03 Jun 2018
These 12 apps are absolutely essential for any music lover!
Gone are the days of clunky MP3 players, portable CD players and walkmans - even modern accessories like the iPod are beginning to fall by the wayside - for the most part anyway (we’re looking at you, vintage hipsters). Behold, the days of the smartphone and tablet are upon us, this dynamic duo has become the number one music accessory for everything from tuning your instrument to finding the latest and greatest underground artists.
Unfortunately, with literally thousands of apps out there across several platforms, separating the wheat from the chaff and maximising the musical potential of your device can feel a little overwhelming.
You may already know the giants of the industry like Spotify and Soundcloud, but dig deeper and you will find a veritable treasure trove of unique and useful apps to enhance your listening experience, discover new music and even help you create your own tunes from your smartphone or tablet.
Here are 12 apps that are absolutely essential for every music lover, from listener to musician:
Okay, so we know what you're thinking, but this isn't just a shameless plug. We believe Native is genuinely one of the best apps around for discovering new artists and finding the cheapest tickets to the best gigs in your city. Covering every major hub in the UK, there truly is something for everyone - the best in house, techno, rock, metal, indie, you name it - it's here at Native.
Use the events guide to find every live event in your area filtered by genre, get the latest national or local news and discover great content from interviews to live sessions with your favourite artists.
The app is free for both iOS and Android users, so once you've created an account - you're in! With so much to offer, Native is your one stop shop for everything a music lover needs to stay up to date with the most current events, news and tunes. Download the app today from the Apple or Google Play stores.
SoundCloud is the world's largest music and audio streaming platform, with over 150,000,000 tracks and growing - it’s the place to be for discovering new artists and keeping tabs on those you already know about.
The free version of the app gives users suggested tracks to listen to based on their taste, has social media functionality for sharing tracks/artists and even lets you create playlists so you can make certain nobody plays ABBA at a house party again.
The paid versions of the app, GO and GO+, offer an expanded library of tracks, remove adverts and donate a percentage of your subscription fee to the artists you listen to. They also allow users to take their collection offline, so even when you run out of data at the end of the month SoundCloud has you covered.
iOS: Free (Subscription from £5.99)
Android:Free (Subscription from £5.99)
Soundhound is like Shazam on steroids, it’s a music discovery app that can listen and identify what’s playing - long gone are the times when you hear an absolute banger in the club and have no idea who the artist is.
The app also features a handsfree mode, just say “OK hound…” and one of the many commands available to use any feature of the app. We’re not sure why, but on the off-chance you have a horrible accident that involves the loss of your upper appendages, SoundHound has your back.
The feature that really sets SoundHound above the competition is that users can sing or hum a tune into a device’s microphone to get the result they’re after. There are also a couple of other great features such as integration with YouTube and Spotify, real-time lyrics for karaoke or sing-a-longs and even an “Artists Born Today” feature where users can discover a new artists every single day based on their birthday.
A favourite amongst independent and emerging artists, Bandcamp contains some of the best underground music the internet has to offer. You can follow fans, genres or playlists to see what tracks they have on rotation. There’s also a “New and Notable” section where you can listen to the hottest releases of the moment that have caught the ear of Bandcamp HQ. This is the number one app for finding artists before they hit the big time, so if you’re the type of person that gets a buzz from saying you heard it first, Bandcamp is the one for you.
You were expecting this one, weren’t you? Spotify is the largest streaming platform in the world currently for emerging and established artists alike. Despite having been at the centre of a couple of controversies, it still holds the crown as the best of the best in music listening.
Discover new artists, create and share playlists and even post your listening habits to social media, Spotify lets you do it all.
With new music added daily, and given the sheer size of the library, there’s no way you’ll run out of things to listen to.
The app has a free version, but users are only able to listen to releases on shuffle and have a limited amount of skips - so if there’s that one specific song you want to listen to, you may consider a paid subscription.
Paid subscriptions give users ad-free listening, access to any song in the Spotify library and even offline listening. Starting from as little as £4.99 a month for students, there are worse ways to spend your money and if you’re a music aficionado then there’s really no reason not to.
iOS: Free (Subscription from £4.99)
Android:Free (Subscription from £4.99)
Top of the list for mobile production has to be Garageband, an essential production app for any Apple users prepackaged with Mac OS and now free for iOS users too. Sorry all you ‘droid-heads out there, there’s pretty much zero chance of Garageband become available to you anytime soon.
The app is an all-rounder; combining a DAW, synths and a multitude of effects. The potential here is only as limited as your imagination; create full-on songs, record and compose ideas using the microphone, there’s sampling capabilities and even amplifier emulation.
The best part about it? The interface is super simple and easy to get stuck in with, wait no - the best part is that it’s free!
Anyone worth their salt in the world of music production has already heard of FL Studio, the all-in-one DAW formerly known as FruityLoops, but did you know there’s also a mobile version?
And in terms or value for money, FL Studio Mobile takes the crown in our opinion.
From as little as £13.49 depending on your operating system, Image-Line packs an incredible amount of features into FL Studio Mobile. The app comes with the incredible MiniSynth - a synthesiser designed for mobile with almost all the capabilities of a desktop counterpart, 133 instruments, a step sequencer with up to 99 tracks, 10 effects, sampling capabilities, and so much more.
Once you’ve created something, FL Studio Mobile lets you upload your tracks directly to your SoundCloud, Dropbox or e-mail so you can show off to all your mates. Suitable for pros and newbies alike, it’s an app that is easy to jump into but has enough substance to attract even the most seasoned producer.
Reason isn’t for everybody, we get it, its interface can be confusing and there’s a steep learning curve. But for those that use it, it’s an indispensable tool that simply can’t be replaced by any other piece of software on the planet.
However, Propellerhead’s Figure is not nearly as daunting as the desktop counterpart - the app’s shtick is making music on the go. So while it isn’t a complete DAW with a million features, it has enough there to get your ideas out into the real world and is simple enough that you can do it with a few taps.
The app has a synth, is pre-packaged with a few drums and sounds that you can sequence and allows you to adjust the levels. So it has everything to get something down on paper, so to speak, and does it as fast as possible.
Akai’s legendary drum sampling machine and MIDI sequencer, emulated right inside your smartphone/tablet. This is a £500+ piece of hardware in the palm of your hand for less than a tenner - if that isn’t good value then we don’t know what is!
With more than 1,200 samples, 50 editable programs, 80 editable sequences, and the iconic MPC workflow - this is one of the best beat making apps on the market.
iMPC is available on the Apple store but for Android users, there’s a catch - only Samsung Galaxy users have access to the app, and only then through Samsung’s Soundcamp DAW.
Android: £5.99 via Soundcamp
This handy little app is a great alternative to the built-in voice recorder on iOS, it has all the features you’d expect plus a little extra. Small details like the fact that all of your recordings are displayed as cassette tapes and multiple export formats help to edge VoiceRecorder above the competition, plus it’s completely free! Sadly, the app is only available for Apple users, but all you Android users need not fret. We’ve got you covered below.
Only Samsung users are guaranteed to have a voice recording app built-in to their devices, and it has very limited usage, so Easy Voice Recorder is essential for any budding musician who wants to save their ideas for later. Users can export in MP4 and PCM formats, this app even lets you use recordings as your ringtone. Perfect for pranking your mates!
If you play an instrument, you’ve probably heard of this app! Don’t be fooled by the name, GuitarTuna works with a range of instruments using only your device’s microphone - no need for cables.
Aside from the tuning functionality, GuitarTuna has lots of great features for aspiring musician; users can play games to learn new chords, make use of the built-in metronome and browse a huge chord library! The app is free for both iOS and Android users, so what are you waiting for!