Whether you’re a production manager, hospitality coordinator, part of the site crew, or any other member of an event or festival team, there have been several outstanding phone apps developed recently that can help you pull off a successful experience. Below are the seven apps that I turn to the most when I’m on-site, along with some honorable mentions:
Weather.com’s app (iOS / Android) – First and foremost, every event and festival professional should have a weather app of some kind on their mobile device. The latest updates to Weather.com’s app now give you very important and accurate information that is crucial to know when deciding on evacuating or postponing an event. While no one weather app should be a substitute for a weather station onsite and dedicated meteorologist, Weather.com’s app now features lighting strike data with distance and direction from your GPS location as well as live radar, and hourly forecasts.
SPL Meter (iOS / Android) – this app allows you to take precise sound level readings to help determine if your PA system is operating at acceptable decibel levels. It lets you pick between A weighted and C weighted filters as well as slow and fast response time. With a range of 40db to 120db and DSP algorithms that meet or exceed ANSI Type 1 standards, you can trust its accuracy and use it to report decibel levels at FOH, the event property line, or anywhere else that requires testing.
Tiny Scanner (iOS / Android) – there are several good photo-to-PDF apps on the market, but my favorite is Tiny Scanner. It lets you convert any photo you take of a document into a PDF, both as a color photo or as a lower file size black and white facsimile. These come in very handy for staff W9s, driver’s licenses, runner receipts, and other physical records that need to be digitized into a PDF for proper accounting.
Evernote (iOS / Android) – this robust set of notes, photos, reminders, chats, and lists goes well beyond your typical notepad app and allows you to collaborate with your co-workers, where everyone sees a hit list (for example, a set of load-out tasks for the site crew) and can update their progress in real time. It also offers syncing between your phone, tablet, and computer automatically.
TogglTimer (iOS / Android) – for those of us who are independent contractors and work hourly, trying to keep track of your hours can be cumbersome when you have multiple projects going at once. This app helps keep it simple by letting you simply hit a green and red button to start and stop your time on a project, and then it lets you easily export the summary data into an invoice or spreadsheet so your clients can see exactly what they’re paying for and how many hours you’ve logged.
Waze(iOS / Android) – when working an event or festival, especially one in a city or part of town you’re unfamiliar with, having an app that understands local traffic patterns and can actually reroute you to get the fastest route is essential. Waze stands above your standard map apps thanks to all of the user feedback it can pull from, allowing it to recommend side streets during a sudden traffic jam when other apps may still recommend the now-clogged highway.
Amazon Now (iOS / Android) – for when you absolutely need some gaff tape and your runners are all out picking up artists, Amazon Now lets anyone with a Prime membership place an order that promises to be there within 2 hours (1 hour for an extra fee). Available in at least 24 markets nationwide, it may not be there for you at every event or festival you work, but it can come in very handy when it is.
In addition to these event and festival friendly apps, I also make sure I have a streaming audio app handy – Spotify (iOS / Android) or Rhapsody (iOS / Android) are my two favorites – especially if you need to play some house music or test the PA (just make sure you are properly licensed if you’re playing music to the public). If you don’t have a paid subscription to one of these streaming audio services, seek out someone onsite that does and have them use their login; the last thing you want to hear is a bunch of awkward commercials being played over the PA.
For those of us that rely on document sharing, the two of the most popular services today are Dropbox and Google Drive. They each have apps that allow you to view your accounts on each while not having to be tied to your computer. As much as I’ve tried to stick with one, I find that Dropbox (iOS / Android) is essential for keeping an easy to use repository of all important event and festival documents, while Google Drive (iOS / Android) is invaluable as a way to update and share collaborative documents such as production timelines / run of shows, budgets, and staffing lists.
And of course, you will likely need a couple of ride sharing apps which the vast majority of us already have installed. However, if you’re in Austin like me, you now can’t rely on Uber (iOS / Android) or Lyft(iOS / Android) to call rides for yourself, artists, or your team (but they’re still great to have on your phone for when you’re in other cities where they operate). Thankfully, GetMe (iOS / Android), Wingz (iOS / Android – airport rides only), and Fasten(iOS / Android – may not be fully launched in Austin yet) are all quickly becoming viable alternatives.
Have an app I missed that you rely on for your events? Let us know if the comment box below.
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