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Coronavirus giveaways: the best free software and services for musicians

Fender Play deal
(Image credit: Fender)

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, music software and gear companies have been quick to step up to the plate, offering a slew of freebies to maintain the morale and productivity of confined musicians and producers across the globe.

Here, we've rounded up all of the best giveaways, and we'll keep this hub updated. Grab 'em while you can.

Fender Play for 3 months

Fender Play centres around easy-to-follow, instructor-guided videos to help new musicians get underway and to develop players who are a little further along on their journey. You can track your progress as you move through the lessons, too.

Learning songs is a fundamental part of musical development and, in addition to the lessons, the Fender Play library is rammed with jam tracks by everyone from Led Zeppelin, Green Day and Oasis, to Sia and Shawn Mendes.

Logic Pro X free for 90 days

Apple has confirmed that, in light of current events, it’s offering free 90-day access to its Logic Pro X DAW so that everyone can make music with it. It’s also offering the same deal to anyone who wants to use Final Cut Pro X.

Ableton Live 10 Suite for 90 days

First Apple offered Mac users the chance to use Logic Pro X free for 90 days, and now Ableton is doing the same with Live 10 Suite, its flagship DAW package.

Featuring not just Live, but also a wealth of plugins and soundware, the Suite bundle also includes Max for Live, which enables you to customise and build your own devices.

Guitar Pro app

The Guitar Pro app allows players to view and play sheet music and tablature that has been created using Guitar Pro tab-editing software for Windows and Mac.

Drum Channel: 1000 x free 30-day subscriptions

Drum Channel - the online drum school founded by DW’s Don Lombardi - is offering some relief for drummers stuck inside during the lockdown period by giving away 1000 free 30-day trial subscriptions.

Free versions of Steinberg Cubase, WaveLab and more in its #StayHome Elements bundle

Comprising Cubase Elements, Dorico Elements, WaveLab Elements and the Absolute Collection of plugins, this is available until 15 May and can be used for free for 60 days.

Sonible and Focusrite’s Balancer plugin free

In a bid to get you to ‘stay@home and create’, Sonible and Focusrite have made their Balancer plugin available as a free download. Initially, this offer was due to run until mid-April, but is still live as we update this (11 May), so you might want to grab it while you can. This promises to balance your audio tracks automatically in a matter of seconds.

Roland’s Zenbeats music-making app (iOS/Android)

Zenbeats is a cross-platform production app that promises to “make music creation easy”. It features drum sounds from Roland’s TR range of drum machines, and offers sampling, instruments and effects. 

Arturia Pigments 2 free trial

Arturia is the latest company to encourage you to stay home and make music, showing some love to PC/Mac users, who can road-test the Pigments 2 plugin synth for free between 2 April and 3 July.

Soundtoys' much-loved Effect Rack plugin

This is a powerful and creative multi-effects plugin that enables you to create processing chains using 14 classic Soundtoys effects; the likes of EchoBoy and PrimalTap for delay, Decapitator and Radiator for analogue-style saturation, and Tremolator and FilterFreak for powerful rhythmic modulation and filtering.

AS-16 Analog Sequencer Reason rack extension

Normally yours for $40, the AS-16 Reason rack extension is an advanced 16 channel analog CV sequencer with MIDI and audio features. At the heart of AS-16 is a user controlled sequence that can be modified in real time using the jump, skip and pad buttons.

In addition, it includes several note scales that allow you to quickly create bass lines and then tweak via MIDI, or use the built-in audio modifiers as an advanced envelope generator.

Two notes Torpedo Wall of Sound - free lifetime license

Two notes Audio Engineering is giving away free lifetime licenses for its Torpedo Wall of Sound speaker and miking simulation plugin until April 30th.

Torpedo Wall of Sound comes with two free virtual cabinets - 4x12” modeled on the Slash signature Marshall® and a 2x12” modeled on a HiWatt® with Fane® speakers -and 8 virtual power amp emulators, powerful on-board EQ, ‘overload’ (speaker cone distortion) emulator and 8 reverb/room emulations. 

For more info see the Two notes Wall of Sound site now.

Reaper 6 free until the end of June

If you’re in urgent need of a DAW to work with while you’re on lockdown, Cockos has stepped into the breach by offering free temporary licences for Reaper, its fully-featured music production software, which are valid until the end of June.

Pro Tools for 90-days (for eligible applicants)

Avid is stepping up to support professional Pro Tools users who’ve been asked to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s announced that it’ll make a limited number of 90-day licenses for its creative products available for free to qualified media enterprise and educational institutions.

As you might have deduced, this doesn’t mean that anyone and everyone can have a Pro Tools license - companies need to submit the request for licenses on behalf of their employees, whether they be full-time, contracted or freelance. Similarly, educational institutions need to make bulk requests on behalf of their students.

Minimoog Model D iOS app

In a bid to spread “positivity, creativity and expressivity” in these difficult times, Moog Music has announced that it’s giving away its Minimoog Model D iOS app for free. An official emulation of the most famous synthesizer of all time, this runs on both iPhone and iPad, and usually costs $14.99/£14.99.

Writing on Facebook, Moog says that it hopes that the app will offer: “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…”

Serato Studio free version now available

Launched in 2019, Serato Studio is a simplified PC and Mac DAW that’s designed for beginners and DJs who want to move into music production. Now it’s been updated to version 1.4.4 which, as well as adding new features, also introduces a free version.

Free Soundation Premium until the end of June for students (via teacher application)

“We’ve received many requests from schools around the world who would like to use Soundation for remote music education due to COVID-19,” , says Adam Hasslert, CEO of Soundation. “We realized that there is a huge need for online music education solutions right now, so we’ve decided to offer it for free in order to support and encourage young music makers to stay creative during this challenging time.”

As of now, teachers and educators can sign up for a free Soundation Premium subscription and set up accounts for their students. These accounts will go live from 31 March. Teachers will also be able to create group pages in Soundation’s online community to facilitate their teaching.

Cherry Audio's Voltage Modular Nucleus: “stay at home and learn to master modular synthesis”

Cherry Audio is giving away Voltage Modular Nucleus, a complete modular synth package that features 22 modules and more than 130 presets. As of now - and for the foreseeable future - anyone can download it for free for Mac and Windows.

This is great news for anyone who’s likely to have plenty of time on their hands over the next few months. Modular synthesis is something that you can really immerse yourself in, and Voltage Modular is a great platform to start on.

Jordan Rudess's GeoShred Play iOS app

Thanks to its scale-locked diatonic playing surface, Wizdom Music’s GeoShred Play iOS app enables pretty much anyone to play shred lead parts without ever hitting a wrong note, and right now, company supremo Jordan Rudess is letting you download it for free.

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