From SoundCloud to YouTube

After uploading audio content to SoundCloud sporadically for over four years I have now run out of space on my free account.

You get 180 minutes of space before you need to pay for the Pro account, which I can’t justify doing. 180 minutes would be good for 36 5-minute songs, if that’s all I used it for, but I’ve found myself recording some of my own blog posts (and others’) and I’ve been reading a few stories which can eat up far more time; one of my latest stories to read was over 25 minutes long and simply wouldn’t fit on my SoundCloud account.

My options were:

  • Delete some older uploads to make room (I quite like deleting older content, but some things still seemed relevant)
  • Create another free account (a bit naughty but can surely be achieved with a different e-mail address)
  • Sign up for Pro (not interested, as mentioned)
  • Upload to YouTube…

As per the title of this post you can see that I am trialling that last option and I wanted to mention the pros and cons as I see them.

Some benefits to using YouTube for hosting audio content are:

  • It is free and without upload limits
  • It is a popular platform
  • Media embeds easily into a WordPress post: I simply paste in the video URL. SoundCloud provides embed code of which I had been tweaking; the result is attractive but takes a little more work
  • I get more spam comments on SoundCloud than genuine

The issues were:

YouTube will not accept an audio file directly. You have to create a compatible video file with the audio track in. The initial result, I found, was a large file to be uploaded. For example, my first Dickens story at 26 minutes resulted in a 18MB mp3 file, but once put into a video with a single image displayed throughout resulted in a file of 400-500MB. This is a problem for me because I have a pretty slow internet connection. This would surely also be a problem for the YouTube servers having to provide space for users who are essentially uploading audio, unless they have a better way of compressing such video files that are more about the audio.

I tried the process first with Windows Movie Maker, then with Davinci Resolve. I had hoped that the compression process would have done better with the single image, although with some playing around with various options, such as resolution, frame rate, and audio quality, I was able to “improve” things and get my final file back down into double-figures.

The whole process was a bit “messy” though:

  1. I recorded the thing with my Logitech webcam, which results in a video file that I need to convert in Windows Movie Maker. Ideally I should have recorded directly into Audacity to skip to step 4.
  2. I save from there into an audio format.
  3. I then convert that into mp3 with VLC player.
  4. I then edit the track in Audacity (I make a lot of mistakes when I read, and there is the occasional unwanted throat-clearing also for which I find using Audacity is easy to operate – I could use Windows Movie Maker for this but the level of precision isn’t there for zooming in and out of the waveform and cutting and splicing).
  5. I then bring the track back into Movie Maker (more info here), (Davinci Resolve could also be used to similar effect I’m sure). I add a single image to run throughout.
  6. I create a custom output setting in Movie Maker with the following and produce the final video file ready for uploading to YouTube:

I reduced the video settings to low values because no quality is required. The audio settings match the mp3 file’s that was created by VLC; 96 kbps is ideal for reading a story but the highest of 192 kbps would be better for music. The overall audio quality in my final creation isn’t great but this is mostly due to my initial setup where I was too far away from the microphone of my web camera and I recorded it as video which required extra converting rather than recording directly as audio into Audacity; I will use this experience and considerations in future.

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