Import CD" on the toolbar which brings up the import options dialog. If you don't see this button, click on the icon on the toolbar which looks like a CD, to bring you to the screen which displays a listing of the tracks on the disk.
Tracks extracted from a CD can be encoded and stored on disk using several formats, but MP3 and AAC are the most useful. AAC files are the successor to MP3 and offer better sound quality at the same bit rate, but MP3 is more universally playable on a range of music devices. Both are lossy formats which means that raw uncompressed digital sound data from a CD is compressed using algorithms to make it smaller and take up less file space. In the process, data is thrown away. By choosing different bit rates and sample rates, you get a tradeoff between file size and sound quality.
On the "Import Settings" dialog that appears, choose the file format from the "Import Using" drop down menu, then pick "Custom" from the "Setting" drop down menu.
Alternatively Select "Edit" -> "Preferences" from the iTunes menu and then click the "Import Settings" button on the dialog.
Once you select custom, a second dialog box appears where you can set the sample and bitrates.
Pick the bitrate from the drop down menu. 320 kbps (kilo bits per second) at 44.1 kHz is CD quality sound, typically resulting in 4 to 12 MB per track. The downside of highest quality is larger files that take up more space on your computer or mobile device.
Step 4. Importing CD Tracks
Once you've finished changing storage settings, iTunes will commence the import and encoding process, creating files on disk.
How to Upload Music to the Cloud
Steps to uploading MP3 or AAC files to YouTube Music.
Step 1. Find the Location on Disk Where Media Files Are Stored
To find where your music tracks have ended up on your computer, select "Edit" and then "Preferences" from the iTunes menu. This brings up the settings dialog. Click on the "Advanced" button on the dialog toolbar. The media storage location is shown at the top of the dialog. By default, the storage location is driveletter:\Users\userprofilename\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media. So if the drive letter is "C" and your Windows user profile name is joebloggs, the folder location would be
Another way of finding your media folder is by using the Windows File Explorer system utility. In Windows 10, the iTunes media folder is located under "This PC" > "Music" > "iTunes" and called "ITunesMedia".
Step 2. Browse to the Youtube Music Website
Using your browser, navigate to the Youtube Music website at music.youtube.com.
Register on the website if you haven't done so already.
Step 3. Start Uploading Files
Click on your profile avatar in the top right corner of the screen and select "Upload Music" on the dialog box that appears.
Step 4. Select Files for Upload
Once you select "Upload Music", iTunes will open a dialog window asking you which files you want to upload. In this file upload dialog, navigate to the iTunes media folder that you identified earlier in this guide and find the sub folder corresponding to the album you extracted from the CD. Open the folder by clicking on its name. Highlight all the files you want to upload (simply draw a rectangle around them with your mouse) and click the "Open" button.
How do I know the name of the folder corresponding to my album?
ITunes creates a new folder for each CD it rips tracks from. First it creates a new sub folder under the "iTunes Media" folder (iTunes Music on older versions of iTunes) named after the album artist. Next it creates a sub folder off that folder, named after the CD title. If additional CDs by the same album artist are ripped, further sub folders are created off the artist's folder. Compilation albums are stored somewhat differently. Because the metadata of my "The Chocolate Songbook" album specifies it as a compilation, it's stored in a special "Compilation" folder for these type of CDs, and a subfolder called "The Chocolate Songbook" stored in this.
Step 5. Wait for Files to Upload.
Depending on your Internet connection speed, it can take from seconds to a minute for files to upload. Once upload is complete, you can view the album by selecting "Library" on the menu and then "uploads" from the drop down menu.
Your album appears in a grid of albums you may have uploaded previously. Click on the album to view and play the tracks.
What If I Don't Have a CD Drive in My Computer?
Most laptops no longer come equipped with a CD/DVD drive. They've pretty much become obsolete like a lot of computer hardware as new technology has become available. Software applications used to be provided on a CD because the files were too large to download over the Net. Now that's not an issue as connection speeds have increased dramatically since the days of dial-up Internet. Also many people now stream music and movies online, so audio CDs and DVDs are no longer the only option for listening and viewing. You can buy a CD/DVD read/write drive that plugs into a USB port like this one from LG Electronics, available on Amazon. It has a 24x CD write speed and 8x speed for writing DVDRs. The drive has a USB 2.0 interface which is also compatible with USB 3.0 ports (sometimes marked with "SS" or a blue connector piece).
HowStuffWorks: How MP3 Files Work
SoundBridge: Audio Formats and File Types
Diffen: AAC vs MP3
Wikipedia: Private Copying Levy
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2020 Eugene Brennan