12 Apps Every Musician Should Have

Are you a musician? There’s an app for that! Actually, there are lots of apps for that. iOS has made it easy for musicians to create share, and market music from your iPhone or iPad. These days you can make nearly studio quality music from your own bedroom with apps from your phone. I am a musician myself and I attend the music filled school of Belmont University in the music filled city of Nashville, Tennessee. These are the 10 most helpful, easy to work with apps I have encountered and used right from my dorm room. These apps can help make good quality music, send it out to your listeners, grow your fan base, and even enhance your live shows at little to no cost.

CREATING 

1. Garageband – $4.99

This ones a bit more pricey than but I think it’s worth it. I’m around music for a good portion of my time but I do not in any way think of myself as a “producer”. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about ProTools and I definitely shouldn’t be trusted with all of those buttons on a soundboard. Garageband is pretty simple to use and there are several hundred tutorials floating around online that can help you get the quality music you’re looking for. With a decent quality mic and a few instruments, you can have a nice little demo in less than an hour.

2. Loopy HD – $3.99

For all of you singer/songwriters out there who want to hear more to your songs than just vocals and guitar, this app is for you. It’s great for getting out ideas and sharing them with a band or even just your friends. You can loop vocal harmonies, instrumental riffs, and more. You can have up to 12 layers on a track. Once you’re finished creating your demo you can upload it to Soundcloud, Twitter, or e-mail it to bandmates or friends to get feedback.

3. Songwriter’s Pad – $2.99

This is by far one of the best apps out there for songwriters. As you’re writing a song you can find rhymes, word replacements, ideas based on emotion, and keep your ideas structured as you go. It will also allow you to import backing tracks or beats. Once you’re finished it allows you to record a quick work tape. It will even sync what you’re working on between your iPhone or iPad.

4. BandFriend – FREE

I’ve never actually used this one but it’s a really cool idea! If you’re looking for band members to play gigs with but don’t know where to start, this could be the app for you. You can see profiles of local musicians around you, see their highlighted skills, instruments, influences and interests, or post your own for others to see. It’s a lot like online dating for musicians. Sometimes that’s what it takes to get a great band together! Once you find your “perfect match” you can invite them to share their contact information so that you can start playing together and see how it goes. If you try this out, comment below and let us know how it works out!

SHARING

5. Soundcloud – FREE

This is my favorite way to share music. It’s great for trying out new songs. Lots of times when I write songs, I’ll upload them to soundcloud and then tweet it to my followers, email it to my sister, or maybe even text it to a cowriter to see if it’s on the right track. You can get feedback via comments and likes or even allow it to be downloaded for free.This app is so easy to use and it’s also great for social networking with other songwriters, artists, and listeners as well. You can also integrate it with Facebook to let your friends know what you’re listening to.

6. Lyrics Pro – LyricFind – $2.99

If you’re playing 3 hour sets of cover songs at bars or restaurants, chances are you’re going to need some help remembering lyrics or you’re going to need a refresher of that song someone requested that you haven’t heard in 8 years. (Unless you’re Bruce Springsteen or something.) You can get rid of the binder filled with songs you never play anymore. This app for iPhone or iPad allows you to look up lyrics to almost any song you would want to cover and it will autoscroll them for you as you play on stage. You can add your favorites to set lists so you won’t have to search them at your next show as well. This app can help your live show go a lot more smoothly!

7. UltimateGuitar – $2.99

This is another goto app you can use for those crazy requests during live shows. You can transpose songs, autoscroll chords while you play, and find tabs for solos if you have a bit of time between sets. If you’re having trouble finding songs to play there are lists of the Top 100 songs people are playing that you can use. You can also add songs to your favorites on this app so you won’t have to search for them again later.

MARKETING

8. Twitter – FREE

Twitter has been my greatest tool so far for gaining listeners. With the use of hashtags and a little bit of a marketing mind, you can find the followers that yourmusic appeals to and turn them into dedicated fans. Be careful with this one, though. Don’t use Twitter to update your every move. That being said, don’t only post every couple of months when you need something either. Treat your followers like your friends and talk to them about things they like. When you turn your followers into friends, these friends are going to be the ones listening to your music and coming to shows.

9. JustUnfollow – FREE

Speaking of Twitter, this app is great to grow your twitter following. What I’ve found most effective is following the followers of artists who have a similar style as you. It also helps to follow the followers of artists who are on about the same level as you, maybe even local musicians that you play with. It doesn’t hurt to share fans! This app allows you to mass follow people and then unfollow those who aren’t following you back so that you can keep your follow/follower ratio even.

10. Instagram – FREE

Instagram can give your fans a cool “inside” look at what you’re doing in your career. If you’re in the studio, snap a picture. If you’re on tour or doing a show, give them a 15 second video of soundcheck to show them what they can expect at the show. They love being included on any behind-the-scenes activities! Just like with Twitter, make your followers your friends. Show them pictures of any experiences that you would share with your friends. (Okay, maybe not all experiences you would share with your friends….Maybe ones you would share with a sibling who is likely to tell your mom. Keep it clean and entertaining.)

11. PicLab HD – $1.99

This one goes hand in hand with Instagram. You don’t need to hire a graphic designer to make posters for your shows anymore. Do people even look at posters on bulletin boards anymore? Not really, their eyes are glued to their Instagram feed. Ah-ha! There’s where you should be advertising for your shows. This app will make you feel like a great photoshop wiz without actually being one. You can make great quality graphics to advertise upcoming shows or new releases and then share them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any of the other other eight hundred social media forms that have just been developed as I typed this. You can even order prints if you’re feeling old school!

12. Pages for Facebook – FREE

Facebook’s analytics can be extremely helpful in booking shows and seeing which areas you’re getting the most interaction from. You can see how your posts are performing with comparisons of engagements. You will want to keep your audience active. Once again, keep the posts entertaining and give your “likers” an inside look at what you’re doing and you’ll be on your way to growing your following in no time!

With tools like these, it’s so easy these days to make music and get it heard by the right audience! By using these apps, you can create, share, and market your music and have a worldwide online audience in no time. Try out some of these apps and let us know in the comments below what you find most helpful!

– Lauren McLamb

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