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.
In this article we have picked out some of the best free music making software for beginners.
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.
However, even with all its visual simplicity, GarageBand can be rather intimidating for beginners.
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)
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.
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:
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.
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)
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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 rather than upgrading your software. Especially since so many of the options on this list offer everything you need already.