Cheat Sheet

iPad & iPhone for Musicians For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From IPad and iPhone For Musicians For Dummies

By Ryan C. Williams, Mike Levine

Your iOS device can act as a virtual instrument, a guitar and pedal simulator, or even the portable recording rig you always wanted. Whether you want to use your iOS device like an actual musical instrument, as an interface for a real musical instrument, as a recording device, or just as a musician’s accessory, your iOS device makes creating and recording music fun and (relatively) easy. There are so many possibilities to explore! The iOS operating system may not cover the entire mobile world, but it does provide the most robust options for musicians wishing to create music on a mobile device. To help you keep things simple, review the recording checklist to make sure everything is in place before you hit that big red Record button. You can also review troubleshooting information and check out places you can share your finished work.

An iPhone and iPad Music-Recording Checklist

Before you begin any recording session on your iPhone or iPad cross off each step in this checklist to ensure you capture all your tracks correctly and with the proper volume levels:

  • Set aside plenty of time: You’ll probably want to do multiple takes of the song, or maybe just a single part. Be aware that five minutes of recording time takes a lot longer than five real minutes. Many Nashville sessions scheduled three hours for two songs (and more if they could, but not too many more). Plan accordingly.

  • Eliminate background noise: Whether you’re in your studio or a remote location, take whatever steps you can to focus your recording only on the musical instruments you want to record. Move mics or instruments around, close doors and windows, whatever it takes.

  • Make sure you have all the cables and mics you need: Nothing stops a session quicker than running out of the cables you need to route audio into your iOS device. In fact, make sure you bring a couple of extras in case things break down.

  • Make sure you can hear all of the instruments through headphones: Just because they’re making noise live doesn’t mean you’re sending signal to your iOS device. Have each player or singer play like they’re recording for a bit so you can perform your line check (getting audio to the proper track) and set the appropriate recording level. You can worry about effects, EQ, and other modifications once your signal gets into your device correctly.

  • Enable record on the tracks you want to record: Make sure the tracks you want to record are armed for recording. And, just to be safe, make sure the tracks you don’t want to record are not armed for recording.

  • Make sure everybody is ready: “Hey, drummer! Pay attention!” Give everybody enough time to settle and get ready to play, then record.

An iPhone and iPad Musician’s Troubleshooting Guide

Even though you don’t use a lot of real moving parts when you’re creating music with an iOS device, you’re still dealing with a computer that uses software and incredibly complex calculations (masked as incredibly simple apps). This means that you will, at some point, need to do some troubleshooting. Use the points on this list to get things back up and running when something goes wrong:

  • If you can’t hear what you’re playing, make sure you’ve correctly connected all of the devices (such as an audio interface or MIDI controller) and your iOS device. Then check all volume knobs, including the knobs on your guitar or bass, as applicable. Some amp simulators may also include tuners that disable audio — check that setting as well.

  • Make sure your iOS device has enough storage space to record. You can’t lay down tracks if there’s no place to put them! It’s a good idea to leave a few GB free on your device anyway to accommodate new apps or iOS updates, but that extra space also helps with recording. Delete any extraneous apps, recordings, or music and video files, if necessary. Tap Settings, select General, then select Usage to identify the apps that take up the most space on your device.

  • Quit any apps running in the background and hogging memory. If you’re not going to use an app, end all processes by double-tapping the Home button on your iOS device and swiping that app to the top.

  • If things still run slow or unpredictably, turn off your device by holding the sleep/wake switch at the top until the touchscreen prompts you to swipe the control and turn off the device. Turn it on again to see if that fixed everything. You can also reset the device by holding the sleep/wake switch and the Home button until the screen goes black and then displays the Apple logo.

  • Check with your app developers if things continue to perform incorrectly. You may need to be patient while they resolve a bug.

Streaming and Downloading Options for iPhone and iPad Musicians

After you complete your final recording and exporting using your iPhone or iPad, you can share your tracks with the world! The following list contains options for distributing your tracks to the masses, many of which are available as export options:

  • Facebook: This option places your final track on the Facebook account associated with your iOS device. If you’re posting the track to your personal account, you’re probably fine. But if you want to post the track to a separate page — one set aside specifically for your music — make sure you enter the right information for that page on your iOS device by tapping Settings and selecting Facebook, then entering the correct credentials. Swapping pages continuously may be a hassle, but it will help you get your music to the right place.

  • YouTube: This option lets you upload your final track to everybody’s favorite Internet media hub/time-waster. Just select the YouTube option and enter the applicable credentials.

  • SoundCloud: Again, most apps allow exporting directly to your SoundCloud account when you select this option, and from there you can share the music to any number of social media services.

  • Cloud Storage Accounts: Most apps default to Dropbox, but you can also use your iCloud account or other storage options as allowed by the app. From there, you can relocate or share as you wish.

  • Bandcamp: You’ll need to export the file to another place, such as a cloud storage device, then move the track to your Bandcamp account. But you’ll find no better solution for selling your music (or merchandise and physical recordings) than Bandcamp.

  • Email: Some files may exceed email size options (think 10 MB or less), but you can always try to email a completed track to yourself. Just choose the compressed file option and release that this solution will not handle any uncompressed recordings well.