How to Cite a Song in MLA | Format & Examples

The format for citing a song in MLA depends on the medium in which you listened to it.

To cite a song accessed through an online streaming service, list the performer (or group) as author, the song title in quotation marks, the name of the site in italics, and the URL where the song can be found. Omit “the” from a band name, e.g. “Beatles,” not “the Beatles.”

If relevant, use a timestamp to indicate a specific part of the song in the in-text citation.

MLA format Performer last name, First name. “Song Title.” Website Name. URL.
MLA Works Cited entry Dylan, Bob. “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Spotify.
MLA in-text citation (Dylan 1:14)
Scribbr’s free MLA Citation Generator can help you create accurate MLA citations.

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Upload your document to correct all your mistakes in minutes


Citing songs in physical formats

To cite a song you accessed in a physical format (e.g. CD, vinyl), include details about the album (or single, EP, etc.) it appears on: the title, distributor, year, and, optionally, the format (e.g. “CD”).

This format also applies to songs you downloaded and accessed through a media player (e.g. iTunes).

MLA format Author Last name, First name. “Song Title.” Album Name. Distributor, Year. Format.
MLA Works Cited entry Lamar, Kendrick. “Fear.” Damn. Top Dawg Entertainment, 2017. CD.
MLA in-text citation (Lamar 3:55)

Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services

Discover proofreading & editing

Quoting lyrics

Quote lyrics from a song in a similar format to poetry: separate lines with a slash symbol, and format four or more lines quoted at once as a block quote.

Quoting lyrics in the text
In the chorus, Bush sings “if I only could / I’d make a deal with God / And I’d get him to swap our places” (0:51–59).

If you’re quoting these lyrics from a transcript included alongside the song (e.g. in the description on YouTube, in the accompanying booklet to a CD), then you should clarify this at the end of the Works Cited entry.

Quoting lyrics from a transcript
Bush, Kate. “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God).” Hounds of Love. EMI, 1985. Transcript of lyrics.

Optional details to include in an MLA song citation

MLA’s citation style is flexible; some details are not mandatory in a song citation but can be included when relevant.

For example, if your discussion focuses on the work of a particular musician, you can list them in the author position instead of the main artist, along with a description of their role. The main artist should still be listed later in the contributor slot.

MLA format Musician last name, First name, role. “Song Title.” Album Name, by Main artist first name Last name. Distributor, Year. Format.
MLA Works Cited entry Fripp, Robert, guitarist. “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Another Green World, by Brian Eno. Island Records, 1975.
MLA in-text citation (Fripp 1:21–45)

Especially with classical music, it may be more relevant to cite the composer rather than the performer in the author position. You can then list the particular performer(s) and/or conductor after the title. If the particular performance is irrelevant, you might omit this information entirely.

MLA format Composer last name, First name. Piece/Collection TitlePerformance by Performer(s), conducted by Conductor, Distributor, Year.
MLA Works Cited entry Beethoven, Ludwig van. Symphony No. 9 in D Minor “Choral.” Performance by the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi, Telarc, 1985.
MLA in-text citation (Beethoven)

Frequently asked questions about MLA citations

Whom do I cite as the author of a song in MLA Style?

When citing a song in MLA style, the author is usually the main artist or group that released the song.

However, if your discussion focuses on the contributions of a specific performer, e.g. a guitarist or singer, you may list them as author, even if they are not the main artist. If you’re discussing the lyrics or composition, you may cite the songwriter or composer rather than a performer.

Do I need to give details about the album in an MLA song citation?

In an MLA song citation, you need to give some sort of container to indicate how you accessed the song. If this is a physical or downloaded album, the Works Cited entry should list the album name, distributor, year, and format.

However, if you listened to the song on a streaming service, you can just list the site as a container, including a URL. In this case, including the album details is optional; you may add this information if it is relevant to your discussion or if it will help the reader access the song.

How do I cite a source with no author or page numbers in MLA?

If a source has no author, start the MLA Works Cited entry with the source title. Use a shortened version of the title in your MLA in-text citation.

If a source has no page numbers, you can use an alternative locator (e.g. a chapter number, or a timestamp for a video or audio source) to identify the relevant passage in your in-text citation. If the source has no numbered divisions, cite only the author’s name (or the title).

If you already named the author or title in your sentence, and there is no locator available, you don’t need a parenthetical citation:

  • Rajaram argues that representations of migration are shaped by “cultural, political, and ideological interests.”
  • The homepage of The Correspondent describes it as “a movement for radically different news.”

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2024, March 05). How to Cite a Song in MLA | Format & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from

Is this article helpful?
Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.