Even in the age of sheer endless music platforms I sometimes stumble across artists for which I don’t find any possibility to get hold of their albums. However, every now and then you will at least find a full album on YouTube for example. If you download that video you end up having a single file, but of course the goal is to have a separate audio file for each track. There are many ways to achieve this and what follows is a small tutorial on how I usually deal with that problem. The final result will be a full album with individual music files, perfectly split and tagged and ready to be played on any music player without limitations. All the tools needed for this solution are freeware and legal, so let’s get started right away.

Step 1: Copy the Youtube link for the album that you want to convert. Using websites like convert2mp3.net you can directly download and convert the album into the desired format (e.g. mp3). If you want a more comfortable solution, especially in case of multiple downloads, I recommend using programs such as JDownloader which functions as a download manager and can directly capture links from clipboard, download and convert the respective files.

Step 2: Once you have downloaded the file, you will want to split it into individual tracks. For this purpose there are many programs which offer the option to automatically detect pauses. I prefer the freeware mp3DirectCut. Here you simply have to open the file and then go to Special -> Pause detection. So far I sucessfully relied on the standard settings for this purpose and these should like this:

Click on Start and wait until all tracks have been detected. The programm will tell you the number of individual tracks at the end and you can directly check whether that is the amount you’d expect for the album. If everything is fine, click on Close and go to File -> Save Project file/Cue sheet as… Make sure to save the file as .cue and inside the same folder as the audio file you have downloaded (this cue file only contains the information necessary for the split of the file, the audio data comes from the file you downloaded before). However, before proceeding with the split, I recommend to define the tags that should be used for each file.

Alternative: At this point you could also go to File -> Save split and you will get the individual music files directly but completely untagged. Of course you could then just use a tagging program and you’re done. However, sometimes I also ran into the problem that the saved split files from mp3DirectCut have a longer play time than they should (resulting in minutes of silence after the actual song). For this reason and because I like to tag my mp3 files, I tend to use the way as described in the following step.

Step 3: For the .cue file that you have just generated you will need another program, for example the Medieval CUE Splitter. Open the .cue file with this program and then you can directly enter all the desired tags that you want to have for your individual tracks. When you have entered all the information, you can use the file mask editor to define a naming convention for the files (to do so just click on the green +). Click on “Split!” and you’re done. The result is a perfectly split, tagged and named full album for free 🙂

Final remarks: 

  • You may ask yourself why it is important to tag the files. Quite a simple reason. Without the tags music players will simply show generic thinks like Track 01, Unknown Artist etc.
  • There are many alternative programs which can be used in similar fashion. In general, I can highly recommend the website AlternativeTo to find freeware with the same, similar or even more and better functionalities.
  • One interesting alternative for everyone that is familiar with Python might be this little applet: http://sidj.in/2015/11/08/youtube-mp3-splitter

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