I’m willing to bet money that if you walk into a room full of a few hundred worship leaders and say that “all churches should use multi-tracks”, you could stir the puddin’ enough to get some of them to fight! I’d also bet my money that the guys with beards that aren’t wearing skinny jeans would win….but we’re chasing rabbits here.
On one side you have a group of people that say multi-tracks are a “band in a box”. On the other side, you have a group that says multi-tracks “bring their worship music to a whole new level”.
We’re not here to spark a debate about multi-tracks in this blog. Instead, we want to focus on the reason as to why so many churches have decided to use multi-tracks. If you’ve never used them before, we want to give you insight. If you use multi-tracks regularly, we want to make you think about why you use them in the first place.
A brief history of Multi-Tracks and stuff-
To catch some of you up to speed, multi-tracks are exactly what their name implies. Instead of having a single track with all the different instruments combined, a multi-track is composed of all the individual wave files for each instrument. Each individual track can be manipulated or even deleted.
Multi-track recording first started in the mid 50’s with the 8-Track recording system. Once the infamous Les Paul (yes that Les Paul with the guitar) started using them, multi-track recording blew up around the world. For the first time ever, you could individually record each track in the studio. It didn’t take long for bands like Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead to use multi-tracks to bring forth a new era of studio recording. No more having to rely on a single take. If you don’t understand how big of a deal that is…just take the enthusiasm generated by fidget spinners and Minecraft and multiply it by 100. It was a big deal!
Despite how great Multi-Tracks were…it wasn’t until the introduction of software like Pro Tools and Cubase in the early 90s that we saw the masses begin to use them. Even when they were released, they required a computer and hardware capable of managing all that throughput and bandwidth. The average singer-songwriter couldn’t afford that type of hardware nor were they “nerdy” enough to figure it all out. Multi-track recording was limited to the few who saw music as a career or an expensive hobby they were willing to invest in.
It was in the mid 2000’s that we saw digital multi-track recording really take off with hardware costs decreasing and better software being released. But live multi-tracks were almost non-existent outside of seeing a big concert.
In 2006, a small company called “Multi-Tracks” came to the scene. They enabled worship leaders to purchase their tracks to use in a live worship setting. Since most worship leaders didn’t have the time or the know-how to make their own multi-tracks, this was a game changer. Like monster trucks doing flips gamechanger! For the first time ever, churches could supplement their musicians with recordings from their favorite worship songs. It was also around this time we started to see many churches adopt in-ear monitoring systems (IEM’s) as well. These two factors alone are what set the scene for multi-tracks to boom in the worship realm.
Where we are now-
Praise and Worship music has come a long way. What was once a niche market 30 years ago, is now a multibillion-dollar industry that is mainstream. Many Christians regularly go to see their favorite Christian artists live and listen to their music on demand throughout the day. Because of this, there is a very high level of expectation when they step foot into the church for a worship service which features that music. Personally…if the music isn’t good, I become distracted and want to just walk up to the stage and take over. I know I’m a terrible person…but don’t tell me you’ve never had those thoughts before!
The reality: The average congregation member expects to hear their favorite praise and worship songs done skillfully and be powerful. That’s a tall order for any church…whether it is a mega church or a plant.
Many churches are trying to match the same level of consistency, energy, and musicianship that’s seen at churches like Hillsong or a Mandisa concert. That’s tough when almost 90% of churches are under 250 members (2016 Christianity Today Study). Churches this size typically don’t have these 3 things:
- A huge team of full-time professional musicians.
- The highest quality audio equipment available.
- Hours of productive rehearsal time.
So how does the average church compete against this?
They don’t…they embrace it through multi-tracks.
Why we use them-
Regardless of whether or not you agree with it, Companies like multi-tracks and Loop Community have enabled us to match these big churches and artists. With just a computer or just an iPad, we can sound just like they do in our corporate worship.
Don’t have a pads player? -Use the pads from the track.
Do you only have one electric guitarist? -Have them play lead while you let the track play the rhythm.
Having tempo issues? -With multi-tracks, everyone is on the same click.
Are people getting lost in songs? -You can have a voice guide on the track that lets everyone know simultaneously what’s next.
One of the biggest reasons larger churches have been using multi-tracks is timing. Think multiple campuses that are simulcasting their pastor live. With tracks, you can ensure that your campuses will end their time of music at the same time for the preacher to speak. Many multi-campus churches plan down to the second with only a 15 to 20-second margin to play with. It’s tough to be this exact if you’re not using multi-tracks.
Whether it’s tempo issues, a lack of instruments, beginner musicians, or striving for consistency… churches incorporate multi-tracks to improve this.
Ultimately, multi-tracks give churches the ability to be musically indistinguishable from the original song. For many worship leaders, that’s exactly what they’re striving for in their worship service.
You may be asking yourself… “should my church use multi-tracks”?
We’re not touching that question with a 20-foot pole…today that is. That’s a loaded question we are going to address next time on “Should My Church Use Multi-Tracks”.
Prepare For Worship. A resource provided to you by the easy-to-use worship planning software WorshipTrac.