Saving Money on Expensive Music Software – Guest Post by Chad Criswell

When you think about the music technology software that we use on a regular basis in the classroom you start to realize just how expensive it can be to upgrade to the newest versions.  Worse yet is if you don’t own the software to begin with and have to purchase a new license for Finale or some other program at prices well above $300 per copy even with a teacher’s discount.  There are some other options though for people that simply want to get their music down on paper without having to spend the big bucks for the big name titles.  Here are some suggestions for ways to find low cost music software alternatives.

High Tech Low Budget
The first, and highly recommended place to find alternative options to high priced software is an article over at MusicEdMagic called, simply enough, High Tech, Low Budget.  I put this together to accompany a presentation I made at the 2012 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and I keep it updated with new products as they come onto the market.  It’s packed with dozens of ideas for music notation software, audio recording and editing software, video editing software, music theory software, and many more as well.

AlternativeTo.net
For any music software programs that you can’t find on the High Tech Low Budget list check out the website known as AlternativeTo.net.  I use this one all the time for finding alternative software recommendations, both paid and free, for almost every product under the sun including lots of music related programs.  The only problem I have with them is that they make it confusing to find the link you need to actually go visit the website of the product you are looking at.  They like to keep you on the site as long as possible.  Other than that though it is a great little site with plenty of great low cost alternatives.

OSALT.com
Open Source Alternatives is another useful site for those that are seeking other software options for common everyday tasks.  It’s not as friendly to use as AlternativeTo is and is not categorized like the HTLB article but it has one of the largest lists of alternative software programs available.  Plus many of them are open source and quite often free.

Between the three suggestions given above you can find just about any piece of software you might ever need.  Remember, for every high priced piece of software there are almost always some low cost or free alternatives.  Before shelling out hundreds of dollars for a commercial music program check these lists to find a more budget friendly alternative.


Chad Criswell is a noted music educator living and teaching in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa.  His articles have appeared in dozens of publications both online and in print.  He currently serves as the national music technology writer for NAfME’s Teaching Music Magazine and webmaster of MusicEdMagic.com.

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