A Dozen Apps For The Connected, Smartphone-Wielding Musician

Tour logistics, songwriting, synth sounds–okay, it’s actually more than a dozen apps. Artists from multiple bands tell FastCo.Labs the mobile software they rely on most.

A Dozen Apps For The Connected, Smartphone-Wielding Musician

The question was simple, “What app(s) do you use with regards toward your music career?” The answers were unpredictable at best as a range of artists looked down at their phones and electronic devices to remember what they currently consider irreplaceable.


Keith Goodwin of Good Old War

“Love NanoStudio while we are on tour. It’s a good way to keep busy working on music while in a bus or a van. The songs I make in this app are more like exercises than songs for Good Old War. It’s good to keep the creative juices flowing. It’s a good way to work on my programing skills. Without it there isn’t much to do besides listening to music and reading.

I use GarageBand on the go whenever an idea pops in my head or I’m playing piano or guitar and I have an idea I’d like to remember so I can work on it later.

Logic Remote is fun for when I’m at home and set up in my room. It controls the Logic program on my computer and allows me to lay in bed and mix. Lazy man’s mixing.

Animoog is a cheap way to get cool Moog synth sounds.”

Stephen Christian of Anberlin

“Here are a few apps we use on the road/in our career. Its nothing new but Yelp is a favorite–when we wake up in the morning we usually have no idea what city we are in or if we’re around anything worthwhile. Yelp’s filters usually solve the mystery of finding good coffee or food close by. We have to walk everywhere when we get off the bus, so distance is a factor.

The biggest asset for touring is Master Tour from Eventric; it’s an app that our tour manager uses to inform us of set times, sound checks, interviews, and more.


TuneIn radio is useful for keeping up with our favorite podcasts no matter where we are in the world, and music apps like Spotify and Pandora are constantly being used backstage.

As far as recording I don’t use anything extravagant, the voice recorder app is perfect for throwing down melody lines that strike me or a guitar riff that I just don’t want to forget. To date I have 157 different messages to myself, the majority of them just a few lines of lyrics or a melody line that I will go back and listen to for inspiration when the writing process begins.”

Josh Ocean of Ghost Beach

“We use the DM1 drum app for a lot of drum programming in the studio. Also the Animoog synth app offers fun sounds with big Moog quality.”

Matt Wertz, solo artist

GuitarToolkit is my best friend. Not only is it an awesome guitar tuner, it also has settings for banjo, mandolin, bass, and pretty much anything else with strings. On top of that, GuitarToolkit has a really awesome chord reference feature that shows how to play chords with nearly every voicing imaginable, and a metronome that comes in really handy too. It’s on the front page of my iPhone.”

Robin Hannibal of Rhye

“I use metronome and tuner apps since they’re fast and efficient.” [Here are five of the best metronome apps.]

Ryan O’Neal of Sleeping At Last

“Some of my all-time favorite apps are: SoundPrism, a unique instrument by Audanika that I’ve used quite a bit on recent recordings. I, of course, also love the voice recorder app which comes standard on the iPhone, a vital writing tool for me.


Day One is a beautiful journaling app where all of my lyrics are collected and GuitarToolkit has been with me since the day it was released. It’s responsible for tuning every guitar and ukulele of mine on every record over the last few years.”

Andy Zipf of The Cowards Choir

“My team and I use IFTTT (If This, Then That) to make announcements on all fronts, all at once. For instance, when I upload a new track to SoundCloud, it goes to my personal Facebook page, Facebook music page, Tumblr, Twitter, and my website. It also hits the second-tier social sites that are synced with my Twitter feed. With the new IFTTT app I could feasibly announce a new release on iTunes from my iPhone and have it sent out to all corners of my online identity while sitting in the parking lot of a Super 8 in Tuscaloosa, AL.”

Sean Scanlon of Smallpools

“We like to use Snapchat to keep in touch with fans/friends we meet while on the road. You never know what to expect every time a new alert comes in so it helps keep the long drives interesting.”

Adam Young of Owl City

“I use the iPhone app when I write lyrics. Using a thesaurus is vital to my writing process so having the ability to reference words on the go, without internet is a must. So often a random word will jump out at me and provide inspiration. I can’t work without it.”

[Image: Flickr user Alan Levine]

About the author

Tyler Hayes is a Southern California native, early technology adopter, and music enthusiast. You can reach him at