Staying organized is half the battle to achieving success, and this is particularly significant for independent musicians. Artists on labels tend to have assistants and other people on staff working to take care of typical, day-to-day music industry work. Not everyone has such a luxury, though, and for those who have the responsibility of handling all aspects of their career beyond making music, organizational tools are vital.
Thankfully, there are plenty of free services to utilize that will ensure all of your materials are easily accessible and organized. End the days of not knowing where a particular lyric is written or what day your important meeting is, and check out five handy organizational tools that will decrease your stress and increase productivity!
1. Google Drive
Google Drive has proven to be one of the most valuable tools the company has created. Blank documents (for song/album concepts), spreadsheets (for financials), and calendars (to keep track of your busy schedule) can all be located in one place and are easily accessible via either your laptop or smartphone.
And if you happen to work with a management team, you all have the ability to work on a task simultaneously and view what changes are being made. Rather than endlessly emailing Word docs and Excel sheets back and forth, only to wonder if you have the most recent version, Google Drive provides a simple and efficient method of creating, sharing, and maintaining materials that are essential to your music career.
Trello may not be the most popular app out there, but it is incredibly helpful as a project management tool. Available on both desktop and mobile, Trello allows you to create unique lists which contain cards (aka tasks) that progress in a drag-and-drop fashion, showcasing a task being completed from start to finish. Users can be assigned to cards, and comments and documents can be attached to each phase of the process. Think of it as a powerful digital whiteboard.
Trello is ideal if you work in a team, but even as a solo artist, it provides a clear means of organizing the things on your to-do list while holding yourself responsible to finishing tasks by a certain date. If you find yourself jotting down random notes in a million different places, you may want to give it a try.
As one would expect from its name, Wunderlist is a task management tool that makes it easy for users to create and manage their to-do lists. These lists can be shared with other Wunderlist users, and through the "Detail View," you can add due dates, reminders, assignees, subtasks, comments, files, and notes to tasks.
Organized via the popular #hashtag approach, Wunderlist has a clean design and is great for grocery-style checklists to keep you on track. If you're a spur-of-the-moment, jot-it-down type of artist, Wunderlist would be a good choice for you as you work to capture those unpredictable spurts of creativity.
Slack is a messaging app for teams that's praised in tech communities and beyond. Designed for all types of collaboration, Slack offers a number of useful features, such as chat rooms organized by topic, direct messaging, the ability to upload files, and several useful third-party integrations. All of these capabilities may seem like overkill, but it could be the perfect fit if you find yourself working with a wide variety of groups.
Communication with management, booking agents, and video crews can all be brought together into one powerful platform with Slack if you're willing to learn the ins and outs. It's easy to get lost in the endless abyss of your email inbox when you don’t have time for upkeep, and Slack is one of the best tools out there that helps cure this type of information overload.
For those who can't go through life without constant texting, GroupMe effectively organizes your group communication. The app is great for artists who work in small teams and prefer a simple yet efficient way of discussing the topics of the day. While it's primarily used for texting, GroupMe also allows users to share photos, videos, and create events.
These capabilities may seem to be identical as standard group texting, but GroupMe offers a more friendly user experience. One of its most underrated features is the fact you can "like" individual messages. This is helpful when brainstorming potential show opportunities, collaborations, or any type of decision that should involve a group discussion. GroupMe may not have all the bells and whistles of a tool like Slack, but it's great at what it does.
Eric Bernsen is a marketing/public relations professional and music journalist who specializes in the genre of hip-hop. You can find more of his work at HITPmusic.com (where he is an editor/writer) as well as HipHop-N-More.com, where he contributes album reviews. Follow Eric on Twitter @ebernsen.