Here is the ultimate list of free software for making and producing music online in 2019. It includes the best free DAWs (digital audio workstations), sequencers, online music makers and apps -- all running through your browser or phone with minimal download hassles. Just sign in and start playing.
Many of the programs below have paid versions, but they all offer free online music maker options for beginner songwriters, producers, and composers. They are all Mac and PC friendly, cloud-based, and community-driven.
The new trend in songwriting and music production is collaboration. These apps embrace sharing your ideas in a social sharing way. This may seem all lovey dovey and artsy for tech companies, but it is really just a way for them to promote their own product and keep users engaged. Which leads us to the next question...
Why would a music software company give away free online music makers? The answer is simple: they want to dangle the carrot. If you make beats or write songs as a career, you will want to upgrade to their paid versions. "Free" typically means "less features." The professional sequencers and DAWs have more loops, plugins, and virtual instruments options. The app developers are hip to this, and more synth sounds, kick drums, and music and beat making instruments are just an upgrade away.
Bandlab is a "social music creation platform": songwriting and music production meets social media. Along with being a free online DAW, Bandlab encourages a community of writers and producers to share their songs.
Songwriters are also given opportunities to master and promote their music, just like signed recording artists. Once uploaded, songs are shared in a format similar to a Royalty Free Music Library. Visitors can browse tunes based on genre and contributor. The blog also offers tutorials on how to write, record, and sell songs. Bandlab also provides advice using midi and music loops -- a nice guide for beginners.
For an extra resource, The Link Analog connects Bandlab users to a simple piece of recording hardware, in a neat little audio interface. Many future hit makers will recall purchasing this as their first piece of studio gear.
Music Maker JAM by Magix is a loop-based music maker app, marketed toward amateur songwriters and creators. It features an 8 channel mixer and free built in sounds to get artists going. If a song needs more elements, additional loops can be purchased through their store (dangling the carrot).
JAM users can mix and match thousands of loops and tweak to their liking. Magix offers a lite starter kit to get you going, and then provides access to a large selection of sounds to drag and drop -- from Techno, to Hip Hop and Rock.
Music Maker is Mac and PC friendly, and available for Android, IPad, and iPhone users.
Soundtrap BASICS is free music making software that offers limited, but very functional options for songwriters and beginner producers. The BASICS plan allows users to have up to 5 projects, and gives them access to 890 loops and 210 instruments and sounds. This is a fun and inspirational way to write and record songs with ease.
It is a great online music making tool to record song ideas and learn audio recording, but there's more. You can enroll to become a Certified Soundtrap Educator. Participating in their educational extension, you can help promote arts integration and STEAM. The course is free and music makers can enroll here.
Soundtrap also offers Pro, Premium, and Supreme plans -- all at an affordable price and with increased access for each level of purchase. Auto Tune powered by Antares is a nifty feature for vocalists, and Patterns BeatMaker will help you make beats online in no time. Lots of fun stuff by Sountrap makes it a noteworthy online music maker.
Audiotool is a cloud-based music production studio that runs software through your browser. There is no need to download anything, which is a nice feature for music and beat makers with computers that can't handle big installations.
This is basically like visiting a website and having a digital audio workstation waiting for you. It is a modern approach to writing and producing music, and it allows users to share their songs and sessions with other Audiotool songwriters and producers.
Royalty free music loops are provided by Loopmasters and Newloops, and Audiotool boasts a cloud-based library of over 250,000 audio samples and over 500,000 device presets. It's also free to sign up!
If you like Audiotools, you might also dig their free online sample editor, Probe.
In celebration of "Music In Our Schools Month," Google launched a free sequencer: Song Maker by Chrome Music Lab. The idea is that anyone can create loops using up to two instruments. The loop can then be shared for others to build upon.
This simple experiment is meant for playing around with notes and sharing musical arrangements. It works with a midi trigger or computer keyboard and is web-based, so there is no installation needed -- just visit the site and start making music.
AudioSauna is a free music software production studio. It is one of the best free DAWs for beginners, and can be ran through your browser and downloaded.
Bedroom songwriters and producers have access to free synthesizers, drum sounds, and samplers. Beat making is also easy and free, with a sampler that looks similar to the industry standard Battery (Native Instruments Kontakt). In fact, this is a great introduction to music sampling. Many of the GUIs (graphic user interfaces) appear very similar to software used by professionals to make hit songs.
Pulseboy is a free web-based musical sequencer that creates chip (also known as chiptune) music using 8 bit sounds and samples. The GUI is appropriately influenced by an old GameBoy, and video game style synthesizer music is easy to make and export as a WAV file.
It is a one trick pony, but it is an effective trick if lo-fi electronic music is something you can use to create a song.
Think Ninja Gaiden, Paperboy, and Super Mario background music when you play with Pulseboy. Nintendo NES classic!
*Related Post* Best Free Beat Making Software and Apps For Music Producers
Soundation is a music maker that is based online and comes with more than 700 loops and effects to play around with in their "Free" plan. An option to upgrade is affordable, and allows live recording and the ability to import audio for only $1.99 per month.
Musicians not ready to pay for software will find Soundation a simple alternative. An online community and helpful How-To articles help users learn how to record their music.
Looplabs is a free cloud-based studio that allows you to make music online. It is currently in Beta mode, but their community of songwriters and producers is growing fast.
Creators can go through sounds on a side panel and drag them into a session. Everything is tempo and harmonically matched, making collaboration simple. When you "publish"a song, you can choose to share it on social media or allow other writers to remix your music.
This approach to creating music differs from other web apps because it emphasizes collaborative writing and producing. Looplabs even teamed with Beatport to offer thousands of royalty free sounds that are all tempo synced to the session. Songs can then be embedded on artist websites and social media.
SnapJam is "THE Social Network Wrapped Around Music" and (according to the company) "has all the sophistication you'll need in an online music making application." It is entirely web-based and songwriters and producers can make music with co-writers in real time.
As seems to be the standard with the free online music maker scene, songs can be recorded and shared instantly on social media. Again, the "let's connect" vibe is the big push. Audio loops and royalty free sounds are available, as are the standard mixing plugins.
SnapJam also features an artificial intelligence lyric generator, Lyric Genie, and a DJ mixer -- making this a fun music maker app that lives online with no download required. It is free to use for 30 days and comes with 10 free loops and .1 GB of space. Lyric Genie, the ability to use a microphone, guitar, synthesizer, and drum kit interface requires an upgrade. Extra space will also be needed, and is available for purchase if you decide to make more music.
Acid Machine is an online web app that is free to try and dirt cheap to buy. It is limited in function, but very cool for creating quick loops to build beats and songs from. You can make gritty bass and synth patterns, with thumping drum loops in under a minute.
This beat making app is great for electronic and dance music and has the hip hop appeal of popular synths and drum machines. You can get your 808 and 909 sounds along with Roland 303 style synths. There is also a DD8 kit, modeled after the Yamaha DD8 drum machine (the "DOG" option is a particular favorite for a nice woofy bark).
Parameters can be adjusted on the fly, making it a fun music making tool.
Online Sequencer is as the title suggests: an online music sequencer. It opens in your browser, and lets you choose from over 30 midi instruments to use on the sequencer (ragtime piano, steel drums, distortion guitar, xylophone and more). There are plenty of sequences to check out, and you can import and export midi as well.
If a cool melody or song is made, music makers can export a midi file out of Online Sequencer and import it into their DAW for further free fun!
Online Sequencer may not win any beauty pageant, but it is an addictive online midi player for sure.
HTML5 Drum Machine makes quick beats that you can export as a WAV file. Producers and songwriters can come up with an inspirational loop through the online app, which they can import into their DAW for song arrangement and production. It is entirely online, with no need to download software.
Free beat making doesn't get any easier than this. If you want a groove to sing, rap, or build a song over, this drum machine will inspire you. Beat makers can choose from 5 different drum kits: Hip Hop, Electro, House, Techno, and Acoustic. It's also easy to adjust the tempo and set the tune and volume of each percussion hit.
Free Music Maker Software and Apps Review
Do professional songwriters, beat makers, or producers use free music maker apps? No, not really. Maybe for fun, or on the go, but these are more suited for the beginner. Some composers in the TV and Film music world like to use such online apps and software though, often for a lo-fi or subtle effect to help with song arrangement and production.
For instance, the HTML5 Drum Machine or Acid Machine can each set a cool tempo and groove to build upon. You can then drag that beat into an online DAW like Audiosauna. Add an 8-bit WAV file made with Pulseboy for rhythmic coloring. Cue up a synth from the virtual instrument selection of your workstation, layering sounds to taste. Producing and arranging professional songs is entirely possible with these free audio tools.
Free online music maker apps also teach you how to start recording your own music through a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
Online Music Maker vs Popular DAW
The difference between an online music maker app and a traditional DAW is features and functionality. Popular digital audio workstations like Logic Pro X and Pro Tools 2018 are equipped with audio tools, like plugins and virtual instruments, right out of the box.
In other words, if you buy a standard DAW, you can record, produce, and mix radio-ready music without buying any other add-ons.
Example: In an interview with Sound On Sound, hit songwriter and producer Greg Kurstin said he recorded and mixed much of Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You on Logic with stock plugins. Kurstin even used the bundled Logic EXS24 sampler and Logic ES2 synthesizer. The album went platinum, and it was all done with talent and a simple DAW.
An online music maker app will limit your options, often placing focus on incorporating loops (which is usually an additional fee), and requiring additional production software. On the bright side, limited option music apps can be great tools for songwriters. Melody and "the hook" of a song or beat seems to come out faster and catchier when an artists toolbox is limited. There is no more hemming and hawing over an 1176 compressor or an La2a, which is a nice change for professional music makers.
Do you like free and cheap plugins? Check out 5 Cheap Audio Plugins For Mixing and Producing Retro Music.
Have a recommendation? Feel free to comment below with your suggestions and experiences!