Transforming Musicians into Songwriters

Songwriting Power in Your Pocket

5 apps already on your phone that you can use for your songwriting... there's better uses for your phone than scrolling through social media and watching YouTube songwriting tips!
Songwriting Power in Your Pocket, Free Songwriting Tools in your Phone

Table of Contents

Use the power of the phone in your pocket for your songwriting!

There’s all kinds of magic in your phone 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 your phone for granted… instead use your phone for songwriting instead of “researching” (wasting time) on FaceBook and YouTube….

Controlling Time…

I’m always hearing people say “I don’t have enough time to…”

I’ve learned to control time… or 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 read a detailed description of this process and follow the step by step instructions in Daily Songwriting, click to enter your name & email address to download the free pdf.

Using your phone Countdown Timer

Timer Activities

Practice using a countdown timer when you are songwriting. Focus your attention and get the most out of your songwriting time.

For example: 

  • Practice brainstorming ideas for your latest song
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and stay focused on your task, no distractions.
  • Once the timer ends, choose to continue or change to another task.
  • Try this 5 times over 5 days and notice how your focus changes.
You can do more in 5 minutes than you'd expect, smiley ball sitting on a piano keyboard

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 something will take is normal (it’s easier to imagine the finished results than to visualize all the details to get you there). 

It helps to time yourself to measure how long it actually takes you to do things.

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 does it really take for you to:

  • Have a shower?
  • Make and eat breakfast?
  • Get to work?
  • Take a “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!

Using your phone stop watch, the lap time for each song section on the song I’m writing

Timer Activity 2

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

The fancy looking old school stop watch on my iPhone

Taking Notes

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

Taking Notes Activities

  • 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
iCloud Notes, Songwriting App
  • Google Docs – access your files from anywhere with internet access (you can also set a doc to use and edit offline). 
  • 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 – the best app ever

There’s a simple 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 it rarely clips (records too loud). 

  • 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
iPhone Voice Memo, Songwriting App

Voice Memos: Activities

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
I totally put my songwriting ideas in here somewhere! Cat sitting in a garden

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 oversimplify, the most detailed 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:

  • Song Ideas, inspiration for songs
  • Half of the photos for this website and the songwriting memes were done on my phone. A computer screen is usually 1920×1080… my iphone 8’s camera is double that resolution!
  • I’ve even photographed handwritten lyrics to take them on the go!
iPhone Flower-compressed image
iPhone Flower – original size image
Mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them... border collie trying to get ball unstuck
One of the many songwriting memes on EpicSongWriting that started with an iPhone photo

Camera Photography Tips

  • Take multiple shots, review photos while shooting to see how to improve next shots
  • Take the shot from further away. 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 its size or shape for different social media formats, it’s easier to turn your phone sideways to take a picture, except for Pinterest, social media and web formats are usually landscape (wider than they are tall). Except for people’s 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. 
  • On iPhone, go to Settings>Photos & Camera, turn off Keep Normal Photo, otherwise you will be saving two photos HDR and regular exposure

Camera Activities

  • 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 used to sync my phone, I’d first copy all photos to a folder on my laptop… I 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.
  • I got sick of that process so now I pay $3.99 a month for 10 times the icloud storage.

Note: there are several camera apps and photograph editing apps, but I’ve found that the onboard camera app and photo editing app can do everything I need.

Don't Write Randomly - start with the big wins, Dice

Video Camera

Record video, upload to YouTube or other social media and anyone in the world can watch it.

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

Video Camera Activities

  • 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
Music doesn't happen by accident, dandelion seeds, songwriting meme, songwriting tips that actually work, songwriting advice

What Else Can My Phone Do?

Your phone is awesome. You know how to use it for some of your songwriting tasks… 

Are you ready to take it to the next level?

These 5 apps are simply basic features on your phone… here are 5 of the best free apps you can use for songwriting!

Leave a comment to help other songwriters…

How do you use your phone for your songwriting?

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Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff has taught, played and written music professionally for the last 25+ years.

Leave a comment to help other songwriters...

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