8 Hit Songs That Were Produced on Garageband

Famous artists have made groundbreaking music using free software, and so can you!

There’s nothing new about musicians, vocalists, and music producers getting upset that they don’t have a million-dollar studio with all the latest music gear. For whatever reason, a lot of people believe that if they have expensive synths, pro-audio gear, amazing monitors and an acoustically treated room, they’ll suddenly become a rockstar overnight. 

The faster you realize that this is wrong, the better. I know music producers that have spent $30,000+ on their studios, and they aren’t earning minimum wage. I also am friends with producers that use nothing but a computer and a pair of headphones that are currently on a global tour. 

Say this: It’s not what I use, it’s how I use it. 

Did you literally say it out-loud? Good. This is the mentality all artists should have because greatness can be made on any medium. 

Now let’s talk about hit songs that were made using Apple’s free digital audio workstation (DAW) Garageband. 

1) Rihanna – Umbrella

Rihanna’s team of producers used a drum loop from Garageband to help produce this song. You might actually recognize the loop! Open up Garageband and search for the “Vintage Funk Kit 03” sample.

Umbrella was sitting at #1 on Billboards Hot 100 for a long time, and landed a place in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. If Rihanna’s team can make a hit using this free DAW, so can you.

2) Wavves – “Wavves” and “Wavvves”

Nathan Williams, aka Wavves is an alternative indie group formed by Nathan from the beautiful town of San Diego, CA. In 2008, he quit his job and produced the studio album Wavves within a short amount of time and released it to the public just to see what would happen. He’s now a successful touring artist. He was coined to be the “next big thing” by many fans online, and has left his mark in the music industry. He used no other DAW besides Garageband.

3) Justice – Cross

One of my favorite albums out there, Cross was produced using Garageband. Justice’s Xavier de Rosnay said “A lot of people think it’s bullshit when we say we use GarageBand, but it’s actually an amazing tool.”

What’s fascinating is the amount of detail and depth this album has to offer, and that they were able to get this done using Garageband. 

4) T-Pain – Rappa Ternt Sanga

T-Pain’s debut album Rappa Ternt Sanga that was released in 2005 is said to be almost entirely produced on Garageband with only instruments and VSTs native to the DAW.

Fast forward 15 years later, and Garageband has made remarkable progress in its functionality. T-Pain was able to make a career for himself using very simple tools – imagine what you can do with all these modern advancements!

5) Nine Inch Nails – The Hand That Feeds

In 2005, the great Trent Reznor released and processed his samples of The Hand That Feeds so musicians around the world could remix it. He wanted artists to specifically use Garageband because of its power, easy usage, and the fact that it’s free. He states that he accomplished this on Garageband using only “a PowerBook 1.67 w/ 2G RAM…” (Macworld.com) – aka, not a very powerful computer.

6) Radiohead – In Rainbows

Radiohead used garageband for their groundbreaking album: In Rainbows. The album is mixed and mastered nicely, and In Rainbows did extremely well in the music charts. At the end of the same year, Radiohead ran a remix contest and used Garageband to bounce stems to share with the public. It was an extremely popular event.

7) George Pringle – Salon des Refusés

Originating from London, George Pringle has been very vocal and open about loving Garageband. She wrote her debut album Salon des Refusés on Garageband and stated in her interview on Dazed that “Yes, I’m still using GarageBand. As a first album, I wanted the whole thing to be succinct so that’s why I kept with it.”

8) Steve Lacy – (Kendrick Lamar’s) “Damn” and “Ego Death”

Steve Lacy’s Grammy nominations for Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn” and “Ego Death” were produced with the help of the Garageband app. We repeat – one of the hottest songs dropped in 2017 was produced on Garageband using just the mobile and iPad app. 


We really want to drive the point home that you don’t need lots of expensive gear to make a booming career for yourself. In the beginning, most of the greats utilized the small amounts of resources they had, hustled, and were able to pave their way because of this mentality. It’s important to start small and take it one step at a time… and once you’re able to afford a professional music studio, it will be that much sweeter! 

1) Rihanna – “Umbrella”
2) Wavves – “Wavves” and “Wavvves”
3) Justice – “Cross”
4) T-Pain – “Rappa Ternt Sanga”
5) Nine Inch Nails – “The Hand That Feeds”
6) Radiohead – “In Rainbows”
7) George Pringle – “Salon des Refusés”
8) Steve Lacy – (Kendrick Lamar’s) “Damn” and “Ego Death”

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About me

My name is Nick Voorhees, and i’m an Icon Collective graduate, music producer, and owner of Melody Nest. I am in no way an expert in music production (or in any field), but I just wanted to share some insight on what helped me along the way. I hope this is at least a little helpful.  


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