"The file could not be read. It may be corrupt or not licensed"

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: All

This error message may appear in Live's status bar when trying to load certain audio files, video files or Live presets. The title can be a bit misleading as there are actually several different reasons for this.


1. You're using a file from a Pack which needs to be unlocked

If you're trying to open a sample or preset from a newly downloaded Live Pack and getting this error, then you need to re-authorize Live in order to unlock the Pack. After re-authorizing, open the same sample/preset and it should load correctly.

2. You're using an outdated version of Live on macOS

Up to and including Live version 10.1.1, Live uses QTKit (Quicktime) MP3 decoding, video playback and video export on macOS. As part of the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit technology, Apple has dropped support entirely for QTKit. All compressed audio file decoding (eg. MP3, M4A, FLAC etc) now uses AVFoundation instead of QTKit. If you're on macOS High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina or later, update Live 10 to the very latest version to resolve this issue.

3. You need to install the necessary codecs on Windows

Live relies on third party codecs to decode compressed audio files on Windows. These codecs don't ship with Windows by default.

4. The file exceeds the 2GB file size limit when fully decoded

The maximum file size limit in Live is 2GB. Although a compressed file may be much smaller than this, when you try to open it in Live it needs to be decoded to a fully lossless file which exceeds the 2GB limit. You should instead decode it using a third party app like Audacity, then split the file into smaller chunks before importing.

5. The minimum free space of the Decoding Cache is higher than the disk space

You'll get this error if the "Minimum Free Space" value is set higher than the available disk space. Instead, set "Minimum Free Space" to a value lower than the available disk space. This setting is in Live's Preferences → File Folder.


6. The Cache folder is set to a read/write only or invalid location

The default location for the Cache folder is:

  • Mac: /Users/[Username]/Library/Caches/Ableton/Cache 
  • Win: C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Cache

Note: The Cache folder should be located in the same User Profile where Live is installed. 

7. The file is corrupt

You can verify this by seeing if it will play in your media player.

8. The file is DRM-Protected

Certain audio files may be DRM-protected. This is a form of copyright protection and you won't be able to import these files into Live.

9. The file format is not supported

Although Live supports a large number of audio formats, there are certain formats that either aren't supported or are only supported in certain sample rates and bit resolutions.

Check the full list of supported audio file formats in Live.

Ableton offers these in-depth help and learning resources: