Organization Apps and Tools for Musicians

I have to confess that I’m what you can call an organization maniac. I feel the necessity of having everything perfectly organized and, because of that, I’ve tested a lot of applications and tools. In this article, I’ll show you the ones that I found most useful for musicians.

Not a lot of musicians or music producers make use of organization tools. Therefore, having an organized workflow can give you a huge advantage. This will allow you to, for example, finish songs consistently, or have a posting schedule for social media.

Thankfully, there are plenty of free tools that will ensure all of your work is easily accessible and organized. Although there are endless options, here we’ll take a look at the best service for file management, task management, note-keeping, calendar, project planning, and more!

File Management

Google DriveiCloudDropbox, or OneDrive.

I think a cloud file management system is essential for virtually any person nowadays. For a musician, it is also extremely useful for uploading any kind of information and being able to access it anywhere and anytime. This includes:

  • All your assets (logo, profile pictures, social media banners, templates, etc.)
  • All your finished projects (I wouldn’t upload there the projects that you’re working on because it may not be accessible to your DAW)
  • All your work-in-progress collaborations (and by this, I mean either a DAW project or the stems of the song)
  • Back up of your sample library (it would be sad if your hard drive broke and you lost all the samples you’ve been collecting for years).
  • Documents (for ideas or note-taking) Sheets (for financials or other ways of organization) and calendars.

Although there are a lot of options, I find Google Drive is the best because it’s free-er (it has 15 GB of free storage — if you need more, it’s not that expensive neither). Also, it’s available for every platform, unlike iCloud.

Additionally, Google Drive also integrates perfectly with the rest of the Google ecosystem: you can create Google Docs and Google Sheets, and access Google Calendar, Keep, Tasks, and Gmail easily (everything for free).

Calendar

Google CalendarApple Calendar.

A calendar will not only let you schedule, for example, your music releases or meetings, but it’s also extremely useful for calendar blocking or time boxing.

This concept refers to the action of blocking and scheduling a certain amount of time and dedicating it to work with deep focus on a task. This could be working on music production, creating content for social media, learning something, practicing an instrument, etc.

You can, for example, block every day from 5 pm to 7 pm to work on music. That way you know that you will always have that time free and available for music creation.

Again, there are a lot of calendars. I would recommend the Google Calendar because it integrates extremely well with the rest of the Google tools. If you have chosen the Apple way, you can use Apple Calendar.

Google Calendar music production

What calendar blocking in Google Calendar looks like.

Note Taking

Google Docs or KeepOneNoteNotion.

You can use note-taking apps for just about everything. From taking notes from a technical tutorial to writing song lyrics and ideas. There are other uses such as journaling, making lists, or just writing down what you are thinking at any moment.

A note-keeping app is where you write down all the things that you know you won’t remember. I find it especially useful for learning new things. It’s easy to watch a tutorial or read an article. But will you remember those things? Or will you consume them passively? If you write notes on those pieces of information, not only you will remember them for a much longer time, but you can also access them later.

In this case, there are endless options. I recommend choosing the one that better fits your digital environment: Google Docs or Google Keep if you like the Google ecosystem; OneNote if you are more into Microsoft Office; Apple Notes; and finally, Notion, which, as we’ll see later, is an all-in-one workspace.

Pocket

Pocket it’s not a note-taking app, but it helps with organizing the content that you want to consume. Basically, when you find an article or blog post that is interesting but that you don’t have time to read now, it saves it for reading later, with just one click.

To use it, you can go to getpocket.com and create an account or sign up with Google or Facebook. Then you have to install the Pocket extension in your browser (if you are using Chrome: click the three dots at the top right>More tools>Extensions>click the three lines at the top left> Open Chrome Web Store; then, search for Pocket).

Then, every time that you want to save an article for later, you just have to click on the Pocket icon at the top right of your browser (you can try it now!)

Task Management (To-Do List)

Google TasksMicrosoft To-DoTodoist.

A to-do list app is essential for writing down all the things that you have to do, and don’t forget them. You can’t remember anything, and therefore putting all your tasks into a task management app is incredibly mentally liberating, because you can eliminate those thoughts from your mind.

If you think of it, there are thousands of things that you have to do if you run a music brand. Some of them you should’ve made a long time ago, but you didn’t because you haven’t written them down (for example, you may need to organize your drum sample sounds or your effects library).

Task management as a musician can go from writing a plugin that you want to download, something you want to learn, or contacting someone, to a more macro-level organization like mixing a song or finishing an album.

If you are using Microsoft’s tools, you can use Microsoft To-Do. If you are into Google, you can use Google Tasks. But it’s an extremely minimalist app (which is good if you want something simple).

So I recommend you to try Todoist, which is a much more complete app where you can create projects of tasks, and even projects within projects. You can also schedule them and prioritize them (for example you can create a task project for “Music Production”, another for “Learning”, then for “Marketing”, etc.)

Project Planner

NotionTrelloAsana.

With a project planner, you can create boards for your project and put some tasks (cards) under each of them.

I find this useful for macro-level project planning, but you can also use it for specific tasks. This way you can divide your tasks between different stages (for example, to-do > doing > done)

For musicians, I find it particularly useful for managing music projects. For example, you can create a card for each song, and then create a column for each stage of the production process (Ideas, Songwriting, Mixing, Mastering, etc):

Project Planner Music Production

Apart from the board tool, I also like to create a checklist template that I load into each card, so every time I start a new song, I know exactly what has to be done.

Some of the most used board project planners are Trello and Asana, although, I recommend Notion because apart from boards, it has tons of other features such as calendars and spreadsheets (tables). That way, not only can it be a board project planner, but also a to-do list, note-taking digital notebook, calendar, etc.

The Weekly Reset

Once you’ve built your organization system, you have to maintain it, so it’s actually useful and not a complete mess. That’s why I recommend doing a weekly reset.

This means that every Sunday or Monday (or whichever day you like), you will sit down and clean up all of these tools. If you don’t do this, after a few weeks you will find that your organization system is not useful anymore, and you will return to a chaotic life.

Some ideas for weekly resetting are:

  • Clean up the crap (email imbox, note-taking app, desktop, and other files)
  • Brain dump (write down to-do’s and update calendar)
  • Review all your tasks and check the ones that you’ve accomplished
  • Plan a main task for the week
  • Personal plans (plans with friends or other recreation activities)

If you follow this organization structure, you will always have a much more relaxed life and your music project will stay consistent, and your music output will be much higher.