Goodbye Music Memos, Hello Alternatives

Taylor Swift might approve

Key Takeaways

  • Apple is discontinuing its Music Memos software that allows users to quickly record songs on the go. 
  • There are some excellent alternatives for those who might miss Music Memos. 
  • Music Memos won’t be available to download for new users on the App Store after March 2021.
Music Memos on iPhone

I’m no musician, but Apple’s Music Memos is such a handy app that I was sad to hear the news that it will be discontinued.

Music Memos was released in 2016 and aims to make it easy for anyone to record brief snippets of song. It features a built-in tuner and the ability to quickly add backup music. The best part is there’s no learning curve; push the record button, and you have your own extremely basic recording studio. I used it to record some of my own songs, which thankfully will never be released.

Even big-name musicians use quick iPhone recordings to jot down ideas. Famed rock guitarist Eric Clapton once told Rolling Stone that he would record snatches of songs as a memo on his phone. Taylor Swift also said last year that she records voice memos in the middle of the night when she thinks up ideas for a song.

"My phone has all these three-second voice memos of me just mumbling what I think might be a good idea, and if you go back through them 97% of them are really, really terrible," Swift said in a TV interview. "It sounds like a grizzly bear," she added. "It doesn’t even sound like a human."

More Features, More Complex

If you want to be like Eric or Taylor, there are a bunch of alternatives on the market. None of them are quite as simple as Music Memos, but they should do the trick with a tiny bit more effort.

My favorite alternative to Music Memos is Just Press Record ($4.99), a very slick app with a minimalist interface. The app features iCloud syncing across all your devices and can do transcription. Unfortunately, it lacks the excellent Music Memos feature that instantly provides a backup band to your vocals.

For those looking for more features, there’s Ferrite (free with in-app purchases), which is designed for recording multiple clips and splicing them together. It’s great for making quick podcasts on the go, but it can also work as a place to put down your musical ideas. The app’s interface is clean, and it allows users to pick an input source if you are using an external microphone.

More complex, but also more versatile than Music Memos, AudioShare ($3.99) is really intended for those who need to organize a lot of audio files. It’s got the ability to organize music in folders and also zip and unzip files. However, it also makes a great music recorder, and there are plenty of ways to edit the sound in the app once you’ve captured it.

The app Spire (free with in-app purchases) has a nifty feature that allows you to easily add lyrics and song notes. It’s pared-down features are great for beginners or those who want to concentrate on producing music. Spire sets levels and tones automatically, which is nice for quick sessions, but those are really things you want to do yourself when making more professional recordings.

The funky-looking AudioMaster (free with in-app purchases) is meant for pure enjoyment. It promises to automatically brighten the songs you create by maximizing the volume and boosting the sound. It comes with 39 presets in various genres, including rock and folk.

Download Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

You may want to download one of these apps soon as Apple is making it clear that Music Memos is not long for this world. When you open the updated app, a notification tells you to export your recordings to Voice Memos.

The warning will reappear in another seven days, even if you dismiss it. Once you finish exporting your recordings, they’ll be in a folder titled "Music Memos." You’ll still be able to use Music Memos, but after March 1, 2021, you won’t be able to download the app if it isn’t already in your purchase history.

Music Memos never got much love. In fact, many people never even knew it existed. Even so, there are plenty of alternative apps out there to record your musical ideas on the go.

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