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The Best Free Music Production Software for Beginners

Dan Helyer Updated 13-01-2020

Whether you’re starting music production as a hobby or planning to become the next superstar DJ, it’s best to begin with free music production software. Later on, when you evolve into an advanced user, you can switch to premium options that give you more freedom and a greater variety of tools.

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In this article we have picked out some of the best free music making software for beginners.

1. GarageBand

When it comes to beginner-friendly music making software, GarageBand is the number one free option. It’s easy to download from the Mac App Store, and it teaches even beginner musicians how to use some powerful tools.

GarageBand also happens to be one of the easiest platforms to make great music. It allows you to create a song with up to 255 tracks and even offers a virtual session drummer.

GarageBand music editing software

However, even with all its visual simplicity, GarageBand can be rather intimidating for beginners. If you find this free music production software somewhat overwhelming, check out our step-by-step guide to GarageBand How to Use GarageBand: A Step-By-Step Guide GarageBand is a powerful audio recording and editing software for Mac, but getting started is tough. This tutorial will show you how to use GarageBand. Read More .

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To speed up your learning process, we recommend installing it on all of your devices (Mac, iPhone, and iPad). ICloud gives you the flexibility to work on your music no matter where you are or which device you’re using.

If at some point you feel you’ve outgrown the free software, you can transfer all of your GarageBand files to Apple’s premium music production offering: Logic Pro.

Download: GarageBand for macOS (Free)

2. DarkWave Studio

DarkWave Studio free Windows music production software

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An alternative for PC users, DarkWave Studio is a free music production software that supports Windows 7 or later. It doesn’t need much storage, which is perfect if you plan to use the free software to make music on a laptop (the best laptops for making music The Best Laptops for Music Production for All Budgets You don't need more than a laptop to start producing music. Here are the best laptops for music production. Read More ).

Although while DarkWave Studio is free, there are a few in-app ads you need to put up with.

This music production software comes with:

  • Virtual Studio
  • Pattern Editor
  • Sequence Editor
  • Multitrack Hard Disk Recorder

Select and edit digital music patterns using the Pattern Editor. The Sequence Editor allows you to line up patterns to play in any arrangement and mix the tracks together. And the Hard Disk Recorder includes recording options for live audio.

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DarkWave Studio also includes 19 different plug-ins, which you can use to add virtual effects to your tracks.

With this many options and settings in separate windows, DarkWave Studio may seem a little difficult to use at first. However, you can find plenty of tutorials and support online, making this one of the best free music making software programs for beginners.

Download: DarkWave Studio for Windows (Free)

3. Audacity

Audacity free music editing software

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Unlike the software we already covered, Audacity is a digital audio editor, not a digital audio workstation. Its main purpose is manipulating audio data rather than helping you organize different audio tracks into a coherent whole. You can read more about the difference in our comparison of Audacity and GarageBand GarageBand vs. Audacity: The Best Music Production Software Compared GarageBand vs. Audacity is one of the big battles in music production software. Both are free, and provide a lot of features, but which will work better for you? Click to read our full comparison... Read More .

Audacity lets you edit samples, process audio files, and export music as a wide range of formats, including MP3, WAV, or AIFF. It’s great if you’re looking for free music production software to put together beats and samples for songs.

Take a look at the best free DAW software for Windows The Best Free DAW Software for Windows There are plenty of great free DAW software programs to choose from. Here are the best free DAW for Windows. Read More if you need something more powerful.

The interface is simple to use, yet at the same time, the variety of effects and settings can be tough to wrap your head around. It might take you a few days to get comfortable with everything.

Audacity is available for download on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s one of the most popular music production software options and a great way to get started making music for free.

Download: Audacity for Windows | macOS | Linux

4. LMMS

LMMS (which used to stand for Linux MultiMedia Studio) is a cross-platform music production software, available on macOS, Windows, and Linux. It’s suitable for all kinds of music production and is a great free software option for beginners.

LMMS has multiple different windows to help you create music. Edit melodies in the Piano Roll and create a rhythm section with the Beat+Bassline Editor. Get an overview of your structure in the Song Editor, then mix everything together with the FX Mixer. You can even automate effects and volume using the Automation Editor.

LMMS has a wide variety of instrument synthesizers, so it’s a great piece of software to make music for free.

Among other good qualities of LMMS is its compatibility with third-party apps. The program supports VST and LADSPA plug-ins with which you can mix a multitude of extra effects into the music track.

When your music is ready, export it as MP3, AIFF, and WAV, or transfer files to different music production software.

Download: LMMS for Windows | macOS | Linux

5. Tracktion T7

Tracktion T7 was once a premium music production software. Rather than drop T7 when the next software came out, Tracktion decided to give it away completely free, making it one of the most feature-packed options on this list.

There are no track limits, plugin limitations, or 30-day trials with Tracktion T7. The clean, single-window interface is easy to wrap your head around, while still packing in a lot of different features.

You can use Tracktion T7 to edit audio, compose MIDI, add effects, and automate different instrument parameters. It gives you everything you need to start making music.

Tracktion T7 works on Windows, macOS, and Linux. If you get on well with the free software, you can always upgrade to Tracktion Waveform. This has even more features, including Groove Doctor, Subtractive Synthesizer, and Celemony Melodyne Essential.

Register for a free account on the Tracktion website to download Tracktion T7 to your computer.

Download: Tracktion T7 for Windows | macOS | Linux

6. Cakewalk by BandLab

Cakewalk by BandLab demo track

Just like Tracktion T7, Cakewalk SONAR used to be a paid software that you can now get for free. It’s all thanks to BandLab buying Cakewalk in 2018.

Rebranded as Cakewalk by BandLab, this free music making software benefits from over 30 years of development. It’s another powerful option that you can use to compose, record, edit, mix, master, and share your music.

Add unlimited audio or MIDI tracks using its award-winning user interface. Then take advantage of Cakewalk’s VST3 software instruments and studio-quality effects, like convolution reverb and dynamic compression.

Cakewalk by BandLab is only available to Windows users. It’s compatible with Windows 7 and later, so long as your computer runs on 64-bit architecture. BandLab recommends you use a computer with at least a multi-core Intel processor and 4GB of RAM.

To get it, you first need to sign up for and install BandLab. Then you can choose the instrument and effects packs to download with Cakewalk SONAR using the Bandlab app.

Download: Cakewalk by BandLab for Windows

Find the Free Music Production Software for You

This list is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a huge variety of free music making software out there. Researching and reading about other people’s experiences with it can help, but the best way to find your favorite option is by trying some of them out.

When you’re ready to move on to the next level, you’ll probably notice a bigger difference by buying a better computer for music production The 8 Best Computers for Music Production You don't have to own a studio to find best computer for music production. Here are some of the best PCs for every budget. Read More rather than upgrading your software. Especially since so many of the options on this list offer everything you need already.

Related topics: Audacity, GarageBand, Music Production.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. IK Multimedia
    March 18, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    We just released a free workstation that works in any of these DAWs that support VST, AU, or AAX format plugins (and has a standalone version too) with more than 4GB of sounds included. SampleTank 4 CS is available now https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/st4cs/

    And it is completely free to use, no time limits - it even has all the functionality of SampleTank 4/

  2. Gary G Jindrak
    December 18, 2018 at 4:49 am

    Don't forget the cloud based apps like Audio Tool & Drumbit. Great tools to learn about how synths, mixers, drum machines, etc. There are quite a few available in Google apps. All totally free and don't require any hardware (other than your computer and an internet connection).

  3. Beltimas
    November 29, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Let me say that ableton is absolutely not beginner friendly. I've used it for almost a year now and i still dont have the hang of it.

  4. MafiaMan
    October 6, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    There is a really good one you should put on the list called Mixcraft 8. I use it at school and it is much like the others and very easy to use.

  5. Randall
    June 27, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    How is Ableton live lite free when usually you have to purchase a piece of audio hardware to get the activation code?

  6. miaouss
    February 1, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Presonus Studio One Prime? Bitwig? Ardour? Traktion? MU.Lab? Podium? Reaper? webbased OhmStudio?

  7. jm
    February 1, 2018 at 7:19 am

    what about protools first?

  8. Diego González
    January 31, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    Audacity is also available for Linux, in fact the most important distros include it in their repositories.