Best alternatives to GarageBand for non-Apple devices

What’s the closest thing to GarageBand on Windows and the web? Check out some of the top best free GarageBand alternatives for beginner producers.

GarageBand is a surprisingly powerful way to make music, for beginner producers and beyond. The popularity of the program lies in its easy to use format. GarageBand is a fully functioning free DAW (digital audio workstation) – but there’s a catch. The legitimate version is only available on Apple devices.

Looking for another easy way to get into music production, without the confusing learning curve of a professional DAW? Luckily there’s lots of great free alternatives to GarageBand for Mac available for other devices, and hopefully you’ll find one that fits with your emerging workflow.

Whether you’re after the closest thing to GarageBand on Windows, a mobile app GarageBand alternative, or a similar music making website, check out our top suggestions below.


Waveform Free
waveform free screengrab garageband alternative
Image Credit: Tracktion

An unlimited free DAW, Tracktion’s Waveform Free has a clear, inviting interface that’s welcoming to any beginner producer. Its pattern generator makes creating chord sequences and basslines simple, and the step sequencer lets you pop beats in quickly and easily.

As you grow as a producer, Waveform Free is powerful enough to keep being a useful and intuitive way to make music.


Soundtrap
Image Credit: Soundtrap

For beginners looking for a free DAW, try Soundtrap. The Spotify-owned online DAW is compatible with both Windows and Mac. Simple to use, with 430 instruments and sounds, and accessible effects, and nothing to download.


LMMS
lmms free DAW screenshot
Image Credit: LMMS

LMMS makes getting started making beats easy and fun, much like GarageBand, but unlike GarageBand the DAW doesn’t allow live recording. Effects are preloaded, with a drum sequencer in the vein of FL Studio.

LMMS mixes the accessibility of GarageBand with the workflow of FL Studio, for free – well worth a try.


BandLab
bandlab free DAW

Super-easy and perfect for beginners, BandLab is a browser-based DAW, also available as an iOS and Android app, that records to the cloud. Whether you’re a Windows or Mac user, all you need is the internet.

BandLab is hardwired for you to make music instantly – no complicated tutorials to follow – simply use the onscreen keyboard, plug in a MIDI controller or record vocals and guitar. It features a big library – BandLab Sounds, and easily accessible effects. There’s also a big social element to BandLab, almost like social media for musicians, letting you share your songs and collaborate on tracks.


Cakewalk
Image Credit: Cakewalk by BandLab

More great free music software from BandLab. Cakewalk is an incredibly versatile DAW. In a previous existence it was known as the paid DAW SONAR, but BandLab now make it available to download for free.

This unlimited free DAW is surprisingly powerful and professional. Cakewalk turns the tables on GarageBand by being only available on Windows – and you can do even more than on GarageBand. Total beginners to music production might however find the setup a little hard to get to grips with at first.


AKAI MPC Beats
Image Credit: AKAI

MPC Beats gets you started making music right away, with great demos to kick off your first steps into music production. Features like Notes Mode helps you out if you don’t have music theory knowledge. Included with AKAI devices, it also works with any other MIDI devices.


Roland Zenbeats
Roland Zenbeats free music making app
Image Credit: Roland

For those looking for an alternative to the GarageBand app, check out the free version of the Zenbeats music creation app from Roland. Zenbeats aims to get you started making music without a disheartening learning curve. Optimised for touch, the app works on any device and any platform.

Save to the Cloud so as not to clog up your device with your first attempts as you get to grips with music production. It’s got decent beatmaking and MIDI editing tools. The free version gives you the basics and you can purchase classic Roland presets and loops, or move up to the paid version from $2.99 a month.


When you’re a complete newbie to music production, you want something simple and inviting that will let you get your ideas onto the screen without having to watch hours of YouTube tutorials first. There’s no point being snobby about which music production software you choose – getting stuck in and creating music is the most important thing.

There’s many more free DAWs out there that are more than a match for what GarageBand offers Apple users. Try a few out until you find a workflow that clicks, and have some fun getting creative making music.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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