Image Credit: BandLab

BandLab now has 30 million users. Are free platforms the best way for beginner musicians and producers to get into music production?

There’s no longer a need to be in a professional studio to learn music production, or to shell out money for expensive equipment. To make great beats, all that’s required is headphones and patience. In the case of social music platform BandLab, all you need is an internet connection.

BandLab is an all-in-one music production platform, where musicians and music fans make and share music. There’s a focus, too, on the social aspects of music-making – giving feedback and collaborating together in real time to make new tracks. It’s basically a browser-based DAW with social media tools built in. Slightly unbelievably, everything from Bandlab is completely free.

Music lovers are becoming music makers at an increasing rate. Anyone who’s ever idly considered trying to make a beat, or heard a song on Spotify and thought “I wonder if I could do that?”, can access free tools from programs like BandLab to test out their creative skills. There’s not even a need to immediately learn an instrument or have any grasp of music theory, as virtual instruments are playable on an onscreen keyboard and drumbeats can be programmed with a few clicks.

BandLab recently celebrated reaching a milestone of over 30 million users on the platform. That’s a 150% jump in users since 2019. The growth was probably sparked by the pandemic, with people looking for a creative outlet, and having the time to explore music-making – but the upward trend has been a permanent one, with users now creating over 10 million new tracks a month.

BandLab CEO Meng Ru Kuok said: “We’ve seen activity grow naturally. Last year it exploded and it hasn’t slowed down. Even as circumstances changed in places around the world, creativity has remained a part of people’s lives.”

Kuok said that BandLab users tend to be younger and more gender balanced than the traditionally male-dominated music technology world. The music industry has been slow to recognise the appetite for DIY musicianship and its commercial potential, still favouring the gatekeepers of record labels. That’s despite Apple Music and other streaming services offering an easy way, via distributors like RouteNote, for independent artists to get their music heard.

Everything about BandLab is built to get you making music instantly. Because it’s all built into the browser, there’s no waiting to download and install software – after a quick sign up everything is ready to go. The built-in drum machine lets you program beats instantly. Plug in a MIDI controller or use the onscreen keyboard to start making instrumental tracks with the library of inbuilt sounds; record vocals or guitar, and easily add effects. Samples from BandLab Sounds are searchable and split into genres to make it simple to find whatever style you’re after.

Given the rapid increase in user numbers, it will be interesting to see if the social nature and encouraging community on the program are noted by other music production companies and if there’s a swing towards music-making becoming even more accessible in the future.

In-browser music software offers users the versatility of a downloadable DAW, without having to learn an often complex workflow or filling up disk space. If getting into music production seems intimidating, BandLab might be a good start for the beginner producer.

Exploring your options for distributing your music? RouteNote can get your tracks on all the major streaming sites and stores, for free. Start earning money from your music today. Find out more and sign up here.