Help Free and low-cost tools for music production and services for music distribution
  Important: This list has been created mainly for beginners and it is recommended for creating and releasing music with small or no cost. Each product/service is free under the terms defined by its developers. If you have any questions please ask for support from the developers or search for related information on the internet. "zero-project" does not provide any kind of support for this list. You can use any of the mentioned products/services at your own risk. If you like a product don't forget to support the creators.

Glossary: "DAW" (which means "Digital Audio Workstation") is the main (host) music program. An "audio library" contains audio files of recorded instruments or sounds. "VST" (which means "Virtual Studio Technology") is an interface for integrating software audio synthesizers and effects with DAWs. "VSTi" (which means "VST Instrument") is a software audio synthesizer.

Note: All suggestions are in alphabetical order.
  1. Free and low-cost DAWs

Ardour (Windows, OSX and Linux, low-cost)
Cockos Reaper (Windows and OSX, low-cost)
Darkwave studio (Windows, free)
Html5 drum machine (cloud-based drum sequencer)
LMMS (Windows, OSX and Linux, free)
Steinberg Cubase Elements (Windows, low-cost)
Traction T7 (Windows, OSX and Linux, free demo)

2. Free audio libraries (audio collection)
NASA sounds (audio collection)
Soundbible (audio collection)
Soundexmachina (some free audio libraries)
TheFreeSite (link catalogue of free wavs)

3. Free VST/VSTi plugins

Amplesound Lite plugins (freeware section)
Blue Cat Audio (freeware section)
De la mancha (freeware collection)
Dexed (synthesizer)
DSK Music (freeware collection)
FLStudioMusic (freeware collection)
FXpansion Free Compressor (FX plugin)
Green Oak Software Crystal (synthesizer)
GVST (freeware VST effects and instruments)
HGFortuneNFG (freeware collection)
Ivy Audio (sampled instruments)
Krakli Plugins (freeware collection)
Leslie Sanford VST (freeware fx collection)
MDA VST (freeware collection)
OBXD Synthesizer (analog synthesizer)
ODOSynths archive (freeware collection)
Oxe Fm (synthesizer)
Plex 2 (synthesizer)
Solcito Musica (freeware collection)
Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra (sampled orchestra)
Soni Musicae (samples collection)
Steinberg VST classics 1 (freeware synth and bass)
Steinberg VST classics 2 (freeware synth)
SuperWave P8 (synthesizer)
Synth 1 (synthesizer)
TAL Collection (freeware section)
Tin Brook Tales VST archive (freeware collection)
Varietyofsound (freeware VST effects)
Virtual FM (synthesizer)
VST4free (freeware collection)
VST4you (freeware collection)
VSTPlanet (freeware collection)
u-he Podolski (synthesizer)
u-he Triple Cheese (synthesizer)
u-he Zebralette (synthesizer)
Zampler-RX (synthesizer)
Zvenigorod (sampled toy piano)

4. Free and low-cost tools

Asio4all (Universal ASIO driver for Windows, free)
Audacity (Audio editor for Windows, OSX and Linux, free)
JBridge (32/64bit compatibility VST tool for Windows and OSX, low cost)
MuseScore (Score editor for Windows, OSX and Linux, free)
Ocenaudio (Audio editor for Windows, OSX and Linux, free)
SAVIHost (VST dll loader for Windows, free)
Spek (Acoustic spectrum analyser for Windows, OSX and Linux, free)

5. Free and low-cost digital distribution services

Amuse (free, low-cost)
Awal (low-cost)
DistroKid (low-cost)
FreshTunes (free)
Music Kickup (free, low-cost)
RouteNote (free, low-cost)
Sarker (low-cost)
Soundrop (low-cost)
Stem (low-cost)
Symphonic (low-cost)