By James Pew
With the explosion of mobile technology it seems like everyone has a hand held device connecting them to friends and various objects of interest 24/7. I’ve outlined a few iphone techniques and applications that musicians may find helpful in streamlining the things they need to do to succeed in their music business.
Having a connected mobile device like the iphone can help an artist take advantage of what used to be time away from the music thing. So instead of idly waiting for the bus, use that downtime to interact with fans on facebook, post something to your artist blog, or do some ear training. The idea is that mobile connectivity has the potential to make our time more productive. What kind of a musician doesn’t need that?
Business & Networking
Sync In A Blink – ($4.99) is a great app that syncs the contacts on your iphone with your gmail contacts. I often suggest artists use gmail to manage contacts because of its availability in the “cloud,” and other features like creating groups for different types of contacts i.e. fans, session musicians, lighting tech’s etc. SyncInABlink syncs the contact and whatever group you assign them to. If you’d rather send out your newsletters from an email address other than gmail, just export your contacts (CSV file) from gmail and import into your regular email.
Process Away – ($29.99) plugs into Authorize.net’s payment processing platform, allowing musicians to accept credit card payments anywhere they can access the internet. Since most music venues have cellular access, this app is perfect for the merch table at your gigs!
Twitter on the other hand offers a lot more choice in terms of applications connecting the popular microblog platform to your iPhone. There are three apps I commonly use for Twitter:
Tweetdeck – (Free) Although this app is slightly unstable (has the tendency to crash fairly often), you can take advantage of all of the features on the desktop version of tweetdeck. like multiple account support, assembling the people you follow into groups, and creating search columns of whatever you need. Tweetdeck also makes standrard Twitter functions like Retweeting much easier.
Twitterfon – (Free) because it is simple and stable. When not utilizing tweetdecks grouping function or performing advanced searches TwitterFon is my go to Twitter app.
Custom iPhone Apps
One of the best examples of an artist using a custom iPhone app to connect with, empower and deliver content to fans is Trent Reznor, with his NIN Access app (free). I highly recommend downloading and analyzing this app, even if your not a Nine Inch Nails fan. In a nutshell members of the NIN community can login via NIN Access and send and receive messages to other community members. You have access to a ton of NIN media (music, videos, photos), forums, and news updates. There is also a function that uses GPS, if you allow it, to pin point your location and the proximity of other NIN community members, making it easier for NIN fans to hook up.
The three platforms below allow artists to create customized iPhone apps without needing any background in software programming or web development.
iLike – has a new platform allowing artists to create their own iPhone applications, which can include dynamically updated photos, music, blog posts, and other content. There is a one-time intial start up fee of $99.
Mobile Roadie – Bands can use Mobile Roadie’s application platform, a mostly-automated system to build their apps and have them posted to Apple’s App Store in as little as a week. $399 set up + $29/month.
Kyte – In their words Kyte “provides a cost effective, turnkey solution for bringing the full Kyte experience to the iPhone”.
Wordpress – If you have a wordpress website you can’t go wrong with this awesome wordpress iphone app. You can create and/or edit both posts and pages. And it handles multiple wordpress accounts.
Blogwriter – Is another great iphone app that supports wordpress along with several other popular content management/blogging platforms.
iStroboSoft – ($9.99) Brings the highly accurate Peterson Strobe tuner to the iphone.
GuitarToolkit – ($9.99) Has a standard tuner but also supports 40 different alternate tunings. It has a built in metronome and a chord finder (which alone makes this an extremely useful app)
SPL – ($7.99) Is a sound pressure level meter that gives accurate measurements in decibels. Very handy during sound check or even at rehearsal for ensuring levels are not approaching or exceeding pain thresholds. Damaging your fans hearing is not recommended, but the SPL iphone app is!
Karajan – Beginner version is Free. Pro version is $14.99. This is a great ear-training tool for musicians. It provides lessons for learning to recognize intervals, chords, scales, pitch, and tempo.
Shazam – (Free) Play a song, and Shazam will figure out the title and artist for you, as well as serve up YouTube videos, artist bios and discography, and give you opportunities to buy the song and download it to your phone on the spot. Shazam records a sample of the song you want to identify through the iPhones built-in microphone, sends the sample off to a secret Shazam underground lair, where they have a legion of mole men working tirelessly around the clock identifying tunes. If you are out of range and loose your network connection, Shazam is smart enough to send the sample once your connection is re-established. This is one of my favorite apps…You will always know what that song is playing in a movie or on the radio…which makes you the coolest geek in the room!
Simplify Music 2 – ($5.99) Listen to the music on your computer (and your friends computers) from your iPhone anytime anywhere. Simplify Music 2 uses software that you install on your computer to host all the music you’ve got available. Each account can invite up to 30 friends to listen in to their music as well, making it really easy for you to have all your friends music without needing to fill up your hard drive space.
Top100s By Year – ($1.99) Pick any year from 1949 to 2008 and it randomly plays the top 100 songs of that year.
FlyCast – (Free) Gives you access to the extensive mobile broadcast network – over 1500 digital radio channels that includes all genres of music. Also Includes Shoutcast Radio.
The new iPhone 3GS supports video. So expect to see an enormous number of new video apps that record and/or stream live video to the web. As I’m still kicking it old school with the iPhone 3G I have yet to test any video apps however,
Check out these music videos filmed with the iPhone 3GS. And please tell us in the comments what iPhone apps you find helpful as a musician.
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