7 Free Tools Every Freelance Musician Must Have
Being a freelance musician is hard, and starting from scratch is even harder. It’s so much more than being a musician. Accounting, time management, marketing, design, admin… so many different roles to fill and there’s just you to do them.
Sound daunting? Well fear not, the 21st century is here to make your life easier! Whether you’re just starting out, or you're a seasoned pro looking for tips, here are 7 free tools to make your life as a freelance musician easier.
Accounting and Invoices
Hate doing invoices and keeping track of your accounting? You’re not the only one! The good news is there are so many great accounting tools you can use now. Zervant allows you to create and send invoices, estimates, as well as helping you track them and send reminders to late payers. Not only are they all stunning, but you can also export all your invoices to an excel file to make your accounting easy. All of this is for free and in a really clean, simple and easy to use layout.
If you want a step up, take a peek at Quickbooks. You’ll have to pay for this one, but there are a ton of extra features that you might like, such as linking to an accredited Quickbooks accountant to make your tax return even easier.
Whether you’re composing, arranging, producing a recording, or doing anything else where you need to keep track of your hours to show a client you’re going to need Toggl. It’s incredibly useful to be able to showcase all your hard work in a timesheet, and Toggl also lets you run multiple projects simultaneously. Track your time from any internet browser, or you can use the easy to use app on your phone.
If you end up working on a project with multiple people, you can add them to the project so you can all collectively keep track of your time in the same place too.
Every musician needs a website now. If anything, it’s more important for freelance musicians to have one, as it provides a place for you to showcase everything you offer to the world. So how do you do this if you can’t afford to have someone design your website? Take a look at Wix and Squarespace. Both have free account options (with subscriptions if you want to upgrade to more features). They also have loads of stunning free templates for you to use, making it easy to use and taking the stress out of making it look good.
Email and Calendars
This one probably seems almost insultingly obvious. Of course you’ll need an email. But what I would really recommend having a separate “work” email. Not only does this mean you can make the address look and sound more professional, but it also gives you the luxury of turning off your work emails when you have a day off!
Both Gmail and Outlook are definitely leading the way for email accounts, and yes, both are free. As well as the email account, you also get an online calendar to help you organise your diary, send electronic invites to meetings, and generally help you get your shit together.
Promotion and Social Media
It has never been easier and cheaper to promote yourself, your products, your events or your services. Social Media has totally levelled the playing field, helping you connect to a whole world of possible customers and concert goers!
So yes, you will need social media accounts, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. Trying to run three or four social media accounts is hard and time consuming. You don’t want to spend all day checking in to post content at just the right time, or making sure you’re posting regularly. You need to automatically schedule and manage your social media… you need Hootsuite.
Hootsuite allows you to manage all your social media accounts and platforms in one place, schedule posts, keep track of hashtags and even keep track of your analytics. Spend 30 minutes a week writing your content, schedule when you want your posts to come out and BOOM… all sorted, and you don’t have to be glued to your phone all week.
(they really do hide the free version of Hootsuite on their website, so here’s the full link: https://hootsuite.com/plans/free)
Graphics – posters and photos
The good news is that stunning graphics, posters and photos are no longer only available to swanky design companies. The bad news is that the poster you made in Microsoft Word just isn’t going to cut it!
So what do you do if you don’t want to spend more on design software, or you’re not confident in being a design wiz?
Well, for posters, images and even videos, there is the amazingly easy to use Adobe Spark. Unlike Adobe Photoshop etc, this is totally free and you can use it in any browser or on your phone. Loads of gorgeous templates to get you going and help you great something truly stunning.
When it comes to photos and images, your phone camera is now so much better than 90% of professional cameras 10 years ago. No need to spend a penny on a photoshoot! If you want to edit your photos to make them look professional (and you will), download either VSCO or Snapseed from Google. Both amazingly easy to use, and both make a huge difference!
Audio - recording and hosting
When it comes to recording and editing your audio for free, there really is only one option. Audacity. Amazingly easy to use, you’ll be up and running in no time and there’s no need to go on a music technology course. There’ are so many features and it will take you a long time before you outgrow it and need to upgrade.
Want to upload and share your music to the internet? Soundcloud allows you to share your music to the world, connecting you with millions of users, offering downloads and allowing you to put your music on your own website.