With technology seeping into every aspect of our lives, developers are creating new tools for musicians daily to enhance the future and functionality of music. It’s no time to fall behind on what you can be using to your advantage, so we’ve compiled a list of applications to make your life easier, from making music to hitting the road.
Square (Free, iTunes/Android)
Gone are the cash-only days for selling merch while on the road. With a small card-swiper, an app on your phone and an account with Square, your band can quickly begin accepting credit/debit card payments at shows. It can even send purchasers a receipt and can be connected directly to a bank account for quick transaction. The company does take a small fee (3-percent), but it can be a huge advantage in total sales.
Social Media: Facebook (iTunes/Android), Twitter (iTunes/Android), Tumblr (iTunes/Android), Instagram (iTunes/Android)
A bit obvious, but while on the road, you’ve got to keep up with what’s going on in the social media world—that means keeping fans up to date on all of the major networks. Take advantage of the cities you’re seeing with lots of pictures for Instagram and Tumblr, and let followers know your set times and any show changes through Twitter and Facebook.
GPS: TomTom for iPhone ($49.99, iTunes), Google Maps for Android (Free, native)
A van only has so many plugs, so if you can consolidate the amount of technology you’re bringing with you by utilizing your phone’s GPS, you’ll be better off. With the iPhone’s native app not being as up-to-snuff as need be (Android users, you’re set: The native Google Maps app has all the functionality you need right off the bat), hitting up the TomTom app is your best bet as it offers automatic map updates, turn-by-turn navigation and a beautiful interface custom-made for the iPhone. A bit expensive, but a worthwhile investment in the long run.
Gasbuddy (Free, iTunes/Android)
As gas prices continue to skyrocket, every penny does count—especially when driving hundreds of miles every day. GasBuddy uses your location tof ind the nearest gas stations and instantly compares their prices, compiling them in a constantly updated list.
Internet Radio: Spotify (Free, iTunes/Android), Pandora (Free, iTunes/Android), Rdio (Free, iTunes/Android)
At some point, everyone runs out of records they want to listen to right then. Thankfully in 2012, internet radio is here to save you. On those long drives where no one can agree on tunes or you’re sick of your own iPod, popping on a tailored station from any of the above services lets them make the song choices for you.
Yelp (Free, iTunes/Android)
When exploring new places, trying new food is a lifestyle of its own (We're looking at you, every other Food Network show). Checking out the local eateries can let you try all the cool cuisince you can find. Get reviews from the locals to tailor your choices and use the search to find the exact type of restaurant you’re looking for—and hopefully you’re not on the Taco Bell diet.
MAKING A RECORD ON-THE-GO
GarageBand ($4.99, iTunes)
The defacto starter kit for desktop recording has become the go-to Digital Audio Workstation for making an album on your iPad. Packed with an array of digital instruments and fully functioning recording and mixing capabilities, Apple’s app is the best the iPad has seen with the likes of Gorillaz’s creating an entire album on it.
Korg iMS-20 ($32.99, iTunes)
A complete digital recreation of the vintage MS-20 analog synth, Korg’s iMS-20 app acts as a complete rig with a monophonic synth, sequencer, 6-part drum machine, mixer and the ability to publish straight to SoundCloud or export in .WAV. Entire songs or patterns can be composed right within the app and then exported over to an app like GarageBand or published immediately depending on your needs or desires.
Beatmaker 2 ($19.99, iTunes)
Containing a plethora of effects, MIDI-support, 128 trigger pads, full keyboard with pitch wheel, a multi-track sequencer and so much more, Beatmaker’s newest app is a beast with almost unlimited on-the-go functionality. The app’s simple layout and smorgasbord of sounds make it useful for building the foundation of your songs straight on your iPad.
Clear Tune ($3.99, iTunes/Android)
With a plethora of tuner apps out there, it can be difficult to find one that not only functions correctly and accurately, but also looks good. ClearTune is that app, and it does exactly as it states—tunes. Using the built-in microphone, you can tune any instrument that can be picked up by the microphone (that includes the brass section, ska bands). It’s simple, versatile and looks sleek, too.
BECAUSE YOU SHOULD HAVE FUN, TOO
Futulele ($2.99 on sale right now, iTunes)
In the digital age, playing a ukulele is now only an app away. With a fretboard, auto-play and beautiful graphics, one click of a button and you can be playing your very own iUke. That’s a fun way to spend your 13-hour van ride.
Tap Tap Revenge (Free, iTunes/Android)
Originally published in 2008, the Guitar-Hero-meets-iPhone game is still going strong and it’s just as fun as ever. It’s a simple tap-to-the-beat game that can occupy you for hours with a huge list of songs to choose from.
Star Maker: Karaoke + Auto-Tune (Free, iTunes)
Because everyone wants to hear their bandmates sing Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
I Am T-Pain/MicDroid ($2.99, iTunes/Free, Android)
As the progenitor of Auto-Tune (which never seems to die regardless of Jay-Z's babbling), some really great laughs can be had each night by recording quick quips and then having them repeated in a T-Pain voice. Jokes aside, it’s actually very well-designed and easily functioning app, too.