Ep 021: The Most Popular DAWs with Jimmy Atkinson

Today’s show is a little different than usual. This episode is a deep dive on DAWs with Jimmy Atkinson, a member of the AudioSkills team behind-the-scenes. Jimmy built our website and membership program, and he stays busy keeping all of our tech running smoothly.

After running an exhaustive survey within the AudioSkills community, Jimmy came up with a list of the 20 most popular DAWs. While there is no software that is perfect for everyone, the results yielded some interesting perspectives.

The audio tip of the week is about the temptation to switch your DAW setup. While all DAWs have the same fundamental features, it is important to remember that each one comes with its own learning curve and subtle quirks. Sometimes a small tweak to your existing setup is better than buying and learning how to use an entirely new DAW.

Jimmy and Scott cover the Most Popular DAWs, the best Free DAWs, and how preferences differ between Mac and Windows users. With over 1200 responses, we were able to get a great snapshot of what everyone is using to record, mix, and master.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • Audio tip of the week: When selecting a DAW, be very careful. While it is really valuable to have experience with different DAWs, you can waste a lot of time and money by changing DAWs and not always get the benefit you’re seeking. Researching shortcuts and process hacks might serve as a much cheaper alternative to buying new software.
  • Jimmy’s role at AudioSkills and the start of the company.
  • How the AudioSkills community was surveyed to uncover the top DAWs for audio engineers.
  • Preferences between Mac and Windows users.
  • Which DAWs are most popular and how to choose between free and expensive software.
  • The correlation between genre of music production and DAW preference.

Featured on the Show:

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Full Transcript of This Episode

Scott: Hey, everyone. Scott back with you for this week’s episode of The AudioSkills Podcast. We’ve got a bit of a different show for you today, as we’re going to be talking all about the most popular DAWs, or D-A-Ws, and just a bit about digital audio workstation options and selection in general. Joining me to discuss this will be Jimmy Atkinson, who’s actually a member of the AudioSkills team here. He’s behind the scenes. He’s our tech guy and really did some cool stuff putting this DAW survey together. Before I jump into all of that, I wanted to first start out with our audio tip of the week. I love giving people actionable takeaways and pieces of advice on our YouTube channel, our premium membership site, and in the articles I write.

This podcast is no different. My tip for this week is about DAW selection and more specifically, the decision to change DAWs. Now first off, I think it is great to have some experience in multiple digital audio workstations. I also think that there’s tremendous value in using multiple DAWs for different stages of music production or just to mix things up a bit. I know that there are people who will mix in one DAW and master in another. There are people who will do more composition in one DAW and then do their mixing in another. That is awesome and I do recommend that you try that out if that works for you. That said, my tip this week is this: if you are considering changing what DAW you work in, be very, very careful about doing so.

I know that a lot of us can feel like we get in creative ruts, or maybe a new version of your DAW came out and you’re just not feeling it. You’re feeling a little lost. Maybe you just don’t think you’re as efficient as you could be in another software program. These are all reasons you might want to switch your DAW, but be forewarned. While all DAWs have similar fundamental features, switching to a new DAW can be like learning a new language. It can set your productivity back and lead to even more frustration. Not to mention an expensive mistake if you buy a new DAW and end up disliking it. Before ever switching DAWs, I’d really recommend that you spend a little more time studying tips, techniques and shortcuts in your DAW.

Sometimes a workflow adjustment is all you need to break through, not blowing up your entire setup. Again, there is value in mixing things up, but I would say before saying, “Oh, I need to move into a completely new program,” well, maybe just change the order in which you’re doing things. Maybe you try to set up a new template in your DAW. Maybe just adjust, I don’t know, what time of the day you’re working on your music. Whatever that might be, you can make other changes that aren’t quite so drastic as “I am going to move into a completely new piece of software that I haven’t used before or I’m not as familiar or confident with”. Whatever you decide, do your research, download a trial, and take your time.

DAWs are really the heart of the studio and they’re so, so important to everything that you’re doing when you’re trying to record or mix or produce. Switching DAWs is not something to be taken lightly and I wouldn’t recommend doing it often. All right. I guess that’s a little bit of a PSA, but it’s also your audio tip of the week.

Now I am very pleased to introduce our guest for this week’s episode. Jimmy Atkinson is going to be joining me to discuss the types of DAWs or D-A-Ws that are the most popular and really diving into how this all breaks down in a survey that we put together. Now Jimmy is actually a behind the scenes guy here at AudioSkills.

For example if you’re a member and have enjoyed our website and how it looks and functions, that is all thanks to Jimmy. Jimmy, welcome to the show, man.

Jimmy: Scott, man, good to be here with you. I’ve been following the podcast since day one. I’m glad to finally be a guest with you.

Scott: Right on. Right on. How’s summer been going so far? Any big vacations coming up or anything?

Jimmy: Pretty good. Pretty good. Well, we already took our big vacation actually right before summer started. We headed off to Disney World. We kind of beat the rush. We’ve been kind of cooped up in the house the last several weeks here. My daughter’s getting ready to start kindergarten next month, so we’re just kind of counting down the days until school’s back in session.

Scott: Right on.

Jimmy: How about you? You were just in Europe a week or two ago, were you not?

Scott: Yes, I actually just got back on Monday. I went with my wife. It’s kind of been a trip that was a long time coming. We went to Ireland, London, and Paris. We saw all the sights. That was actually my first time ever in Europe, my first transatlantic flight. It was really, really amazing. One of the coolest things was how music actually was a huge part of our trip – because we went to rural Ireland, a small town called Doolin, where traditional Irish music is really – it’s called like the capital of traditional Irish music. Then of course, in London, we went to Abbey Road to checkout where The Beatles recorded such amazing albums. Then even in Paris, we got some music in because there were street performers and things. It was really, really great.

Jimmy: That’s awesome. You got the street performers in Paris. Did you get any live performances in Ireland or England?

Scott: Oh yeah. In Ireland, absolutely, because in all the pubs there live music is a huge, huge part of the culture there. You go and you just have a Guinness and they have these things called sessions where basically it’s like, if you have an instrument and you know traditional Irish tunes, you can just sit down and there’ll be all these players and they’ll just start jamming. They know all of the traditional tunes. Someone will just say, “Oh yeah. Let’s do this one,” and he’ll just start playing. It’s really incredible. Then in England, not as much. I just was more doing sightseeing there, but I do hope to go back and see some shows and things someday.

Jimmy: You hit up Abbey Road. That’s pretty good. It sounds like you had a lot of fun. You drink some beers? Hope you drank some beers while you’re over there.

Scott: I drank many a beer while I was over there.

Jimmy: Good. Good. That’s always fun.

Scott: Right on. To sort of jump into all of this, first off, I mentioned, Jimmy, you’re a behind the scenes kind of guy. You’re involved with AudioSkills. Can you tell us just a little bit more about yourself and your work on AudioSkills?

Jimmy: Yeah, I’d be happy to. Well first, I guess I should kind of talk a little bit more about AudioSkills itself. AudioSkills is the company. We were a startup. It’s just you and me and Andy’s the third member of our team. We have a small team here. I guess you and Andy got started first with the predecessor to AudioSkills which was RecordingExcellence.com. When was that? Was that the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016?

Scott: That was, yeah, like about fall 2015 is when that all began.

Jimmy: Then it was just six, seven months ago when you guys asked me to come on board because you guys were going to fire up AudioSkills and you needed some tech help. I’ve been the tech guy here at AudioSkills since January of this year, January 2017. I help out with pretty much – if anything with the tech breaks, it’s my fault.

Scott: Pretty much.

Jimmy: Most of the time it hums along pretty well. I also do some customer support. I help out with the email marketing. I actually don’t know a whole lot about music myself. You and Andy know a lot more about that stuff than I do. I’ve dabbled in GarageBand a few times myself and I took piano lessons when I was younger. I know a little bit about music. I’m not just quite as advanced as you guys are. I’m mostly here to be the tech guy. I guess we all wear lots of hats here though because it’s a startup.

Scott: Oh for sure. For sure. Bottom line, you came onboard and really have helped us grow and build just some amazing things that I certainly couldn’t have done by myself just googling around “how do you set up a membership?”

Jimmy: Yeah, I’m happy to do it, man. We’re having fun.

Scott: Right on. Now the topic of this podcast, it’s something that … I don’t remember which one of us came up with the idea, maybe it was a collective idea, but putting together a survey about digital audio workstations and trying to find out from our audience, and then maybe some larger audiences, what are the DAWs that people are using to record and mix or produce their music on their computers. Why do you think this is such an interesting topic for folks?

Jimmy: Right. Yeah. I think it’s a fascinating topic. If you’re new to recording or new to mixing music and you just want to kind of dabble on your computer and see what you can create, there are a lot of options for you. There are actually dozens of different DAWs out there. It becomes kind of a charged topic for some people. Some people love Pro Tools and some people love Logic Pro. Other people swear by this or that. I think it’s because there are so many choices available that there’s a lot of interest in this because it’s hard to know where to turn, especially if you’re a beginner. Our survey for instance ranked 20 DAWs, and those were just the ones that we received at least 10 responses to.

I mean there were several more beyond those top 20 that we didn’t bother ranking because they didn’t get the numbers in our particular survey, but yeah, there are dozens of them. It’s hard to know where to go.

Scott: Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of those big things where you have so many choices. The DAW is the heart of the studio. It really is. It is so important when you’re recording and mixing to have a DAW that you’re comfortable with and that you know the ins and outs of it because that makes everything go so much smoother. It makes sense that people would be very hesitant sometimes and not knowing where to turn because they don’t want to make the wrong choice for them. They don’t want to choose a DAW that they absolutely hate and spend a bunch of money on it or whatever. That’s why we put this together is to say, “Okay. Well, what are the DAWs that people are using?”

Before we dive into those results and talk a bit more about the survey, can you share a bit about what the methodology was?

Jimmy: Yeah, of course. The methodology was pretty straightforward. It was just a survey and we sent it to our email list. We have thousands of people on our email list who have already indicated to us that they’re interested in these topics of audio engineering, mixing, music production, recording, mastering, et cetera.

Scott: For sure, yeah.

Jimmy: These are people who know what a DAW is, first of all, because they’re on our list. We also sent it out on a few of other channels. We put it on our blog. I think we tweeted it. We put it on our Facebook page. We had a pretty good sampling of our user base who responded to the survey. We actually got over 1,200 people to respond which was great. That was a really good response.

Scott: Good sample size for sure.

Jimmy: It was definitely a good sample size. The data is certainly statistically significant, which is always what you strive for when you’re putting together survey results. I remember we were keeping our fingers crossed when we first blasted it to our list. We were hoping for 500. I think we shot through 500 within a few hours of sending it out which was very encouraging. I think that kind of just speaks to how popular this question is. People were really interested in responding to the survey.

Scott: For sure. Who’s on our list? Who are all of the people? I think it’s so interesting to kind of dive into that because even there’s times where I’m like, “We have lots of different kinds of people who listen to the show and things.”

Jimmy: Right, yeah. That was one of the questions we asked was, “how do you most identify yourself?” and then we gave them several options to choose from and they could only pick one. We’re kind of shoehorning people into predefined categories, which isn’t really an exact science, but it gave us a little bit of an overview of who these people are. A little bit more than half of our audience indicated that they were some sort of amateur or semiprofessional musician or singer. People who don’t do this full time necessarily. I think there’s a lot of beginners in that group who are just doing this as a hobby. Certainly there are a lot of people who are doing it a little bit more than a hobby.

Maybe they aren’t working in a big studio, but they’re trying to make a little bit of money on the side with this stuff. I know that one of your previous podcast guests was an AudioSkills subscriber and he, the fellow who was doing the children’s …

Scott: Jason.

Jimmy: Yeah, Jason. Jason Didner was doing the children’s music band. I think he would kind of fall into this category as like a semiprofessional musician or singer.

Scott: Yeah.

Jimmy: A little more than half of the people responded that way. Then getting into some of the other categories, about 15% of our 1,200 plus respondents indicated that they were a professional musician. I guess that would be like a fully professional person who’s doing this for a living full time. Right about the same number, about 15%, indicated that they aren’t necessarily a professional musician, but they are a different kind of industry professional or audio engineer doing this professionally. Then there were a few other categories that got a variety of people responding, but not in big numbers. That’s kind of an overview of who the people are on our list.

Scott: Bottom line, people come from all walks of life and all different areas of music in terms of what they’re trying to accomplish or what they’re currently doing.

Jimmy: A lot of different skill levels too I would say. There are people who are just beginning, but there’s also people who’ve been around the block a few times and have been doing this for years or decades. In some cases, I know we’ve heard from some of our email subscribers and Facebook followers, they’ve been doing this a long time some of them. Good mix of people who are following us at AudioSkills.

Scott: For sure. Now before we get into our specific results, real quick, how did you organize and display those results? How did we present them?

Jimmy: Well, first of all, they’re all on our website. If you go to AudioSkills.com/data, you’ll be able to see all of the results and you can read through. It’s pretty thorough. Then we just organized them into different tables based on the overall best DAW, the best DAW for Mac, the best DAW for PC, et cetera. I would refer the listeners to just head on over there right now and they can kind of pull up the stats and follow along in real time if they want to. Again that was AudioSkills.com/data, D-A-T-A.

Scott: Right on. Okay. Let’s get into the meat and potatoes here.

Jimmy: Here we go. Yeah. Let’s do it.

Scott: Let’s start with the biggest question that I know people have and that is: what was the most popular DAW according to our survey?

Jimmy: The number one most popular DAW is Pro Tools. Again to qualify this, the question we asked people was “which DAWs have you used within the past year?” and our survey results were all organized around that one question. Now look again – I’ll repeat it, which DAWs have you used within the past year. Then we presented a list of … I don’t remember how many it was, a couple dozen or so, DAWs that they got to choose from. We allowed them to choose more than one. Some survey respondents had only used one DAW within the last year so they only said, “Okay yeah. I’ve only used GarageBand within the last year.” That was how I responded.

Other survey respondents indicated they had used other over a dozen different DAWs in the last year. Some people had used five. Some people had used 10. Some people have used 20 of them.

Scott: Wow. Yeah.

Jimmy: We counted each time a DAW got a checkout, we counted that in its favor. 30% of all respondents had indicated that they had used Pro Tools within the last year. That was our number one most popular DAW. Number two was Logic Pro with 27%. Number three was GarageBand with 24%. Then we’ve got Audacity and PreSonus Studio One rounding out the top five, each with a little over 20%.

Scott: Right on. There were differences between Mac and PC, right, for what was the most popular?

Jimmy: Yeah, there were. Another question that we asked our respondents was which operating system … What was the question exactly? The question exactly was “what is your preferred operating system when recording and mixing music?” We made them choose. I know a lot of people work on Macs and Windows. Maybe they have a Mac at home and they’ve got a Windows in the studio or vice versa. I’m kind of the same way actually. I have a Mac at home and a Windows at the office right now. I’m using a Windows machine, but we asked them, “okay, if you had to pick one, what’s the one you like best?” It was actually pretty well split down the middle. 51% said Windows, 46% said Mac. Then we had 3% who said something else.

To answer your question, how does that break down in terms of what the most popular Macs are for those two operating systems? The people who had indicated that they preferred to work on Macs, Logic Pro was the clear-cut winner. Logic Pro got 53% of Mac users to say that they had used that DAW within the last year. GarageBand was second which shouldn’t be a surprise because GarageBand is preloaded and it’s free on all new Mac machines. When you buy a Mac, you get GarageBand whether you want it or not.

Scott: Right. It makes sense too that Logic Pro would be the most popular because it’s a Mac only program.

Jimmy: That’s right. Yeah. It’s a Mac only program. That’s a good point. Then Pro Tools came in third. Actually pretty much tied with GarageBand there right at 38%-39%.

Scott: Right on.

Jimmy: You want me to talk about the Windows results?

Scott: Sure. Just real quick.

Jimmy: The Windows results, there was no clear-cut winner like there was with Mac and Logic Pro. With Windows, we had Audacity and Pro Tools and PreSonus One all as the top three and they all got right about 23%-25% of users saying that they had used one of those DAWs within the past year.

Scott: Right on. I just kind of want to jump in here to mention something because we’re here talking about Mac versus PC. That in and of itself we could probably have a whole show debating this, because it just seems like it rages on in lots of different communities and audio is no exception. People have asked me, “Should I get a Mac? Should I get a PC?” It really doesn’t matter if you’re just trying to make music. It matters if, for example, you want to work on GarageBand or Logic Pro because those are Mac only programs. If you just want to make music, don’t get wrapped up in, “Oh, well, Mac is better is PC or PC is better than Mac,” because you can find a great computer and you can find a great piece of software that will allow you to do everything that you want to do.

It was encouraging to me actually to see that these results were kind of as even as they were because that just shows you there’s no one way to do audio. If someone’s out there and they’re thinking, “Well, unless I can afford this $1,500 MacBook Pro, I can’t do this,” well, that’s not true. You can. I just kind of want to jump in there and mention that.

Jimmy: No, that’s a really good point. If you already have a Windows machine that’s humming along just fine and you want to start mixing and recording, I mean just get … Don’t feel like you have to buy a new Mac and get the most expensive version of Logic Pro. There’s plenty of options for Windows as well and vice versa, I would say.

Scott: Absolutely.

Jimmy: One interesting thing I wanted to point out in Mac versus PC, I don’t know if you were going to ask me this later, but I figure I’ll bring it up now.

Scott: Sure.

Jimmy: I was able to identify like, what types of people are using Mac and PC based on what kind of music they make.

Scott: That’s really interesting.

Jimmy: Maybe you’ll get into this later, but by and large, it didn’t really matter who was using Mac and who was using PC by the type of music they’re making, but I did notice that people who were making hip hop music tended to skew a little bit more Mac than our average respondent.

Scott: That’s really interesting.

Jimmy: Then people who were making rock music tended to skew a little bit more Windows. I don’t know what that means, but you can read into what you want. I thought that was kind of neat.

Scott: That is interesting.

Jimmy: We’ll get into the different genres in music later. I’ll give you a whole bunch of information about that.

Scott: My next question – and I’m sure there is someone out there – we’ve gone through what the most popular DAWs according to our survey are, they might be disappointed that their DAW of choice wasn’t number one on their list. They might feel that their DAW deserves to be number one for whatever reason. I think it is important to note that most popular doesn’t necessarily mean best. My question to you, Jimmy, is: is there a best DAW in your mind?

Jimmy: Yeah, great question. In my mind, well, yes and no. I would say no for the most part, but I’ll get to my yes part in a second. To reiterate, this is not a ranking. We are not ranking the best DAWs. As you said, Scott, these are just the most popular DAWs among our audience. Maybe there’s a correlation between popularity and quality.

Scott: Sure. Maybe.

Jimmy: You probably think there is, but you can read into that what you will. In terms of is there a best DAW in my mind, the yes part comes from one of your previous podcast guests actually, Adam Olson, who indicated that Pro Tools is pretty much the industry standard. If you’re a professional audio engineer or an aspiring professional audio engineer, you should know Pro Tools if you really want to take this seriously. That said, a lot of you listeners out there probably don’t really have any dreams about doing this professionally. Maybe you’re just doing it as a hobby or maybe you’re just doing it for yourself and that’s fine too. Then I would say, “Well, you know what? There really isn’t a single best DAW. I mean there is no best software.”

It’s kind of like asking the Mac or PC question, which one’s the best? You’ll get different responses from different people. I don’t really think there is a single best, but there are some questions that you can ask yourself to help you find which DAW you want to use. I think the first question you would ask is how much do you want to spend on it, how much can you afford to spend.

Scott: Yeah, your budget.

Jimmy: Your budget. Exactly. I mean, do you want to drop a few hundred dollars – or some of these even cost over a thousand dollars – or do you want to just dabble and use the free version? That’s the first question you have to ask yourself. The second question is what kind of computer you have obviously, do you have a Mac or a PC, because most of the DAWs are available for both platforms, but there are some that are Windows specific and there are some that are Mac specific, so that may help narrow down your choices. The third question is what do you need the DAW to do, because they all have different capabilities.

I won’t speak too much to that because I don’t really know enough about the different capabilities to be able to speak about it, but I know that they do have different capabilities. Scott and Andy, you guys know more about this than I do. I’ll just leave it at that.

Scott: For sure.

Jimmy: The fourth question is, are you going to be composing in DAW. Some people who are just mixing or recording music, they don’t actually do music composition in their DAWs, but there are some DAWs that are geared toward music composers. If you have composing in mind, there are certain options out there.

Scott: Absolutely.

Jimmy: Then you also want to ask yourself about the company and the customer support options. Some of the free DAWs may not have the same support you’re looking for as opposed to the paid ones. That kind of goes hand in hand with the budget question.

Scott: That can be frustrating too if someone’s just starting out. They’re like completely lost and then you’re using some kind of free DAW or something that maybe doesn’t have as robust a customer service. You might be lost and having a problem and just not know what to do and you don’t have that help there, so that then can kind of derail your whole project.

Jimmy: A little bit, although I would say that there are probably a lot of forums out there that they can post questions on.

Scott: There’s AudioSkills too.

Jimmy: There’s also AudioSkills as well. You can send Scott your questions if you have questions on DAWs. Another question is, how advanced are you? If you’re just beginning, you might not want to buy a $2,000 DAW or even a $200 DAW. Maybe you do want to go a free route for a little while especially if you have a Mac. I would recommend just starting with GarageBand.

Scott: Well, GarageBand is really geared to … It’s a bit of a stripped down version of a DAW in the sense that it’s not … You aren’t going to have all those mixing buses and all these kind of scary faders and things like that. Jimmy, you had mentioned earlier how you had played around in GarageBand. The fact that someone like yourself, who doesn’t have that much musical experience and had probably never even seen a mixing board or something like that before diving into GarageBand, you could do a little something – that right there speaks to that for sure.

Jimmy: Yeah. Absolutely. I think I’m perfectly suited for this because I am a beginner.

Scott: Right on. Right on.

Jimmy: It’s kind of a loaded question you asked me what the best DAW is.

Scott: I had to ask it because I know people are always asking me that and I know people want this and they want like, “Oh well, here’s the perfect answer.” I hate to disappoint, but there is no perfect answer that “this is the absolutely best DAW”. Though Jimmy, like you mentioned, Pro Tools is your industry standard, but even that is changing more and more. Professionals are using different kinds of DAWs. I mean I remember looking on Logic Pro’s site and they’re advertising all over the place that Adele, that song “Hello” that was all over the radio, that was created in Logic Pro. That was mixed in Logic Pro.

Jimmy: See? There you go.

Scott: My next question, we were kind of touching on this in terms of beginners and maybe people who might have some budget concerns. They may not have the cash to spend on some DAWs that are great, but are super expensive. Fortunately for them, there are some free DAWs out there. What are the most popular ones, Jimmy?

Jimmy: There were two that got a lot of people saying that they had used within the past year. One of them was GarageBand. That was actually the most popular free DAW. Again that makes sense because it’s preloaded on all new Mac machines. If you buy a Mac, like I said before, you’re getting GarageBand whether you like it or not and that’s kind of how I started doodling around in GarageBand. It was when I first started working for AudioSkills I thought, “I should probably learn a little bit more about this myself and not just be the tech guy.” I quickly learned that oh, I’ve got GarageBand already on my Mac and that’s how I got started. I think that’s probably the same case with a lot of our respondents here.

24% of the 1,200-plus respondents said that they had used GarageBand within the last year. That’s only available for Mac. That’s the thing. If you don’t have a Mac, then what’s your best option? The most popular non-Mac option is Audacity. Actually I shouldn’t say it’s the best non-Mac option because it is also available for Mac, but it’s available for Windows and even Linux as well. That was the second most popular free DAW. 22% of our respondents said that they had used that within the past year. Then I’ll just quickly list the other ones that are available for free. Some of the other more popular ones were Pro Tools |  First, which you may not know that Pro Tools, the industry standard, does have a free version.

It is limited, but it can kind of give you an introduction to Pro Tools. If you are serious about becoming a professional audio engineer at some point, I would recommend checkout Pro Tools | First. It’s a free download. If you get going in that and you want to upgrade a few months or a year or two down the road, you have the option to do that. You’ll have a pretty good knowledge base at that point. Then the other three free options that seemed to be popular were PreSonus Studio One Prime, which again there’s a paid version of that one as well. Tracktion, they make several different versions of their DAW, but their free version is called Tracktion T5 and from there you can upgrade to T7 and beyond. Then Ardour was one of the other ones.

All of those ones that I listed with the exception of GarageBand are available for both Mac and Windows.

Scott: Just kind of jumping in because there are people out there that might hate on Pro Tools | First, for example, because it is so limited or some of these other things, I think the reality is that if you’re starting out and maybe you don’t have the budget, you can do some things with these free DAWs – especially something like GarageBand. If you are wanting to really have all the bells and whistles, all these plugins, be able to have a million different tracks, be able to do all the kinds of things that maybe a pro would want to do, you may have a tougher time doing all of that with just free DAWs. There are low cost DAWs. I would mention I know a lot of people are big fans of Reaper, for example, which is I think 60 bucks.

There are some other options out there, but like for 100% free, I think they are best for folks who might be just starting out or people who maybe don’t need all of that. Maybe just the way you are making your music, you are just more than happy with just a limit of tracks or something like that and you can work within those restrictions or parameters. Again people get so passionate about their DAWs and I get it. They’ll say, “Oh, you never use Pro Tools | First or whatever,” but I think it’s just a matter of okay, decide what your goals are, and if a free version of a DAW can get you there, well, go for it and that’ll be great. Then if you’re ready to take the next step, then you can move up because that’s what I did. I started with GarageBand.

I kind of got used to it. Made some songs, whatever. Then I said, “You know what? I’m ready to take the next step,” and I used Logic Pro. I was like, “Okay. I’m ready to move on and now I’m going to get all these different mix buses and all this crazy stuff and I’m going to see how it all goes.” I just wanted to mention that.

Jimmy: No, that’s a good point. You got to get started somewhere. Maybe the free option is the way to go when you’re first getting started for sure.

Scott: For sure. Now my last question for you, Jimmy, and I thought this was interesting because I had been so curious about this. We get such great feedback from our podcast listeners or subscribers, et cetera. I know all you guys out there, you guys and gals, are making different kinds of music in different genres. Jimmy, I’m curious, according to our survey, what were some of the most popular music genres? Maybe the top five or so.

Jimmy: Yeah, I’ll give you the top five real quick here. Over 1,200 survey respondents, the number one most popular genre was rock. 55% of all of our respondents said that they had created rock music.

Scott: A lot of rockers.

Jimmy: Yeah, exactly. A lot of rockers. Number two was pop with about a third of our users saying they create pop. Also, about a third of our users say they create alternative music. Then blues is one and then R&B is another one. I almost said blues and R&B. I didn’t want to lump them together. Blues and R&B, two separate genres, came in with a little more than 25% each. That’s our top five there.

Scott: That’s really interesting and kind of a disclaimer for this is I realized that there are … It’s so hard to pigeonhole genres because there’s people that are like, myself included, where I might put myself in a number of different genres when I’m making music. That’s always a tough question, but still interesting to see how people might categorize themselves if they had to … I have to pick some genres.

Jimmy: Absolutely, man. Yeah. Was that it? Was that our last question?

Scott: I think that was.

Jimmy: Dang, man. That was fun. I don’t want the fun to stop.

Scott: Well, Jimmy, I wanted to thank you so much for coming on the show today and just sharing some insight into the kinds of DAWs that AudioSkills subscribers and beyond are using. I think this is really, really interesting stuff.

Jimmy: Yeah. Thanks for having me on, buddy. You know, one more time if you missed it earlier, you want to go checkout all the survey results and look at all the pretty charts that Scott and I put together, just head on over to AudioSkills.com/data. That’s AudioSkills.com/data. Thanks for having me on today, Scott. I appreciate it.

Scott: For sure, man. That was great. Thanks so much to all of you out there for listening today. As a reminder, for links and information about today’s show and our guest, please check out our show notes at AudioSkills.com/podcast. No matter what DAW you’re using, whether it’s the most popular one or just one that you found and it seems to be working for you, just go out there and get better with it, have fun and make some great music.

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