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How to Cite a Song


If you’re working on an assignment that requires music—whether you’re analyzing lyrics or playing a clip—iTunes is a great place to find the right tune. After all, the site/app carry over 30 million songs, from smooth jazz to rollicking rock n’ roll to soaring pop anthems.

But while finding the perfect song clip on iTunes is easy, citing the work in your paper or presentation might seem a bit more difficult.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

Here, we’ve compiled a step by step guide on how to cite a song from iTunes, in MLA formatting, APA formatting, and Chicago style. If the only thing keeping you from including a song in that presentation is fear of citing, fear not—the process isn’t that difficult once you get the hang of it.

If you’ve ever cited a movie or other video before, you’ll find that the process for an audio recording is pretty similar—but even if your only citation work has been with text, you should be a pro at citing iTunes songs in no time!

To make the process even easier, we’ve created examples in MLA, APA and Chicago for Pharrell William’s 2014 chart topper “Happy,” a song with an infectious beat and a warm and fuzzy message that works just as well for a psychology assignment as it does for a dance party.

Our citation example is based on https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/happy-from-despicable-me-2/id823593445?i=823593456.

    • Name of the individual or band who performs the song
    • Name of the songwriter (for APA style)
    • Name of the album it is found on (if available)
    • Version of the song, if available (such as an extended version or radio edit)
    • Name of the publisher
    • Date the song was published or recorded
    • Track number
    • Title of the site (iTunes)


Use the following structure to cite a song from iTunes in MLA 8:

Last name, First name of the individual or name of the band who performs the song. “Title of the Song.” Name of the Album, Version, Publisher, Date published, track number. Title of Site, URL.

Here’s how the above example would be cited in MLA 8:

Williams, Pharrell. “Happy.” GIRL, Columbia Records, 2014, track 5. iTunes, https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/happy-from-despicable-me-2/id823593445?i=823593456.

Use the following structure to cite a song from iTunes in APA format:

Last name, First initial. Middle initial. of thee songwriter. (Year published). Title of song [Recorded by First initial. Middle initial. Last name of performer (only include if different than the name of the writer)]. On Title of album [Audio file]. Retrieved from URL

Here’s how the above example would look as an APA citation:

Williams. P. (2014). Happy. On GIRL [Audio file]. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/happy-from-despicable-me-2/id823593445?i=823593456

Use the following structure to cite a song from iTunes in Chicago:

*Note that audio recordings are generally not included in a bibliography. Create another list, titled “Discography.” If you decide to include audio recordings in your bibliography, place a heading over them in order for readers to distinguish the difference.

Last name, First name of the individual or band who performs the song. “Title of Song.” iTunes audio, length. Date published. URL.

Here’s how the above example would be cited in Chicago:

Williams, Pharrell. “Happy.” iTunes audio, 3:52. 2014. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/happy-from-despicable-me-2/id823593445?i=823593456.

Is the song you’re looking for not one of the 30 million-plus available tracks on iTunes? If so, fret not: The process for citing a tune from Spotify, SoundCloud or any other website with available music doesn’t differ much from the process of citing an iTunes song.

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