Although it is rarely a bad idea to invest in one’s music career, artists can benefit a lot from using free versions of music, marketing, video editing, or graphic design tools. By saving money on software and plugins, they can invest more in other aspects of their music journey. In this article, we aim to introduce aspiring musicians to 20 free tools they can use to save money on digital products.
Free graphic design tools
1. Adobe Express
Adobe is considered one of the world's most renowned computer software companies. Its products include graphic design, video and audio editing, and practical tools such as PDF readers and scanners. While most of the software comes at a high price, Adobe also offers a free graphic design tool – Adobe Express – that mimics its widely used design software, Illustrator.
Adobe Express comes with many templates and free pictures that allow users to create posts for their socials, album covers, logos, banners for their email marketing campaigns, and much more. Moreover, the company has integrated its brand-new AI tools into the app, making graphic design more accessible to those who are not too familiar with the field.
The tool is ideal for those who have previously worked with Adobe software, as it has a similar user interface. However, those who want to come up with elaborate designs can benefit more from subscribing to Illustrator, Photoshop, or both.
Although Figma is primarily known for its UX/UI design capabilities and collaborative functions, it can also be used for graphic design-related tasks. Artists can use the app to create social media posts, covers, marketing-related designs, or a website prototype.
The free Figma version comes with unlimited personal files and collaborators, plugins and templates, and a mobile app. Additionally, those who can prove their student or educator status can access Figma Professional for free. People who do not fall into these categories have to pay $12/month to benefit from the extra features.
Canva is a highly popular, free graphic design tool that allows users to create social media posts, presentations, covers, edit photos, and much more. The free plan includes over 250.000 templates, more than 100 formats, tons of free photos and graphics, and collaboration options, among other things.
Canva has received much attention for its new AI-powered tools that help anyone come up with what they need, even without a design background. For example, they can create AI-generated album covers. Although somewhat limited, the functions are included in the free plan.
4. Adobe Color
Adobe Color is an app that allows users to come up with color combinations of all kinds. It is especially useful for branding-related tasks as it helps them choose the right colors for their designs. While it may not be the number one app for musicians, it can help them a lot with developing a visual identity on the basis of colors. And it is 100% free.
Free marketing tools
5. iMusician music promotion suite
To support artists throughout their careers, iMusician created a music promotion suite that allows musicians to establish an online presence and promote their releases in just a few steps. It consists of Artist Pages and Release Pages that offer unique features.
Artist Pages are helpful for those who want to build a website without having to go through the many steps necessary to create one. The free version allows artists to introduce themselves, showcase their music in the release section, or create an image gallery. Meanwhile, Release Pages allow them to send their fans directly to their top music streaming platforms.
The free versions are the perfect way to make a splash in the music industry without breaking the bank. However, the paid versions come with many additional features and customization, such as audio and video players, an electronic press kit and box office, or social media widgets all in one place.
In times of low attention spans, people prefer to access information quickly and with ease. Smartlink tools are a great way to send your fans from one platform to another within seconds. One such tool is Linktree, which is very popular among musicians.
While the paid versions come with many useful features, the free version is a great start. It allows artists to add an unlimited number of links to their Linktree page, including their streaming & download platforms, music pre-save links, social media platforms, ticket stores, websites, and much more. It also includes a tip jar and an option to buy someone a gift.
7. iMusician’s free Spotify playlist placements
Getting featured on a Spotify playlist can help artists increase their credibility and visibility, making it more likely for them to gain the attention of journalists, magazines, labels, or A&R professionals. Unfortunately, the competition is high, making it challenging to get a playlist placement.
For this reason, iMusician allows artists to submit their music to be featured on one of its manually curated Spotify playlists. While the team receives many submissions and cannot guarantee that each song will be featured, it is worth the try, especially because it only costs artists a few minutes of their time.
Managing social media manually can take much time, which is why many prefer to use tools to pre-schedule their posts. One such tool is Buffer, an app that lets users manage their socials in one place. The free version allows them to connect up to three channels, plan and publish posts, and build a landing page. Moreover, it contains an AI assistant that simplifies the process of scheduling content.
Free video editing software
9. DaVinci Resolve
Video editing tools like Movie Maker or iMovie might be helpful for basic clips, but they come with many limitations. For this reason, many prefer to work with DaVinci Resolve, a free video editing tool. Next to the basics of editing, users can dabble in motion graphics, audio editing, color grading, and VFX.
It is ideal for artists who want to edit their video material on their own without committing to any monthly fees. However, those who see themselves going beyond the basics and investing money into software can greatly benefit from an Adobe Premiere Pro subscription.
Free plugins and VSTs
Many free plugins exist in the world of music production and audio engineering, making it challenging to find and choose the right ones. For this reason, we decided to pick a few that we consider interesting and easy to navigate based on the user interface, purpose, and overall quality.
10. Valhalla Space Modulator
Valhalla Space Modulator is a plugin with a wide range of modulation effects. It serves as a flanger, chorus, pitch shifter, doubler, and much more. Eleven algorithm-based settings allow for further experimentation. The plugin is especially useful for those who want to add character to their sounds and make sure they stand out.
11. iZotope Vinyl
iZotope Vinyl is a highly popular plugin that allows users to add a vintage flavor to their tracks and sounds. It mimics the dust, scratches, warp, and mechanical noise of vinyl records, allowing producers to create a vintage, lo-fi ambiance. In this way, they can make almost anything sound like an old sample.
12. Ozone Imager 2
With Ozone Imager 2, producers and engineers can control the width of a sound or track. The plugin comes with different modes and allows users to stereoize mono sound or vice versa. Its modern visual design makes the process easy to understand and the plugin enjoyable to use.
13. Valhalla Supermassive
Valhalla Supermassive is the perfect tool for adding large reverbs and impactful delays to sounds. It comes with 20 presets, allowing producers to experiment with different reverb types and delays — from long to short, thin to dense, and small to large.
14. Saturation Knob
Saturation Knob is a free, easy-to-use plugin that lets producers add more or less subtle distortion, warmth, or punch to their sounds. It contains three modes that can be applied to different musical elements, such as bass lines, vocals, or drum loops.
15. iZotope Vocal Doubler
iZotope Vocal Doubler is a free plug-in that adds width, richness, and depth to vocals. Its simple user interface allows for easy navigation and a fast workflow.
16. Youlean Loudness Meter
CRMBL is a versatile delay plugin that stands out for its unique, fun design. It allows producers to add delays to their sounds, pitch shift the feedback, reverse delays, and much more.
18. Flex Reverb
With Flex Reverb, producers can add a plate reverb to their sounds. The plugin comes with a built-in EQ that allows for much customization. Its clean user interface makes the free plugin easy to use.
19. Flux Light
Flux Light by Yum Audio is a tape emulator plugin that adds analog warmth and texture to audio tracks. Its many modes allow for a unique character of each sound and the creation of a LoFi ambiance. Yum Audio offers three more free plugins, including the stereo control plugin Spread Light, the clipper Crispy Clip Light, and the compressor Grater Light.
20. Labs Instruments
LABS Instruments by Spitfire Audio is a plugin that gathers a series of virtual instruments. It includes over 60 high-quality synth/instrument packs, including strings, bass sounds, mandolins, classic synths, handbells, groove pianos, and much more. You can simply download them on the website and include them in the plugin.
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