6 Essential Music Programs I Use

I wanted to share some essential music programs that I use, programs that I am using every day as a bass player/teacher and producer. Some of these programs might not be so specific to your needs as a musician but I’m sure many of them offer the versatility a musician needs in their everyday life.


I use this software to create either charts for gigs or resources for my bass students. While not all musicians use sheet music and scoring in their musical pursuits, a lot of us are. I can create specific content for my students and give them high quality sheet music.

I also use this software for making chord charts for pop cover gigs. The great thing about Sibelius is that you can transpose the whole score into a new key for a different singer at the click of a button. I export the files as pdf’s and use the program Forscore on my Ipad to view them at a gig.

I also use this program when writing charts with multiple parts. The feature of printing separate parts as well as the entire score makes it easy for me to write the score and extract separate parts for printing.




Whether I am sending files as a freelancer or collaborating with another artist on a song, I use Dropbox to transfer large files. Shared folders make things a breeze and the fact that they can be updated by all the users of that folder mean that you can be working at different times and still be using the same files as each other.

Having your data in ‘the cloud’ is also handy in case any hardware stuffs up or is lost accidentally. Ongoing projects can also be more easily managed and accounted for.


This is primarily a performance tool for me however I also use it for teaching. Essentially this is just a pdf reader with some more features. You can create set lists of selected pdf’s and scroll through them as well as annotate and add text and other data on top of the pdf. This can be great for making some last minute changes or adding information to the document (a feature that not many pdf readers have).

Whilst it is a paid app I definitely recommend it over the free ones. It’s generally quite stable and has a very easy to use import system where you can sync it to a Dropbox or just open email attachments into the library. Sorting by most recent or sending files to other band members via bluetooth can make it easy to be sure you’re all on the same page.



Soundcloud is my go to program when it comes to audio content publishing. You can upload a lot of audio as a free user and the design is great. No annoying ads on the site make it a much more user friendly experience. It also has  great ways to organise your content through playlists.

Groups can be a good way to get your music to a larger audience. Finding a group with the same niche as your own music can help you put your music in front of a person that will actually want to listen to it. Also, as a paid user you can get access to things like backdrops of your files and large attention grabbing images as well as more time for your uploads. Most musicians are using this but if you’re not I definitely recommend getting on board.


Pretty much a no-brainer to most musicians nowadays. Visual and more specifically video content has a much bigger effect on your audience. Although you are primarily a producer of audio content, a video can help your audience connect more with you as a person and artist. As an educator I find that videos can go more in depth and explain something faster or in a more detailed way than text.

Every different type of content has it’s place and as a musician you really can’t look past video. If you don’t already have footage of yourself or band then I’d definitely recommend getting something out there.

Youtube is also a valuable source as it has a TON of music up there. If I’m learning a song then normally my first port of call is Youtube as the song is most likely available on there. It can also be a great resource for instrumental lessons as well as marketing and business topics related to music.


Ableton is my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice. It is on my list of essential music programs because I use it to produce everything related to recording and producing. Whether it be a loop to practice bass grooves over or a fully fledged electronic song that I produced, I can use this program to do it.

One of the main draw-cards of Ableton for me is the ease of MIDI integration. I use a lot of midi data in my electronic music and Ableton makes it easy for me to do this. All plugins like Massive and Sylenth work well with Ableton and this lets me have powerful synths in my songs.

The inbuilt sounds, audio effects and midi effects as well as too many features to name make it the all in one solution to any audio requirement. For this reason most of the DAW related content I will discuss on this site will be using Ableton as the software.


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