Smartphone and tablets provide a relatively cheap way to improve, create, develop and connect with others, making all the difference to your journey as an artist. Whether for writing, performing or recording, we’ve chosen the best apps for musicians in 2020.
Are you looking for cost-effective, pocket-sized answers to all your musical needs? In this article, we’ll list some of the top technology on the market, available for immediate download for iPhone and Android.
The best apps for musicians in 2020
While 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for live performers, it’s also provided plenty of opportunities to get creative and think outside of the box. And never before has technology been so useful in making music and vital in connecting musicians with their audience. Don’t get left behind. Stay up to date and you’ll always be at the cutting edge of the industry. Unlock your phone and unlock a world of online assistance.
Let’s take a look at the different types of apps for musicians and identify which may be most useful to you.
Apps for musicians on stage
While large scale gigs are off the table just now, smaller ones and busking are back on. Here are the apps to get you prepared.
#1 Warm Me Up! for Singers
- iOS – £5.99
- Android – £4.37
Ask any great singer their secret to on-stage success, and they’ll tell you that warming up is a key part of their routine. This app is a huge aid for singers of all ages, abilities and voice types who want to make sure those vocal cords are in top shape before a rehearsal or performance.
With a simplistic interface and over 50 different warm-up exercises, you can be sure that you hit the stage in perfect singing condition. The app was created by voice coaches who have helped warm-up musicians and stage actors in musicals.
#2 Setlist Helper
- iOS – £6.99
When your repertoire begins to grow, you’ll appreciate the brilliance of organisational apps for music. With so many songs to remember and manage, you’ll need somewhere to keep all your info. Setlist helper has been designed to do exactly that.
Features include an online account so you can sync across devices, which is very useful. There’s also Dropbox support for sharing, mp3 attachments, a search function and Chord Pro format 7, so you can add musical notation if you need.
Backing track app for singers
Backing tracks are essential for both singers and instrumentalists and an app keeps them all in one handy place.
#3 iReal Pro
- iOS – £13.99
- Android – £12.99
At the upper end of the pricing scale for music apps, iReal Pro has really gone to great lengths to justify the price tag. Designed primarily as a practice aid, this app has the capacity to help you become a much better all-round musician. For singers, there are a ton of backing tracks and you can record and listen back.
For instrument players, there are chord diagrams, scales and the ability to edit backing tracks to suit. Our favourite feature (amongst hundreds) is the option to view scales based on chords. Perfect for cementing musical theory and improving improvisation. Buy this app and improve your playing today.
Best lyrics app for singers
Although it’s better to perform without words, a lyric app can be a super way to learn your songs – both in terms of the notes and lyrics.
#4 BackTrax Classic
- iOS – £8.99
With a simple interface, loads of great functions and the ability to play in the background, this is a great option for anyone wanting to use a phone or tablet to help deliver a solid live performance.
Add lyrics, font size options, running time, multiple setlists and a progress bar and you have all the ingredients for perfection. You will have to load tunes through iTunes and make sure they are DRM free, but aside from that, it’s a breeze.
iPad apps for musicians
It’s not just smartphones that lead the way on app use. Tablets and iPads can be better if you’re using an app that benefits from a larger screen.
#5 VoCo Vocal Coach
- iOS – Free
Despite being limited to iOS devices only, this is a standout app for any aspiring vocalist and can even be extremely useful for those who have been performing for a while. Not only does it help you warm up for gigs, but used over time, you can improve almost every element of your singing voice.
Whether you need to practice keeping pitch, enhancing vibrato or simply want to make sure you are always in tune, this handy app has it all. The user interface is extremely simple and the most important feature is that, after each exercise, you can listen back and hear how you are sounding.
Combined with the visuals and you not only get to know how to sound, but how you should look when you want to achieve those all-important vocal variations. Once you have mastered the basics there’s enough content to keep you progressing through a range of scales and arpeggios.
This app for singers is so good it’s even used by vocal coaches to help their students get feedback on techniques they are teaching. We’ve seen a host of great singers using this app backstage to get themselves warmed up and ready to smash their sets. They swear by it.
Best android apps for musicians
While many apps are available on both operating systems – and Apple has a huge number of exclusive names – some are found only on Android.
#6 Backing Track Studio
- Android – £4.42
Simplicity is the key when it comes to this app. Use it to catalogue, cue, arrange, play and pause your performances. It has remote pedal support and a handy dark theme for low-light environments. You can even add lyrics so you won’t miss a beat. A great app with some great features.
Perfect for solo singers to practice with and take to gigs. You can create custom playlists for different gigs, which is really handy and yes, it will suspend sleep mode on your device so the screen won’t lock. Just plugin and perform without any worries.
It’s perfect and we believe it’s one of the best backing track apps for singers and performing musicians currently available.
Apps for musicians to play together
What if you want to collaborate due to the distance of being unable to meet in person? Here’s how to do it…
- iOS – Free
If you want an incredible music creation tool that has been used by some of the biggest artists on the planet, then this is it. Created in-house by Apple, GarageBand gives you the opportunity to create, share and export tracks using a host of incredible software instruments, or your own played directly into the app.
We cannot overstate how cool this app is, whether you’ve been playing for 10 years or 10 minutes, making music has never been easier or cooler. The interface is intuitive and easy to learn which makes you come back time and again. What’s more, you can edit your tracks, share with bandmates or collaborators and even export them directly to the web.
Apps for musicians to network
Networking is so vital for working musicians and now you can even use an app to do it.
- iOS & Android – Free
If you are a budding musician and haven’t heard of SoundCloud yet, then we urge you to download it immediately. SoundCloud is now considered a staple for both signed and unsigned artists, having been around since 2007.
SoundCloud really is an essential music app. Amongst other things, you can keep an eye on musical trends, upload your tunes, rate other people and generally bask in the brilliance of music-minded community.
Free apps for musicians
One of the benefits of apps is that they’re so cheap and in many cases, free.
#9 Pocket Pitch
- iOS – Free (in-app purchases)
Sometimes you just want an app to do one thing really well. This is that app. There are no bells, no whistles, just a really good pitch pipe. Use it to tune up any instrument including your vocal cords. Perfect if you don’t have naturally perfect pitch.
You can select octaves to suit and there’s an interface so simple that you can open up and use in just a few seconds. Added extras are limited but there’s a handy little piano interface if you want to jam out a couple of chords as part of your warm-up routine.
#10 Theta Music Trainer
- iOS & Android – Free (in-app purchases)
For those looking to improve their all-round music skills, Theta Music Trainer is one of the coolest music apps available. The interface is a little dated but the functionality is second to none, allowing users to get a better grasp of numerous musical skills.
From working on your hearing and sound differentiation to getting to grips with musical notation. There are a wealth of options and you’ll soon find your all-round skills and confidence improving. The lessons are cleverly constructed and really well executed.
What app do musicians use to make music?
In addition to practice and performance, you can use your phone to create hit tunes.
- iOS – £5.99
- Android – £5.49
Not for the faint-hearted, SunVox is perhaps the most comprehensive music-making app available on a hand-held device. To begin with, the interface may be a little imposing. However, stick with it and you will have one of the planets most powerful music-making apps in the palm of your hand.
There are far too many in-depth features to explain them all here but you can use the tutorials on YouTube to get inspired by the potential of this app. Our favourite features are the effects available to edit your own sounds. Not only can you supe-up the existing options but you can create a truly individual masterpiece.
#12 Reason Compact
- iOS – Free
Operating as an accompaniment to the incredible desktop app, this little mini version of Reason is still a cool app for musicians on-the-go. You can use it to feed the desktop app or you can just play around with sounds and create cool lead lines and melodies for songwriting.
The interface is simple, there are tutorials and, of course, that classic Reason sound too. If you are new to music production this is a great app to cut your teeth and experience some of the power that lurks behind one of the worlds’ favourite Digital Audio Workstations.
What is the best songwriting app?
If you have writer’s block, you may not have considered using an app to help. But these amazing tools can speed up and improve your writing processes.
#13 Songwriter’s Pad
- iOS – £5.99
- Android – Free (in-app purchases)
Used by Grammy-winning artists, this is the definitive songwriting app. You can jot quick ideas down when they come to you and you can take those ideas and turn them into fully-fledged songs. With chord annotations, music and lyrics, this is a stunningly well thought out app that allows creativity to flow through it.
Our favourite feature is the phrase generator that allows you to use an emotional anchor and create ideas based on mood. It means you’ve never stuck for ideas. Add to that an incredibly helpful dictionary and your musical vocabulary will evolve as well. Even if you’ve never attempted writing a song, this app can help.
#14 Song-Writer Lite
- iOS – Free
Record melodies on the go and write your lyrics faster than ever before with song-writer lite. Insert chords with a ‘chord picker’ tool, add guitar tabs, search for lyric rhymes and synonyms. You can save your work to PDF or a cloud and backup via Dropbox. This is the ideal on the go app for the all-round songwriter.
Music apps are a great way for you to develop your abilities. No matter what your skill level, there’s always room for improvement. Whether it’s getting some additional coaching, learning some new tricks or finding fresh ways to write and perform, there’s always something you can do to increase your skills and repertoire. So get downloading and see what you can achieve from the palm of your hand.
- What is the best way to support musicians?
Buy their merch music. This means never downloading pirated tracks, instead, stream (for free with ads or with a subscription) or download their music. Follow them on social media, share their posts – this is great for their marketing campaigns – or write them a good review online.
- What is the best music app in 2020?
There are lots of options when it comes to listening to, as well as making music, using apps. Here are five of the most popular music apps to download this year, according to Launchberg, including the pros and cons of each.
What are your favourite apps for 2020? How have they helped you stay connected and keep your career alive if you’ve been unable to perform live? Let us know in the comments below.