How to Add Music and Embed Audio Playlists in WordPress

How to Add Music and Embed Audio Playlists in WordPress

Let me take you back about 10 years ago. You suddenly get a hankering to go out to eat, but aren’t sure where you want to go. Rather than drive downtown without a plan, you hop on the internet to check out your options. You stumble across a website with cheesy background music meant to “set the tone” and you wonder if maybe it would be best to just stay in and cook up some pasta.

Before you run off thinking this is an article that teaches you how to do add that sort of background audio to your WordPress site, give me just a second.

Audio isn’t always expected on most websites, unless it’s a place where people can go to license stock audio or listen to a band’s music. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other reasons to include audio within your WordPress site. For example:

  • Share a welcome message.
  • Embed a full recording of a teleseminar or interview into a blog post.
  • Publish a podcast.
  • Share audio testimonials.
  • Include audio versions of your content (kind of like an audiobook for blogs, ebooks, or infographics).
  • Share a song or playlist you’re listening to from Spotify or some other audio-streaming service.

The point is you can use audio in a variety of ways to support the purpose of your site and it doesn’t have to come off as something cheesy or unwanted. Just don’t force the autoplay! So, let’s briefly talk about the benefits of adding audio to your WordPress site and run through the various plugins you can use to do so.

The Benefits of Adding Audio to Your WordPress Site

If you’re still unsure as to whether audio is right for your WordPress site, consider these benefits:

  • It’s a great way to draw visitors to a specific element on your site (e.g. a CTA, form, etc.)
  • Like other media, audio can boost SEO by increasing the time engaged listeners spend on your site.
  • It can improve brand recognition if you include a particularly unique or memorable piece of audio on your site.
  • Audio gives you the opportunity to skip writing and pass on recording a video if neither of those is your strong suit.
  • For certain artists (singers, musicians, voice artists), you can use a website to showcase your audio work—and sell it.
  • For those who want to provide more options for people to ingest their content, turning on-site content into audio recordings is a unique way to do that.
  • Creating audio versions of your site’s content can also help accessibility, if you have a large readership in need of it.
  • By capturing audio of an event, you can share those recordings later for a price or offer to members if they missed out on the opportunity.
  • If you did a write-up of a recent interview, but didn’t have space to cover everything you discussed, you can include the audio file as a sort of “bonus” for your readers.
  • It adds a human touch if it’s your voice or someone else’s recognizable voice.
  • You can also use audio to give your site more of a personality. Maybe you don’t have Instagram photos you want to show off, but you do have a favorite Spotify playlist you listen to all the time that you’d like to share.

There are many different ways you can differentiate your site from others. That being said, there’s something about the inclusion of media—images, video, animation, and, obviously, audio—that really pushes websites over the edge from “well, that was helpful” to “wow, what an experience”. So let’s take a look now at the WordPress plugins you can use to add audio to your WordPress site and really shake up that experience.

How to Add Audio to Your WordPress Site

There are a number of ways you can add audio to your site:

1. Embed a link to the source audio player

Whether you use something like Spotify, Amazon Music, or some other audio-streaming service, they’ll likely provide you with an embeddable code you can paste right into your site. Like this:

 

embed Spotify playlist
Embedding a Spotify playlist.

This way, you won’t have to worry about hosting any of the audio on your site and can import it directly from the source.

Embedded Spotify playlist
How the Spotify playlist will appear on my site.

The only thing about this option is that you’ll have no control over how the audio player appears on your site.

2. Upload an audio file through Media

You’re familiar with the “Add Media” function in WordPress.

Add media WordPress
Adding media to WordPress

This same place where you can add images is where you can also upload individual audio clips. If you use this option, make sure to update the metadata as you would any other media file for the purposes of SEO.

Here is how WordPress presents individual audio players:

individual audio player

There aren’t a whole lot of controls over this form of embedding. The audio clip will go in in its entirety unless you’ve edited it before uploading. It will also appear in the default WordPress audio player design.

3. Create an audio playlist through Media.

WordPress also enables users to create audio playlists of their own through the Insert Media module. So if you have the audio files available on your desktop, all you have to do is create your playlist the way you would a video playlist or an image gallery.

Under Media, click on Create Audio Playlist and upload your files. Don’t forget to add the metadata for each.

Create audio playlist WordPress
Creating an audio playlist in WordPress

In the next screen, you’ll be able to edit which pieces of information you want included in your audio playlist.

Playlist audio settings WordPress
Audio settings.

Then this is how WordPress will present the audio playlist on your site:

8 WordPress Plugins to Add Audio to Your WordPress Site

While it’s nice to know that WordPress offers built-in options for uploading and publishing your own audio clips to your site, those methods are rather time-consuming and have very little payoff with little control over settings or appearance.

Which is why I’m now I’m going to focus on the WordPress plugins you can use to add audio to your site.

  • Compact WP Audio Player Plugin

    This is, no joke, a super compact audio player. If you’d like to add a clear indicator that there’s something to be played, but don’t want to waste a lot of real estate on it, this is the plugin to use. All it does is add a small play arrow icon, and that’s it.

    Interested in Compact WP Audio Player Plugin?

  • Cue Pro by AudioTheme.com Plugin

    Although there’s a free version of this plugin available on WordPress, I think the upgrade is worth it since you can’t find these additional features with most audio player plugins. Cue Pro provides analytics on how users interact with your audio player as well as the number of purchases and downloads. It also comes with more design customization and pop up functionality.

    Interested in Cue Pro by AudioTheme.com Plugin?

  • Fullwidth Audio Player Plugin

    If you’re interested in springing for this premium audio player plugin, keep in mind that this one is probably best used for music or podcast websites—anything where audio plays a central role and there are large playlists you want to show off. This responsive media player gives you full control over where you place your playlist or individual tracks and also offers advanced functionality like social shares and pop-up music players.

    Interested in Fullwidth Audio Player Plugin?

  • mb.miniAudioPlayer Plugin

    This plugin is a step up from the basic “play button” audio player plugins. This one instead includes a full play bar so users have control over volume, rewind, muting, scrubbing rate, etc. You can also change the color of the player.

    Interested in mb.miniAudioPlayer Plugin?

  • PowerPress Podcasting Plugin by Blubrry

    This plugin is really only meant for podcasters, which means it’s not strictly an audio player plugin per se. Instead, this one gives users the ability to either quickly upload their podcast or use the more advanced option to pull in their podcast from other sources like SoundCloud. Subscriber tools, SEO, audio and video player support, and more are included.

    Interested in PowerPress Podcasting Plugin by Blubrry?

  • Responsive HTML5 Audio Player PRO Plugin

    This premium WordPress plugin comes chockful of customization settings, which would be ideal for anyone wanting to share actual music on their website. You can add Buy buttons, lyrics, social sharing, download options, and more. Google Analytics integrates with this as well, so you’ll have a better sense of what visitors are doing with the audio you’ve made available through your site.

    Interested in Responsive HTML5 Audio Player PRO Plugin?

  • Simple Music Widget Plugin

    This is a cute little widget plugin you can use to highlight a specific song or audio clip on your site. The example they give is a “Music of the Week” featurette box that appears on the blog’s sidebar. So if you want to embed a single audio clip on your site and include some relevant information as well as a cover image with it, this is the plugin you can use for that.

    Interested in Simple Music Widget Plugin?

  • Soundy Background Music Plugin

    Disregard the fact that this plugin advertises itself as a “background music” plugin (which is something that would likely harm your users’ experience). Upon closer inspection, it appears that this is just a simple audio player plugin like many of the others on this list. I don’t believe there’s any autoplay feature (which is good), so if all you need is the ability to add a single audio clip to your page or post and you want it to have a clean look, give this one a shot.

    Interested in Soundy Background Music Plugin?

Wrapping Up

As you can see, audio on the web is no longer an inconvenient or annoying addition to websites anymore (at least not in the way we’ve discussed above in how you can use it).

In fact, it does the exact opposite. It also offers you the opportunity to add more content to your site without having to step in front of a camera or spend hours hovered over your keyboard. That sounds pretty awesome to me.

Brenda Barron
Over to you: What are your thoughts on audio on the web? Are you glad that websites had to ditch the background music and upgrade to more professional audio features?