Blog

Free music software to stay inspired

Free MUSIC software AND TEMPORARY LICENSES for musicians and producers during Covid-19

During these extraordinary times of social distancing, while we are all encouraged to stay inside and work from home, it’s easy to get stuck and not know what to do. And not having access to your studio setup can feel limiting too. Luckily several brands and manufacturers have come to the rescue. By offering free music software, extending the trial periods or providing temporary licenses, they give students, musicians, producers and artists, the opportunity to keep feeding their creative outlet.

Companies like Moog and Korg were among the first to feed our creative minds and keep our spirits up. After that, many followed. For this blog article, we’ve gathered and selected some of the inspiring free tools and services that are made available during these times of social distancing. And another very good reason for us to stay home and make music.

Check for updates

The overview below will be updated along the way. As soon as new products are offered or become available, we’ll add them to this blog. Please note that some of the tools have deadlines to their offers or have a limited trial or license period.

Please do share your work with us

We’ve seen some great work shared by our community on social media, witnessed various online collaborations, and new music being published. It fills our heart with joy. We’ll actively share some of your work through our channels, especially during these challenging times. May this inspire you to keep going or even get started!

Wellbeing first

Of course, it’s all nice to have these tools available as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. However, having to stay inside most of the time, while being disconnected from friends, family and other people, working from home can be quite challenging too. It’s normal and understandable if your creativity is stuck or if you are feeling down under these circumstances. Dr Claire Renfrew, Chartered Music Psychologist and part of the Abbey Road team, shared her advice on how to adjust and ensure well being when working from home. Another good piece of advice on how to make the best out of these times. https://www.abbeyroad.com/news/supporting-the-creative-community-working-from-home-2699

Last update: July 30, 2020

Find the overview of free software and services during the Coronavirus below the image.

Moog Model D

Minimoog Model D (Picture credits Moog Music)

APPS AND FREE MUSIC SOFTWARE

⇨ Apple Logic Pro X (plus Final Cut Pro X)
Apple is now offering a 90-days trial for Apple Logic Pro X. Previously Logic Pro X didn’t have a trial period. This is a perfect moment to try and get acquainted with this powerful DAW. If you have a MAC, of ​​course. Final Cut Pro X, their high-end video editing software, usually has a 30-day trial, which is now extended to 90 days as well. So after you’ve created a new song with Logic Pro X you can now experiment and explore your video editing skills in Final Cut Pro X. Make music, add video and show your work by uploading it to your Social Media channels.
Link Logic Pro X : https://www.apple.com/logic-pro/
Link Final Cut Pro X :https://www.apple.com/final-cut-pro/trial/

⇨ REAPER 6 Digital Audio Workstation is FREE Until July 1st.
REAPER is a complete digital audio production application for Windows and OS X, offering a multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset. It’s not one of the most commonly used DAW’s, but it’s definitely worth checking. Cockos is offering free Reaper 6 licenses valid until the end of June to everybody. An excellent opportunity to check out the highly customizable DAW if you haven’t tried it yet.
Link : https://www.reaper.fm/download.php

⇨ Get Ableton Live 10 Suite free for 90 days.
Ableton has followed Apple’s lead and is offering the Ableton Live 10 Suite free trial for 90-days. Featuring not just Live, but also a collection of plugins and soundware, the Suite bundle also includes Max for Live, which enables you to customize and build your own devices.
And with the free tutorials on Ableton’s or Musicradar’s website, you can get started in no time.
Link: https://www.ableton.com/en/trial/

Get the book – “Ableton has released Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers as a free download. The book, by composer Dennis DeSantis, is a collection of solutions to common roadblocks in the creative process, with a specific emphasis on solving musical problems, making progress, and finishing what you start. ” Syntopia (source) 
Link to the free download : https://www.ableton.com/en/shop/#making-music

⇨ Native Instruments – VST Plugins for Free
Get producing music straight away with free VST plug-ins and samples in KOMPLETE START by Native Instruments! Download over 2,000 sounds and more than 6 GB of content  taken from their leading production suite, KOMPLETE – drums and percussion, basses, acoustic instruments, synths, pads and atmospheres, and more – plus VST plug-in instruments, effects, and other free resources for music production.
Link to the FREE Native Instruments download: https://www.native-instruments.com/en/specials/free-vst-plugins/

⇨ Soundtoys – Effect rack
It’s usually only available in a bundle, but for this lockdown, they’re letting Soundtoys Effect Rack out. As stated by Soundtoys “We’re staying home to protect our community and our team. We sincerely hope you are too. To help you make your home studio a happier one, we’re letting you use Soundtoys Effect Rack FREE through June 30. ” You can follow the hashtag #SoundtoysAtHome to get an idea of ​​the possibilities. And of course, we encourage you to share your own.
Link: https://www.soundtoys.com/rack-relief/

⇨ Fender Offering Three Months of Free Guitar Lessons So You Can Learn in Lockdown
“We’re all going to be spending a lot more time inside – so we might as well make some noise”
Now is the time to (finally) pick up that guitar. And Fender wants to help you with that. The company is offering free three-month subscriptions to the first 100,000 new subscribers to their Fender Play platform. To sign up for the guitar lessons, head to the Fender Play website and get your free code. But please be respectful to neighbors and roommates while making ‘some noise’ . And while you are at it, you might want to check the next plugin too.

⇨ Two Notes – Torpedo Wall of Sound
Two Notes Audio Engineering is offering its Torpedo Wall Of Sound plug-in with a free lifetime license for two Virtual Cabinets, available for download until 30 April. Torpedo Wall of Sound is a convolution-based cabinet speaker simulator. The software emulates the entire guitar recording chain, including the speaker, microphones, preamps, and the studio room acoustics. The plug-in is available for both Windows and OS X.
Link : https://www.two-notes.com/wall-of-sound

⇨ Minimoog Model D Synthesizer from Moog Music inc.
In a bid to spread “positivity, creativity and expressivity” in these difficult times, Moog Music is giving away their Minimoog Model D iOS app for free. The emulation of one of the most popular synthesizers of all time can be downloaded through the Apple App Store and is quite addictive to play and twiddle with. A moment to slow down, appreciate our innate strength, and experience the uplifting power of sound. A chance to share the way we hear the world around us ” (Moog Music). Have fun!
Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/minimoog-model-d-synthesizer/id1339418001

⇨ Roland Zen Beats (iOS, Android)
Roland also made the full version of Zenbeats, its music-making app for iOS and Android, temporarily free. ‘Zenbeats is designed to keep you in an effortless artistic flow.’ Make beats, access lessons, and sample the world around you through your mobile device and integrate it in your workflow.
Link: https://www.roland.com/us/products/zenbeats/

⇨ SynthMaster One
iOS synths are great fun and getting much easier to not only run in iOS sequencers but also your desktop studio setups. And free versions are a great way to give it a try. Up until April 15, you can (literally) get your hands on SynthMaster One iOS, the semi-modular wavetable synth and KV331 Audio’s first full-blown synth app for iPhone and iPad.
Link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/synthmaster-one/id125435326 6

⇨ Arturia iSpark app
If you still didn’t have enough, there is more. Arturia’s announced that its iPad app “iSpark” will be free on the App store until the 30th of April. iSpark is a drum machine app which allows you to utilize a library of 640 instruments, and 40 kits to sequence beats that fit your music. Get yours while the offer lasts. Arturia is also offering Windows / OS X users to test drive their Pigments 2 plugin synth for free until the 3rd of July.
Link to iSpar k: https://apps.apple.com/app/arturia-ispark/id1045383182

⇨ Cherry Audio – Voltage Modular Nucleus
Are you more into modular synthesis? Or maybe you’re willing to discover the thrill of patching modules and creating your own sounds? Cherry Audio has your back. As stated on their website: ‘Starting immediately, and for the foreseeable future, we’re making Voltage Modular Nucleus FREE for everybody. It’s a complete modular synthesis package, with 22 modules and over 130 presets, for OSX and Windows. Stay home, stay safe, make some music, and learn to master modular synthesis. We’ll all get through this together. What are you waiting for?
Link: https://cherryaudio.com/free

⇨ Plugin Alliance Offering 30-Day Free Trials On Everything
Plugin Alliance announced they want to enable people to use ALL of their 110+ plugins for free, for a whole month. To make this possible they have reset old and expired demos and have temporarily extended the demo period to 30 days instead of the normal 14 days.

From their official mailing:
“If you are interested in locking yourself in (pun intended) and rocking out with all our tools and toys for 30 days, please just follow these easy steps. This month is on us, and we do hope it will help at least a bit!

  • Download the PA Installation Manager
  • “Select All” and download / install all 124 plugins in one go!
  • Open your preferred DAW (Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic, whatever …)
  • Activate any of the plugins from the GUI (User Interface) and enjoy them for 30 days – FREE!
  • Details: PA Activation Manual

⇨ Fab filter COVID-19 evaluation extension
From their website: “Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many producers, composers, musicians and students are forced to work from home. Hoping to make the self-quarantine just a little bit easier, FabFilter offers a free 30-day evaluation extension for all plug-ins.
Link: https://www.fabfilter.com/covid19

⇨ Steinberg Offer #StayHome Elements Collection Free for 60-Days
Steinberg put together a special license collection consisting of Cubase Elements, Dorico Elements, WaveLab Elements and the Absolute Collection. They’re calling it the #StayHome Elements Collection, and it’s free to use for 60 days. This offer is available from April 2 until May 15, 2020, during which you can download this collection.
Link: https://new.steinberg.net/stayhome/

⇨ Acustica Cofee The PUn EQ; Free Pultec-style, germanium-based EQ and preamp.
“As per our tradition, each year on April 1st we like to surprise our faithful users with a nice release when everybody else usually likes to joke. This year is no exception, and since we are all mixing and making music from home … “ Meet Coffee The PUn, a FREE plugin resolver with a big sound and aggressive character, awaking inner potential.
Link: https://www.acustica-audio.com/pages/specials/the-pun

FREE: iZotope Neutron Elements Plugin (VST / AU / AAX)
iZotope’s Neutron 3 Elements plugin is a complete solution for mixing, using iZotope’s high-end algorithms in a channel strip formation, with artificial intelligence to help you find starting points for your mix . Use CouponPBSCNE
Your coupon can be redeemed at Plugin Boutique . Offer valid until 3rd May at 23:59 PST

FREE: Plugin Boutique Radio Plugin (VST / AU / AAX / Standalone)
Radio lets you stream and sample from a diverse list of internet radio stations, inside your DAW, and records the last 30 seconds of any streamed material, ready to drag and drop into your projects. Finding new samples to inspire your music has never been done like this before! Use Coupon PBSCRD
Your coupon can be redeemed at Plugin Boutique . Offer valid until 3rd May at 23:59 PST

Waves Audio Offers 90-Day Demos Of The Abbey Road Studio 3
The Abbey Road Studio 3 plugin is a solution for producing and mixing on headphones, wherever you are. It models the three-dimensional acoustics of Abbey Road Studios’ flagship Studio 3 control room.
Link: https://www.waves.com/plugins/abbey-road-studio-3#presenting-the-waves-abbey-road-studio-3-plugin

Extra: 90-day demo of Nx Virtual Mix Room over Headphones plugins!
The Waves Nx Virtual Mix Room over Headphones plugin recreates the acoustics of a high-end studio inside your headphones, so you can make great mixing decisions anytime, anywhere.
Link: https://www.waves.com/plugins/nx

⇨ Dolby ON app
Dolby have released a free app for iOS and Android smartphones: Dolby On. “Record live music & videos with a suite of automatic studio effects in an easy-to-use recorder. “For too long artists had to choose between recording quickly or with quality. The Dolby On app makes it easy to instantly record songs and videos with powerful Dolby audio technology.”
Link: https://music.dolby.com/dolby-on/

AKAI Beats
Akai introduces ‘MPC Beats’ music-making software for beginners. MPC Beats boils down to the essentials, but for the price of free, it looks pretty good. For one, you’ll still have access to three of Akai’s virtual synths (Bassline, Tubesynth and Electric) along with 80 effects plugins. On top of that, it comes with 2GB of sample sounds to get you started. Of course, you can use your own samples too.
Link: https://www.akaipro.com/mpc-beats

SAMPLES

⇨ Native Instruments releases free sample kits and commits €100k to COVID-19
A collection of high-profile artists have contributed to a free Native Instruments sample and production kit via Community Drive. The 14 artists include Sia, Junkie XL, Richard Devine and Just Blaze, offering up audio stems, samples and presets for producers around the world. Native Instruments has also announced a €100,000 donation to seven global charities supporting musicians in light of COVID-19. More info and download.

⇨ Reverb Drum Machines | The Complete Collection
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.
Link: https://reverb.com/software/samples-and-loops/reverb/3514-reverb-drum-machines-the-complete-collection

⇨ The Stay at Home pack from Stand Alone Music
From their website: “The STAY AT HOME pack is our way to help the producer community and to motivate everyone to stay at home to help prevent the spread of the virus.” Over 1.2 Gb of royalty-free content between samples of any kind and presets for Serum and Sylenth, in collaboration with 7 SKIES.
Link: https://www.standalone-music.com/product/stay-at-home-free-pack/

⇨The Free Orchestra from Project SAM
One solid gigabyte of free, cinematic sounds taken directly from ProjectSAM’s acclaimed libraries. From orchestral string staccatos and brass clusters to symphonic percussion and dystopian sound design.
Link: https://projectsam.com/libraries/the-free-orchestra/

⇨ Royalty-free ambisonic recordings from RØDE
RØDE Microphones has launched the Ambisonic Sound Library, a collection of ambisonic recordings from some of the World’s top sound recordings. The entire library is free to download, giving users access to hundreds of high-quality ambisonic recordings to use in their projects.

The library also gives users who are new to ambisonics the chance to experience the endless editing and sound manipulation options made possible by the SoundField by RØDE Plug-in even if they don’t have access to an ambisonic microphone.
Link: https://library.soundfield.com/

 

More

The website Protools Expert offers a list of Free Temporary Licenses to people who already own products but because they are working from home during Covid-19, are unable to access them. (Not only Protools!) Some of these are also available to students who temporarily follow their classes online. Think of products like Adobe, Avid, Audio Ease, Eastwest, Nugen Audio and Sonnox.

Tools for Collaboration and Recording during the Covid-19 Crisis
The University of Oxford has a very interesting page with tools for online collaborations and recordings: Link

Or you can give Soundmarker a try. It’s totally free and build by Abbey Road Graduates.
“Soundmarker: Its a game-changer and it’s free, for anyone who wants to use it.” – Attack Magazine

We hope this list helps you to stay inspired during these challenging times.

If you know of any other great tool made available during the Covid-19 period, please feel free to contact us by sending us a direct message through our social media channels.

Hang in there and make music.

 

Another blog that might interest you: https://abbeyroadinstitute.de/en/blog/meet-our-alumni-florian-brueckl-everything-in-our-own-time/