Music Making Apps: Music Production for Mobile Phones

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Music producer making a beat on an iPhone with Ableton Note

Ever since the beat for Kendrick Lamar's song "PRIDE" was produced on an iPhone 6 back in 2017 by an 18-year-old producer, I've been excited about the future of mobile phone music production and beat making. The fact that such a high-quality track started in a phone is a testament to the potential power of modern mobile devices. The accessibility of mobile phone music production apps will soon lead to a surge in creativity and innovation in the music industry. We are already seeing a trend of more and more artists using their phones to create and share music.



While some may argue that the quality of mobile phone recordings will never match that of studio recordings, I would guess that the convenience and affordability of mobile phone recording will outweigh any concerns about sound quality for most amateur and unsigned artists. As mobile phone technology continues to improve, it is likely that the quality of mobile phone recordings will increase as well.

As someone who is passionate about music production, I'd like to think that the increasing capabilities of mobile phones will allow more people to create professional-sounding tracks without the need for expensive equipment. This is an exciting development that has the potential to democratize the music industry and give rise to a new generation of talented music producers. Let’s take a look at how a song idea might move from your mind to your phone and then finally onto your laptop or desktop computer before you upload it so the rest of the world can listen to it.



5 Key Features of a Music Making App


Sequencing is the process of playing back a series of musical events or notes, usually in the form of a drum beat, bass line, melody or chord progression. There are a number of different ways to approach sequencing in music making apps. One common method is to use a grid-based interface, in which the user can input notes into a grid that represents a measure of time. Another common method for sequencing is to use a Piano Roll interface.


There are usually three main types of instruments found in music production apps: drums, synths, and samplers. Drums are the backbone of any song and provide the rhythmic foundation. Synths are used to create melody and harmony, and can often be programmed to create unique sounds. Samplers are used to capture and playback audio, and are often used to create loops or phrases.


Samplers also allow you to record your own voice or other sounds and use them as instruments in the app. There are a few things to keep in mind when sampling sounds for your music. First, you'll want to make sure that the recording level is not too quiet or too loud. Second, you'll want to make sure that the sound is free of too much external background noise. Third, you'll want to make sure that the sound is in tune. This means recording at the correct pitch.


Delay and reverb are two of the most commonly used effects and most apps will have both. Echo is often used to create a sense of space or distance in a mix and reverb is used to create a sense of depth or dimension. Pitch-based effects include: phaser, flanger, and chorus. Distortion effects include saturation, bitcrush, and fuzz.


When you're ready to share your music with the world, you'll need to export your audio files and/or Sessions from your music making apps. Most apps will have the ability to export audio as wav and mp3 files. Wav files are larger and sound better than mp3s. Some apps have the option to export the full Session and then finish your song in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).


Download my FREE pdf Guide: 111 Music Production Terms Translated


6 Music Making Apps for iOS Producers & Beatmakers

Ableton Note

Ableton Note is the newest beat making and music production tool available for iOS. It features a Clip matrix like the one found in Ableton Live’s Session View. Clips of musical performances can be quantized, edited and duplicated across the 8 tracks . It comes with a lot of sound presets of drums, synths, and sampled instruments. Beginner or professional songwriters and beat makers can use it to start sketching ideas. Ableton Note Sets are compatible with Ableton Live so your iOS song ideas can turn into full songs if you own both apps. Read more about Ableton note here.



Native Instruments iMaschine for iOS

Native Instruments iMaschine is a powerful music production tool for iOS devices. It comes with an impressive array of features, including a drum machine, sampler, and synth engine. With iMaschine, you can create professional-sounding music productions on the go. It comes with a wide range of features and sound options, making it a great choice for both beginner and professional producers. The intuitive interface and workflow make it easy to create complex beats and melodies, while the wide range of sound options allow you to create unique and original tracks.

*Note: iMaschine is still up on the NI website but it may have been discontinued.

Apple Garageband

Apple GarageBand for iOS is a powerful music creation tool that allows users to create and record their own music. The app includes a wide range of features and tools that allow users to create professional-sounding music. GarageBand for iOS is a great way for anyone to create their own music, regardless of their level of experience. If you're looking for a powerful and easy-to-use music creation app for your iOS device, GarageBand is a great option. It's packed with features that allow you to create professional-sounding tracks, and it's easy to use.

Image-Line FL Studio Mobile

Image-Line FL Studio Mobile is a music production app for iOS and Android devices. The app allows users to create and save music projects, as well as export them to WAV, MP3, and MIDI formats. FL Studio Mobile also features a wide range of virtual instruments and effects, making it a powerful tool for music production on the go. The app features a virtual piano, drum machine, and sound effects. FL Studio Mobile also supports MIDI controllers and can be used as a stand-alone app or as a plugin for FL Studio desktop.

Steinberg Cubasis

Steinberg Cubasis for iOS and Android is a digital audio workstation (DAW) developed by Steinberg for mobile devices. It is a powerful and easy-to-use DAW that allows you to create and edit music on your iOS device. Cubasis features a variety of virtual instruments, effects, and tools to help you create professional-sounding music. Edit your tracks with the built-in audio editor and add effects to create your own unique sound. Mix your tracks using the built-in mixer and add EQ, reverb, and other effects to create a professional-sounding mix

INTUA Beatmaker 3

INTUA Beatmaker 3 is a powerful music production and composition tool for iOS devices. It features a robust sampler, drum machine, step sequencer, and virtual instruments that can be used to create professional-sounding music. The app also includes a wide range of built-in effects and processors that can be used to further refine your tracks. Beatmaker 3 is an excellent option for those looking for a comprehensive music production solution for their iOS device.


Futch - Music Production Coach, Ableton Certified Trainer


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