Review – Worship Band In Hand – Musicians in a High Tech Box
I am not a ‘worship techie’ as much as some people, but I do like to look at technologies to arm the small church and small group gatherings, because this is where I do most of my worship leading time and where I like to target our worship resources. I recently got the opportunity to review Worship Band in Hand, another iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app technology for worship leaders to use.
As the name implies, Worship Band in Hand is really geared to augmenting missing pieces of your band with individual parts. It does so by providing a simple interface, which is really just a multi-track volume control, for every track on the recordings. Since the source for the recordings are the record labels themselves, you essentially get the entire label recording (minus lead vocals) broken down into individual parts and individually controllable. The main playback screen looks like this:
As you slide the volume controls, you control the mix for the entire output. You can obviously use this for a number of uses such as:
- Replace a missing musician
- Rehearsal and song learning
- Play with the studio recordings with live parts for instrumentalists you have.
- Lead the song like it was done on the recording.
The key of the music adjustable, and a click track is one one channel to keep everyone in time. You can save arrangements. The technology and usage could not be simpler.
The song selection is very good, comprising some 108 songs as of this writing. The song list for purchase is right in the app, and the song tracks averaged $5.99 or so each. They have a great selection of hymns and, of course, all of the top CCLI songs you would expect. Since they are able to use the same track recordings that go onto the CDs it is relatively simple in this age of digital song production for new music to be used.
I contacted Lee Bridges, the founder of ‘Worship Band in Hand’ with a few questions about the application geared to questions both both worship leaders and music production folks might have. Lee was gracious enough to respond. Here are his answers:
For our artist friends, what is involved in populating your song database? Is there a way for users to do this themselves for self-produced music?
Once the groups of instruments have been put into different audio files (we call these “stems”) we have to package them up and submit them to Apple to be approved. This takes at least a week before they will show up in the Worship Band in Hand In-App Store. Currently there is no way for users to do this on their own. Although, if an artist is interested in getting their recordings into the app, they can contact us through our website. We pay royalties to the recording artist on all the recordings we sell.
There has been interest in Android for many of these kinds of apps. Do you have a plan for Android development?
We have plans to develop for Android in the future. Unfortunately, there is no set timeline for that to happen. Software development is expensive. (TWC Note: For those concerned about IPad cost, The IPad 2 is a good candidate to use this software, and it was recently reduced in price $100 by Apple with the launch of the ‘new IPad. I had no problems with the software on my IPad 2).
Since your app allows many varying parts to be used, but they are output on a single jack, how does a band/sound engineer best adjust to having multiple parts on a single output like this?
All of the songs in our library have been professionally recorded in studio settings. Months of work went into getting the songs ready for sale in Worship Band in Hand, and the recordings are very high quality. So, There should not be anything a live sound engineer needs to do to make the songs sound good. It’s like playing a CD through your sound system. Only, with this “CD”, you can change the levels of the different groups of instruments.
What are your future upgrade plans for your software? What are users telling you they want most?
One of the most requested features is to have chord charts right inside the app. We currently sell chord charts on our websites, but we know this isn’t always the most convenient thing. So, we plan on adding chord charts right inside the app at some point
Another feature that has been requested a number of times is the ability to change the arrangement of a song. We haven’t started working on this ability yet, but we plan to in the future. We know this would help a lot of worship leaders that like to change the order of a song or like to repeat certain sections of a song while on the stage.
Apps like your play a role in music discovery. Obviously to generate demand you need to populate the CCLI ‘top 100’ songs. How do you see your role in new music/artist discovery, if any?
Currently, we do not see that as a primary function of Worship Band in Hand. We want to provide the most used songs in the highest quality way we can. To do that requires a focus on CCLI’s top-100. If we started adding “new” songs, we risk bloating the app with many songs that no one is interested in playing. If, in the future, there is enough demand for new songs and a desire from users to find new music though our app, we will implement a “new music” section in the store (or something like that). That way we could work directly with the songwriters to add their new music to our library, but would not clutter the “main” section of the store.
How about sourcing older traditional congregations with hymns, etc?
We have been doing our best to provide these as well. Currently in our library, we have “Nothing But The Blood”, “Come Thou Fount”, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, “There Is A Fountain”, and “It Is Well With My Soul” (a personal favorite of mine). We will have others added very soon as well.
Can you list some advantages of your app over something like Garageband or other generic music playback software on the IPad?
We think that our app is a much more streamlined solution. It is easy enough to use that most people do not need any instructions. They can just pick it up and start using it. We also provide the content through our In-App store. So, we’ve taken the guesswork out of where to get the songs to put into the software. Overall, it’s this ease-of-use that makes Worship Band in Hand stand apart from other apps.
This is really the ultimate technology for the worship team who wants to sound just like the record, or who wants to build off the foundations of the record but add their own twist. You can download Worship Band in Hand in the App Store. Their Web Site is www.worshipbandinhand.com.
Thanks to Mark Snyder for sharing this article with The Worship Community. Mark Snyder is a longtime worship leader, software engineer, and lead songwriter for the Tree Hill Collective (www.treehillcollective.com). functioning as a resource to provide songs for the church from new songwriters, focusing on the art of the worship song as it applies to the worshiping church of all ages. Mark has a wife and two grown sons and resides in Glendale, AZ, with his wife of 27 years Roseanne.