Let’s just get right down to it. As usual, in our This Weeks In Music Apps series, we’ll kick things off with the latest reviews, then proceed to the new and notable releases — in this case, for iOS, Android, the web, and Spotify.
- Rolling Stone‘s Concert App is Sort of ‘Meh’
- Want to Hear Colors and See Sounds? Try Synesthetic For iOS
- The Best Android Music App For Not Getting Run Over By A Car
- Music Quiz SongPop Strikes Social Gaming Gold
- Want a Studio-Ready iPad Synth on the Cheap? Try Magellan
Easy Strum ($2): Have you ever wanted to boast of playing the glockenspiel in your spare time, or busting out Rachmaninov compositions on the piano? Easy Strum for the iPad can make it so, sort of. This app comes with six built-in instruments — piano, glockenspiel, celesta, harp, sitar, and marimba — that you can play by simply strumming your iPad like a harp. Even better, you only need one finger to do so. If you’re a more advanced user with other virtual instruments on your digital audio workstation, you can even control those with the same “easy strumming” motion, by using it as a wireless MIDI controller.
Synesthetic ($2) or Synesthetic Lite (free w/limitations): Synesthetic is a rhythm-based game, which is also listed in the reviews section above, but it’s so much fun that we’re including it here too. The app your iOS device’s music collection into a visually-stunning game. To play, you’ll need to first pick a song and “prepare” the song, which analyzes the song to figure out where and when to place the gameplay elements. Each song in your library (no DRMed or iCloud-stored songs) presents its own unique path and obstacles. As you listen, you must avoid obstacles that dock points and turn down the music, or make it through gates, depending on the game mode.
Backbeater (free; $69 for additional hardware necessary for this app): Drummers who are having trouble keeping the beat, or are unsure of how consistent their tempo is should check out this tempo-monitoring app, even though the hardware that goes along with it is super pricey for the app world: $69, in total. It’s not quite a metronome, although this app does contain one. Essentially, Backbeater tracks the drummer’s own drum strokes on a real drum kit and providing real-time feedback. This allows the drummer to keep his or her own beat, rather than adhering to an automatic tempo, and to learn from mistakes. The app is free, but again, you will need to throw down for the sensor, headphone splitter, and hi-hat clamp hardware.
SongPop (free): This music quiz game is all the rage with iOS and Facebook users. It hasn’t picked up the same steam with Android users, but we feel like that’s only a matter of time because this game is crazy fun. SongPop’s concept is simple: Players compete against one another to guess the name of a given song or the artist behind it, based on a thirty-second sample. The faster you guess, the more points you’re rewarded, and whoever has the most points after a five-song round wins. And that’s it. Why is it so fun? Well, you get to listen to music, compete with your friends, and show off your musical knowledge. What’s not to like? Finally, there’s an addictive, Words-With-Friends-style game for the music set.
MP3 Amplifier (free): Do you have some MP3s on your Android device that you just can’t seem to make loud enough, even after adjusting the volume and investing in high quality headphones? Now you can amplify the actual files themselves, using MP3 Amplifier. Simply select the quiet files, set the amplification factor, and amplify. The cool thing about this app is that it doesn’t mess with the original file, but creates an amplified copy and stores it in the Music folder on your SD card. This way, if you’re unsatisfied with the amplification for some reason, you haven’t ruined your file.
Official.fm (free): For emerging musicians looking to “make it,” music promotion is the name of the game. Official.fm seeks to make the process more accessible for artists overwhelmed by the process. This web app offers a simple way for musicians to upload music onto their own customizable pages and share tracks across platforms and social networks. It also collects analytics on visitors so artists can get a sense of who their fans are and where they’re coming from, which is an invaluable resource for emerging and established artists alike. (It’s not new, but it is making an appearance at DUMBO Summer Friday this afternoon.)
StereoGrid (free): StereoGrid is another web app to assist musicians with music promotion. This time, however, the focus is on getting your music out to music websites, bloggers, and the press. To begin the process, upload your music and other content to the site. StereoGrid will then send out your music to their network and press list. If someone likes your music, they can then share it with their own networks, and so on. Once your music gains some traction, the app will collect data on your fans, like Official.fm does.
Swarm.fm (free): Swarm.fm is a beast of an app that offers a ton of unique features to enhance your Spotify and Facebook experiences. Here’s a brief run down of what you’ll be able to do: Check out what your Facebook friends are listening to, liking, and sharing on any Facebook Connect service, even if they don’t use Spotify or Swarm.fm; ‘Mute’ friends with bad taste; Create playlists based on mood, genre, year, or artist; Explore your friends’ Spotify collections, playlists, and favorite tracks; and much more. Install the app either directly from the Spotify App Finder or by going here.