A subscriber recently asked me how to insert songs that he bought from iTunes into a PowerPoint presentation. He wanted to use them for a presentation to a Rotary Club conference.
Before I start, let me say that I’m not a lawyer. If you have questions, get legal advice. That said, here’s my understanding. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) In most cases, you need permission to use copyrighted music in a presentation to someone else. One exception is when a teacher uses it in a classroom, as part of a lesson. Students should also be able to use copyrighted music for a student class project.
However, if you want to use the music for a non-profit organization, you may be able to get permission to do so. Contact either the publisher named in the credits (you may be able to find the publisher in the iTunes description), or one of several music industry organizations (ASCAP, BMI, or SOCAN for Canada).
There are sources for copyright-free music that you can use. This article, “How to Get Free Music for PowerPoint Presentations,” offers some ideas. You can also purchase royalty-free music, but even then may need to give credit in your presentation if you’re using it for a commercial purpose.
If you believe you have a legal use for music that you downloaded from iTunes in the M4P format (a protected format), you can convert it to MP3, which you can play on any audio player or insert into PowerPoint. An easy way to do this is to use Audacity, a free, open-source sound recording and editing program. You’ll also need the LAME MP3 encoder, which you can get at the same location (after choosing your computer platform). Follow the instructions to download and install both.
Start playing your iTunes music on your computer and immediately click the Record button in Audacity. Audacity will record directly from your sound card. The result may be softer than the original. If necessary, choose Edit> Preferences in Audacity and try various options in the Recording section of the Audio I/O tab. You sound card needs to allow direct recording, but most do. This is sometimes called recording “what is heard.”
After recording, choose File> Export as MP3. The first time, you need to specify the location of the LAME MP3 encoder file that you downloaded. Then you can save the recording as an MP3 file.
Audacity lets you easily cut unwanted silence at the beginning and end. Just select a portion of the timeline and click the Cut button.