There's a good chance that many reading this article will be in possession of a shiny new gadget, received for Christmas, that does everything except set up their rig! That’s right, I’m talking about the smart phones and tablets that so many of us use for a myriad of tasks throughout our personal and business lives.
It's very easy to take things for granted, but have you ever stopped to think how incredibly fast technology has changed in the past few years? If you have an iPhone, it probably has more computing power than was available on earth in 1950. Many of today’s children’s toys have more computing power than 1960s mainframes. And, if you have a Samsung phone, never before could anyone start fires so quickly!
DJs tend to love new bright shiny objects, as is evidenced by the looks on their faces as they wander around BPM | PRO each year. Most DJs are very much in touch with their geeky side, and some surrendered completely to it years ago! However, owning the latest gadgets is no use if you don’t put them to good use. So, using the left side of my brain, for this article I have compiled a list of 10 apps that help to make me more efficient and productive. Some you may already use, but hopefully there’ll be at least one or two that you haven’t previously come across that will prove useful throughout the coming year.
1] The first on my list is the app I use far more than any other, Evernote. This has transformed the way I do many things in the last couple of years and I'm actually using it right now to write this article while the guests tuck into their turkey at a Christmas party! It is a powerful tool for organising notes, to-do lists, documents and web links, all in one place. When you first start to use Evernote, it can take quite a while before you realise just how useful it is, and also figure out the best way to make the most of it, as there is no one way of using it.
The hierarchical structure is ‘Notebooks’ at the top, then ‘Notes’, followed by ‘Tags’. When I first started using Evernote, I created lots of Notebooks, but after a few months I realised this wasn't ideal and spent a fair bit of time re-organising. Personally, I found that the most efficient method is to have very few Notebooks but to then make extensive use of tags and nest some of the tags. So, for example, some of the tags I have are: DJ, weddings, mc, manuals, quotes, and music.
Then maybe I see an interesting article in Pro Mobile and feel that some of the info could be useful to me and I want to retain that. I could either copy some of the article into a note and tag it with ‘weddings’ or, if I were reading a story online, I could use the Evernote web clipper to copy the web page into a note. Or maybe I hear a funny or profound quote, I can add that to a note and include the ‘quote’ tag. Or I may choose to copy a list of the top 100 selling songs of 2016 into a note and use the ‘music’ tag, which might come in handy at a gig one day.
I then ‘nest’ some of the tags, for example, putting the ‘wedding’ and ‘music’ tags under the ‘DJ’ tag. This makes it easier to find things as and when I need them. Evernote also allows me to take photos and annotate them as another way of noting and filing ideas. I could write 100 pages on Evernote alone, but I don't think our Ed, Edd, would like that!
2] Number 2 is hardly unknown, it's Dropbox. If you're not wise to the delights of Dropbox you must have been living under a rock, or maybe in Croydon, which is similar! It's storage in the Cloud, allowing you to store hundreds, thousands, even millions, of documents, files and music tracks that can be accessed from anywhere in the world on any computer, tablet or smartphone.
If you already use Dropbox online, it is well worth downloading the app, as it has lots of potential uses for DJs. You could, for example, upload documents such as your PLI & PAT so that they are easily available should a client or venue ask to see them. Uploading copies of manuals for your gear is another good idea, should something ever need trouble-shooting at a gig. And, of course, having an easily accessible backup of your all-important music collection is always a good thing.
3] MixMax is at number 3 and this could transform the way you use email, especially if you already use Gmail. It isn’t a phone/tablet app, but a Chrome extension (available from www.mixmax.com) that provides a host of advanced email functions. It offers Email Tracking, so that as soon as a recipient opens an email you'll receive a notification. This can be very interesting when the reply you sent to an enquiry is opened numerous times, letting you know that not only has the prospective customer read it, but chances are they are very interested!
Email Appointment Scheduling is another useful tool offered by MixMax. It allows you to sync with your calendar so that you can include multiple links into a client email suggesting possible meeting dates. Then, when a client clicks on one of the dates that is convenient for them, it is automatically added to their calendar as well as your own.
Other features include Email Templates, Surveys, Sequences (automated follow-up emails), and Embedded Media (when you send a PDF you can have it appear as a slideshow within the recipient’s email client!)
4] Number 4 is Waze. If you're still using TomTom then welcome to the new age of SatNav! Waze is a new ‘community-based traffic and navigation app’ that is great for getting you to gigs using the quickest possible route. I'd been using TomTom for over 10 years but since switching to Waze it's unlikely I'll ever return. It often gives me far quicker routes than TT did and I prefer its way of letting me know of jams on the route.
5] WhoSampled is at number 5. This is one for DJs who love music trivia! If you like to know the year a track was first released, or who was the first artist to record a song, or where a particular sample originated, then this app is for you. It gives tons of fascinating information about the connections between different songs, artists and recordings. And, if you don’t want to fork out to buy the app, the same information can be accessed at www.whosampled.com.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 81, Pages 24 - 26.