When you're on the road with little time to spare, it’s not always easy to grab a pad and a pen to scribble down a song lyric, or find a piano to flesh out the perfect chord. Maybe you have a publishing administrator like Songtrust sending your playlists to Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) across the world, but don’t have an app to help with your daily budget or to stay organized otherwise.
Never fear – here are a few apps that make life on the road as a working musician easier to manage.
Ever wish you had a place to store all the songs you've written on scraps of napkins and old receipts? This app lets you organize everything with two premade folders and gives you the option of creating and naming your old folders so you can easily find whatever you put into them. You can title your song as well as write lyrics for each verse and chorus. Use the chord picker option to easily insert chords, add guitar tablature, and view over 1,000 diagrams for guitar, bass, ukulele, and banjo. Cost: Free
QuickBooks Self Employed
Being on the road doesn't freeze your financial obligations back home. Automatically track your mileage, attach receipts to business expenses, create invoices, separate your personal and work finances, and make sure you get any tax refunds that might be coming to you. Cost: $15/month
SoundCloud took its longtime Pulse app offline in late 2020, but many of its popular features are still available on the service’s mobile/web app. Activities can be monitored via the notifications bell in the top right corner; your detailed play, comment, and like stats are now known as insights; and track editing can be executed by tapping “library”, “your profile”, “track name”, and “edit track”. While Basic accounts are still free of charge, they limit you to just three hours of audio at a time, and a maximum file size of 4GB. Find out more about SoundCloud’s Pro Unlimited and Repost plans here. Cost: Free
We can't all be Eminem — that's where the iOS-only Rhymer's Block comes in. When you're struggling to find a verse (or even write a poem), this app offers basic, near, and slant rhymes. The app highlights and color-codes every bar you spit and has a social feature that allows you to show “respect” to other users and share your work. Cost: Free
FourTrack is a fully-functional recorder that mimics the many perks of a proper studio. The app allows input monitoring, a metronome function, calibrated meters and faders, master FX and EQ, file importing and sharing, and even lets you record along Death Cab For Cutie drummer Jason McGerr. There's Dropbox sync for backing up your tracks, too. Cost: $4.99
Expensify is a streamlined accounting app that makes submitting your taxes slightly less stressful. It syncs up with Quickbooks or Xero; helps you scan, log, and categorize receipts; automatically tracks your mileage readings; and imports all of your credit card info. Cost: From $4.99/month
Writing a song and stuck on the next chord progression? Suggester easily finds chords that work together, allows you to pick them from a huge catalog, explore classic progressions, and save your work. You can drag and drop to reorder everything, too. Cost: $24.99
Sure, you want to keep track of lyrics and melodies as they come to you, but sometimes you want to work with your bandmates too. Evernote lets you share your notes with a group of users (via a collaborative Business plan that’s $14.99/month), set reminders about the next band meeting, and even record your conversations. Cost: Free for a Basic plan
This app lets you quickly and easily generate song ideas, record them, find the right chords, play with tempos, and even create modulations and inversions. It also helps you identify the key of a song and instantly change it. While the app has some limitations, it's also (as the name suggests) a simple and easy way to work on your songwriting. Cost: $4.99
While its U.S. version is still in its beta phase, the UK-based Monzo app is worth getting on a waitlist if you’re looking for a progressive solution to mobile banking. With no hidden fees, monthly minimums, or marked-up exchange rates — and an FDIC-insured partner in place to cover up to $250,000 — it combines familiar bank features with fresh ideas like category-based expense breakdowns and an exclusive “Pots” function. The latter lets you create up to 20 virtual Pots for meeting specific savings goals like, say, a new van or mobile studio. Cost: Free
“Money without borders” is the main tagline of Wise, a long overdue solution to sending, receiving, and holding money in multiple currencies — all with much lower fees than old-school banks. For instance, withdrawing $250 USD in Euros while touring is absolutely free; compare that to the $12.50 Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo charge every time you tap an ATM. For more information on how Wise’s multi-currency model compares to classic banks, check out its landing page here. Cost: No sign-up or subscription fee
You Need a Budget
To give you an idea of how big its cult following is, You Need a Budget has more than 88,000 YouTube subscribers and 216,000 followers on Facebook. It even has its own podcast. Between YNAB’s robust infographics and gamified approach to goal tracking, this is about as exciting as personal financing gets. Hey, someone has to deal with your balance sheet. Cost: $11.99/month or $84/year
If you’d rather not add the cost of a budgeting app to your actual budget, Mint is an ad-supported alternative from the same massive software company as Quickbooks and Turbotax. An industry leader in all-time downloads (it has 25 million users), Mint helps you monitor your credit rating, track bills, manage investments, and balance your budget all in one place. It’s not the only path to financial independence, but it certainly doesn’t hurt knowing how well your bottom line is doing in such a feast-or-famine industry. Cost: Free
To make sure you’re collecting all of your mechanical and performance royalties globally, register for Songtrust as your publishing administrator today!