Free Open-Source Music Production Software

April 26, 2024 — Jt Spratley
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Want to make music but lack the funding to purchase music production software and hardware? There are free applications for every PC operating system (OS) - Windows, macOS, Linux, and BSD - for creating, recording, mixing, and mastering music. Below I'll share my favorite free open-source software (FOSS) for music production, most I've discussed before, just not in a dedicated listacle.


I refer to Ardour as a free Pro-Tools alternative for Windows, macOS, Linux, and BSD. This digital audio workstation (DAW) can record, compose and produce (with piano roll), mix, and master with Ardour. Its piano roll feature isn't natively fully functional, apparently by design. To map an audio sample across a piano roll with respective pitch changes, you'll need to find a workaround. For essential sound effects (SFX) - compression, limiting, EQ, etc. - and workflow enhancement plugins, you can download the free Calf Studio Gear and x42-plugins packs.

Ardour is great for audio production overall, excluding sample-based music production.


Like Ardour is a Pro Tools substitute, LMMS is my preferred FL Studio substitute, also available for Linux, Windows, macOS, and BSD (via FreeBSD ports). Formerly "Linux MultiMedia Studio," LMMS ships with an easy-to-learn step sequencer and piano roll and Virtual Studio Technology (VST) instruments that can be used for various genres. Warning: LMMS natively lacks the audio editing functions needed for recording live sessions. If you wish to mix and master vocal and instrumentalist recordings alongside sample and VST arrangements, you'll need VSTs or another DAW work alongside it.


Shuriken is a free beat slicer for Linux that has been discontinued for seven years. The source code is available for building on other OSes. It works by slicing an audio sample and exporting each slice to a new file. You can then use those slices in your DAW. As far as I know, you cannot map the slices from Shuriken directly into a piano roll as a VST plugin.

That's it for DAWs.

Mixxx DJ software

Mixxx is a free DJ mixing application available for Linux, Windows, macOS, and BSD (via FreeBSD ports). Mixxx has four decks, mappings for DJ controller hardware, SFX, and the ability to detect and save key, BPM, and "mood" information. The music organizer is easy to navigate, sort, and customize. By the way, its usable without additional hardware without much hassle.

Open Brodcaster Software (OBS)

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is the most popular free screencasting and streaming application for all OSes. Tens of thousands live streamers use OBS in lieu of Streamlabs to entertain and inform their communities. There are also free SFX, plugins, and themes available for OBS.

VLC Media Player is a free multimedia player for the popular OSes, Android, and iOS, capable of playing most streams and file formats.

I've covered free video editors.

Below is a short listacle of software to help you manage music releases.


FFMPEG is a powerful command-line interface (CLI) application for recording, converting, and streaming multimedia files. For example, to convert an OGG file to MP3:

ffmpeg -i input.ogg output.mp3

To extract audio from a recorded video with the command:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -vn audio-only.ogg

To create audio spectrum visualization files:

ffmpeg -i conscious-rap-song.mp3 -filter_complex "[0:a]showwaves=s=1280x720:mode=line:rate=25, format=yuv420p[v]" -map "[v]" -map 0:a conscious-rap-song-video.mp4

For those uncomfortable with the classic terminal, there are graphical user interface (GUI) wrappers (windows applications) like Shutter Encoder and FFMPEG UI. I can't speak to their effectiveness, though.


You can add metadata, including International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) and album art, possibly made with free image editor GIMP, with kid3 / kid3-qt.

Tags: free-open-source-software, IT, music-production, music

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