How to Download MP3 Tracks from a YouTube Video Using YouTube-DL

We all love listening to music. Whether it’s in the gym, at work, outside, music is part of our life. Everyone has their own music collection and undoubtedly everyone likes to expand it. While there are streaming services such as Spotify, many people still like downloading their own music and organizing their albums and playlists.

Download MP3 Track from YouTube Video
Download MP3 Track from YouTube Video

Today we are going to show you how to easily download mp3 tracks from YouTube videos. To complete this, we will be using YouTube-DL – a command line video download tool for Linux. Based on python, youtube-dl can be used on almost all (if not all) Linux distributions. If you haven’t heard about this tool already, I urge you to check our detailed review of youtube-dl in the link below:

Don’t Miss: Install YouTube-DL – A Command Line Video Download Tool for Linux

In this tutorial you will learn how to download mp3 tracks from Youtube using youtube-dl tool. Of course, first you will need to have it installed on your system. If you haven’t checked the above article yet, here is how to install it:

Install YouTube-DL – A Youtube Video Downloader for Linux

YouTube-DL is available for both CentOS/RHEL/Fedora and Ubuntu/Debian/ derivatives and it can be easily installed by using the following commands:

$ sudo wget -O /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
$ sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

Download MP3 Track from Youtube Video in Linux

Youtube-dl has quite an extensive "help" page and if you want to review it, simply type:

# youtube-dl --help
Youtube-DL Help Menu
Youtube-DL Help Menu

If you are looking for a specific option, I recommend using the “grep” utility and search for specific word as shown.

# youtube-dl --help | grep extract-audio
Use Grep to Search a Word in File
Use Grep to Search a Word in File

Now to download a video as mp3 track, we need the following two options:

  1. --extract-audio (short option -x) – Convert video files to audio-only files.
  2. --audio-format  – specifies the audio format in which the file will be downloaded. The supported audio formats are “best”, “aac”, “vorbis”, “mp3”, “m4a”, “opus”, or “wav”; “best” is set by default

To download a video as mp3 file, you can use one of the following commands:

# youtube-dl -x --audio-format mp3
Download MP3 from Youtube Video
Download MP3 from Youtube Video

If you want to have a cover art for the mp3 file, you can add the --embed-thumbnail option:

In that case the command will look like this:

# youtube-dl -x --embed-thumbnail --audio-format mp3
Download MP3 Video with Thumbnail from Youtube Video
Download MP3 Video with Thumbnail from Youtube Video

Download Multiple MP3 Tracks from YouTube Playlist

As you probably noticed, youtube playlists are getting more and more popular lately. So the chances are that you will want to download more than one track from a playlist. Luckily youtube-dl provides an option to download a whole playlist or just a range of songs within it.

For that purpose, you will need to use the following options:

  1. --playlist-start NUMBER – Playlist video to start at (default is 1)
  2. --playlist-end NUMBER – Playlist video to end at (default is last)

Where "NUMBER" is the starting and ending point of the playlist. The command below will download the first 5 songs from the given playlist:

# youtube-dl -x --audio-format mp3 --playlist-start 1 --playlist-end 5
Download Multiple MP3 from Youtube Playlist
Download Multiple MP3 from Youtube Playlist

If you prefer to download the whole playlist, don’t use the playlist-start and playlist-end parameters. Instead, simply pass the playlist URL.

Download MP3 Tracks from Different YouTube Playlist

We also know that you may not like all the songs in other people’s playlists. So what if you want to download many songs from different playlists? Well a workaround on that matter is to get a list of URLs in a single file.

Write the URLs in a file called videos.txt and make sure to keep one URL at a line. Then you can use the following "for" loop to download the songs:

# for i in $(<videos.txt); do youtube-dl -x --audio-format mp3 $i; done
Download MP3 from List of Youtube Videos
Download MP3 from List of Youtube Videos

The above is a simple solution to download multiple songs from different Youtube URLs.


Youtube-dl is a simple, yet powerful tool that can help you to download music on your devices. You are now ready to expand your music libraries to a whole new level.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to submit them in the comment section below.

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Marin Todorov
I am a bachelor in computer science and a Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator. Currently working as a Senior Technical support in the hosting industry. In my free time I like testing new software and inline skating.

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32 thoughts on “How to Download MP3 Tracks from a YouTube Video Using YouTube-DL”

  1. You can use the --batch-file FILE option or -a for short if you want to use the text file with multiple links. It is very much simpler than the loop.

  2. Thank you. I have been using AudFree software to download and convert music to MP3 and other common formats. It is compatible with almost all kinds of music resources from Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, which completely fulfill my needs.

  3. ERROR: This video contains content from UMG, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

    How do you remove errors like the one above mentioned?

    This appears in case i try to download a playlist and a song is deleted, the program stops abruptly and I need to edit the start playlist command in order to skip the song manually but if it finds another one it needs to be done again and again

    Do I need to build a script similar to the one you showcased so that in case of error it skips song or is there a pre built skip to next in this useful tool?

  4. This is perfect for what I was looking for. Thanks for the sharing. I used to download mp3 song from Youtube video with acethinker video keeper, free and works fairly well. Share it here as an alternative to YouTube-DL.

  5. Oh yes, thank you!

    I’m taking my first steps with Slackware distro and I’m having fun doing many things on the terminal. So getting mp3 from youtube using command line is also great!


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