Can I upload MP3 or WMA audio files to YouTube?

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"I have audio files from my band's recording session that I want to put on YouTube. Every time I try to upload the files YouTube gives me an invalid file format error. I've tried both MP3 and WMA formats with the same error message. How can I upload my band's MP3 music tracks to YouTube?"

While YouTube may be among the best places on the Internet to find music by your favorite artist, it is not a music site. YouTube is a video site. The YouTube upload tool expects you to upload a video file format of some kind. YouTube specifically accepts MP4, MPG, AVI, MOV and WMV file formats. For your music files (or something like spoken audio from a speech) to upload successfully to YouTube, you need to convert it to a video format. Below are options that will make a video file with software from either a Mac or Windows PC.

Make a Photo Montage
If getting your music exposed to the YouTube audience is your primary goal, a photo montage may be the most cost effective route. Using software like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, you simply build a photo collage using your song as the back drop. Slap some transitions and effects on the photos for something a little flashier, then save out a video and upload to YouTube. Based on the way the YouTube audience tends to respond to these sorts of things, the more attractive the people in the photos you include are the better.

Add Video Titles with Lyrics
A slight variation on the photo montage is using the title and credits building tool in the video editing software to build some moving text. This could be the lyrics to your song or a clever haiku, but either way, you're giving the YouTube viewer something to look at other than a blank video while they listen to your song.

Add the Bands Album Cover
If you don't have any good photos or are simply feeling lazy, a single image of the band's album cover, or maybe your publicity photo, can be an easy way to have something visual to accompany your music on YouTube.

Combine Your Audio with a PowerPoint Presentation
For spoken presentations, coupling the recorded audio with PowerPoint slides may help visually tie the speech and concepts together.

Hire an Animator
If you have a budget (or live near a college campus) hiring an animator to make a video for your music will up the marketability of your YouTube presence. A great animation might be the thing that brings your band from obscurity to international fame and fortune.

Shoot a Music Video
Along the same lines as hiring an animator, if you can get a video made to go with your song, chances are it will fare better on YouTube. An ad in Craigslist might find you some videobloggers willing to work on a budget or if you've got deeper pockets, making a bigger production might be your ticket to a giant YouTube fan club.

The bottom line here is whatever you do you really need to convert your audio file to a video file and you might as well invest some time in making it visually appealing before you upload.