Want to start using backing tracks in worship? Or maybe your church is already using tracks but you want to see if there’s a better way. This episode is for you! This month I talk with Matt Mccoy from Loop Community about how to properly begin using tracks in worship. We cover…
- Which churches should be using tracks.
- How to get your band ready.
- Who should be in charge of running the software.
- What to do when things go wrong.
- How to overcome opposition.
- The future of technology in worship…(think metaverse and AI)!
- Loads more!
This is a great conversation and you’re sure to be helped and encouraged. Do us a favor and forward this episode on to a friend!
Use Promo Code WMTpodcast for 25% off!
Helpful Links: Loop Community Website
Alex Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Worship Ministry Training Podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders and worship team members. My name is Alex Enfiedjian. I am your host, and I am thrilled to spend the next, I don’t know, know, 45 minutes or so with you investing in you, encouraging you, telling you that you are worthy and that you are able and that you are called and that you can do this. So many of us just get thrown into Ministry and nobody is there to guide us or give us direction or give us help. And so I just want to be that voice and that encourager to you and say, look, God has called you, God will equip you, and God will use you powerfully as you rely upon him. And so thank you for tuning in and investing in yourself and in your leadership. I’m so excited to share this month’s episode with you. I’m talking with Matt McCoy from Loop Community, and Matt is an amazing guy, and he’s built this incredible platform for you to download multi tracks and use them in very easy to use ways, like on your iPad or your computer or even your phone.
Alex And this is a fascinating conversation. I wanted to talk with Matt about introducing tracks at your Church because I know a lot of churches are starting to introduce tracks, so I wanted to get his thoughts on the best way to do that and how to kind of set your team up for success and kind of cast vision. And we go into a lot of that stuff. But we also take some really interesting turns about the future of technology in worship and also about how Ministry is about people. And tracks should never replace people. And so we move into some other territory Besides just introducing tracks in your Church. Anyway, it’s a fascinating conversation. I think you’ll be equipped and encouraged whether you’re using tracks already or you’re not using tracks or you’ll never use tracks, or you may be interested in trying to explore using tracks, you’re going to be helped and encouraged by this conversation with Matt McCoy. Before we get into the conversation, I just want to tell you about my brand new course that I’m Super excited about. It’s called the Copy Me Course, and you can think of it like a blueprint for your Ministry because basically I show you every single thing, every single task that I do on my calendar and I explain not just what I’m doing, but exactly how to do it and why it matters.
Alex So I cover things like how I set up Planning Center and how I schedule my teams and how I build my Ableton sets. In fact, I give you access to my Ableton live session so that you can take it and use it at your own Church. I tell you how I run my team meetings and how I approach my relationship with my senior pastor and how I audition and onboard new team members. In fact, I give you access to all of my onboarding material and all of my training material that I’ve developed for my team. And so this is a course that you can literally grab it and copy what I’m doing at your Church and reap the benefits without having to figure everything out yourself. So grab the copy me course. You can go to worshipministrytraining.com, and you can get all the courses for the very low price of $99 for all of them together. So go there and use the promo code Wmtpodcast at checkout, and that will save you an additional 25% off, because I love you and you’re amazing, and what you do matters, and I just want to be a help to you.
Alex All right, let’s get into the conversation with Matt McCoy, and I’ll talk to you after that conversation. Hey, everybody. I am here with the one and only Matt McCoy from Loop Community. Hello, Matt.
Matt McCoy Hey, Alex. Thanks for having me, dude.
Alex Thanks for being on. I’ve watched you online for many years. I’ve used your software. I’ve used your tracks. We buy the credits from Loop Community at our Church. So, yes, super grateful for your Ministry. Why don’t you just start by telling our listeners about yourself and Luke community just so they know who you are? The tracks guru.
Matt McCoy Yeah. My name is Matt McCoy, and I grew up as a pastor’s, kid grew up in the Church my whole life. I’ve been leading worship for the past 20 years. I started when I was 15, and I just love leading worship. I love writing worship songs. And I’ve been on staff at a lot of churches as a worship pastor. And I started a company called Loopcommunity.com, which we resource worship leaders with backing tracks, multitracks loops, whatever you want to call them. They’re all kind of the same thing. The word it’s backing tracks. Multitracks loops stems for worship songs. And then we have hardware and software that worship leaders can use to actually run the tracks. So I’m really passionate about teaching worship leaders how to use technology in worship. It kind of brings two things I love together. I love leading worship, and I love technology. And I think it’s so cool that you can kind of combine the two.
Alex Yeah. And you’re so innovative. I mean, because you weren’t just, like, pioneering the use of backing tracks, but you’re actually building, like, hardware, like foot pedals and switchy thingies and little button things you can press that makes and you’re making, literally, iPad connectors that give you seven or eight XLR outputs to split your tracks down different channels. So you’re like a genius. You’re, like, in the lab kind of guy.
Matt McCoy Oh, man. I definitely have this innovator thing inside of me that’s just, like, I want to build Widgets. I love to just invent things. I don’t know. And I always have been that way. My parents say that even when I was like five years old, I was always just building things, just little gadgets and widgets. So it’s definitely inside of me.
Alex That’s so cool. Now, I didn’t plan on asking you this question, but I’m curious, how did you stumble into using Tracks and worship? You’re pioneering this like a decade or more ago. So how did you fall into that?
Matt McCoy It is kind of crazy. So I have always loved technology and I’ve always loved being worship. And it was the year 2002, so we’re talking almost 20 years ago now, which is crazy. And I was a young worship leader, and I walked into an auditorium and I saw a guy leading worship and he had a computer down by his feet and he pressed like a button on some sort of controller. And it started this drum beat. And then I saw the drummer click them off and they all started playing on top of this drumbeat that just played the entire song. It doesn’t like change at all. But I thought, that is so cool. Somehow this guy is using a computer along with leading worship. And I’m like, I want to learn everything about that. And so I did. I Dove in and learned Ableton Live and Reason was a really popular software at the time, and I just fell in love. And honestly, I’ve been using Tracks and worship ever since then. So it’s been almost 20 years.
Alex 20 years. That’s insane because I would say Tracks and worship really came to fruition within the Church, probably like eight years ago, right?
Matt McCoy Yeah.
Alex You’re like twelve years ahead of everybody else. That’s so cool.
Matt McCoy Yeah. It was old school, man. When I first started using Ableton Live, it was Ableton Live version two.
Alex Dang, we’re on eleven now, right?
Matt McCoy Yeah. So, I mean, there were not many worship leaders doing this. I think you could probably count the number of worship leaders doing Tracks and worship. You could probably counted on two hands.
Alex That’s crazy. And just so our listeners know, your Ableton Live certified coach or whatever the correct word is certified trainer.
Matt McCoy So basically means that I went through a course at Ableton, and they basically certified me to be able to teach worship leaders how to use it. So it’s a great, powerful software for worship leaders.
Alex Yeah. And I benefited a lot from watching your videos on YouTube. Like when I was starting to switch from your prime software to Ableton Live, I watched a lot of your videos. So for the worship leaders listening who are interested in diving deep, definitely check out all of Matt’s stuff on the Loop Community YouTube channel because it’s so helpful.
Matt McCoy Yeah. Thanks, man.
Alex So I’d love to just dive into some of these questions here. Well, I’ll just ask you, do you think all churches should be using Tracks? Obviously it’s your passion, but do you think it’s a good fit for every Church.
Matt McCoy You know, it’s funny because if you would have asked me this maybe a year ago, I would have for sure said no, because it does seem like a huge blanket statement to say all churches now, I guess for sure. Probably not churches that don’t have a band. There are churches that still have choir singing traditional songs. So maybe not those churches, but if it’s a Church that is trying to do contemporary worship, then I would actually say yes now. And the reason I’ve kind of changed on that is my own experience and that recently I’ve been helping a Church plant in our town, and I’ve been kind of just volunteering leading worship for them. It’s a small Church. Like maybe like 50 to 100 people Max. They don’t have any musicians. It’s just like an acoustic guitar player and maybe a keyboard player, maybe. And so in the past, I maybe would have said, you know, what tracks would be awkward in that situation. However, as me leading worship, I’ve actually tried it just as an experiment. I’m like, you know what? I’m going to actually use tracks. I’m not using full band tracks. I’m using just kind of like elements like shakers and maybe like a kick drum and maybe like a piano or synth part a pad tambourine.
Matt McCoy Just little elements to help kind of raise the energy. And it’s made a huge difference. I always thought it would be really awkward and strange to do that with that small of a Church. And I thought maybe people would notice and say something about it. And I’ve had the opposite experience. People are like, oh, my goodness, it just sounds so nice and full and people love it. And honestly, it really does help kind of raise the energy a little bit than me just standing up there with an acoustic guitar. So I’ve changed my answer on that. Honestly, in the past six months, I actually think that I think any Church should use them now. I maybe wouldn’t use it for sure. It’s like a small group setting. You don’t want to use them in your living room when you’re leading worship for a small group.
Alex Yeah. With your one in your monitor. That would be so awkward.
Matt McCoy Yeah, that’d be so strange. So I think you have to have discernment on it. If the Church is way too small, like ten people, probably not.
Alex Yeah. No, that’s helpful. And I think what’s helpful is you’re context aware and you’re like, okay, this is a group of 50 people worshiping in a room. I do have a PA, so I’m not going to put the drums and bass in the mix. I’m just going to mute those and I’m going to just add some or do you create your own? How are you doing that?
Matt McCoy Well, you mean like creating the tracks?
Alex Yeah. I mean, if you’re going to do an acoustic vibe, are you just muting most of the channels of the ones that you buy from Loop Community.
Matt McCoy Yes. Yeah, that is funny. Yesterday, actually, or two days ago, I live worship, and I used enhancement tracks. We have something called enhancement tracks at Loop Community that are all electronic instruments. So it’s not real instruments at all. It’s not guitars, drums, bass. It’s all electronic elements to help just kind of creatively enhance a band. I used those, but for one of the songs, it was Goodness of God. I didn’t have an enhancement track, and so I used the original track, but I just muted the drums, the base, and I just used a pad and a shaker, and it was really nice. So, yeah, it is kind of funny because people I find that end up muting, like 80% of the tracks anyway.
Alex Right. And I know we’re moving away from a lot of these questions that I wrote, but I think it’s worth exploring this. One thing that you brought up is your Loop Community’s enhancement tracks. I found that to be a really compelling idea because we use tracks at our Church about 50% of the time. So some of the songs, like Goodness of God at our Church, we have a big enough band where I don’t need the tracks because, by the way, I’m muting most of those parts anyway because I have them already in the band. So why do I need to buy this track if most of my band is already covering all those parts? So the enhancement tracks are cool because they’re actually not the parts on the album. They just add top and bottom frequencies and other interesting rhythmic patterns to what your band is already playing. So I love that. And I would encourage people to check that out.
Matt McCoy Yeah. It’s literally seeing your computer as another instrument in the band that, like, your computer is not there to replace people. And I do think that that’s one of the mistakes people do make when using tracks. And when I would also advise not to use tracks is you should never use tracks to replace people unless you don’t have people to even replace. So to be clear, I think it’s all about people. You want people to be serving in your worship Ministry. So if there’s a guy who wants to play bass on your worship team, you don’t just be like, hey, we don’t need you because we actually have a base track. No, you should be doing everything you can to get that guy involved so that you can mute the bass track. But if you’re in a situation where you’re at a small Church and you just don’t have a bass player, like, literally there’s no one to play bass. No one’s volunteered. No one wants to learn, then you could use a bass track to really help fill out the sound. And so I just really am passionate about that, that you should never use tracks to replace people unless you’re in a bind and you need to because someone called in sick or they can’t show up.
Matt McCoy But that’s actually where I love enhancement tracks, is that they’re meant to fill out the sound of it. If you already have a full band, you’re just viewing your computer as another instrument. Your band just adding elements you don’t already have.
Alex Yes, I love that. That is such my heart, Matt, is like Ministry is about people, not product. Right? And if we’re replacing people because we could just press unmute on a computer channel, that’s ridiculous. And that is like so antithetical to what the Church is called to be and do. And so I love that you brought that up, and I did a few months ago. Now, I’m not sure when this episode is going to release, but somewhere in my timeline of my podcast for the listeners, if they scroll back a little bit, they’ll see a podcast I did called The Pros and Cons of backing tracks in Worship. And that was one of the things that was one of the cons was a lot of people just I don’t need to get a percussionist. I don’t need to train up a potential new drummer. I don’t need to do any of that because I have this computer doing all that for me. Now, that was one of the big cons for me. And I’ll put a link in the show notes for the listeners to go listen to that episode if they’re curious. But I would love to hear your take on it as the track guru.
Alex What are other pros and cons? Let’s start with the cons. Replacing people can be a Con. What are some of the other cons? And then after that, share some of the pros.
Matt McCoy I think you nailed it there. That is a Con for sure. If people are using it to replace people. I think I’ve also seen it damage relationships between worship leaders and band members when they for example, let’s just say you have a piano player, they’re playing the piano part, but you’re using a piano track at the same time. It can make the piano player feel really just unloved and disrespected. Almost and almost unimportant. And that is not worth it. So mute the piano track. If you’ve got a piano player, mute it, please. So that’s a Con. But I would say another Con that I’ve noticed is I just think that tracks, unfortunately, have maybe helped worship leaders program too much. Where we believe that we can program worship and that we can script it out and make these perfect transitions and perfect flow of worship, it’s almost kind of enabled us to take it into our own hands and not rely so much on the spirit leading. And so I would say if there’s been a Con of it, I think it has created this culture of worship leaders who are programming worship and not being led by the spirit at all in that some of the argument.
Matt McCoy Well, no, but you could be led by the spirit on Tuesday afternoon when you’re programming the worship. But I just think there’s a freedom. When I think back to when I first started leading worship and we weren’t using tracks at all, I feel like there was a lot of freedom, much more freedom than I have now. And that’s what’s cool about tracks now is that you actually can have freedom with being able to control sections and repeat sections and jump to different sections. But still, it’s another thing to be thinking about, okay, you can do it. But still, it’s another thing to be thinking about. And I do think that for some worship leaders, it does really kind of like take the, I don’t know, take the freedom out. And so we need to be able to balance both somehow.
Alex I love that. My suggestion for how to balance both would be to not do every song with tracks. But I think you’re so right. I think a lot of us worship leaders have learned how to just execute songs and not be present to the Lord or really be sensitive to the spirit. And we’re just literally executing a program like pre program, run the program. Right.
Matt McCoy It’s like running a Spotify playlist. Like, you just kind of play through it and then it’s over.
Alex Not to say that God doesn’t use it and can’t use it, but you’re right. There is something about being sensitive to the spirit and sensitive to what God is doing in the room. And so for us, like at our Church, like I said, we’ll do like 50% of the songs with tracks and 50% of the songs with click and pad. Now that’s not like a hard and fast rule. Like some Sundays, it’s all tracks. And like this Sunday, it’s no tracks, right. It just depends on the songs and the band. And so why I say that and offer that as like a remedy to that lack of flexibility is by having some of the key songs that really need the oomph, having the tracks that adds that energy, that adds that oomph, that adds that passion. But then other songs, like, for example, Greater You Lord. That song has a little more space, but it’s still so epic and it’s still so flowy and it can go in so many different directions. You can repeat bridges, repeat choruses, go to verses. It can go anywhere. And that song doesn’t need this huge electronic synth vibe to still really work or 100 Reasons or other great songs like that.
Alex So I love to have some of those songs in the mix. So that way we’re running with click, we’ve got the backing pad ambient sound, and we can kind of be flexible for those songs if we feel led to. Now, half the time I don’t actually flex those songs. I just play them how we practice them but at least I can if I want to.
Matt McCoy Yeah, totally. I think that’s a great suggestion. You don’t have to use Tracks for every song.
Alex Yeah. And not to make this all about loop community, but why not? Your prime app has that capability where you can run the pads for songs, and it has a click track in there that you can adjust the tempo. And then the next song, when you go to the next song, it has all the tracks there, and then you go back to pad with click. So you guys can love what you developed there.
Matt McCoy Yeah. And you can be spontaneous. If you wanted to go to a course again, just click the repeat button.
Alex Yeah. So let’s talk about the technical side. So let’s say a worship leader is listening. Well, we didn’t talk about the pros. Do you want to hit on the pros, or do we feel like the pros?
Matt McCoy No, we should. I think they do what the pros are. But let me just say three things. One, it helps you have a full sound, a really full, big sound. Two, it helps you fill in missing musicians. So if you don’t have a bass player, they call in sick. You don’t suffer without having a bass players. You got a bass and then three. And I think this is the best pro of using Tracks is the clicking queue. I love having the Q voice guide my team through the song. Everybody through the song can hear it when it says Verse two, three, four. And now there’s no second guessing at all. Like, Wait, where are we going after? Where are we going after that double bridge? Are we going to a down course? Everyone in the band knows exactly what’s happening. When I was on staff at Willow Creek, we actually had a guy on the team just talking into a microphone saying, verse two, three, four. And this is basically that where everybody in the band has that. And it makes people feel like they know where they’re going. Makes people feel prepared and confident in how they’re playing the song.
Matt McCoy So I love that. That’s a huge pro.
Alex I agree. And those were some of the ones that I included in that episode that I did. So let’s say one of the worship leaders listening is like, okay, I’m sold. I want to try it. Even though we’re a smaller Church plant, I want to try this out. Technically, how would you advise them? How can they get the tech right? And whether you want to go, like, simple setup or big complex, just give some advice to the worship leader who wants to try this.
Matt McCoy The biggest mistake people make is they jump in and they want to get all Ninja status advanced right away. I would say keep it simple. Just don’t even worry about an audio interface at this point. Just plug in a headphone cable into your sound system and try practice with the app at home on your own. First of all, because it’s really like riding a bike. Once you’ve learned, you don’t even have to think about it. If you’ve never played to a click before, that’s going to be the hardest thing for you. But once you’ve done it and really, it only takes a couple of times doing it, you’ll be like, wow, this is so easy. I can’t believe I didn’t do this before. Getting on a click is the most important thing with playing with tracks, and it just takes practice and not even a lot, but it just keeps trying it. And so I would also recommend that your band members also download the app and they try it at home. So one of the features of our app is that you can build a set list and then share it with your team.
Matt McCoy So you could create a set list for the Sunday, share it with everybody in your band and at home on their iPhone or their iPad. They could pull up the set list and actually practice along on their own along with the click solo at their part if they need to. If they want to learn, you can use it as a rehearsal tool, but you have to just practice. And then I would say before you plug it in into a sound system in front of 300 people at your Church, try it in rehearsal. In your Wednesday night rehearsal, just bring it. Try it with just one song. If you get off the track, don’t worry about it. Just stop and try it again later. But try it with one song. Then once you feel good about that, try it with two songs and then three songs, and then you’ll be off to the races.
Alex Yeah, that’s so helpful. I never thought about everybody can download it at home and actually practice at home on plug their iPhone in or iPad in. And that’s a really helpful way. Any other tips for getting ready to launch this? Let’s say in three weeks we want to try it in front of the Church. You’re saying maybe don’t do that. Maybe just do some rehearsals with it for a few weeks. And what else would you advise?
Matt McCoy Do it in rehearsals first. The other thing I would advise is make sure your sound team is aware of what’s happening. A lot of times, worship leaders I see, like, will roll in and just plug in tracks. But the sound team either A doesn’t know anything about it and what tracks are, and B does not know how to set them up and connected. So I think you want to do it in relationship and in tandem with your sound team, make sure they know what you’re actually wanting to do, what you’re wanting to accomplish so that they know how to route the audio to the band. Because one of the hardest things is getting the clip to everybody in the band. If you have in your monitors at your Church, then you’re in a perfect position because you can just route the click to everybody’s in your monitors and it’s good to go. But if you don’t have in your monitors at your Church, you have to get a little bit more creative. And that’s where you need to be in tandem with your sound team to find a set up that will work because really all you have to do is just get the click to the time keeper in the band.
Matt McCoy Usually that’s the drummer. If you don’t have a drummer, though, maybe it’s just really a small Church and maybe it’s just a keyboard player who’s the timekeeper. As long as the timekeeper and the band has the click, you’re good to go and you can use tracks. So don’t think that just because you don’t have in your monitors at your Church, you can’t do this. I ran tracks for five years without in your monitors. I led worship, and I never heard the click for five years. I just trusted the drummer, which that says a lot, too. But you can do it, though. You don’t have to have any monitors. So those are just some tips. I would say technically, but I would just use a headphone cable coming out of the iPad into two direct boxes, one for the click and one for the tracks. Send the click to your band, send the tracks to the front of house and tell your sound team they need to start syncing of your iPad or your computer as another person in your band. The tracks are another instrument in the band, so turn them up. A lot of times I can’t even tell you the number of times I go to a Church and you can’t even hear the tracks.
Matt McCoy I know they’re playing with tracks, but you can’t even hear them. And a lot of times it’s that the sound team hasn’t really been even really told that this is not for the band. This is actually for the congregation. So have that communication.
Alex I’d love to ask you, how do you not prepare your band to play with tracks, but how do you help them adjust their playing style to play with tracks? Because once you have this extra musician right, you’re calling the computer or the iPad a musician, they have to leave a little bit more space and they’re playing for that extra musician. Just like if you added two more guitar players or two more key players, everybody needs to play a little bit less. So how can a worship leader help their team adjust their playing to include tracks?
Matt McCoy Yeah, it’s such a good question. First of all, make sure everybody in your band can hear not only the click, but they can also hear the tracks. If you’re thinking of your computer as another person in the bands, and then they need to hear what the computer is doing so that they’re playing together. Like, usually if you’re playing in a band with each other, you want to hear what other people and other instruments are playing. So that does not exclude the computer so that everybody needs to have the tracks up so they can hear what’s happening. And then I would say less is more. And I think in general, even less is more in playing, but also less is more in the tracks world as well. So if you’re using tracks, I wouldn’t overdo the number of stems you’re using. So some of these songs come with, like 30 stems. And what I mean by stems are, like different instruments, like bass, drums, synth, one synth, two synth, three arpeggiator, one piano, one keys pass. It goes on and on. Some of them come with, like 30 of them. Don’t use every single one of them.
Matt McCoy In fact, I think less is more. It’s going to cut through the mix better. It’s going to be less muddy. If you use too many tracks, it can really muddy things up. It can actually start to have the opposite effect that you’re wanting to have. So strip it back and less is more. It will fill in kind of like the dead spaces in your band. So don’t also use tracks. We’ve talked about this before, but don’t use tracks for parts that people are playing live. So if you’ve got a drummer, do not use a drum track because it’s going to clash. If you have someone playing pads, don’t use a pad track because it’s going to crash. So that’s another really important element that will also make the person who’s really playing pads feel a lot better. And also it will help them just play better because they’re not competing with a computer.
Alex Right. Yeah. And it’s interesting. I never thought about it that way. But you need the band to make space for the tracks. But you’re also saying the tracks make space for the band by muting a lot of the tracks. And I think that’s a really healthy and helpful way, just maybe to give context for at our Church when we do use tracks. Like, I always mute percussion because we have a percussionist. I always mute, obviously, drums and bass because we have that. I mute keys. I mute electric guitar one because those lines are covered. I pretty much only leave, like, rhythm guitar, any sort of extra oomphy percussion stuff. Like on things where it’s got, like, the extra weird percussion sounds or like, you turn grades into Gardens, where it’s got those big hits, like, I leave all that stuff. I always say that tracks are supplemental, not foundational. Right, right. So I need a lot of our tracks, and we just use the little bit of extra that adds as the oomph or the sizzle.
Matt McCoy Yeah. I would say when in doubt, mute it.
Alex That’s good. One thing, too, that I always encourage people who want to start using tracks is like, you better make sure that your band can play well first before you add tracks on top of that. Right. Because if you can’t get your team to play the song well together without tracks, then adding tracks on top of that is just going to make it Messier and sloppier.
Matt McCoy Yeah.
Alex Really training your team to learn the parts of songs, to play the parts of songs, because I don’t know, you can’t have a guitar player shredding on top of the tracks and expect it to sound good. It’s not going to.
Matt McCoy Yeah, that’s a good point. That’s a very good point.
Alex Yeah. What about this? When a team does start using tracks or when a worship leader starts implementing tracks, what are some of the common hurdles that you see when people are just getting started?
Matt McCoy I would say for sure it’s getting on the click. People really are resistant sometimes to getting on a click. And so that is a big thing. Is vision casting why you’re bringing tracks to your Church and to your worship team? Because a lot of times it can be read by a worship team as, oh, wow, we just must really not be playing well. He wants to replace us with recordings because we’re just not doing well. You have to cast the vision of why you’re doing it, why you’re bringing it, what you think it’s going to do to help raise the level of quality of excellence, that it’s not to replace them, that it’s actually a tool that’s going to help. First of all, them just all feel very comfortable and know where in the song they are with the click and cute. But it’s also going to just help it sound more full because maybe you’re only a band of four people. Well, tracks can just really help make it sound more full. So you just have to vision cast this ahead of time. I wouldn’t just drop it on your worship team out of nowhere and without telling them why.
Matt McCoy If you do that, I think then after you’ve done it, maybe for a couple of rehearsals, I would not be surprised if the people who maybe were the ones that were the loudest against it actually come on board for it because from my experience, what I’ve seen is once teams have started actually using it, they’re like, wow, they can hear the difference. They’re musicians. They know. They’re like, wow, we really sound really tight. We sound together, we sound full. We sound like we’re playing in time with each other. We sound like we’re not going to the bridge when we’re supposed to be going to the chorus. And they like that. And so you will get people on board with it, but you have to vision cast at first and then you have to give them time to just get used to it.
Alex Yeah, that’s really helpful. How much time do you feel like before you introduce the topic to when you actually roll out the red carpet, like, what’s a healthy period of time to vision cast and explain and get people use the idea and then let them test the waters. And then what’s that?
Matt McCoy I think you could do it in a matter of weeks. Honestly, if you vision casted it and then you send everybody that you maybe did a training and showed them the app so that they understand how it works. Because if they see it, I think they’ll be like, wow, that’s really cool. And then be like, hey, you can download this on your phone and then have them download on their phone and then give them the set list. And then they can practice at home with it and play around with it. If they know what’s going on, then they’re going to feel just a lot more comfortable. So you just don’t keep them in the dark. But I think you could do it in a matter of weeks.
Alex And how much more work is it for the worship leader to have to download tracks, prepare tracks because this is something they have to put into account. Like if they’re a volunteer worship leader at a small Church and they have a full time job and a family, they’ve got to count the cost of time investment. What is the time investment, Matt?
Matt McCoy Oh, man. So if you would have asked me that question ten years ago, I would say, well, we’re using Ableton live time investments, probably at least an hour, maybe 2 hours a week. If you’re using an app like ours, prime, that’s one of the coolest things about technology in the track world in the past decade is it’s come so far. And I’ll tell you that I led worship this past Sunday and it took me about five to ten minutes to put together my track set list. So it was a very small amount of time that it took. I even did it Sunday morning before I even went to Church. So I did it. I woke up like 06:00 a.m. I just got on, made a set list in the app, took me five minutes. So it’s really not asking a lot of time from worship leaders anymore like it used to.
Alex Yes, that’s good. It does take an extra step for worship leaders. They should be aware of that. And they should also be aware of the arrangement. Like, do you want to do don’t just copy and paste the album arrangement and say we’re going to do it exactly like that every single time we do the song. That’s not really being sensitive to what the set needs and flowing with the set and the flow of music and the emotional ride that you want to take people on, you got to chop sections out and move things around and do down choruses instead of up choruses depending on where the song falls within. Other songs in the set. And that’s the great thing about your app is you’re able to easily just get rid of sections of songs.
Matt McCoy You do have to be prepared. Like, you have to know what your songs are and you have to know the arrangements you’re wanting to do and how you want to do them. And then. Yeah, probably plan 1520 minutes, let’s say, to do all that in the app and kind of arrange everything if you’ve never done it before.
Alex Yeah. Now what is your preference for who controls the tracks? Like, if worship leaders got to get his team doing it, should he be controlling the tracks with the foot pedal? Should the drummer? I’ve done that in the past. Where I control with is it a McMillan, John McMillan, Keith McMillan, foot controller. I used to do that at my old Church in the past. But what do you like to do or what do you find to be the best?
Matt McCoy Yeah, it’s really worship leader preference. My personal preference for a long time was that I would run the tracks, so I would use a foot controller. We have one called the Loop Damas at Loop Community. It’s a little three button controller and it makes it easy. You can just start and stop the tracks, go to the next song. Very easy. I used to always have one of those down by my feet as a worship leader. Recently, though, I’m actually trying to pass that off so that I don’t even have to think about it and I can just give it to someone else in the band and they can run the tracks. So this past Sunday, I had the keyboard player in the tracks. Now I had the tracks, though, all programmed, though, so that they were auto flowing through the set list. So when it got to the end of the song, it automatically crossfaded into the next one. So really all he had to do was just press play at the beginning and then stop at the end of the set list. It didn’t require much. One thing I have seen worse than do that I think is really unique and good is maybe keep the tracks back by the drummer, the keyboard player.
Matt McCoy But run a USB cable up to a controller like the Lupus by the worship leader and only map one of the buttons to a repeat section. Because if the worship leader is like, hey, I want to do like another bridge. They can just press the button on the controller to repeat a section of the song without having to, like, send smoke signals back to the drummer to let them know that we’re going to go back to the chorus. So it gives you still that option as a worship leader to be able to press the repeat button if you want to, but then the drummers running the track from start to finish.
Alex That’s a really cool idea, a hybrid approach.
Matt McCoy It’s a hybrid approach, the veto button.
Alex The worship leader gets the veto power to make that one decision only.
Matt McCoy Yeah, right. That’s the way to think of it.
Alex That’s really cool. So at our Church, we used to have the tracks run by the drummer, and we just assign on Ableton, we assign the keyboard, like 1234 is song one two, song three, song four. We liked that because the drummer needs to feel the tempo in their body and they need to know when they’re starting the one so that they can get ready to do their fill. But we recently moved it over to the keyboard player just because, I don’t know, our stage, we wanted to clean up our stage a bit and it just felt cluttered. And so we put it by the keyboard player, and I bought this cheap Chinese, like twelve keyboard extender on Alibaba or AliExpress, and we put it down right by the keyboard player’s hand, and we assign those keys now so they could just go 1234 right by their hand without having to reach way up and over and press 1234 on the computer keyboard.
Matt McCoy Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s a great solution.
Alex Yeah. So cool. Well, I would actually like to ask you, what are some of the most innovative things you’ve ever seen churches do with tracks? Like something where you saw Church doing something with Ableton and you’re like, oh, my gosh, that is so cool and so creative and so innovative. What would be some of those ideas?
Matt McCoy I think that the big thing right now is syncing lyrics and lighting with your tracks so that as you go through the song, the lyrics are automatically changing with the track. I think that’s a very innovative thing. One of the coolest things I’ve seen was Elevation Church. They have campuses all across the city that are miles apart from each other, but they will sometimes be able to start an Ableton session on one campus, and it starts the Ableton session on every campus. So every campus is playing in time with each other at the same time, and they can even do live, like, video feeds of all the different campuses from across the city. But it’s all run by Ableton, which I think is pretty incredible and very creative and a major technical nightmare. I feel like I know what if one thing fails that could go majorly wrong? That’s probably the most advanced thing I’ve seen.
Alex Let me ask you this. What happens when the Ableton thing fails or when the Loop Community Prime app force close? What do you do? What should a worship leader do?
Matt McCoy It all depends on the worship leaders. Leadership fast, Ninja skills in that moment. It’s amazing how much you have to think about in like a split second to make a decision. What you should do is don’t acknowledge it, just keep going. Because really, for the most part, most people in the congregation won’t even notice the difference unless the ban completely crumbles. But the band shouldn’t crumble. They should just keep going. If it all fails, stop the click and just keep going. You can do it old school without tracks and most people won’t even know. So try not to make a scene out of it. I wouldn’t stop the song and then start over. Stop and say something. Just keep going. Get it right the next service.
Alex That’s good. Yeah. And if you have to do one of those things where you turn around a drummer and you count with your mouth. 1234, you do that. You Bob your head and you count and you start the song. It’s fine. It’ll be fine.
Matt McCoy Yeah, you’ll be totally fine.
Alex Okay, last question. Well, I have one more after this because I want you to tell people where they can find you. But this question is what do you think is next in regards to technology, in worship? Like, what’s on the horizon? What should we be expecting in the next ten years regarding technology and worship? What do you think is coming?
Matt McCoy Such an interesting question. I would actually be curious to hear what you think, too. I would say that what’s happening is everything’s going to be integrated as far as your chord charts, your lyrics, your lighting, it’s all going to be connected and flowing together as you’re going through the song. I also think we will over the next ten years see something related to the click following us instead of us following the click. I think there’s going to be some sort of huge development in that where you don’t actually have to play exactly to the click, but it follows you in a way. And maybe you can give it parameters of like, don’t follow us, but don’t let us drift too much this way or that way. And I’m personally excited about the Metaverse and I’m really curious to see what worship ends up looking like in there and the type of audio Fidelity we’ll be able to accomplish in the Metaverse.
Alex I want to lead worship as a giant shrimp in the middle. That is my goal.
Matt McCoy Oh, my gosh, that’d be so funny. I think with spatial audio, I mean, there could be some really cool like, imagine just the tracks coming at you from all different directions.
Alex Yeah. Dude, that’s crazy. Auto panning, like 3D in your monitor system is actually 3D spatial audio. It’s a company called Clang. And one of our keyboard players told me yesterday or two days ago, whenever. What is today? Tuesday? Yeah, on Sunday. And he said, dude, he’s like, I’ve played in a lot of churches, nobody’s ears sounds better than ours. And it’s true that spatial feature is crazy. So you’re right in the Metaverse. And wow, that’s talking about a big question, like what is worship and what is a corporate worship experience going to be in the Metaverse? That is so wild.
Matt McCoy It is wild.
Alex And there’s a guy. You probably heard of him, DJ Soto. He does VR Church, and he creates these giant, like, 3D Roblox basically, like Minecraft. I don’t know what it looks like. I haven’t seen it. But, like, these 3D models of the Red Sea parting, and he’ll walk people through it and tell them the story and preach the Bible while he’s leading them through these virtual sets. It’s crazy.
Matt McCoy Yeah, that is pretty crazy. I think what would be sad is if Church went completely to the Metaverse and then we don’t have worship teams anymore because you really wouldn’t even need, like, they’re just little characters and then you’re just playing, like, an audio track and the guys just kind of like pretend playing. I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see where that all goes. But I do think that there’s something big coming there.
Alex Yeah. And there will always be the embodied corporate experience of real, physical people as well. But, yeah, interesting to see what happens with the Metaverse. You asked me what I think might be.
Matt McCoy Yeah.
Alex What do you think? I honestly was like, oh, my gosh, I don’t have an answer for that. But after you started talking, when you talked about the quick track following us, it made me think. I’ve been thinking recently, like, I wonder if we’re going to get to the point with AI to where audio consoles analyze the signal coming in. And like you said, you give it parameters. Like, this is a rock song. We want rock or we want Blues or jazz. And it knows the channel names, like electric guitar and processes. Yeah. It compresses EQ gains and it blends all of it to follow the parameters of a rock song or a Coldplay song or whatever. And it mixes for you. And it sounds amazing. I think that could be a reality within the next 25 years, probably.
Matt McCoy I think that’s for sure. A reality. Yeah, that would be awesome, man. I love that idea.
Alex Then we’ll all sound good all the time.
Matt McCoy Yeah. That is so cool.
Alex Cool. Man, this has been so fun and helpful. I’d love for you to tell our listeners where they can get your super helpful tools and your super great tracks.
Matt McCoy Totally. So you can go to Loopcommunity.com and create a free account and grab a track. And you can also follow us on Instagram. We’re on Facebook. We have a Facebook group that there’s tons of worship leaders in there. Community is in our name for a reason. We’re all about building community amongst worship leaders. Join our Facebook group because if you want to just ask any questions, every person in that group started where you are. If you’re a beginner and they love to help. So get in the group, ask questions. You don’t have to feel dumb or anything for asking a question. Like, people are going to want to help you. So go to Luke. Follow us on Instagram social. I’m on Instagram as well. Just Matt McCoy also just email us if you want if you ever need anything at all, just email email@example.com. We’re a small team. We’re not like a huge company and so we’re always watching our inbox and happy to hop on a phone call, happy to answer your email and help you through whatever problem you’re facing. So thanks for having me on, Alex.
Alex Yeah, it’s been great. Matt really does love the local Church. I mean, look, he’s leading a small Church plan. He loves the local Church. He wants to resource people and he’s a trainer and a teacher at heart. He’s a tinkerer and a teacher at heart. Matt, thank you so much. I’ll put links in all the show notes for all of those things but you’ve been a blessing to me and to many others today. So thank you.
Matt McCoy Thanks, man. Thanks for having me on.
Alex Awesome. All right, guys, that is it for this month’s episode. I hope you were encouraged and built up and blessed by that conversation. I hope you’ll check out loopcommunity.com I put links in the show notes. I hope you will say Hi to Matt on social media. Also say Hi to me on social media. I’m at WMT podcast on Twitter or worship Ministry training on Facebook or Instagram. And be sure to check out the brand new copy me course to get a blueprint for how you can run your Ministry at your Church and just implement everything that I’ve worked many years onto and developing. You can have it, steal it, take it and enjoy it and reap the benefits at your Church.
Matt McCoy All right.
Alex I will see you next month for another helpful episode. God bless you guys. Take care.