Gray Matter


Save Spotify Songs as Audio Files on Ubuntu and Linux Mint

RT Cunningham | July 28, 2020 (UTC) | Entertainment, Linux

SpotifyYou can save Spotify songs as audio files, but not with the Spotify download options. I can’t tell you how to do it on Windows, but I’m sure you can find the information you need by using one of search engines. I’m on Linux and I’ll probably never use Windows for anything important ever again.

Spotify provides a Linux version of their desktop client. The sound quality isn’t the best (at 128 kbps or less) with the free option and you have to deal with advertisements. If you upgrade to premium, you can get the best quality songs without advertisements.

The Downloaded Spotify Files

I have the streaming quality set at “Very High”, which is the same as 320 kbps, and I download each playlist. The downloaded files are not saved as audio files, they’re saved as cache files. On Ubuntu and derivatives like Linux Mint, the default cache directory is at /home/user/.cache/spotify/Storage. Below that, the files are stored and read in a manner I can’t comprehend without studying, and it isn’t something I don’t want to waste time doing.

The first thing I thought of doing was to find a converter of some kind. The ones I found by searching were either geared to Windows only (and cost money) or were too old to be of use to me. Then it dawned on me. I could simply record the songs as their being played, just like I used to do when I was a teenager in the 70s.

Recording with Audio Recorder

Again, I don’t know how to do this with Windows. With Linux Mint, I installed “Audio Recorder”. It may or may not be available for distributions not based on Debian.

I save them as FLAC files and then use “Sound Converter” to convert them to MP3 files. When “Rhythmbox” displays the MP3 kbps as 320, I know I’ve done things the right way.

I download the Spotify playlists. When I don’t, I can experience “stutter” when my Wi-Fi connection stars acting up. I don’t experience it at all if I remember to download first. Deleting a song from a playlist will delete the download files pertaining to it, so I don’t have to worry about the storage space it uses.

Is This Legal?

Well, it isn’t illegal. Feel free to read about the “Audio Home Recording Act”. The law basically legalized what we all did before computers became household items. We recorded music from radio to tape, sometimes with the commercials added and sometimes with some DJ diatribe added as well.

Doing it this way is the same thing, but directly from the same sources as our music players. The recording industry and associated affiliates don’t like it, but they can’t stop it. And it’s not because of the law. It’s because there’s no way to police it.

Recording the music from Spotify with Audio Recorder is tedious and time-consuming. You have to listen to the song you record in its entirety. The second step, using Sound Converter, seems quick enough. The final step is to edit the tags with something like “EasyTAG” (which is what I use). Completing all the steps for one file doesn’t take long, but doing it for a lot of files can consume hours of your time.

Gigabytes of Music

I have more than my fair share of music files. Some I’ve “ripped” from CDs multiple times, in multiple formats. I’m slowly converting everything to 320 kbps MP3 files. Eventually I’ll store them all on a high-capacity MP3 player. For me, it’s easier to record some of them directly from Spotify than it is to find my original source files. It’s not something I plan to do often.

Most of my music is 80s rock music (or 80s rock bands that started earlier than that). I have some from other decades after the 50s and I can honestly say I have no 50s music at all. I have some from other genres as well, including country, R&B and soul. Even though I detest most rap songs, I even have a few of those.

I don’t like being limited to one device or another. Saving music as MP3 files means I can listen to it on any device I own or will ever own. Saving it as the highest lossless quality available means I probably won’t have to do it again. By the time I do (if that ever happens), I’ll probably be too old to care.

Photo Attribution: Maret H. from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in November 2019.

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