Soundtrack - Select and prepare your music for your soundtrack

As with images, with music, you have to make sure that your use of music is proper. If you wish to commercially distribute your finished work, including to either Google Videos or to YouTube, you need to make sure that you have obtained the licensing of the music that you are going to use.

You may use up to 28 seconds or 10% of a commercially recorded song as a soundtrack without licensing. Ever wonder why iTunes and other music sites allow for a 29 second preview or why corporations have to pay artists for the rights to a soundtrack for a 30 second commercial? Just because you have seen other videos on Google and YouTube that include musical selections longer than 30 seconds does not mean that you can do it.

Getting Music from your iPod

If you want to choose a song from your iTunes library, you have a bit of a problem which can be solved before you can use the track. You will first need to convert the file format into something that Audacity, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker,PhotoStory or Pinnacle Studio can use.

When you rip a song into iTunes, it does it in an mp4 format. Once you have found a file, you will need to convert it to either an mp3 or a wav file. There are two ways to convert the song into a file format which can be used:
  • Download and install Xilisoft WMA MP3 Converter. You can download a free trial, which will limit you to converting 5 files in one session, but that should not be a problem for this project. It is a nifty piece of software which is reasonably priced ($19 per copy). They also make other converters for video files as well.
  • Go to the web site Once on the site, you locate your file, select the file type you want to convert it to (mp3 or wmv), add your email address, and then submit. It will then upload your song for conversion. Within 24 hours, they will send you an email with a link to the converted file.

Audio Editing

Once you have selected your music, chances are you will need to trim your sound file to fit within the 3 minute maximum for the project. Or you may want to mash a variety of musical numbers to tell your story. The application that we are going to use to work with your soundtrack is called Audacity. It is a freeware audio editor which will work on many computer platforms. Listed below are tutorials on how to use Audacity to edit your soundtrack:

  • From our Atomic Learning subscription, a list of Audacity Tutorials : PC | Mac (Note: you will have to know the North Shore username and passord to access these. Forgot what it was? Email Mr. Vrotny, Mrs. Minnoch, or Mr. Randolph
Audacity 1.2 Tutorials - From the official Audacity user's manual.
Audacity 1.2 Tutorial by Dan Eliot - Learn how to open and edit a WAV file, and save the result in an MP3.
Audacity Tutorial by Daniel James - Shows how to mix a multi-track project. Includes sample sound files.
The Audacity Book - An online book for new Audacity users. (This is an incomplete work in progress.)
  • For those of you who would rather YouTube:

Royalty Free Music

As we have seen above, you can search the Creative Commons site for royalty free music (OWL). There are a few other sites which you can find royalty free music for your presentation: