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Songwriting Power in your Pocket

Use the power in your pocket for your songwriting!


Your phone has all kinds of magic to help you, there is more computer power in your phone than it took to get the Apollo Astronauts to the moon.


Ever get an awesome song idea but by the time you get to your notebook you can’t remember it?


You played a wicked riff yesterday, but today you can’t quite remember how it went?


Don’t take you phone for granted… this is how you can use your phone for songwriting instead of “researching” on FaceBook and YouTube….




Song writing tips, 5 Minute Method, Daily Songwriting, How to write a song



Time… make enough time


I’m always hearing people say there isn’t enough time…. I’ve learned to control time… at least to control how I use my time.


You can use the 5 Minute Method to stop yourself from bouncing around from one task to the next without ever completing anything. Set a countdown timer for 5-10 minutes and focus exclusively on one task, without interruptions until the timer is finished. Then choose to continue or move to another task.


You can follow the step by step instructions in the

Quick Start Guide to Daily Songwriting (click me:)




Song writing tips, 5 Minute Method, Daily Songwriting, How to write a song




Action Steps

  • Practice using a countdown timer when you are songwriting. Focus your attention and get the most out of your songwriting time.
  • Try this: Practice brainstorming ideas for your latest song.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and stay foucsed on your task, no distractions.
  • Once the timer ends, choose to continue or change to another task.
  • Try this 5 times and notice how your focus changes.


Read how to build regular songwriting habits:

How to Get Addicted to Song Writing


Read advanced tips and strategies for the 5 Minute Method:

Focus your Song Writing Super Powers



Time… how long does it really take?

Most people fail at planning and scheduling because they don’t allow themselves enough time. Under estimating how long it takes to finish a task seems to be universal. It helps to time yourself to measure how long you really take.


Think about it: ever tell someone you’d be ready in 5 minutes, but you weren’t?

As an experiment, pick a few daily activities, estimate how long you take to do them, then time yourself to see how long it actually takes.

  • How long in the shower?
  • How long to create and eat breakfast?
  • How long to get to work?
  • How long was that 10 minute break?
  • How long can you actually focus on a task before your attention starts to wander?


There’s only one way to be sure… measure it!


Action Step:

Choose three daily activities, estimate how long you usually take, then time yourself doing them.


Song writing tips, 5 Minute Method, Daily Songwriting, How to write a song
Find out how long it really takes…





Random ideas turn standing in line into songwriting time because you can access old ideas and write new ones on your phone. I use Notes on my iPhone to write down lyrics whenever inspiration strikes. You can keep track of possible titles, song hooks, phrases, lyric ideas and finished songs. Sync them and work on them from other devices.


I can write a lyric on my phone. I can dictate lyrics into my phone. I can even sing the lyrics for Siri to transcribe for me. I also dictate my finished handwritten lyrics into my phone, then share it to my laptop to properly format them for publishing.


Action Steps

  • Create a file for your Song Book, complete lyrics to all your songs
  • Create a file with weblinks to each of your online songs so you can easily share them
  • iCloud – set yourself up to sync to other devices by filing them on a cloud instead of only on your phone



Song writing tips, 5 Minute Method, Daily Songwriting, How to write a song
My Notes are in the iCloud folder with subfolders to help me find what I’m looking for



  • Google Docs – access your files from anywhere with internet access.
  • Create and share a document, all song co-writers can edit the song
  • Keep links to all your songs in one document, making them faster to find, copy  and share



Voice memos – possibly the best app ever


There’s a recording studio in your phone, instant vocal/guitar demo at the touch of a button. It has great sound for a tiny phone mic, and automatic compression so it sounds balanced and rarely clips.


  • Record song fragments, hooks, ideas to remember exactly how they sound
  • Test your songs, listen and critique your lyrics or performance, easier to notice weak spots when you are listening and not performing them
  • Test your songs, record a verse, play it twice through: first time with vocals, second time through only the accompaniment so you can sing experiment singing new ideas
  • Practice playing the entire song, recording yourself will improve your focus while performing… virtual training for your live show
  • On an iPhone you can share a voice memo to Notes where you can type the lyrics


Action Steps: Organize your Sound Files

  • Use descriptive titles as you record memos, so you can find them later
  • Sync voice memos to iTunes (or other Media Player), check the field to sync for voice memo back to your phone (stores them in Music app playlist)
  • Sync regularly, every week or two, or when you have more than 10 new ones….
  • Categorize and file in different folders, rate them if you have the option (ex: iTunes lets you rate them 1-5 stars in the song view)
  • Sort your voice memos when you sync them (this is quick if you sync regularly)
  • Collect evolving versions of a song in folder once the song is finished and check which files to keep and to delete


Song writing tips, 5 Minute Method, Daily Songwriting, How to write a song




Camera – awesome photos from a tiny lens


One of the most important factors in the quality of a camera is the quality of the optics, the lens. To over simplify, the most detailed the shot comes from the biggest lens. Yet a phone camera with a lens you can barely see can take amazing photos. You can use your phone to take shots of:


Inspiration for songs


Song writing tips, 5 Minute Method, Daily Songwriting, How to write a song
Even compressed to a third its size for the web, this has awesome detail for a tiny phone lens




Photo for a blog post – Cooking a Better Song


Amplify wood... level 4, 30 minutes
Amplify wood… level 4, 30 minutes



Photo of handwritten lyrics:

an early draft of “We Drink, We Drank, We Drunk”



Song writing tips, 5 Minute Method, Daily Songwriting, How to write a song
Dictate your lyrics. photo of handwritten lyrics at top. Note “<iCloud” top left means I’ve saved this note on iCloud instead of only on my phone….



Photography Tips

  • Take multiple shots, review photos while shooting to see how to improve next shots
  • Take the shot from further away (or reduce the zoom by 10%). When you edit a photo, you often have to crop it, especially if you need to change the size or relative dimensions to fit different social media formats. It is easier to take a bigger picture and crop it so leave a little extra room around your photo subject instead of zooming in as close as possible.
  • You often have to crop a picture to change it’s size or shape for different social media formats, it’s easier to Turn phone sideways to take picture, except for Pinterest, social media and web formats are usually wider than they are tall. Except for people portrait shots, I take most of my photos with the phone sideways.
  • If you have the option to take HDR shots, use it. High Dynamic Range takes several shots at a time at different exposure rates and combines them into one shot for better contrast between the brightest and darkest parts of the photo… try it and compare the results (Note: don’t use HDR to photograph motion, the combined shots usually turn out blurry).
  • On iPhone, go to Settings>Photos & Camera, turn off Keep Normal Photo, otherwise you will be saving two photos HDR and regular exposure
  • Edit the photo before posting or sharing it, a quick crop or adjustment to the exposure or colour can make a big improvement.


Action Steps

  • Keep fewer pictures on your phone – store them on your cloud. On iPhone, go to Settings>Photos & Camera, check optimize iPhone Storage and turn on Upload to my photo stream. When connected to WiFi, your phone will send photos to the cloud and remove them from your phone to save memory.
  • When I sync my phone, I first copy all photos to a folder on my laptop… overloaded my cloud with photos a while ago. Sync the phone, then delete all but the best photos from my phone. While still keeping copies of all my photos, this reduces memory use for both my cloud space and phone
  • Or upgrade your cloud storage… I kept running out of space, so instead of spending hours reviewing and deleting photos and videos, I pay a few dollars a month for several GB of additional storage.



Video Camera


Record video, upload to YouTube and anyone in the world can watch it.


It’s not studio quality, a phone camera is still impressive. Auto focus and audio compression get decent results for one button recording, and it fits in your pocket!

  • Record and critique your songs, listen to how you deliver the lyrics
  • Visual critique of your playing, singing, posture, eye contact and moving around, all of the little things you don’t notice while you are performing
  • Visual critique your playing with the sound muted… you will notice even more about how you present yourself visually
  • Record your accompaniment patterns for songs. Remember how to play your own stuff or use it to teach others how to play your songs
  • Use video instead of audio recordings, when you write with alternate guitar tunings. It’s easy to remember the fretting patterns without having to write anything down on paper



So Now What?


Your phone is awesome. You already use it for some of your songwriting tasks… but simply reading an article about it doesn’t always translate into action or change!


So how do we get you to the next level?


Take action:

Click here for a single page pdf checklist of the best action steps from this article.


You can check off the ones you need to do and get them done!





Read: More Songwriting Power in Your Pocket – for 5 more songwriting apps



Help me out by adding a comment:

  • What’s your favorite songwriting app, paid or free?

  • What do you use it for?

  • What are the advantages and weaknesses of the app?



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© Trevor Dimoff,, 2019