When making music on a laptop, a music making software (commonly known as a DAW) is one of the most essential things you’ll need. It’s the software that you use to manage all your different tracks, record audio from a microphone or MIDI device and so much more.
But if you’re just starting out or you’re on a tight budget, you might not want to pay for an expensive music creation software. Fortunately, there are plenty of free options that have heaps of features without you having to spend a single dollar.
Free Music Creation Software
The list below of free music creation software has heaps of different options for Windows, Mac, and Linux, so no matter what operating system you use there’s bound to be one for you.
GarageBand is Apple’s free DAW so it is unfortunately limited to Apple computers only, but if you happen to be using a Mac, it could certainly be a good option.
It does lack a few features such as MIDI export. But it’s come a long way since it first started in 2004 and is now a very powerful and feature full software. It is limited to 255 tracks per song but that should easily be enough to get you started on your music production journey.
If you’re on a Mac and you’d like to give GarageBand a try, click here to download it.
The next option on our list is Audacity. Unlike GarageBand, Audacity is an open-source software available for Windows, Mac, and Linux so you can install it on any computer you like.
It’s very beginner friendly at first with just basic audio editing tools but you have the option to add different plugins if you are looking to make it a more fully featured audio editor.
However, you should keep in mind that it’s more of an audio editor than a fully-fledged DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) so don’t expect to be managing loads of tracks with it.
Audacity lets you work with a wide range of different audio file formats so it’s great if your working with tracks from multiple different places.
Want to give Audacity a try? Click here to download it for Windows, Mac OS or, Linux.
DarkWave Studio is a Windows only music creation software, but if your computer runs Windows 7 or later, it might just be for you. It does, unfortunately, have some in-app ads, but they’re probably worth putting up with as you’re getting a powerful DAW for free.
It has a lot of different features and settings which can seem daunting at first. But fortunately, you’ll be able to find plenty of tutorials and other support online.
If you’re using a Windows computer and would like to give DarkWave Studio a try, click here to download it.
SoundBridge is available for Windows or Mac OS, it doesn’t run on Linux but if you use a Windows or Mac computer it could be the one for you.
Soundbridge is very user friendly but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. It has support for VST audio plugins and touchscreen devices, along with a powerful set of audio editing tools. It also has a selection of free audio samples for you to add to your own music.
If you have a Windows or Mac OS computer and would like to give SoundBridge a try, click here to download it today.
WaveForm Free is a powerful DAW that works on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. As you can probably tell by the name, WaveForm Free is the paid version of WaveForm.
In addition to WaveForm free, there is also WaveForm Pro starting at $69, and WaveForm OEM which comes free with the purchase of certain Behringer, Mackie, and ROLI products. You can compare the features and find out more here.
WaveForm Free allows you to have an unlimited number of tracks and MIDI devices. Obviously this will be dependant on the capabilities of your computer but it’s nice they haven’t put a limit on it.
You’ll have to create a free account on their website before you can download the software and then sign in to it when you open the software for the first time, but it is completely free.
Want to give WaveForm Free a try? Click here to download it.
LMMS is a free music creation software that originally started for Linux only. But has since grown to include Windows and Mac OS.
It might not be quite as polished as some other music creation software such as Apple’s GarageBand. But it is certainly a powerful tool that should be more than enough for most users.
It has most of the features you’d expect in a professional DAW. But unlike other free music creation software, it has a nice easy to use beginner friendly interface making it a great option for those just starting out.
If you’d like to give LMMS a try, click here to download it.
Cakewalk is a very full featured music creation software with just about every feature you could ever need. Unfortunately, it is only available for Windows, but if you have a Windows computer it would certainly be a great option.
Much like WaveForm Free, Cakewalk allows you to have unlimited tracks and MIDI devices. Obviously this will depend on the capabilities of your computer but the Cakewalk software doesn’t actually put a limit on it.
If you plan to work with music videos, this next feature might interest you. With Cakewalk, you can open up a video file and edit the audio track of it.
Once you’re finished, it also has the capability to publish your work directly to SoundCloud, YouTube, Facebook, and many other services.
If you have a Windows 10 computer and would like to give Cakewalk a try, click here to download it.
Free Music Making Software Online
Whether you have a Chromebook, or you just don’t want to install any extra software on your computer, you might like the idea of using a free online DAW.
Using an online version of what is typically a desktop application (commonly known as cloud computing) has become increasingly popular these days.
Some of the benefits include being able to use it on any computer no matter what OS you use (yes, even a Chromebook). And being able to smoothly run very processor demanding tasks on a less powerful computer due to the fact most of the work is being done by the web server and not your computer.
If you like the idea of using an online music creation software, AudioTool is probably going to be your best option. AudioTool is a free online DAW that runs in the cloud instead of on your computer.
It might not be quite as feature rich as some of the other options on this list. But it still has more than enough features along with some added benefits such as the ability to access your work from any web browser in the world and collaborate with people in real time.
Want to give AudioTool a try? Click here to sign up for your free account and start making music in the cloud today.
If you have a Chromebook and want to use it for music production. Click here to read our ultimate guide on how to make music on a Chromebook.
So there you have it, a great selection of full featured music production software that will cost you absolutely nothing. If you have a favourite free DAW, let us know in the comments below.
PS, if you’re worried your current computer might not be able to handle the demands of music production. Checkout our list of the Best Music Production Laptops Under $500.