How to Record Music off the Radio

By Editorial Team

Updated July 21, 2017

Recording music or other broadcasts off the radio is considered a form of "fair use" of the copyrighted material. With software, some inexpensive equipment and a few cables, you can record your favorite music for free.

Record FM Music off the Radio

Download audio editor and recorder software. One such option is Audacity and is available for free at its website (see Resources below).

Install the software.

Connect a cable to the "audio out" RCA jack on your stereo (or from the headphone jack depending, on your system).

Connect the other end of the cable to the "line in" jack on your sound card (usually colored blue).

Make sure your system is turned on and the volume control is turned up.

Make any adjustments indicated by the software to your computer.

Follow the instructions included with the software to record FM music off the radio.

Purchase audio-video capture, recording and editing equipment at an electronics store or online. This is a device with built-in software that plugs into your computer's USB port. You can listen to your favorite FM station online and record the entire radio playlist or individual songs.

Record Music off Internet Radio

Download and install audio recording software. Most of the available software applications save you time by separating out the individual tracks themselves.

Configure the software. When choosing where your recordings will be stored, be sure you select a hard disk with plenty of free space.

Configure your PC. Make sure that the "system standby" is on "Never." The software will not work when your PC is off or when it goes into "stand by" mode.

Add shows to your playlist and schedule a recording. Don't forget to customize your settings. For recording music, you will probably want to select CD-quality sound instead of FM-quality sound.

Record Music off Satellite Radio

Purchase digital audio recording software (and an adapter unless you already have one) to record music from XM and Sirius broadcasts.

Plug your satellite radio into the adapter and connect the adapter to a USB port on your computer. Music is stored on your hard drive as individual MP3s (or six other possible file formats).

Purchase a satellite radio with recording features. Both XM and Sirius offer radios that allow subscribers to record up to 50 hours of broadcast music and to search for songs by artist.


The music recording industry is lobbying Congress to change copyright laws to ensure that artists and labels are paid when their work is distributed and recorded off the radio. This could make it more difficult to record FM music off the radio in the future.

Items you will need

  • Cables

  • Video capture, recording and editing equipment

  • Adapter

  • Software

  • Digital radio recorder

  • Satellite radio with recording features