If you’re looking to get into beat making, before you can even discuss the basics of music production, you need to find yourself a program that can help you start making beats. That program will be your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
But if you’re only a beginner, sometimes the price tag on DAWs can be intimidating, and too many producers abandon their dreams of making beats without knowing that free software is available that can at least get them started.
So we did the heavy lifting for you and compiled a list of the best eight music production software apps for making hip-hop beats and songs. Every piece of software on this list brings something new and unique to the table, making it easy to dive right into making music your way. So let’s dive into the list.
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How To Choose The Right Beatmaking Software
There are many different options when deciding which DAW to start learning. And producers should want to put some thought into this, as it can often take a fair amount of time to learn a new DAW if they ever want to switch. Because each DAW brings something slightly different to the table, let’s dive into some of the aspects I think are necessary to consider when deciding which DAW is right for you.
Some DAWs cater to the more systematic workflows, and others work great for throwing as much paint at the wall and seeing what sticks. Looking into the workflow of your DAW. The last thing you want is to have the workflow of the DAW slow down your creative process, so spend some time thinking about how you approach any creative task before committing to a DAW.
DAWs are powerful music production tools because of all the ways they allow us to manipulate and work with audio. Beatmaking apps often have even more ways to manipulate audio to help achieve the super exciting and complex warpings of the producers’ samples. Pay extra attention to how much you can warp, manipulate, and control the audio in your draw, as this will be vital to the sampling process that beatmakers and hip-hop producers thrive off of.
Every DAW has a different way that it organizes its samples, plugins, and information. Look into how each DAW does and plan accordingly. We all have our ways of managing things in our studios and even our heads, so find a DAW that caters to how you think and put together the world.
This is a lesson I wish I had learned earlier, as it would have saved me many headaches over the last decade as a professional music producer.
I saved this for the last, and I am sure you can guess why. I know we shouldn’t be judging a book by its cover or anything and that we should prioritize the sound and functionality of the DAW instead of its looks. But know that you will be spending many hours looking at its color schemes and aesthetics, so do some research to ensure that you like it first.
Apple’s GarageBand is a tried and true classic on which I learned how to make beats when I was starting. And if I can go from making silly beats in my bedroom on GarageBand to doing it professionally in a matter of a decade, then I have complete faith that you can too.
GarageBand is so great that it is free software that any music producer can dive right into without second guessing whether it’s the right one for them to create music.
It has a ton of amazing-sounding instruments, top-quality processing plugins, and even a loop library that can help add extra life and character to your tracks.
This is one of the best beat-making software options on the market because it knows what it is and what it’s doing and helps you do the same.
There is also the added benefit that, because it is in Apple’s ecosystem, you can transfer your knowledge into more of Apple’s other paid options, such as Logic Pro X, which means upgrading is a breeze.
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Pro Tools is the industry standard for recording and mixing live instruments, which makes the free version an incredibly fantastic way to learn the basics of music recording and production. This software for mac and PC is perfect for both beginners and advanced-level producers and mixers and allows for a seamless evolution to the premium tiers of the software when it is time to upgrade.
Pro Tools sports a clean interface with just two primary views: the mix and the track. It might not look flashy, but it’s straightforward to use. Avid’s Pro Tools is a top-of-the-line digital audio workstation. Pro Tools combines many of Avid’s Pro Tools 12 features with its unique freemium model, making it perfect for composing beats and samples, recording music, and producing MIDI productions.
This version of Pro Tools is one of the best on this list of free beat-making DAWs, so certainly look into snagging this, even if it’s just to familiarize yourself with the industry standard DAW that many of the top engineers are using.
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Yes, I know! The legendary DJ software also has its offshoot in the beat-making world and is free to download. Serato is one of the most popular DJing tools in the industry. Their music production tools have evolved past simple remix and mashup tools, turning them into some of the best tools a music creator can use to start making music – like REAL music.
This software has many awesome features, including music loops, drum kits, instruments, and more.
Some additional tools should also be mentioned since they are powerful (considering this is a free DAW). A suite of plugins, the ability to sync tempos and create multiple audio files all within this platform’s user-friendly interface is simply too good to pass up.
This isn’t technically a DAW, but it does its thing more interesting than many of the other free digital audio workstation options on this list. It does this by merging many impressive music-making resets and their top-tier functionalities to make a singular beat-making app.
This thing comes packed with many unique sounds, all available for free. This means you can access some truly intense-sounding hits and notes that you can use in your tracks right away.
Not only that but this synth and workstation lets you export your beats and songs to various formats, which means you can share them with the broadest range of audiences possible. And while it says that it is designed for beginners, the wealth of resources that come baked into this software means that amateurs and seasoned vets are sure to find a ton of functionality in here as well.
The waveform is a DAW and beat-making software originally known as Tracktion. This multi-platform workstation allows you to do all the essential functions to start making a fantastic beast. You can work directly with audio and MIDI and is supported by all the major operating systems.
Long story short, this beat-making software’s barrier of entry is super low, making it an easy choice for beginners.
The sheer functionality that comes packed with free beat-making software makes this DAW so appealing for music production. Unlike many other free options that a beat maker has available, Waveform allows for unlimited tracks, a super user-friendly interface, and powerful plugins that will enable you to get professional results once you learn their basics.
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Akai is one of the leading names in the music production world, and its products have defined generations of genres and producers. And so it’s no wonder their free software would make it on this list.
This free download continues the legendary hardware MPC software that pioneered the hip-hop genre for the better two decades. Overall, this is highly innovative and super fun-to-use desktop software.
MPC Beats can also be used with several digital audio workstations (DAWs). You can also drag and drop audio and MIDI files directly into your DAW timeline, similar to how you would with Native Instruments Machine.
In this software, you will find all the tools you need to start sequencing beats and processing sounds professionally. With a suite of onboard effects and sample manipulation techniques, you will be armed with everything you need to start flipping samples and defining a sound just like J. Dilla did.
Magix Music Maker
I’ve included this option on the list simply because it’s fun to use and incredibly easy to get into. The most basic version is free, but you can upgrade when the time is right. Magix Music Maker is the best option for you if you’re looking for a simple and free beat-making software platform.
This DAW offers a ton of exciting integration with MIDI keyboards and drum pads which can help you get creative and make unique beats ASAP. They pride themselves on this. Their premium bundle, the Music Maker 2022 Beatbox Edition, comes packages with a Novation Launchpad and the latest edition of their DAW. If you’re looking to start introducing tools and MIDI controllers as soon as possible when making music, this is an easy solution.
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