How do I get free plug-ins and samples for my DAW?

Register an interest!

Plug-ins can often be obtained for free. All that you need to do is register with a few companies that will send you offers, and they can be at any time of the year: New Year, Summer, Winter, Anniversary. 

DAW manufacturer first

Your very first registration should be with the manufacturer of your DAW. You are already a customer, and they will want to sell you more stuff. Often they will give away something to get your attention, but sometimes they will quietly add free things to their store, so get familiar with what the store contains, and wait for things to appear with 'Free!' instead of a price. It is a good idea to keep a list of 'Things that would be nice if they were free' and then just wait for them to appear for free!

As an example, Ampify, the software people at Novation, have quite a lot of free stuff available for their IOS software and they often update it - all you need to do is look around the store every so often...

Then Brands

The next set of companies should be big well-established brands, because they will always be releasing new products, and they often give away simpler or older versions to gain publicity. Read blogs and watch YouTube for information on who makes good stuff, and just register with them. Don't buy immediately from them. Wait and see if they will give it away for free!

For example: Eventide for audio effects, iZotope or Waves Audio for audio utilities, and ModeAudio for samples. 

Special Offers

Then there are the 'Special Offers' companies. They have lots of plug-ins, software synths, and sample libraries available at very low prices, sometimes bundled with extra presets, sometimes things that aren't selling very well, and sometimes the current version will drop in price just before a new version is released. You often get 'points' when you buy something from them, so that you will keep buying from them. 

The way to approach special offer companies is to buy carefully and very rarely. The less you buy, the harder they will try to get your attention with offers! Look for 'Free' offers, and look for things that are free if you buy something else - and then only buy if you really do need it. Never buy something just to get a freebie!

Don't just buy a plug-in because it looks like a huge discount, or is enormously powerful, or interesting, or everyone is talking about it, or Facebook people are always talking about it (Omnisphere or Serum are two examples of plug-ins that 'Everyone' has - except they don't!). The people who write plug-ins will always try to suggest that they are 'essential', or that they are used by lots of name artists, or that they will help you make hits. Be very cautious in what you believe.  

For example: Plugin Boutique or Audio Plugin Deals (There are lots more...)

One-stop shopping

An alternative approach is to ignore everything so far, and just go to one of the companies that specialise in being your single source for everything. Native Instruments do Komplete, which contains virtual instruments and effects, and once you have the free starter edition, they will then offer you all sorts of deals and freebies to get you to upgrade to a 'better' version. There are also cloud-based subscriptions where you pay monthly and can download lots of sounds and effects. Splice is one example, Roland have the Roland Cloud, and there are many more. One interesting variation at the DJ-end of the market is Serato Studio, which is a complete application that you subscribe to, and which has cloud-based loops for you to play with.   

Watch your email account...

You should soon start getting emails appearing in your Inbox. Don't open them immediately and click on the links that say 'Buy Now' or 'Limited Time Offer'. Instead, open them when you are bored with making a track, or you have run out of ideas for a chorus or a middle 8... Go to the website rather than the special link in the email. Look for other offers, not necessarily the one they are promoting, and especially free stuff. You don't need to buy anything from these emails - ask yourself if you really need another reverb, another synth, another step sequencer... (You probably don't!) If you really want to buy something, make a note and go back to it a week later. Do you still think it is the most essential thing you have ever seen or heard? 

You don't need to do anything with any of these emails. Feel free to ignore them, delete them, laugh at how desperate they are to sell you stuff... One useful technique is to mark them as spam and then look at your Spam Folder only once a week or so. Remember that the only reason for registering to get all of these emails is so that you get to hear about their freebies, so you can ignore most of the emails!

Always Free...

There are some places that offer sample libraries for free. is one example. Spitfire Audio's LABS are free virtual instruments. 

No-one will ever know...

Remember that no-one will ever know that you used a free sound, synth, effect for plug-in. All they will hear is your music. Don't ever think that paying out money is a guarantee of success - your talent and skill is what matters. 

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