Whether you’re on the SkyTrain and the perfect melody slips into your head, or get a message from The Based God asking for beats while you’re hiking (true story), the 21st-century musician is just a tap away from making their personal music goals possible virtually anywhere, thanks to the world of smartphone apps. 

Like a lot of musicians I know, my songwriting comes in unexpected fits and starts. There is a musical dialogue in my head that is going on 24/7. We know the struggle of having that perfect idea finally hit different when you least expect it and being unable to jot it down before it leaves again. Thankfully, apps are amazing, quick tools that help you capture your ideas whenever – and wherever – the inspiration might strike you. Just like EVH said!

“You were in there? With your guitar?” Shred in peace, Eddie.

Music technology has changed a lot since Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville first recorded sound on blackened paper and played them via phonautograph. But the worldwide shift from analog to digital equipment over the 20th-century – thanks to the microprocessor – has made life for musicians a lot more accessible, portable, and self-directed. 

If simplicity is supreme, then these apps reign royally. Check out these 5 great must-have apps for musicians and artists, and how they’ve helped keep me and my collabs with Coronation Collective creatively on track. 

1. Notes App, or a pen and paper

Especially in hip-hop, lyrics are the foundation of a song. It’s key to get your lyrics down that match what you’re hearing in your head, so you remember how it goes when you record. Every phone comes with its own version of a Notes app and is great for jotting ideas down while listening to music.

Now – call me old-fashioned but I feel like a pen and piece of paper will get lyrics down better than an app sometimes. You’re able to depict your lyrics a bit more visually, which can help in marking how a specific part or rhythm of your song goes. I use my phone Notes on the go for bits and pieces that come to me, but prefer the organization, look and feel of paper. 

A young Bob Dylan and his typewriter (another fave lyric-writing format of mine.)

2. Instagram

Nowadays, most A&R’s or labels are looking for how an artist constructs their visual brand as much as the type of music they make. Not only is Instagram the ideal place to create and post your own content to engage and interact with your audience, but it is also key for learning about the music community you’re involved in, and networking with other musicians and creators.

4 things I see particularly helpful with Instagram are:

  • Engagement Groups – Local artist exposure and reciprocal support for each other’s music, community building, and other opportunities
  • Group Chats – socialization with your circle, working with a collaborator(s)/team on projects
  • Instagram Music – gives artists the chance to have their music shared via Instagram Stories, through a provider like DistroKid, UnitedMasters, or CDBaby.
Miles Davis with Gil Evans, the famous big band leader & arranger. Though from completely different backgrounds of music & life, the networking of these two led to the surge of popular jazz that swept the States mid-50’s and beyond.

3. Google Drive/Dropbox/iCloud 

If you are doing a lot of collaborations via email, you’ll run out of space constantly sending massive projects or audio files. Using a cloud-based file-sharing system will keep your email from running out of space and getting overrun with clutter. Google Drive and Dropbox (my go-to’s) allow you to upload your files and add collaborators to it via email, which invites them to download whatever you’re working on together to their own computer. 

4. Voloco 

Voloco is a studio in your pocket that offers various real-time vocal processing effects like autotune, compression, and reverb. Pop your headphones in, pull the mic a bit closer and you’re able to practice and record your vocal takes with real-time pitch correction. Voloco also features an instrumental bank with thousands of beats of all varieties that you can record to. If you love the sound of it, Voloco also comes as a plugin available to use in your DAW also. The best part about this app? It’s free on the App Store and Google Play

Voloco is an awesome, on-the-fly vocal studio and beat library you can record with.

5. Chord Bot

Chord Bot is a quick-reference music theory tool that lets you create chord progressions simply, easily, and without instruments. With over 60 chord types in all inversions and 70 playback presets, Chord Bot is amazing for songwriters looking to get a progression down, learn about the relationship between scale notes, or just experiment with a new style. 

Bill Evans wrote “Blue in Green” in entirety after Miles Davis handed him two chords and asked what he could do with them. The chords are the first three opening notes of the song – which is one of the most well-known jazz pieces in the world to this day.

Honorable Mention: Linktree

A web-based application, Linktree acts as your personal, customizable website for all your music links. I use Linktree to connect my Instagram page to my new releases, music catalog, and other social media sites to keep my music and brand consistent with one another. Most importantly, it brings your music one step closer to anyone casually stopping by your Instagram page.

Which of these apps have you tried? Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to follow @CannaLifeNet for more musician tips, tricks, and life lessons in the future!

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