Like everything else, music has gone digital. Whether you know how to play an instrument or not, now you can create crazy beats on your computer. All you need is the willingness to experiment and easy-to-use music production software.
From full-fledged DAWs to simple sequencers, here’s a list of the best free beat-making software.
FL Studio started out as FruityLoops, a four-channel MIDI drum synthesizer. Over time, the developers revamped it into a full-fledged DAW that supports the entire music production workflow. Image-line, the company behind FL Studio, has released many different versions of DAWs, aimed at both beginners and professionals.
FL Studio’s greatest strength is its comprehensive feature set. You might not need the most advanced features at first, but it ensures that you have everything you need in one package the day your skills reach this level.
Another popular professional DAW software is Ableton Live. And just like FL Studio, it comes with a bunch of virtual instruments that you can use to start creating your music without much technical knowledge.
The Ableton advantage is a much more intuitive user interface than most DAWs, as well as a repository of interactive tutorials to teach you the basics. This, along with the huge library of instrument sounds and plugins, makes it a favorite of many newbie music makers.
And if the idea of working with a professional DAW sounds daunting, there’s Ableton Lite, a smaller version optimized for beginners.
GarageBand isn’t your typical DAW. It started out as a simple music notation editor that could record eight tracks at once. Gradually other features were added, such as a pre-built MIDI keyboard and a drum kit module.
The app is renowned for its ease of getting started, unlike traditional DAWs which overwhelm the user with a bewildering number of dials and options. And although GarageBand has now become a full-featured DAW, it’s still a quick and easy way to create your own beats using multiple instrument tracks.
So far we’ve seen the best digital audio workstations. But while DAWs can be repurposed to create beats, they aren’t exactly designed for that. Tools like GarageBand or Ableton Live include a bunch of other bells and whistles that you don’t really need, and that might end up confusing you.
Enter Magix Music Maker. Designed to be easy and intuitive to use, this is perhaps the best way to get started in music production for a beginner. No need to mod complicated synths or tweak a bunch of samplers – just arrange instrument tracks in a handy piano roll to create beats.
Magix Maker also comes in a specialized hip-hop version, designed to easily create faster, punchier beats, making it ideal for EDM music.
MuseScore is somewhat different from the other beat maker apps on this list. Instead of letting you define tracks in a sequencer, it relies on scores. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
If you know how sheet music works (or are willing to learn), you can compose tracks with greater ease and precision than a sequencer. However, without knowing how music notation works, the software is nearly impossible to use.
MuseScore outshines other beat-making apps with a unique feature: a huge online repository of sheet music uploaded by users around the world. You can find sheet music for almost any popular song in your archive, which helps you learn the basics faster.
Before Fruity Loops turned into a full DAW, it was just a drum synthesizer. And while you can still create drum tracks in any top-tier DAW, there’s something to be said for the inherent simplicity of a drum-only app.
This is Drumflow’s main selling point. This is a small free application that lets you create drum rhythm tracks with six MIDI channels, with a large number of adjustable parameters to further modulate the drum sounds used.
The only problem is that the software is quite outdated. The user interface is clearly old and the app may require compatibility mode only to install it on Windows 10 or 11.
Digital audio workstations are complex and expensive software. The free versions have short trial periods, requiring you to invest in purchasing the apps if you want to use them long term. This can make it difficult for a new user to start making music.
LMMS is a free and open source DAW that has all the advanced features you find in a paid application. With Windows and macOS, it also works on Linux. The only compromise is that it comes without presets or default sound groups.
You need to download and install VST plug-ins from the Internet yourself. However, other than that extra step, LMMS is a great music creation tool with everything you need.
Apple’s Logic Pro is perhaps the best music production software for Mac users. It’s a bit expensive, but the intuitive interface and the many features make it worth it.
Like any leading DAW, it can work with various file formats, including WAV and MIDI, for both importing and exporting tracks. You can create tracks from scratch with virtual instruments or use live performance recordings, adding effects like reverb to modulate them.
If all you want is a virtual drum machine, then o Drumbox is exactly what you need. It runs on all PC operating systems, including Linux, and is free to boot. It’s pretty simple, but then what else do you want from a software drum synthesizer?
It works best with a MIDI drum pad, allowing you to record and edit advanced settings. The software is known for its great automation tools like loop points or even auto-composition. You can create drum kits from scratch or modify built-in plugins to get the perfect sound.
What is the best free beatmaking software for beginners?
Beat-making programs range from simple step sequencers where you simply drop notes into industrial-grade DAWs used by music producers to work with audio recordings. Of course, if you’re new to your musical journey, you need something more intuitive.
That said, today’s most popular DAWs come with a piano roll and a bunch of virtual instruments to help beginners make their music without recorded samples. FL Studio, Ableton Live, and LMMS are examples of such software that combine advanced features with basic synth and instrument plug-ins to get you started.
Or you can stick with software like Garageband or Magix Music Maker, focusing on creating your beats with the high-quality sound library. This approach is particularly suited to EDM (Electronic Dance Music), where synth sounds and drum beats are preferred over recording vocals.
Whichever path you decide to take, there’s no better time to get into music. Just choose one of the beat maker software listed above and start creating wonderful beats.
I am Bhumi Shah, a highly skilled digital marketer with over 11 years of experience in digital marketing and content writing in the tech industry.