Want to create quality music from your computer without the financial expense? Here is the best free music production software that anyone can use.
It seems like big budget studios are getting less and less relevant these days. There are now a slew of top performing artists at festivals around the world who have done it all with the free music production software they had in their rooms. From Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala to Clairo Reaching Fame Overnight With Pretty girl; World class records can be had at home as long as you have the right bells and whistles. No matter what platform you are on, there are plenty of free music creation software available for Windows and Mac. And if you are new to it, there are free music making software options for beginners.
You might be surprised at how much quality music creation software is available that won’t strain your pocket. We’ve compiled a list of the best free DAWs for creating music from scratch.
Many of these options are free music creation software for beginners, but there is an impressive amount of quality and control available to you, if you want it. In addition, the non-existent price does not mean that there have been shortcuts on the production side. Free tools and expressive control options are there in spades, as these programs often try to woo you into their older, more professional cousins. Challenge seduction and create for free!
Browse the best free music making software – aka audio gateway drugs.
When it comes to user-friendly music production software, Garageband is leading the charge. If you’re just interested in music, Apple’s entry-level program has a wide variety of samples to play with. You can literally create a song in a matter of minutes. The sandbox landscape and smooth interface put it at the top of the list.
Make no mistake about it! There’s plenty of quality to choose from here and it’s the perfect stepping stone to Logic Pro X. With shared features like Drummer, a very easy-to-use groove sampler with multiple genre styles, and a plethora of pattern variations. You will also become familiar with Apple Library as well as an interface similar to logic.
The only drawbacks include a limit of 255 tracks per song, as well as no MIDI export or the ability to control external hardware via MIDI. Even with all said and done, Garage Band is still an extremely powerful tool and one of the best performing digital audio workstations. Plus, it’s the ultimate free music creation software for beginners.
AmpliTube Custom Shop (Mac / Windows)
If you already have a guitar lying around, then AmpliTube Custom Shop is the perfect way for you to add expression and flair to your music without the hefty price tag. Although this is essentially a stripped-down version, this free, fully-functional guitar setup app includes 24 models that include a chromatic tuner, nine pedals, four amps, five cabs, three mics, and two rack effects.
So, it’s not only the perfect tool for any guitarist looking to record straight to their laptop, but it’s essentially a “try before you buy” for anyone interested in getting into the real deal. And the samples are impressively accurate! Notably because IK Multimedia has locked down official guitar amp models from industry giants such as Fender, Mesa Boogie, Orange, Ampeg and many more.
To top it off, you can customize the mic model and placement, hinting at the pool of options available when you’ve ridden the mile. AmpliTube Custom Shop is ideal for anyone looking to explore guitar sounds or just have a few ideas. Moreover, it is free music creation software for Windows and Mac.
Bandlab – Cakewalk (Windows)
Cakewalk is one of the oldest digital audio workstations in circulation and recently received a significant upgrade from its previous model, Cakewalk Sonar. After Gibson stopped production last year, Bandlab picked it up and made it free for all music lovers.
Labeled as the ‘most complete music production package ”, Cakewalk offers advanced mixing and mastering tools, unlimited tracks, studio-quality effects, and a 64-bit mixing engine. They also evolve over time, adding Windows features like touch integration, pen calibration, and Surface Dial advancements throughout the interface.
If you are looking for the most complete free music creation software at absolutely zero cost, Bandlab is here for you. PS: this music creation software exclusively free for Windows.
Tracktion waveform (Mac OSX, Windows, Linux)
Tracktion Waveform involves one of the most impressive business models on the market. Each year the free music creation software is upgraded and the previous model is reduced in price. The latest version to lower the cost is Tracktion Waveform.
This impressive interface is as user-friendly as Garage Band but with a little extra sparkle. It offers unlimited audio and MIDI tracks – depending on the capabilities of your hardware – and it allows multiple plug-in formats such as VST and Audio Units.
Plus, each window is scalable so you can adjust everything to suit your workflow, resulting in surprisingly linear fluidity. Not definitely in the category of free music creation software for beginners, but still accessible.
This, of course, is by no means an exhaustive list. Music production software, especially the free variety, is popping up all the time. There is a thriving community of developers who are making innovative plugins and entire DAWs all the time. This friendly competition makes it easier than ever for people to find the right workflow for them, no matter what platform you want to use.
Barriers to entry into music production have never been lower. By checking out one or more of these free programs, you might just ignite a passion that will last a lifetime.
If you want to jump into the big leagues, there is, of course, a range of versatile DAWs to complement any workflow. While not free music creation software for Windows or Mac, they can still pay off.
If you record groups, work entirely in the box, or even use the computer as a way to reinvent synthesis, you’ll find that while the free software is powerful, its capabilities are limited. So let’s take a look at the options when you are ready to invest some hard earned dollars in your trade.
Yes, that’s pretty much the “industry standard” and while that phrase is a bit of a problem in this incredibly diverse industry, god help you if you’re trying to get a gig in a commercial studio without any knowledge of Pro Tools.
The evolution of Pro Tools has been slow and steady – for good reason. Millions of studio professionals have grown accustomed to its workflow over the decades. And of all the major DAWs, this is the one that most closely resembles an actual console.
Now for something completely different. Ableton Live emerged around the turn of the millennium and offered computers by the way musicians a completely new way of working with audio. Grid view remains one of Live’s main differentiators, allowing users to easily mix and match structural elements and loops.
Nowadays, it is also a full-fledged registration center. At the threshold of version 11, Live will introduce compilation, tempo mapping via real drums and more.
Contrary to what you might expect, Logic Pro was born before Garageband. Logic Pro is the clearly, well, logical graduation of Garageband sharing some workflows and aesthetic elements with its free sibling.
Make no mistake, Logic’s “Pro” is here for a reason. Just as Pro Tools is the favorite in audio recording, Logic has cemented its place at the top of the media composer tree, with a superior MIDI implementation and a huge range of virtual instruments to call upon.
Along with Pro Tools, Cubase is one of the oldest statesmen in the music production software world; Steinberg, its parent company, was formed in the 1980s. Initially it was only MIDI editing, but with a new version on the shelves, it covers every audio application imaginable.
Steinberg is also the company that makes Dorico, a new intuitive notation platform, so the integration for composers using standard notation is tight. Export isn’t usually mentioned when you talk about DAW, but in Cubase 11 it’s the world leader and definitely aimed at the producer or professional engineer.
Studio One is from the American company Presonus. Having risen to prominence over the past 15 years or so, they’ve been making waves in the project studio world, creating a host of affordable yet sturdy gear for a range of lenses. Studio One is its DAW and one of the company’s newest offerings.
Although they were later in the game than most, they quickly caught up. Studio One has a very music-centric workflow, with a range of tools to make the composition process more intuitive. But like most other DAWs, it has no problem handling an entire group session.