Using an iPad for backing tracks

Is using an iPad for backing tracks really all it’s cracked up to be? One of our customers, Kevin, has an entertainer pal who definitely thinks so…then again, why wouldn’t he? Therein lies the inherent problem with many of Apples products…

Hi Kenny
Im getting an iPhone soon and hoping to use it to play backing tracks. I have a creative mp3 player too. A friend of mine who is a successful professional performer recently got an iPad and swears by it! He downloaded some app for about £1 that plays everything just like a dj’s deck…he can even scratch the flippin’ tracks!! Also, nice big screen, and everything well laid out. It also works on the iPhone. Another thing about the iPhone….what if it rang in the middle of a gig….!!!!?? 

Hi Kevin

Yes, I know quite a few people who are using the iPad for backing tracks now. I can certainly see the attraction of an iPad for backing tracks because for usability it probably sits somewhere between an iPod and a laptop. You get the big screen advantage of a laptop combined with the user friendliness of an iPod and that’s quite a nice combination for many people.

I must admit though that, good as the iPad is, I’m not personally convinced that the iPad is really as exceptional as iPad users claim it is.

Although all Apple products are generally very user friendly and usually do the job they were intended for pretty well, my sneaking suspicion is that once you’ve paid $500 for a piece of kit then you’re unlikely to be too quick to admit that it’s actually not giving you any better results on stage than you would get using a standard laptop PC at half the price or a simple mp3 player at a fraction of the price…

Don’t get me wrong, I do like Apple products and I have a few (I have an iPhone, a Macbook Air, two iPods and an Apple TV box), but I’m also acutely aware that Apple are one of the most clever marketing companies in the world and they go all out to make you feel that their products are superior to everyone else’s products when in fact they are not.

While it can’t be denied that Apple make good, easy to use, products, the problem is that Apple marketing have cleverly found a way to charge you twice as much as everyone else in the industry but supply you with products that can only do half as much as other products can do. For example there’s no flash in the iPhone and iPad, their Mac computers won’t run half the programs you want to use, their Safari browser doesn’t conform to standard internet protocols and doesn’t display websites the way they were intended etc – the list of problems and incompatibility issues with Apple products goes on…

To add even more insult to injury, Apple also cunningly attempt to instil a feeling in to the buyer that if he uses an Apple product then he’s somehow smarter or more intelligent than others or is of a higher social class than others because he can afford the higher price ticket of an Apple product (i.e. snob value – “…look at me, I’ve got an Apple product so I’m richer than you and smarter than you..”).

I always say that buying an Apple computer is a bit like going to a restaurant where they charge you double for food you can get anywhere else for half the price and only give you a very small limited menu choice. Then they convince you in to believing that it’s all ok because you are getting a dining experience that is superior to other restaurants (it’s not) and making you feel quite elite and exclusive because other mere mortals can’t afford to be a part of that dining experience. The poor people have to stand outside in the rain with a half eaten burger in their hand enviously looking in the restaurant window at you while you snap your fingers and waiters fawn around you (mmmm, an idea for a new Apple advert perhaps LOL)?!

Of course it’s all complete rubbish and is simply the Apple marketing machine in full flow.

But people do fall for it (which is why Steve Jobs was a billionaire and Apple are one of the biggest companies in the world).

Hang on, did I say I have an iPhone, a Macbook Air, two iPods and an Apple TV box?

Damn you Apple, you got me again, maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was!


…..maybe I AM smarter than I thought, because I use Apple products…

Oh dear, I’m confused now!

Seriously though, Apple do make good, robust, reliable, products and if you’re a gigging musician the words “reliable” and “robust” do carry a LOT of weight when deciding which devices to use on stage. The iPod classic is without doubt the mother of all mp3 players and scores full marks on every single level. It’s a faultless product and blows every other mp3 player in the marketplace to smithereens. It really is that good.

You just have to do a bit of a reality check before buying Apple products and try as best you can to see through the hype first. Then and only then can you objectively look at the product with cool and clear vision and decide if it really is worth the money or whether you’re being sucked in by the Apple marketing machine and letting your heart rule your head.

And beware, Apple really are experts at knowing how to pull at those heart strings (and wallet strings)!