Before we get started, it seems necessary (given the subject) to ask for a moment of silence for the iPod classic. For many, this pocket-sized device was a stepping-stone to music devotion. Gone were the days of bulky Walkmen,portable cd players and tape/cd booklets. Instead of buying entire albums, people started buying songs for $0.99 and in some ways, the move toward song versus album purchasing is what paved the way for many of the ‘music apps’ we use today. Dear iPod classic, you may be discontinued, but you will never be forgotten.
Most of the best selling music apps cover a basic function: listening to music. The difference between these apps and listening to a playlist you put together from your music library is simple because you get exposed to significantly more new music than if you stay within the confines of your existing library.
With apps like Spotify, you can select your favorite song and artists, get recommended content based on your favorites, and you can have it all on your phone without using up all of your storage (my music library would require the memory of roughly four of my phones – Spotify is a lifesaver).
Pandora has me choose a song, artist, or genre that I like and then curates playlists all related to my choice. There is also Songza which plays music based on my mood, location (work, gym, silent disco, etc.…) and activity (singing in the rain anyone?). Plus, since I don’t have much control over what is played, it’s a really fun way to discover new music.
Shazam is another cool way to find new music. If you’re like me, you hear a song waiting in line at Starbucks or between sets at the 9:30 Club and you must know immediately what it is. With Shazam, you open the app and it can detect the song, artist, and album – very convenient.
A lot of people (aka music snobs – Dad, I’m lookin’ at you!) feel that the sound quality of headphones is so sub-par that it ruins the listening experience. Never fear, there’s an app for that! CanOpener lets you manipulate the sound in such a way that it can replicate the listening experience you might get from high quality speakers through your headphones.
If that doesn’t do it, use The Vinyl District to find record stores based on your location. That way you can pick up the most recent album from the artist you just Shazamed or maybe a classic on vinyl. I love this app especially when I am in new cities and want to check out the local selections (plus it introduced me to Princeton Record Exchange– home of the $1 CD section).
If you are more interested in making music than listening to it (or are interested in both) SoundCloud is an amazing app that lets fledgling bands share their music with established musicians, fans, and industry professionals. Bonus: there is a share feature that encourages others who like your music to share it with their friends and followers, helping you build a fan base.
A lot of new musicians and guitar lovers use Songsterr to find guitar tabs to learn new songs. Smule also has a guitar app that lets you strum along to a singer from their karaoke app. You get to choose the singer and the song, so you can practice before playing with a live person.
Vocal Warm Up by Musicopoulos is a fantastic way to warm up your pipes before the big show. When you download the app, you can do a preliminary range test to see where you should start and end your warm up – ensuring that you don’t strain your voice.
Want to lay down some sick beats on the go? DM1 is an intuitive drum machine you can pull out anywhere, and Djay2 makes it easy to be a DJ wherever life takes you. Both are awesome party savers if the music is lame or the party needs a pick-me-up.
My favorite thing to do (and way to enjoy music) is go to concerts. As such, my favorite apps help me find cool shows and make sure I never miss my favorite bands. Bandsintown uses my location to show me all of the concerts playing nearby, and Songkick lets me track my favorite artists so I know when they are touring and when they will be in D.C.A few weeks ago, I was messing around on Songkick and saw that my favorite band was playing about an hour away. I was able to score tickets right before the show sold out. A friend and I also recently used Bandsintown to find an amazing under-the-radar soul show.
Music festivals are also a fun way to experience live music, but can be slightly stressful. But, having apps for the festivals makes the environment feel totally manageable. Coachella, Firefly, and Newport Folk Festival all have great apps that make it really easy to find the bands you want to see, chart their set times, and navigate your way through the crowds to the right stages.
Part of enjoying music is documenting it. Photographing your favorite bands and recording yourself playing a new song is all part of the experience.
Besides the camera on my phone, I like Instagram for taking pictures and Lightt for taking videos. Both give you a little more control over exposure with the preset filters and saturation levels that you can change. Plus, (I’ll just say it) they make things look pretty cool.
SimplePrints is a great (and cheap) way to put all your photos together and get them printed as a souvenir, and Phhhoto is a wacky app that makes photos into giffs. At one show I went to, the whole band danced together and in giff form – it was truly a sight to be seen, not to mention a fun way to remember a great show!
Even though I will miss the iPod classic – but not really since I have one (please don’t die!) – apps give music lovers like myself the chance to experience, discover, and create music in new and exciting ways.