Whether we perform via singing, playing guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, or any other instrument – there’s one piece of equipment all musicians value equally.
There’s no doubt that our phones are an essential part of our musical careers. We’re texting, tweeting, and posting on our way to and from gigs and performances. However, it’s possible that we aren’t maximizing the effectiveness of this tool. Just like any instrument, we should be ‘tuning’ our phones to make everything else work better.
So, with our best Samuel L. Jackson impression, we ask, “What’s in your phone?”
Here are the 7 kinds of apps you should be using to assist in organizing your performances and business practices, along with recommendations and examples to help guide your research.
- Calendar – Without a good calendar app, you will find yourself overwhelmed by last minute rehearsal schedules, appointments you have to keep up with, and commitments you made but didn’t write down. Most phones have a built in calendar and reminder app, but the trick is to make your calendars sync with every device, so when you make a reminder in one area, it will show up in your other devices. Popular calendar apps that do this include:
- Google Calendar
- Apple Calendar
- Fantastical 2
- Calendars 5
- Map / GPS – Very few of us remember the days where you had to pull out a physical map to find an address. GPS apps are now the standard method of finding your way to a performance or gig. There’s several great travel apps, one of the most popular nowadays being Waze, which uses data from other drivers to help predict your arrival time almost flawlessly. The apps listed below are helpful and are available on both Apple and Android phones.
- Google Maps
- Mileage Tracker – Most local musicians log several thousand miles a year for business, but when tax time rolls around, we seldom have records of our business travel. Guessing or simply filling in estimated mileage records is risky, considering the chance of an audit, and also can cost you valuable deductions if you underestimate your actual mileage. Apps that track your business travel are a great way to maintain records in an easy manner. We recommend Taxbot, which syncs with your calendar to allow you to enter your travel destinations easily. The apps below offer similar features, so be sure to check out the reviews and select the one that fits your recordkeeping needs best.
- Music Streaming – While musicians and artists everywhere are rightfully concerned about the growth of streaming services (and their less than attractive royalty payments), it’s also undeniable that streaming is a great tool for musicians. Most of us have faced situations where we had to access a song or arrangement at the last minute, and music streaming apps allow us to get any song we need quickly. We recommend Spotify for its ease of creating playlists for each purpose, event or list you need to access. Other popular music apps include:
- Apple Music
- Google Play
- YouTube Music
- Metronome / Tuner – every musician needs to play in time and play in tune. Apps now allow us to keep our equipment close by even when we may have left other equipment behind. Many apps have both metronomes and tuners built in together, but we combined this category since certain musicians don’t need tuners (keys, drums) Recommended apps available on Apple and Android include:
- Parking by Phone – Every musician has had to find a place to park when arriving at a gig or venue. It’s a headache compounded when you have to look for change, or figure out which parking meter to use. Using an app for parking in municipal spaces saves a lot of time, and depending on where you live, you can make sure you’re never stuck with a ticket for being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Make sure the apps below are used by your local parking authority before downloading them.
- Bank Transfers / Mobile Payments – Last and maybe most importantly, we all expect payments at gigs to be handled easily and efficiently, and the prospect of running to a bank with a check isn’t always appealing. Unless you’re paid in cash, the easiest way to be paid and to pay fellow musicians is through mobile apps. Usually these services are free for the sender, and charge the recipient a small percentage based on how they want the funds transferred into their account. It provides a quick and easy way to avoid the hassles of sending payments through the mail or in person if compensation has to come after the performance. Popular apps for mobile payments include:
Learning to use these seven types of apps effectively can make every performance a little less stressful, and help you focus on what matters most – creating great music.
Note: God and Gigs maintains affiliate relationships with some of these companies; however all recommendations are made from personal experience.