4 Secret Weapons For Your Touring Success That Fit Into Your Front Pocket
By Chris Marion |
If you Google “secret weapon for success,” within seconds you'll be inundated with an exponential number of links to blogs and articles that promise a treasure trove of secrets for success—some free, some for a one-time contribution or subscription to a monthly newsletter. If you visit your local music megacenter, you’ll not only find kiosks of printed material with tutorials to achieve success in your musical career and touring band, you’ll also encounter beaming reps that will joyfully assist you in navigating this quest, albeit with the latest, greatest piece of gear to complement your journey to the holy grail.
What all of these resources ultimately offer you is truly the secret weapon for success in any venture: information! It’s knowledge and information that can make or break a career and the success of a tour whether it involves instruction, logistics, organization or even implementation.
And what is the most obvious portal to the information of the world? Here's a hint: there are 7.1 billion of them in operation. 61\% of Americans own one, and I would be willing to bet that most of your bandmates are included in that number. It’s the real rocket in your pocket—your smart phone. Having toured for almost 35 years, I can honestly say that no piece of gear has become more essential to what I do on a day-to-day basis. I want to highlight four smart phone apps that I won’t leave home without.
Dropbox (https://www.dropbox.com) - this is perhaps the most lethal weapon in my smart phone arsenal. This free, cloud-based storage service allows you to store any type of data file and synchronize your files across all of your devices, from smart phone to tablet to laptop to desktop. Your free account comes with 2 gigs of storage space and they offer space upgrades as you refer new subscribers. Dropbox also facilitates simple file sharing between your files and any subscribed Dropbox user. Here’s what we share in my band’s group folder: day sheets, itineraries, audio files of new material, pdfs of charts, the latest jpegs from photo shoots, CD artwork for approval, contracts, DAW files, stage plots, production worksheets and even rooming lists. You can see why this is truly an invaluable tour resource. Gone are the days when you carried briefcases filled with tour books and reams of paper files. Rainforests are breathing sighs of relief.
Evernote (https://evernote.com) – where Dropbox is limited to storage of data files already created, Evernote allows you to create content that will also synchronize across various devices and formats. This free app allows the user to create notes and lists within its word processor functionality, take photos that are encoded with date, time and GPS location, make audio recordings also encoded with data, as well as bookmarking or clipping website URLs with offline recall. I use Evernote for a variety of tasks including lyric sheets, audio recordings of demos, and keeping records of receipts by photographing then notating time, date and who I discussed business with. The IRS loves detailed receipts. Finally, all of your Evernote content is backed up to your cloud in the background as you edit and can be accessed or edited from your home computer in both PC and Mac format.
Tripit (https://www.tripit.com) - for the traveler organization and planning are essential. Tripit makes organization as simple as forwarding an email confirmation. Their free service organizes and collates your various air travel, car rental and lodging details into one accessible itinerary through their app or web based portal. It tracks delays and cancellations, confirmation numbers, routes, flight information, addresses of destinations and departure centers and even gives you a weather update for your destination city. You can also create travel groups and keep up with details of travel plans within your group. A premium pro upgrade will also track your loyalty and rewards accounts, send you text messages or emails in real time with gate changes, delays or cancellations and even recommend alternate flights and airlines. You can subscribe to your itinerary feed within your various calendar programs and have Tripit populate your calendars with your travel details. There is nothing more reassuring than arriving late for a connection only to turn my cell phone back on and find a Tripit text waiting with my gate and departure information. Now you can travel with confidence and let Tripit do the worrying.
Google Maps (https://maps.google.com) - this app comes by default on all Android devices and finally has solid functionality on iOS devices. As the title suggests, at face value it is a maps program with navigational capacities. Combined with the power of Google’s search engine algorithms, it becomes your personal tour guide for most any location in the world. Stay logged in to your Google account and it keeps up with locations, businesses, addresses, and even preferences on a day-to-day basis. I often wake up in a different town every morning. Google Maps tells me what’s around the hotel to eat and drink, the distance from hotel to venue, public transportation stops, location of the nearest music stores, and even suggests the name of that sushi place I visited the last time I was in Wichita Falls. Insert an address of the venue into your calendar, click on the link and Google Maps automatically opens with a map of the location. Save an address at home and you can scroll down to that in your smart phone app for smooth location. Find the location of every bank ATM within walking distance. Find your way back to the hotel after a late night of post concert celebration with a voice prompting you to turn at the next corner. It will not warn you that you’re about to trip over the curb in three steps, but perhaps that’s coming next year.
Honorable Mention Utilities – There are some apps that I use regularly to streamline my road effort that deserve an honorable mention. Banking apps allow you to pay bills, manage your accounts and even make deposits from your smart phone – invaluable when you are in a state that doesn’t have a banking location. Other travel apps like Orbitz and Kayak make booking travel, lodging and auto rental simple and allow you to shop for the best deal in one location without a fee. Password management apps like Keeper make it easy to keep up with account numbers for credit cards, passwords for various accounts and all of your valuable data in one encrypted secure location. Musical Swiss army knife apps have built in tuners, metronomes, and even basic recording functionality that will add mobility to your creativity.
So, put your hand in your pocket and pay respect to the container of your secret weapons cache. If these four weapons aren’t part of your arsenal, give them a spin around your daily road experience. Tour wisely, my friends.
Chris Marion is an American musician best know as a member of Little River Band and for his contribution to the gospel and country music industries. Although graduating college with a B.A. in Psychology, he is a classically trained pianist and has worked in the music industry professionally for over 35 years. As a resident of Nashville, he is involved in the recording industry working in the genres of Gospel, Country and Rock. Since 2004, he has toured globally with the classic rock act Little River Band as a keyboardist and vocalist. For more useless trivia and minutiae, you can visit his personal website at http://www.chrismarionmusic.com.