If you want to make music on a computer, you’ll need a digital audio workstation, or DAW. This type of software typically provides a suite of virtual instruments and effects, as well as a recording and editing environment. One of the more popular options is Ableton Live, which is conducive to performing your music in addition to recording it. The company is discounting its software by 30 percent until May 30th, which means the Intro tier costs $69, the Standard tier is $324 and the Suite tier is $524. This beats some of the best sale prices we’ve seen from Ableton -- the software was discounted by 25 percent on Cyber Monday. The company offers a 40 percent discount to students and teachers, so if you fall outside of those categories, this may be the best deal for the foreseeable future.
While software like ProTools or Logic Pro aim to recreate a recording studio in a virtual setting, Live takes a digitally native approach, which lends it some flexibility. You can quickly switch between a traditional timeline environment and a loop-based performance mode called Session View. The included instruments are often designed to encourage experimentation -- the controls don’t always adhere to the typical layouts defined by analog synthesizers, so you have to play around to dial in a sound -- and may make some interesting sonic discoveries in the process. Even if you already have another DAW, being able to compose and experiment in Ableton Live can be a rewarding experience. If you’re on the fence, you’ll have plenty of time to test drive Live -- Ableton extended its free trial length from 30 days to 90. Even if you don’t take the plunge but, but could use some inspiration for creating new music, you can download the digital version of the company’s Making Music book for free. It’s usually $30 and provides insights on how to take new approaches to your writing and tone-shaping processes. Between the deals on Ableton’s software, the free demo and the free book, new and seasoned music producers alike should be able to kill plenty of time while social distancing.