Life looks very different right now as the novel coronavirus has millions around the world stuck indoors. Festivals, clubs, and even house parties are banned in many cities, leaving musicians (and music lovers) housebound and searching for creative outlets. Over the past few weeks, several music companies have responded by offering freebies in order to, as Korg said, provide “a musical way to occupy your mind.”
Below, we’ve rounded up an array of apps, plug-ins, sounds, lessons, and even digital audio workstations (DAWs) that are currently free to give tools to musicians and those looking to learn musical skills during the pandemic. A few were already free, but the majority are only free for a limited time. There are tons of deals available, so get ready to hunker down with some new digital toys. Keep checking back as the list is regularly updated.
Apps and software
- Apple has announced that its Logic Pro X DAW will now have a free 90-day trial.
- Ableton has announced that its Ableton Live 10 Suite DAW now has a free 90-day trial.
- Fender is offering three months of free guitar lessons for the next 100,000 people who subscribe to its Fender Play app on iOS and Android.
- Serato has introduced a free version of its Serato Studio DAW.
- Steinberg has created a free #StayHome Elements Collection that includes Cubase Elements, Dorico Elements, WaveLab Elements and the Absolute Collection. The offer is valid until May 15th, and you’ll have to create a Steinberg account to claim it.
- Gibson has teamed up with guitar lesson app Amped Guitar to offer free three-month premium memberships (available for new users only).
- Audio software company Synchro Arts (known for its vocal processing tools), is giving free duplicate 90-day licenses to those who already own their products, but can’t access them due to travel restrictions or work closures.
- Focusrite has partnered with Audiothing to offer analogue drum machine emulator SR-88 for free until April 24th (usually $29).
- Arturia’s beat-making iPad app called iSpark is currently free.
- Arturia has also extended the trial period for software synthesizer Pigments 2 until July 3rd.
- Soundtoys Effect Rack is free through June 30th. The multi-effect system is normally only available in the company’s Soundtoys 5 bundle.
- Moog’s Minimoog Model D iOS app is currently free for a limited time.
- Avid is temporarily issuing a limited number of free 90-day licenses for Media Composer Ultimate, Pro Tools, Pro Tools Ultimate, and Sibelius Ultimate. You must work for a media enterprise or educational institution which already owns the software and whose facilities are closed because of the pandemic.
- Synthmaster One iPhone, a wavetable synth app for iOS, is temporarily free (usually $4.99).
- Roland has paired up with interactive piano lesson platform Skoove to offer three free months of piano lessons for existing Roland piano owners.
- Roland also made the full version of Zenbeats, its music-making app for iOS and Android, temporarily free (normally $49.99 and up).
- Separately, Skoove has made some premium material available for everyone signed up for its free plan, including a beginner piano course and 27 songs.
- Mixmag has collected a list of free plug-ins, including reverbs, flangers, and gates.
- Likewise, Gear News has a roundup with additional freebies, like an equalizer from HoRNet.
- Two Notes is offering a lifetime license for two virtual speaker cabinets when you download its speaker-cab simulator “Torpedo Wall of Sound” (offer is good until April 30th).
- Cherry Audio’s modular synthesis package “Voltage Modular Nucleus” is now free “for the foreseeable future” (usually $29).
- Online music marketplace Reverb is giving away a bunch of sample packs for free, including “The Complete Reverb Drum Machines Collection,” which has over 1GB of samples from classic instruments, along with many synth packs like “The Synth Sounds of Blade Runner.”
- Revealed Recordings has made select sample packs and masterclasses free.
- Grimes has made the stems for her song “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around” available for anyone to download and remix.
- Producer Sharooz Raoofi is giving away over 1GB of samples created from his massive personal synth and drumbox collection via WeTransfer (so the links will likely expire soon).
- Aubit Sound has made its Chainsmokers-style preset and sample pack “Chain-Pop Vol. 1” free.
- Artist 7 Skies has partnered with Standalone-Music to offer a 1.2GB sample and preset pack for free called “Stay At Home.”
- Music Radar has an impressive (and often updated) list of free sample packs.
- Berklee College of Music offers more than 40 open online courses, including “Creating Sounds for Electronic Music,” “Introduction to Ableton Live,” and “The Art of Vocal Production.” Make sure to check the start date for courses you’re interested in registering for.
- Traktion recently launched its Waveform Free DAW for OSX, Windows, and Linux.
- AudioKit’s Synth One app for iOS
- Beat and loop mixing app Music Maker JAM for iOS and Android (free, but offers in-app purchases)
- Tenacious Frog’s TF7 Synth (free, but offers in-app purchases)
- Pitch-processing app Voloco for iOS and Android, which I fell in love with after an auto-tuned cat went viral on Twitter
- Social music creation platform BandLab is free and has lots of cleared loops and samples that can be used without worry.
- Sample and plug-in platform Noiiz has tons of free sample packs. You’ll have to create a free account to download them.
- GarageBand, of course.
- Korg’s music production software and plug-in collection for iOS, Korg Gadget 2 Le
- Music making and remixing iOS app Launchpad
- Cockos’ Reaper DAW has a free 60-day trial period with no registration or personal details required.
- Drum machine app Patterning is free on iOS (with in-app purchases to unlock extra features).
- There are loads of royalty-free sounds at Free Sample Packs.