Top 5 iPad accessories for musicians

We all scoffed at the idea of the iPad when it was first announced. Now, it’s one of the most sought-after electronics for both professionals as well as children.

For the musician, it’s an invaluable tool for teaching, reading sheet music, and checking social media on the go. However, it’s capable of so much more! My iPad mini has completely replaced my laptop for my touring computer. Here’s a list of my top 5 iPad accessories for musicians.

Disclosure: the Amazon links below are my affiliate links. When you click them and shop on Amazon, this blog will get a small commission fee at no extra cost to you. It’s a simple way to support this blog and more posts like this! Also, prices listed are the going price at the time of writing this article.

1. Apogee MiC – $230

The Apogee MiC is one of those tools that you didn’t realize you needed until you have one. The sound quality is quite impressive, and the additional feature of the onboard premp is amazing. If you’re like me and carry your iPad with you everywhere, it’s awesome to be able to record demos, live shows, and even YouTube videos with high-quality sound.

Wait, YouTube videos too? Yup! With the Apogee MiC plugged-in, any video you record will use the external microphone to record audio. Having such a mobile recording solution for both audio and video is fantastic. If you don’t have Garageband, you can download the free and easy to use Tape App by Focusrite which not only records but can do some quick and dirty mastering to make the most out of your tracks.


2. iTrack Dock – $300


Ok, so you want a mobile recording solution that allows you record using inputs beyond a single microphone. Maybe you want to record the direct feed from the soundboard on your iPad. If that’s the case, check out the iTrack Dock. The studio package (pictured above) comes with a microphone and monitor headset as well. The iTrack Dock is compatible with both the iPad Air and the iPad Mini.


3. Zagg Rugged Folio Keyboard Case – $150

Getting  a keyboard case for my iPad allowed me ditch the laptop while on short-run tours. Afterall, the main reason why I needed a laptop was to make E-mailing and writing social media updates easier. Sure going iPad-only has its limitations, but you’ll be surprised by how the convenience of the tablet will supersede them. Also, it’s a great way to get people to sign your mailing list without having to decipher scribbles on a piece of paper.

I did a lot of research on different keyboard cases, and the Zagg Rugged Folio Keyboard Case  one is easily the best of them all in terms of durability and versatility.


4. Griffin Survivor Case (click here for iPad Min version) – $50




Sometimes, you need protection over all else. Festivals, outdoor shows, rainy days, etc. From my research, the Griffin Survivor Case is the best I could find for all-around protection. It’s not as much of a pain to get on and off as people make it seem, but the rubbery material makes it stick to things. Bad for bags, good for grip. The other selling points for me were the included screen protector (it’s a part of the case) and the surprisingly versatile kickstand.


5. Square card reader – FREE


Wait, you’re a musician and you DON’T have a Square card reader for your merch?? But they’re free! And with the addition of offline mode, you can take orders even when you don’t have mobile internet/WiFi connection! It’s also a convenient way to tracking your inventory and sales since you can include cash sales for accounting purposes. Get on it!


Have any other ideas that I missed? Please share them in the comments section below!


Recording YouTube videos for musicians: the $500 home studio

Recording and editing video has always been a chore for me.  To do it correctly, you need a dedicated camera(s) and a device recording audio for you. Then you mix the audio, sync it to the video, make your edits, and eventually post it. After many of us go through the process a few times, we’re willing to pay a videographer to just do all the work for us.

However, for those who want to be able to record YouTube videos at home quickly whether for your originals, covers, or vlogs, here’s a setup that’s been working quite nicely for me. Without the packages, it’ll run you about $500 on Amazon at the time of writing, but if you want the extra goodies (which I’d recommend), it’ll cost you extra.

Full disclosure: the links to follow are my Amazon affiliate links. By clicking them, you’ll help support this site and articles like it. You won’t get charged anything extra, and I don’t get any personally identifiable information. Of course, if you’re not comfortable supporting this site in that fashion, you’re welcome to simply navigate to Amazon yourself and manually find the products mentioned.

1. The camera: Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920


The Logitech C920 camera has been the top-rated HD webcam on many lists. One thing to note is that it’s not Mac compatible exactly. However, with the installation of a driver (it’s easy), you can use the camera on your favorite Mac computer.

Video quality is great, and it automatically adjusts exposure. Basically, even if you’re in a studio without natural sunlight/recording at night, it’ll look like sunshine is creeping through the windows.

The built-in sound quality is fine for talking and Skype, but if you want decent audio quality for your music, you’ll need to find a different source. After all, recording music wasn’t the intended purpose of the mics.


2. The audio interface: Focusrite Scarlett Studio


If you don’t already have an audio interface device, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better than the Scarlett 2i2. The preamps sound great, the device is plug-and-play, and what you get for the price is fantastic. The metal casing is very nice and feels solid. The mic and headphones, while certainly not top of the line, are capable given their price. They’ll get you started if you don’t have anything else.

If you’re in need of a more mobile solution, I’ve been a fan of the iTrack Studio which can be powered by your laptop. It’s also designed to work with an iPad, but if that’s the way you’re going to go, I’d recommend the iTrack Dock Studio.

Disclosure: Focusrite doesn’t pay me to recommend their products. I just really like them and have lots of musician friends who’ve been happy with their Focusrite products.


3. The mixer: Allan & Heath ZED 10

While you could certainly upgrade to an audio interface device with more inputs, I think it’s more versatile to have a high-quality mixer like the Allan & Heath ZED 10.  Since the whole purpose of this setup is to be set and forget, you can have the outputs go into the first channel of your audio interface. When you record video on the C920, you’ll set the audio input as your USB interface instead of the camera.


How to setup everything:

1. Plug-in and install the drivers for your audio interface device

2. Plug-in and install the drivers for your webcam

3. Have the output of your mixers sending to the USB audio interface.

If you need to buy extra cables and monitors, I’d recommend getting them from Sunburst Gear.

Disclaimer: I was given monitors and cables to use, test, and review by Sunburst. My recommendation is an honest one however.

4. In the camera settings, have the audio input set to your USB audio interface.

5. Record your video and post!

If you need to edit the video, you’ll need a video editing software. YouTube allows you to do some editing.


How to build a local following using open mics, part 2

Now that you know which open mics you’ll be going to, let’s prepare everything you need to make it a killer performance for everyone there.

Consider this your “Do I have …?” checklist:

  • A show calendar that’s available online
  • Social media where you can advertise your show
  • The contact information for the venue and/or host in case you need to get in touch
  • A mailing list (I recommend MailChimp. It’s free and easy to use.)
  • Business cards or a way for people to get in touch

If you don’t get it all together. You’re going to want to practice doing this for the full shows you do. Here’s the breakdown of the why’s for each:

Why do I need a show calendar?

You need to get into the habit of keeping detailed notes about your shows: where they are, when they are, how to get there, when people can come in, how much it costs, where people can get tickets, etc.

It’s not just for your fans. It’s for you too. You’ll already have too much on your mind to keep track of every date and detail in your head. Plus, it makes it much easier to refer people to a show calendar when they ask when you’ll be playing next.

It can be simple like a typed list you keep on your website/social media or the calendar on ReverbNation.


Why do I need to advertise my show? It’s just an open mic!

Even if no one shows up, a big part of social media is perception. Yes, a friend might not come out to your first show, but after they’ve seen that you’ve been performing regularly, they might think it’ll be worth coming out to see such a busy musician!

You’ll also have to come up with more creative ways of advertising a show than “Come out on ___ date for a good time!” because frankly, most people would rather stay home and watch Netflix.

Plus, you’ll be surprised by who sees these and might come out. Instead of posting to individual social media accounts, you can just use a program like Hootsuite or even ReverbNation to simultaneously post to all of your social media networks.

If there are people you want to come out, nothing is better or more effective than a personal invitation. Get comfortable making a few calls.


Why do I need contact information?

Keep it handy because life on the road can be unpredictable. You’ll also want to call ahead of time to make sure the open mic is still active. Sometimes, venues will cancel the mic because of a sports game or special event. Check before you waste gas.


Do I really need a mailing list? I have social media.

Big mistake. Friendster, LiveJournal, Xanga, MySpace … social media comes and goes. However, E-mail hasn’t stopped being something that people use and check every day. I use MailChimp, but it doesn’t really matter what you use. You can even just BCC all of your contacts into an E-mail. The problem is that people won’t be able to unsubscribe easily. Get in the habit of sending regular updates that are fun and engaging for readers.


Why do I need business cards?

If your performance is awesome, people will want to know how they can reach you. You’ll want to have your contact information handy so they can quickly get what they need without having to manually enter your name and your E-mail and you phone and you social media. You get the idea.

I’m a big fan of Moo for my business cards because they really stick out, but they are a bit pricey.


Next week, we’ll learn how to practice your stage presence and what to say and do when you actually go out to your open mic.

How to build a local following using open mics, part 1

When booking venues, your greatest asset is your draw (AKA how many people you can bring out to a show). But how do you build a local following? Friends and family will only come out to see you so many times before the novelty wears off. So where do you find new people who’ll come out to your shows?

Your best bet: open mics.

I like open mics for many reasons. They generally bring in a good crowd, many have a group of regulars who show up week after week, and it’s the perfect place to hone all the skills you need to play a full show of your own.

In the posts to come, I’ll go over the various elements to make the most out of your open mic performances in a manner that will transform you into a local, hometown hero!

The first stage is easy: finding your open mics.

Step 1 – Go to this website.

Step 2 – Type in your zip code.

Step 3 – Search for open mics near you. If there aren’t any results, change the search parameters for a larger area.

Step 4 – Find the open mics that seem most active. Pick your favorites based on your availability and add the dates and details to your Google Calendar.

Step 5 – Start your preparation. We’ll cover that in the next post.

What’s the music industry look like today?

Brighter than ever. Don’t get wrapped-up with all the other suckers about the good ‘ol days or Golden Age of the music industry. Even Mozart, one of the greatest geniuses the world has ever known, struggled at times to make a living. Point is: it’s always sucked (financially) to be an artist. Today, we have more resources available to us than ever to make our lives easier!

1. People are rewarded for being themselves

The mistake that many people make is to think that talent equals money. Think about all the amazing things you’ve seen online. How many times were you inspired to find a way to give money to that amazing person because of your reaction?

Ask any successful musician if they feel that they’re the best at their craft. Chances are they too grew up admiring and learning from someone. Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Furthermore, lots of successful musicians will admit that there are many, more talented people who haven’t met the same success they had.

The reason why live shows are such a powerful thing (and why they still have their place in today’s market) is because of the ability for performers to make a connection with audiences. Sure, it’s cool watching a video online of a legendary musician, but to be there among all of the other people and seeing a fellow human being work his/her butt off on stage is so much more memorable.

Look at today’s pop stars: they generally are not the best virtuosos you’ll see, but they’ve got a strong sense of identity. You know what kind of behavior you can expect from them, the kind of people that will be at their shows, who will find their music interesting.

Sure, a lot of that can be manufactured, but in order for the image to stick, the fundamental personality has to be there. Whether you respond to the nice, palatable boy/girl-next-door personality or the ****-you, anti-establishment, counterculture icon, you’re rewarding artists for being who they are.


2. It’s getting easier and easier to create, distribute, and market your music

The reason why things are amazing today is because everyone has access to really affordable gear that people would’ve died for even a decade ago. Distribution is incredibly easy, and marketing can be as simple or as complicated as you need it to be. A random person from the other side of the world can stumble across your music in an instant, and you didn’t have to leave your house for it to happen!

The dark side of this proverbial moon is that the market has become very saturated. With musical curators gone, anyone and everyone can have a professional looking and sounding product.

So how can you stand out?

Well, that’s the topic for another blog post, but in the mean time, think about the people or companies you admire and trust. Is there anyone that you support wholeheartedly? Someone that excites you with their creativity? Is there a brand that is your go-to?


3. You don’t have to be a star to make money

The definition of having “made it” in the music industry varies wildly from public perception. The average person still thinks that getting a record deal and being on the road all the time is the only way to make real money as a musician.

The music industry is vast and varied, and people are making new ways to carve a living for themselves all the time.

For example, YouTube stars have made a killing from having viral videos of cover tunes. Some have even made YouTube into a sustainable career for the foreseeable future.

Beyond that though are careers for those who don’t want to be in the spotlight. If you have a gift for words, performers pay good money to have someone write a song for them. Take a look at the songwriting credits for pop stars. Many of them don’t write their own music. Not entirely on their own at least.

In an increasingly, media-hungry culture, people need music for their films, video games, web series, podcasts, apps, etc. Composers have new markets sprouting for them.

If you like being boss, lots of bands are looking for good musical directors who can arrange the music to fit their needs.

For those who like using their music to help people, music therapy is a growing field.

Heck, if you’re good with a computer and have a good ear, you don’t even have to know how to play an instrument to make an honest buck. Electronic musicians are versatile and in demand for the right clients. DJs can now carry thousands of hours of music in a memory chip the size of your fingernail.

The options available to you are only limited by your creativity.


I could go on and on about the incredible world that we live in. Of course, it’s not without its pitfalls, but whining about the way things are won’t bring you any closer to a sustainable career as a musician. Looking for solutions and taking full advantage of the opportunities available to you will.

Musically yours,


How to write an elevator pitch for your band, part 3 of 3

Click here to read Part 1!

Click here to read Part 2!

The final step is to make your pitch not sound like a pitch. If you’re making music, it’s because you have a personality. Whatever it might be, let it reflect in your pitch!

Music Career Tips: 

My mission:
Your one-stop resource regarding all things concerning how to “make it” in today’s music industry.

So what?
I’ve been there, asked the same questions, and am happy to share tips and tutorials in a way that’s useful to musicians.

Tips from a fellow musician about all the tools you need to “make it” in today’s music industry.

With more personality:
How to “make it” as a musician in the current music industry! (And everything else you didn’t realize you needed to know.)


Sheltered Turtle:

My mission:
Visually-stunning performances and social storytelling.

So what?
Meaningful, interpersonal connections are at the heart of what drives me, so those who are looking to not just see a performance but make a lifelong friend where we help each other will benefit. Those who come to shows will be in a room of like-minded people and won’t be forced to be who they aren’t.

Combined (and condensed):
Visually-stunning, percussive fingerstyle guitar (and other instruments) and community-building storytelling.

With more personality:
A dazzlingly exuberant display of musical acrobatics with humorously intimate storytelling to wow, warm, and educate audiences internationally.


In both cases, there’s still room for improvement, but again, it’s better than “blog with tips for musicians” or “cool guitar and stories.” For the Sheltered Turtle pitch, for example, it doesn’t really describe my sound very much let alone the instruments I play.

However, I’ve gotten myself booked with this exact description (and a lot worse too). Remember, when you’re finding a quick, one-sentence way to sell your act, you want people to know what it is you do, why they should pay attention, and the personality they’re hiring.

Musically yours,



How to write an elevator pitch for your band, part 2 of 3

Click here to read Part 1!

Step 2: So what?

So now we need to think of the benefits. Why would someone want to spend their precious time and money on you? What do you offer that’s unique? Why are you better? Let’s find the answers!

Music Career Tips: Your one-stop resource regarding all things concerning how to “make it” in today’s music industry.

  • I’m a full-time, solo musician who started with little money. I can provide tips that are money-saving for those who don’t have a lot of income to pour into a project.
  • I know the struggles of being both an original artist as well as a gun-for-hire. I also play a wide variety of instruments and are sympathetic to the plights of each.
  • I’m an English major, a decent writer, and can condense information in a way that’s easily digestible.
  • I answer questions that I’ve come across as a musician.
  • My advice is practical and actionable for those who need to take action NOW.
  • Bottom line: I’ve been there, asked the same questions, and am happy to share tips and tutorials in a way that’s useful to musicians.

Sheltered Turtle: Visually-stunning performances and social storytelling.

  • I can provide a forum for like-minded introverts to go out and have a good time.
  • People can leave my shows having learned something.
  • I got into music because it connects me with people; I try to keep myself very accessible.
  • Bottom line: Meaningful, interpersonal connections are at the heart of what drives me, so those who are looking to not just see a performance but make a lifelong friend where we help each other will benefit. Those who come to shows will be in a room of like-minded people and won’t be forced to be who they aren’t.

Ok, so I got a little wordy at the end. I tend to do that. For me, it’s better to get ideas down first, condense later. As a perfectionist, I get into the dangerous territory of waiting until something is perfect before moving on. However perfection isn’t something that I’ll ever achieve, so instead, I just have to learn by doing and get better through experience.

Let’s move on to part 3 and finish this!


How to write an elevator pitch for your band, part 1 of 3.

As I create content for this website, I realized I needed a tagline that helps describe what this website is about for people who stumble across it. So I did some research (you can see the links at the end).

I’ll walk you through the steps I took to come up with a tagline/elevator pitch and the thinking that went into it. I’ll start with the Music Career Tips blog first (for practice) then do the same for my solo project, Sheltered Turtle.

Step 1: Define your mission

Before you can start making money, you’ll need to define what it really is that you want.

My mission for Music Career Tips is to …

  • Provide a one-stop resource for independent musicians
  • Help aspiring musicians have a long-lasting, thriving career
  • Organize my own thoughts into a searchable database
  • Reviewing and recommending amazing products to musicians and putting in a way that’s meaningful and convenient to them
  • Bottom line: Your one-stop resource regarding all things concerning how to “make it” in today’s music industry.

The mission of Sheltered Turtle is to …

  • Wow audiences both live and online
  • Create high-quality music that’s not only enjoyable to listen to but really fun to watch
  • Tell my stories on stage that gets people to share their own
  • Bottom line: Visually-stunning performances and social storytelling

Great! Now that you have your goal in mind and have your bases covered, it’s time to think about how to make it meaningful to someone else.

Let’s move on to Part 2.


START HERE: Welcome to Music Career Tips!

My name is Henry Nam. I’m a solo musician currently based out of Philadelphia, PA.


Being a career musician isn’t an easy life choice to make, but for many musicians, there isn’t any decision to make.

My journey into the world started as a very confrontational one. I hated music: listening, practicing, taking lessons, all of it. Then an amazing teacher changed my life and showed me that I could use music not only to constructively express my angsty teenage self but also to connect with the people around me.

Music is a language, and it’s a language that quickly overcomes economic, cultural, and social barriers that spoken language often cannot. This skill has a high social value–people are amazed at amazing musicians–but a pitifully low financial value in today’s changing industry. That is, unless you know where to go and how to present yourself.

Doctors and lawyers make a lot of money, but they have to go through years of expensive, extensive, and consistent training earn their living. Just the same, musicians have their dues to pay before they can start earning an honest living. In today’s climate, musicians who want to make a good income have to become entrepreneurs.

Going DIY is a misleading term because you’ll ultimately have to rely on someone to help down the line. However, there’s a lot you can do and learn on your own that will greatly help you. This blog is designed to help aspiring musicians like you by providing a one-stop resource to learn everything you need to shape your career in music.

While there aren’t any guarantees in life, I keep this phrase in mind:

Musically yours,