The Apps: Skype, GoogDocs || The User: Justin Seidenberg, Owner, Kiqstart Music

Justin Seidenberg is accustomed to crises erupting at odd hours. Mr. Seidenberg manages a stable of musicians through his Chicago company, Kiqstart Music LLC, and it's when his artists are at performance venues that they are most likely to require his help. In other words, he needs to be ready for action at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night.“I'm out having dinner with my wife, but my artist gets to the venue and gets into a debate with the production manager. I need be available and prepared,” he says.

Mr. Seidenberg uses two iPhone apps to meet the challenge. The first is Skype, a free app from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Skype Inc. that allows him to video chat with his musicians, wherever they may be.

The second is GoogDocs from Fossil Software LLC of Austin, Texas. This app allows Mr. Seidenberg's mobile phone to access spreadsheets he creates using Google Docs, Google Inc.'s free, cloud-based office suite. He keeps contract details there, such as the set length, sound-check time and financial arrangements between artist and venue, so he can quickly intervene if a dispute arises.

WHY IT WORKS: “A (video chat) app like Skype provides an extra layer of interaction that helps reinforce your message. If you have to air a grievance or a concern, a visual rendering can carry a lot more weight,” says Chris Pautsch, CEO of KeyLimeTie LLC.

SOMETHING ELSE TO TRY: For more formal video conferencing, Cisco Systems Inc. offers a free mobile app for users to join meetings that use the company's WebEx Meeting Center. Mr. Pautsch uses the service at KeyLimeTie to stream video and share documents among participants.

© 2011 by Crain Communications Inc.