How do I Burn a Music CD?

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  • Written By: James Withers
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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In recent years, technological advancements have transformed the nature of the music industry. Most personal computers now provide users with the option to burn music onto CDs. While this technology is itself declining in popularity, since fascination with portable devices such as cellphones and MP3 players is increasing, most purchasers of a personal computer system expect these systems to be equipped with CD re-writer drive so they can burn a music CD.

Most computers that are purchased at retail outlets include desktop software produced by the Microsoft Corporation. Typically, this software has a few different options for burning a music CD, including the Windows Media Player, which has the power to burn a music CD. Competing with these Windows-based systems are Macs, produced by Apple. These computers let users produce CDs with a variety of systems, including iTunes program. In both cases, the process to burn a music CD is well integrated with the music management software, in order to make the process as seamless as possible for the user. In addition to Windows Media Player or iTunes, free or discounted internet software such as Nero or Toast is also available for download.


Data, in the form of music, can be stored either permanently or temporarily with the use of one of two formats of CD. CD-Rs are best when burning music to a disc, and they retain information permanently. They cannot be overwritten. CD-RWs are rewritable discs. Many music players will not recognize these discs, and they are preferable for storing data such as large text or photo files.

To burn a music CD, the first step is to place the music into a file on your computer. The music can either be downloaded from the internet, ripped from another CD, or uploaded from a device such as a cell phone. Next, this file must be opened and transferred into the software program that is being used to duplicate the music. Then, this program must be prompted to burn the CD. CDs may need to be formatted before being used.

Time required for the duplication process to occur may vary between a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the computer hardware being used. Browsing the internet while trying to burn a music CD may diminish the speed of the duplication process. Another important consideration when burning a music CD is to use high-quality, rather than inexpensive, CDs. If a computer is shut down for some reason during duplication, CDs may skip or fail to play.

While many music companies discourage duplication of CDs, the act of burning music to a CD is generally not considered illegal as long as these CDs are intended for personal use. Peer-to-peer file sharing programs provide platforms for users to share copyrighted files, but few legal penalties are likely be incurred should users choose to trade music this way. Technically, however, file sharing is illegal at the time of the writing of this article.


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Discuss this Article

Post 3

As the article stated, the problem of not being able to play your burned CDs on certain machines can be an inconvenience. When I slide a CD into a player I automatically think the music will play. In those first few moments when I discover that the CD is not working I am so confused: What's wrong? Do I have power? Is the disc in correctly? Then I realize what the problem is.

Post 2

I didn't know how easy burning music to a CD was until I read this article. I'm not as up to date on music and music technology as I was when I was younger. I thought you needed expensive equipment to complete the burning process. This information is good to know; better late than never.

Post 1

When CDs first came out I thought the days of recording music like we did on the mix tapes were over. That's one reason I resisted the switch to CDs for as long as I did. Once we acquired the equipment and learned how to burn a music CD we were able to make those mix masterpieces again, and because of the CDs, the quality of the music was improved.

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