best apps for musicians

Best Mobile apps for music makers

These days, music-making apps are an essential part of any musician’s toolkit. Despite the ever-growing number of fantastic Digital Audio Stations (DAWs), you’ll still find plenty of musicians who prefer to create music on their mobile devices, rather than with a full music production suite.

Whether you’re into recording, mixing, songwriting, or performance, having the right tools at hand can make the difference.

Whether you’re looking for a great music player, a fully-functional DAW, or just a simple play-along karaoke-style app, we’ve rounded up the best free and paid music apps to take your music-making experience to the next level.

App stores are overflowing with apps for musicians. These apps range from the complex to the downright silly. We’ve gathered some of the best, most useful, and most sought-after apps for musicians that will help you get the most out of your musical talents.

Remember that apps are tailored to different skill levels since they are designed for different types of users. 

Comparison Table

AppAvailable ForCost
Garageband iPhone, iPad, MacFree
forScoreiPhone, iPad, Mac$19.99 (single purchase) or $9.99 per year
MusyciPhone, iPad, Mac$3.99
iMaschine 2iPhone, iPad$9.99
Korg Gadget 2iPhone, iPad, Mac$39.99
JamzoneiPhone, iPad, Mac, AndroidFree + in-app credits 
AnimoogiPad$29.99
FL Studio MobileiPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, Android$15 for mobile version

Now, let’s see how each of these apps can serve you as a musician. 

1. GarageBand

Garageband is Apple’s proprietary music production software that comes pre-installed on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. It’s free, but it offers an insane amount of value to where you wouldn’t believe it’s free. 

In fact, many professional musicians and music producers use GarageBand, which gives you an idea about how powerful it can be. 

The intuitive user interface of Garageband makes it a good choice for beginners. Even so, advanced musicians will find plenty of tricks if they dig deep enough. 

For instance, the library has pretty much any musical instrument you can imagine, including drums, guitars, and stompboxes. Also, I like the integrated remote controls. MIDI is also supported.

With the drummer feature, you can set the app to automatically play drum beats when creating songs. Garageband also lets you download tutorial lessons taught by talented musicians and music instructors.

Multitrack recording is also available. Adding effects to your beats before finalizing them is also an option. Additionally, your iPhone’s built-in microphone can be used directly for recording music. 

Pros:

  • Free
  • Suitable for beginners
  • MIDI support
  • Lots of virtual instruments
  • Built-in remote controls
  • Free how-to lessons
  • Sleek UI
  • Has a mobile app

Cons:

  • Available on Apple devices only
  • No dedicated mixer screen

Bottom Line

Garageband is a full-blown DAW with lots of instruments, an auto drummer, remote controls, and MIDI. It’s an excellent way for beginners to get their hands dirty.

2. forScore 

forScore boasts a sophisticated user interface that isn’t only functional but also pretty easy to navigate. You can reach any command you want with just 2 or 3 clicks.

One notable feature of forScore is the built-in remote control system that makes controlling everything on the screen a breeze. It also supports MIDI signals and page-turning devices.

ForScore also offers a convenient way to manipulate your sheet music. You can copy PDFs from email or Safari to get started right away. Plus, it lets you create setlists, add annotations, bookmarks, and play along with beats. 

The software also allows you to create multiple setlists, so that it automatically switches to the next song when you’re done with the current one. Other features include real-time audio recording, video recording, social sharing, inter-app audio support, and motion recording.

On a side note, keep in mind that forScore stores your sheet music on your device’s physical storage. This can be handy if you don’t have internet access, but it also means that you could lose your data if your phone is damaged. 

forScore is available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It’d cost you a one-time fee of $19.99. However, there’s a subscription-based option for $9.99 per year. 

Pros:

  • Supports MIDI devices
  • Robust sheet music editing capabilities
  • Built-in remote control system
  • Sleek UI 

Cons:

  • Exclusive to Apple devices
  • No cloud support

Bottom Line

With an intuitive user interface, MIDI support, and outstanding sheet music viewing and editing features, forScore can make a great companion for beginner and intermediate musicians.

3. Musyc

Musyc makes music even more fun by incorporating stunning visual graphics. Basically, you just have to draw some shapes, then watch them bounce around as you play your beat. Clearly we aren’t talking about sophisticated, high art. But as an idea generator, this rocks.

As a musician, creative ruts are inevitable, and that’s exactly how Musyc can help you with its fun interface. 

With a high-quality sound engine and a realistic physical engine, Musyc’s under-the-hood capabilities make it worthy enough to be your number one music companion. Add to that the 88 instruments available in its library, and you get yourself a well-rounded app for your day-to-day creative booms. 

Moreover, you get two effect channels that include delay, phaser, reverb, and overdrive effects, allowing you to manipulate your beats just as you want. The app also has an audio track mixer that enables you to fine-tune the pitch, pan, level, length, and mute. In addition, you can switch between 2 themes: standard and black and white. 

Musyc also integrates a set of advanced physical objectives, including modulator, black hole, and planet. Plus, it allows you to export audio in high-quality or compressed exports to Dropbox, iTunes, Soundcloud, and mail. 

The app is free on the Apple App Store, but there’s a paid version that lets you enjoy a few extra tricks, and it only costs a one-time fee of $3.99.

Pros:

  • Stunning visuals
  • High-quality sound engine
  • Supports 88 instruments
  • Includes an audio track mixer and 2 effect channels
  • Has a free version

Cons:

  • No PC or Android version

Bottom Line

If you want to try out a totally new and fun music production experience, Musyc has just what it takes to impress you with its fun games and robust music editing features.

4. iMaschine 2

iMaschine 2 is a simple music making app for DJs and musicians with no learning curve. With its intuitive arranger, users can create full tracks wherever they are. 

It uses a pad-based interface for its user interface. All you need to do is arrange the pads side by side to create your new piece, with a total of 16 pads to choose from.

Alternatively, you can download samples directly from iTunes or discover new sounds in the expansion store. The iMaschine 2 mixer adds sound effects to your music to spice it up.

With Smart Play, you can play in-key basslines and melodies. The app also has a step mode that you can use to make sounds without finger drumming. 

In addition, iMaschine 2 has a massive library of 750+ samples, 19 projects, and 38 drum kits. It also includes a number of quick actions that take advantage of Apple’s 3D Touch technology. By providing intuitive shortcuts, these apps can make your workflow more efficient and help you produce music more efficiently. 

iMaschine 2 is currently priced at $9.99 (single purchase) on the Apple App Store. 

Pros:

  • Multitrack mixer with effects
  • Massive sample library
  • 16 pads for music creation
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • The samples’ audio quality is lacking
  • No cloud support

Bottom Line

If you want to get started in music creation with an easy-to-use app, iMaschine 2 would be an excellent tool for you.

5. Korg Gadget 2

Korg Gadget 2 is a powerful music production tool that’ll take your beat-making game to the next level. With 40+ instruments, or “Gadgets”, Korg Gadget 2 provides you with all the assets to get creative. The library includes compact synths, drum machines, audio, and samplers.

What’s more, Korg offers a standalone plugin package that unlocks a whole new world of possibilities for you. The app also lets you quickly check the status of each track, create some cool fade-in/fade-out effects, and fine-tune the tempo.

On top of that, Korg Gadget 2 enables you to hook up your device to real machines and synths. Thanks to the Taipei gadget, you can effortlessly connect your device to whatever MIDI device you like. Other sophisticated tools in this app include a semi-modular analog synth, a bass effect processor, a polyphonic synth, an arcade synth, and a 16-bit drum machine. 

And it doesn’t even end there; Korg Gadget 2 also supports MIDI controllers, with native support in controllers like nanoKEY Studio and nanoKONTROL Studio. This means that you won’t have to worry about setting up sliders and knobs; it’s the power of native support!

Korg Gadget 2 costs a single fee of $39.99 on the Apple App Store. 

Pros:

  • More than 40 instruments
  • Offers a plugin package
  • Supports MIDI devices and controllers
  • Polished user interface
  • Free version available

Cons:

  • Only the plugins are available for PC
  • A bit expensive 

Bottom Line

With MIDI support and dozens of drum machines and synths, Korg Gadget 2 leaves little to be desired.

6. Jamzone 

Jamzone is an excellent app for training solo or jamming with bandmates. It boasts a regularly updated library that has a ton of studio-quality backing tracks for you to play along with. 

One notable feature of Jamzone is the integrated metronome function that makes it easier for you to customize the tempo so that you never miss a beat. You also get a multitrack mixer that lets you change the volume of each instrument. 

The music scrolls in sync with chords and lyrics, providing you with an unmatched “karaoke experience”. There’s a one-tap loop mode that lets you loop on one or more sections quickly.

Jamzone has both iOS and Android versions. Most of the songs are available for free. However, you need to buy credits to unlock the full version of many pieces in the library, so keep that in mind. 

And just to give you an idea, 25 credits would cost you $48. These should be enough to unlock a good number of full songs. 

Pros:

  • Has a metronome
  • Includes a multitrack mixer
  • Huge library
  • High-quality backing tracks
  • Available for iOS and Android

Cons:

  • Must purchase credits to access the full versions of many songs

Bottom Line

Jamzone sets the bar high by integrating a multitrack mixer, a metronome, and a library with millions of songs. 

7. Animoog 

So what makes Animoog so special? There are actually quite a few reasons! For instance, I was impressed by how this app is capable of capturing the sonic vocabulary of Moog synths and applying it to the touch surface paradigm. This makes it easy for you to craft unique sounds.

I also enjoyed the huge library of timbres available on the app. Here, all the waveforms are analog waveforms in the style of Moog Osci.

Animoog is designed exclusively for iPad music production. The tablet’s large screen enables users to come up with an immersive soundscape by moving through an X/Y space of timbres.

The latest version has also brought a lot to the table. For example, you can tilt your iPad to use it as a 3D modulation source with accelerometer integration. Other features include note hold and scale lock, audiocopy/audiopaste integration, MIDI CC maps, and Audiobus support.

Animoog costs $29.99 on the Apple App Store as a single time fee. 

Pros:

  • Integrates an Anisotropic Synth Engine (ASE)
  • Includes a large timbre library
  • Supports 3D modulation
  • Supports the new Audiobus platform
  • Lets users load and save MIDI CC maps

Cons:

  • Only available for iPads
  • Limited features

Bottom Line

Animoog shines when it comes to sound creation and 3D modulation. Its huge timbre library is a big plus, too!

8. FL Studio Mobile 

Released as a portable version of the desktop app FL Studio, FL Studio Mobile carries the legacy of its big brother with a wide array of features and functions to pump up your beat-making game. 

FL Studio Mobile allows you to edit, mix, render, and sequence your songs with high-quality synths and samples. Additionally, the app has all the effects you could dream of, including reverb, chorus, EQ, compressor, flanger, delay, and limiter. 

If you’re looking for a professional-grade app that will give you the tools to create, mix, and perform music with ease, FL Studio Mobile is a decent buy at a bargain price. See below.

With features such as effect buses, solos, per-track mute, volume changes, and panning, the mixer also provides you with everything you’ll need to show off your DJ skills.

Furthermore, you can sync the app with up to three other devices for collaborated work. In addition, it has a set of touch controllers, including a configurable drum pad and piano pad. 

FL Studio Mobile also supports MIDI devices, so you can play instruments and use sliders and knobs. Of course, you can use your phone’s microphone to record live performances, too. 

Also worth mentioning is that this program enables you to export your projects as WAV, FLAC, MP3, and AAC. The app has a bit of a steep learning curve, but things should get easier once you get used to it. 

FL Studio Mobile is available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Microsoft Store, and the Huawei App Gallery at around $15 depending on the platform. 

Pros:

  • Easy project sharing
  • Powerful mixer 
  • Lots of effects and synths
  • Has configurable pads
  • Versatile syncing capabilities 

Cons:

  • Can be a bit complex at first

Bottom Line

For track mixing, playing around with a wide range of effects, and syncing with other devices, FL Studio Mobile won’t let you down. 

How to Pick the Best App for Musicians

With so many music apps out there, pinpointing the perfect one for you is no easy task. So, here’s what you need to keep in mind when choosing an app for music creation.

Library

Ideally, a music app’s library should include as many instruments and synths as possible, without sacrificing quality and without bogging the user down with irrelevant choices. With more guitars, drum machines, and stomp boxes to play with, you’ll be able to get more creative with your beats.

User-Friendliness 

The last thing you want is to use a music production app with a cumbersome user interface that makes finding anything you want a challenging task. Music creation requires a clear mind and intuition, which is why you must make sure that the app has a sleek user interface. 

Price

If you’re just starting as a musician, it’d be a good idea to try out a free music app first. Once you progress with your music skills and knowledge, you can switch to a paid app with more advanced features and functionalities. Nevertheless, many free apps have a lot to offer for intermediate and advanced musicians, too. 

Availability 

It’d be best if you use an app that has a version for all of your devices. A mobile-only app is OK, but with a desktop version, you can continue working on your projects on your laptop’s bigger screen and powerful internals. And if the app supports cloud integration, you should find everything you’ve been working on ready for you. 

Plugins

Plugins are essential for music creation as it opens more opportunities for you when making your beats. In the best-case scenario, your app should have a dedicated plugin library. If not, then it should at least support various plugin formats. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a GarageBand App for Android or PC? 

Nope, Garageband isn’t available on Android or PC. It’s a closed-source app developed by Apple, so you’re only going to find it on Apple-branded hardware. 

What App Do Singers Use to Make Music? 

Smule is one of the most popular recording apps that singers use to test out their ideas. In Smule, singers can either sing solo or duet pieces, and there’s a virtually infinite number of songs to sing to. 

Is Zoom Good for Musicians?

While Zoom is not intended for musicians, some musicians do use it occasionally. However, don’t expect high-end audio quality since this app is designed for speaking, not singing.

Is There an App That Scans Sheet Music? 

Yes, there’s an app called Playscore that uses Optical Music Recognition (OCR) to scan sheet music. It’s available for iOS and Android, and it’s super easy to use.

How Do You Get Background Music to Sing a Song? 

YouTube is a good place to find devocalized versions of your favorite songs to sing along to. They usually include on-screen lyrics, too. Alternatively, you can use a Karaoke mobile app like Smule.

How Do I Find Musicians to Play With? 

To find musicians to play with, you can attend open mic nights, take group music lessons, put an ad at any nearby music store, or ask your music teacher.

Is There a Tinder for Musicians? 

Vampr is the closest you can get to a “Tinder for musicians”. It lets you meet up with other musicians by showing you their favorite Soundcloud and YouTube songs, along with other music-related information. 

Final Words

There you have it; the best apps for musicians are right here. Now, it’s time for you to test out a few of them and decide on one or maybe more!

If you’re looking for a powerful DAW with all the features you could need to create beats, Garageband would be your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re a complete beginner, Musyc can be a very good place to start. With its fun approach to music creation, Musyc is easily one of our favorites. 

Do you need an app that’s made specifically for rehearsals? Consider checking out the Jamzone practice tool. You can also take a look at FL Studio Mobile if you want a capable mixer that has dozens of effects to experiment with. 

In the end, music apps come in various forms, so it’s up to you to decide which of them would serve you better than the other!

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