It’s never been easier to become a music producer than right now. Whether you have money to burn or working on a budget, beatmaking and music making software is readily accessible for anyone looking to enhance their experience. They can be as small as a plugin or as substantial as a new keyboard, but every little helps. On top of this, once your original productions are complete, you can upload them to Mixcloud via Tracks, allowing your initial steps into music to flourish.
In this article, we’ll be listing a number of music production tools that can improve your skills, for beginners getting started or more seasoned producers looking for extra kit to help them out.
Splice* is the leading platform for music production, offering millions of high-quality, royalty-free samples, loops, and presets. Their rent-to-own model allows you to try digital audio workstations (DAWs), synths, and audio effects for free, and then you can invest monthly in them until you own them outright. If you want to take your original productions to the next level with a range of new sounds, then Splice is for you.
Reaper is a free to download DAW where you can lay down multitrack audio ranging from music to radio and podcasts. It is fit to support all kinds of hardware and plugins and allows for MIDI recording, editing, mixing and mastering. You can also use it from your laptop and more professional environments like a studio.
A free audio editor, Audacity also allows for multitrack recordings and edits and is compatible with Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can import and export all kinds of files - from MP3 to AIFF to FLAC - record live audio and control all tracks within the app through your keyboard thanks to Audacity’s keyboard shortcuts. A great tool for beginners starting out.
For producers looking to create on the go, Ableton Note is just for you. At £5.99 and available for iPhone and iPad, its an affordable mobile app for making beats, allowing you to experiment with an idea in your head using Note’s drum kits, instruments and synth sounds. You can also craft your own soundboard with the app’s sampler instruments. If you have Ableton Live, you’ll be able to send your productions from Note, keeping your ideas within the Ableton cloud.
Vital is a visual synthesizer that you can use to add extra expression to your sound, whether that’s music or voice recordings. Plans range from a free version - with 75 presets and 25 wavetables - to an $80 Pro plan that opens up over 400 presets and 150 wavetables. If you want to stay on the cheaper side of things, Vital’s $5 Subscribe plan offers access to new features and plugins as and when they drop, so that you’re never out of the loop.
Plugins can be extremely useful for your production journey and Kiloheartz Essentials offers 30 of them, free of charge. They range from 3-Band EQs and Channel Mixers to Delay and Distortion tools that will add an extra edge to your project. The best thing is once you’ve downloaded a plugin, you can add it straight to your DAW and get to work.
Komplete Start is a suite of free software instruments and audio effects from Native Instrumentals. It includes synths, sampled instruments, loops and more, ready made for you to start creating. You can also add more effects to your collection for varying prices and plug in your MIDI keyboard if you have one.
A popular DAW among professional producers, Serato has a free version packed with sound packs. If you upgrade for a small price, you have even more opportunities to enhance your kit. Subscribing for $9.99 opens up Serato’s professional features and its entire sound pack library, but for beginners, its free version is a great starting point that you can use forever.
Arturia Lab produces some of the best MIDI keyboards and controllers in the business. For €99, you can find your rhythm by plugging your device into your computer and hitting the keys with ease. If you have Ableton Live, your work can be processed through the DAW for further manipulation. Its software is compatible with both Windows and Apple and also offers a variety of pads and controls for you to test out your sound.
Valhalla has the back of producers by creating digital and analog plugins fit for reverb, echo and other sound effects. Prices for plugins range from free to $50 and you can go for plugins that add warm elements to your music, psychedelic echoes or massive, outer space-like effects.
*We’ve partnered with Splice - the leading platform for music production offering millions of the best royalty-free samples, loops, and presets - to offer you 2 months free access to the Splice Creator Plan!
If you’re looking to level-up your original productions with a range of new sounds, safe in the knowledge they’re cleared for commercial use, then this exclusive offer is for you. Click 'Create Account,' then 'Start of your free trial' and enter code SPLICE2MIXCLOUD at checkout. Offer expires on 30th June, 2023.
To find more free music production tools, check out this list by Dutch and American producer Mucky.
Check out more musical deep dives on Campus.