Technology is on the increase daily. Whether we’re using our phones to shoot HD video or watching a live stream from the other side of the world, it’s crazy what we can do with it. Leading worship is another area where technology is on the rise. If you have ever seen a computer or iPad on stage during a worship service, the band is most likely using multitracks. A multitrack, also known as a track or loop, is a backing track that lets you have control over each instrument, or stem, within a song. You may already have a great team of musicians and think using multitracks on Sundays isn’t for you, but there are many reasons why even a great band can benefit from them.
The first benefit of tracks is using a click track and band cues. A click track is a metronome for the song that plays through in-ear monitors to help you follow along and stay in tempo. These can also include band cues to guide you through the song. Many people who are against using a click track think that it “hurts the flow of the worship” or “will disconnect them” from the music and the congregation. Trust me though – implementing a click track is the single most impactful thing you can do to raise the quality of performance in your band. It acts as a glue to keep your band tight, and it eliminates having to give secret hand gestures to your team to tell them you are approaching the end of the song. If every song has a click track and band cues, everyone in the band will be together. You don’t have to hope that your bass player remembers it’s time to go to the bridge because he’ll hear it in his in-ear monitors. Rather than restricting the band, a click lets them focus on the music and lead worship. Founder of LoopCommunity.com, Matt McCoy, said, “After introducing a click track to a church I was guest worshiping at, the drummer said it made him feel ‘free.‘” This was because he wasn’t worried the entire time about if he was in tempo or not. He knew it. After you begin using a click track, your team will not only want to follow a click track, they will expect it.
If you’re on board with the click track idea, then let’s talk about tracks. Whether you are a small band that only has a few instruments or a large band that wants a fuller sound, tracks can help. Let’s say I’m playing acoustic; I have a keys player and a drummer. If I use a multitrack, I can mute the keys, drums, and acoustic stems. Then depending on the song, I can leave the bass part, synth, electric guitar, and any other instruments that may be in the song. You can adjust the stems to the volume you want to give your band the best sound. You can also edit your song arrangement with a multitrack. If you want to add another chorus at the end of the song, live loop a section, or delete a section, multitracks give you that power.
Using multitracks can help if one of your worship leaders is sick or on vacation. Instead of scrambling at the last minute to find another keys player, simply unmute their part. It also with youth events or other times when you have fewer musicians, or anytime you are leading by yourself. Using multitracks helps your band’s sound and makes things much less stressful!
If you’re thinking, “Okay Derek, this all sounds good, but I’m sure now you’re going to tell me it’s super difficult or expensive to do all of this, and my church is on a budget,” don’t worry. If you know where to look, using multitracks can be a reasonable and realistic addition to your worship team.
LoopCommunity.com, where I work – for example – has a collection of over 10,000 multitracks in many different genres, ranging from $9.99 to $19.99 if you use them in their app PRIME. PRIME is a free app available for Mac and iOS devices that allows you to control and mix your tracks, customize the arrangement, connect a midi controller to give you hands-free control, and a bunch more. It’s super easy to use, and you can always check out tutorials on the LC YouTube channel. Once you have the app and have downloaded the tracks you need, you can run audio directly from the headphone jack or to an audio interface.
If you’re afraid of what your band may say about using tracks, I would suggest trying it out at a rehearsal. You don’t need to use them on Sunday morning right away. It’s going to take some practice getting used to them, but using tracks is going to help keep your band together, improve your sound quality, and help you focus on leading worship.
Derek Kerr is the Director of Marketing for Loop Community in Chicago, IL. He loves building relationships with people wherever he goes and would never pass up a pick-up basketball game.