Grabbing MP3 via YouTube on #UbuntuLinux #avconv

Earlier this week, someone asked me, "How do you strip audio out of a youtube video?" The process was pretty straightforward (using ffmpeg) before but apparently, it's changed with more recent versions of Ubuntu and/or distros based on Ubuntu (I'm using Linux Mint, which has turned out to be an absolute joy).

Here are the steps I followed:

1) Install necessary software if it's not already there. I installed the following, although I'm not sure if it was "necessary:"
sudo apt-get install avconv ubuntu-restricted-extras youtube-dl
A quick overview of those:

  1. avconv - this program replaced ffmpeg and is the program we'll use to strip audio out as MP3 format from an FLV
  2. ubuntu-restricted-extras - this adds some components that are usually needed. I believe I had these already installed in Linux Mint.
  3. youtube-dl - this will enable you to download/get a youtube video from (as opposed to using a service like )

2) Once software is installed, all you need is a YouTube video URL to begin download. For example, here's the YouTube video I made Reaching for the Heart. The audio will put you to sleep quick, so download it!

At the command line (in Terminal), type the following (you can shift-insert to paste the youtube address/URL or right-click and paste with your mouse):
This will save--depending on your internet speed, etc.--a copy of the YouTube video on your computer as an FLV video file. In this case, it was saved with the awkward name of 00QTN_TFRtE.flv. You can rename it easily by typing:
mv 00QTN*.flv reach4heart.flv or choose to not rename it. It's all up to you.

3) Extract the audio as MP3 from the FLV video file.
avconv -i reach4heart.flv -ab 192k reach4heart_audio.mp3
The resulting file looks like this:

-rw-r--r-- 1 mg mg  15M May  8 19:24 reach4heart_audio.mp3
-rw-r--r-- 1 mg mg  21M Mar 12 07:54 reach4heart.flv

You can get a smaller sized file than 15 megs by changing the bitrate:

avconv -i reach4heart.flv -ab 48k reach4heart_audio_small.mp3

and that will result in the following....
-rw-r--r-- 1 mg mg 3.6M May  8 19:26 reach4heart_audio_small.mp3

I didn't significantly notice the quality being diminished.

If you want to have multiple input files--or batch convert several files at once--then try this at the command line (copy-n-paste):

for i in *.flv; do avconv -i "$i" -vcodec copy -ac 2 -strict experimental "out-$i.mp3" ; done

4) Remove un-needed files, such as the FLV video files.
rm *.flv
Be aware that the command above will remove ALL FLV video files in the directory where you type it, so I like to do all my work in a folder setup for just that purpose.

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