TAP023: How to Insert Background Music or Sound Effects in Audacity

The Audacity to Podcast - A "how-to" podcast about podcasting and using Audacity show

Summary: I focus completely on Audacity in this episode! This time, I share a brief explanation of copyright laws for podcasters, where to get music and sound effects, and three ways to work with background music or sound effects in your podcast. Hire me to design stuff for you! Make your message look great by hiring me to personally design your website, presentation, podcast cover art, and more! Visit D.Joseph Design to view my portfolio and request an estimate. Music copyright laws and podcasters I am neither a lawyer nor play one on TV. The safest thing to do is never use copyrighted music. However, you are allowed certain rights under fair use exceptions: 30-second previews if accompanied by a comment, or parodies of the song. Unless you have explicit permission from the copyright-holder to use copyrighted music or sound effects, don’t do it. Look for royalty-free or podsafe music. Where to get podsafe music http://www.magnatune.com/ http://musicbakery.com/ http://www.opuzz.com/ http://www.iodapromonet.com/ http://sounddogs.com/ http://www.soundsnap.com/ http://opsound.org/ (free) http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/ (free) http://www.jamendo.com/en/ (free) http://www.findsounds.com/types.html (free, but use with caution as you may find copyrighted content) http://arielpublicity.com/ (free) http://www.musicalley.com/ (free) Where to get sound effects http://sounddogs.com/ http://www.soundsnap.com/ http://opsound.org/ (free) http://www.freesound.org/ (free) http://www.findsounds.com/types.html (free, but use with caution as you may find copyrighted content) Insert your music or sound effects into Audacity Audacity presents three  options for inserting audio into an open project: drag the audio file into your project window, or Audio menu > Import > Audio …, or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd-Shift-I (OS X) or Ctrl-Shift-I (Windows). Position your audio where you want it by dragging with the Time Shift Tool (F5)  and clip it as necessary. Adjusting volume with track gain If you want to adjust the audio’s volume without changing the audio itself (which would be a “destructive edit”), drag or double-click the Gain slider in the Track Control Panel. But this will adjust the volume of everything in the entire track, which may not be your desire. Adjusting volume with Auto Duck Audacity contains a handy tool, Auto Duck, for automatically reducing your background audio when you have speaking in another track. This is called "ducking" (because the background audio ducks whenever the there's audio in another track). Before you try Auto Duck, make sure that your background audio is immediate above your vocal track. When you're ready, select the portion of the music that you want to edit (or the whole track, after you're sure you have the right settings), then go to the Effects menu > Auto Duck. Threshold (default -30 dB) sets when Auto-Duck engages. When the audio in the vocal track (the track directly below your background music) is above the threshold, Audacity will duck the background audio (the audio you selected when you ran Auto-Duck). Duck amount (default -12 dB) sets how much Audacity will reduce the background audio. Maximum pause (default 1 second) sets how long Audacity will wait before returning the background audio to normal volume. This is the setting responsible for the up-and-down you may hear in background audio while someone is speaking. If you pause for 1 second or longer, Audacity will raise the background audio's volume. This is an important setting to avoid weird ups and downs. (4–7) Fade length sets how quick the fade down and fade up will be. A small value means a fast fade (default 0.5 second outer fades). Outer is how quickly the background audio fades before and after your vocals, with no overlap. Inner is how quickly the background audio fades during the vocals, at the beginning and end. As great as this feature is, it makes destructive edits,