Is GarageBand good software for making music in 2021?

Image Credit: Apple

You don’t have to be a professional producer to make songs, and free DAW GarageBand might be perfect to get you started.

GarageBand is the free digital audio workstation (DAW) included with Apple products. The program is built for simplicity – the idea is that anyone, whatever their producing ability, can get their musical ideas down as a fully realised project.

One of the biggest barriers to starting out as a producer is being overwhelmed by the amount of DAWs available, endless advice on the very latest synths and audio gear, and thinking you need a perfectly arranged and fully kitted out studio. With GarageBand you don’t really need any of that extra hassle. It’s even got inbuilt Learn To Play lessons to get you started learning an instrument. But is GarageBand actually good music-making software, and more importantly are the results any good?

GarageBand is perfect for beginners

While you’re starting out as a DIY musician, you can build a great-sounding demo using only the tools GarageBand has to offer. The app is super easy to use. Whether you’re recording vocals over a keyboard backing, or making quick beats, the platform is intuitive and you’re ready to go with a couple of clicks.

It’s got a good little library on offer

GarageBand comes with a free sound library of pre-recorded audio sounds you can arrange however you’d like. It includes presets for guitar and voice, and a selection of session drummers, hip-hop and EDM synth sounds and virtual instruments including ‘smart strings’ such as violins. Loops of drum beats and rhythm parts are simple to use. It’s easy to play around and experiment with GarageBand.

Plug-ins make it even better

There are plenty of free Virtual Studio Technology (VST) plug-ins that can be downloaded and used with GarageBand just as with other DAWs, to add effects and instruments. Have fun messing around adding VSTs, inching closer to the vision of the finished song you have in your head.

Can you make studio quality beats on GarageBand?

GarageBand is able to record studio-quality signals, so if a professional sound is what you’re after and you’ve made some investments in your studio set up and bought good equipment, the results will indeed be studio quality. It’s designed to be your personal professional studio engineer.

Some famous songs were made using GarageBand

You don’t need expensive gear to launch a music career. Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ uses the humble GarageBand stock drum loop ‘Vintage Funk Kit 03.’ Usher’s ‘Make Love In This Club’ is basically a vocal over GarageBand synth loops. And in 2017 Kendrick Lamar’s Damn was produced with the help of the iPad and mobile app.

Make music on the go

Using GarageBand you can easily pick up where you left off, using your iPod or iPhone, and keep laying down beats on your commute or whilst you wait for your friends to turn up at the bar.

Ignore the snobbery

Plenty of people don’t have the cash or the time to learn the ropes of the more complicated professional DAWs. GarageBand is powerful enough to offer a glimpse at the potential for perfection that could happen with access to a full studio. If you’re itching to start laying down your musical ideas, GarageBand is the perfect starter DAW. The results sound good, too, inspiring you to keep creating.

Creativity is about more than technology

It’s not the app – it’s how you use it. GarageBand was never designed to be a professional tool, the name alone is a clue to that; it’s a good solid start for making music nevertheless. But ultimately a track is only as good as the producer and musician. Trust your ears, and learn as you go!

As soon as your music is ready, let RouteNote know and we’ll help get it out into the world, for free.

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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