The Pros and Cons of Using Backing Tracks in Worship

Backing tracks have been a blessing to many worship ministries. But tracks can turn into a curse if we implement them without pastoral wisdom and thoughtfulness. What are some of the ways that backing tracks can inadvertantly harm our worship ministries? What are some of the benefits multi-tracks provide? How can we strike a healthy balance in using tracks? This month I’ll tell you all the pros and cons of using backing tracks in worship and guide you regarding whether or not you should be using them at your church.

Check Out The Brand New Worship Leader Training Courses!

Use Promo Code WMTpodcast for 25% off!

Helpful Links:
MultiTracks
Loop Community
Set Building E-Book (and resources)
Set Building Course

ALSO SEE: Playing In Parts

Direct Download

LISTEN ON YOUR SMARTPHONE
Listen while you drive, workout, or do chores! Subscribe on:
Apple Podcasts
, Spotify, StitcherTune IniHeartRadio

Follow Us!

TWITTERINSTAGRAM, or FACEBOOK

 

Transcript

Alex Enfiedjian 00:00 Today’s episode is sponsored by our worship leader training course bundle which you can check out for free at worship ministry training com. Our course bundle covers all the major topics that you need to excel as a god honoring people loving worship leader. And so if that sounds like something that would be helpful to you, you can check out a free sample of all of the lessons right there on our homepage, worship ministry training calm, and if you’d like to purchase the bundle you can get 25% off by typing in the promo code WMT podcast WMT podcast at checkout. Hope it helps you and helps you serve your church better. Again, check out the free sample at worship ministry training calm. Alright, let’s get into today’s episode.

Alex Enfiedjian 00:51 Let’s talk about tracks, shall we? It seems everybody and their mom is using backing tracks in worship nowadays. And I personally had been avoiding it for years. I was too proud, too stubborn to let a computer make my band sound good. Oh, no, I wanted to train up my band to be awesome musicians. And if we can’t do it without a computer, then we shouldn’t do it at all was my thought the sound has to come from us or it’s not real. It’s not of the Lord if it’s not from the people. Okay, that was my illogical reasoning. But I was stubborn in my ways I was stuck to it. So instead of using tracks, we would use two keyboard players, one to fill the normal stuff and the other to fill the higher frequencies with pad and strings. We had a percussionist we still have a percussionist with a drum pad with all the cool electronic sounds and effects like uplifters down lifters, reverb, tambourines, sub drops, all that fun extra stuff, ear candy. And so I was like, No, this is how we’re doing it. I’m not willing to use tracks, we can do this ourselves. But then then I hired a new Production Director. And he along with one of my young worship leaders was like, hounding me bugging me constantly about you got to try tracks. You just got to stop being stubborn. Just try it. But I was like, no. And I kept resisting. And finally, the Lord one. No, just kidding. Finally, they wore me out and I caved in and I gave tracks a try. I gave tracks to try. So did I like them? Did I hate them? Well, you’ll have to wait to find out. And my goal for this episode, what I’m hoping to do is just share my view on tracks, tell you my experience, trying them out, share the pros and the cons, and tell you where I’ve landed now and then hopefully help you make a decision. Like maybe you’re listening and you’re thinking, Man, what’s all the hype with the tracks? Like, Should we try it at our church? Well, hopefully my experience will help you make a decision on whether they would be a good fit for you. So I’m not here to change anybody’s mind. I’m not here to say one way is better than the other way. If you use tracks, great if you don’t use tracks, great, like everybody can be happy. And we can all just agree that whatever is right for your situation is right. Okay, there’s no word from the Lord on this. And there’s no elite way of doing things. I just want to share my experience since I’ve lived on both sides of the equation now for some time, and hopefully that will help you decide what is best for your church and your context. That’s the goal for the episode. And before we get into the pros and cons, let me just briefly share your options for using tracks at your church. Like if you’re listening and you’re like, I don’t really know anything about it. Where do I even start? Well, let me just share that with you briefly. There are two companies primarily where you can purchase your tracks from that have lots and lots of high quality tracks for you loop community and multi tracks comm neither of them sponsor this episode, so don’t worry, I’m not making any money off this. I’m just telling you your options loop community is wonderful multi tracks comm is wonderful. Couple differences between the two multi tracks does offer a subscription model that lets you rent 25 songs per month. Okay, so if that seems like if you don’t mind paying for the rest of your life to have access to the tracks, and you only need 25 songs ish a month for your services, great, but my church needs way more than 25 songs a month, and I don’t want to pay for the rest of my life. So we ended up choosing the loop community credit system, you can buy credits for songs at a discounted rate, and then you purchase the songs one time and then you own them forever, and you’re not locked into paying this monthly fee forever and ever and ever. So that’s what we chose Luke community system. We also chose Luke community system because they have a Macintosh app for MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. And we wanted to be able to send our tracks out via Dante the networking protocol to our front of house soundboard. So we chose Luke community system because we wanted access to a Mac app that could send tracks via Dante. So that’s what we chose. So those are your two companies that you can buy tracks from. Once you have the tracks there are three ways to implement them in your services. Okay, number one, iPad apps, both companies make wonderful iPad apps. The one from Luke community is called prime The one from multi tracks calm is called playback. And they’re both amazing. They both do very similar things. But you can rearrange songs, you can cut choruses, you can double courses, you can chop intros off, you can change keys, you can change tempos, you can arrange crossfades, between songs, all sorts of really wonderful things. It makes it super, super easy to implement to use their iPad apps. The downside of the iPad app is unless you buy this really weird contraption thing, you’re limited to only two channels, okay, you get the click track and the cues, the guide, the lady speaking in your ears on one channel, and then you have all your instruments on the other channel, and they’re just sent on one channel. So your front of house engineer, your sound guy doesn’t get to mix the individual channels from the tracks, he just gets whatever you send to him. So that’s one downside of using the iPad apps. Now, I said Luke community does offer a Mac App. So that’s your second option to implement tracks in your service. And you can use Luke communities app, also called prime for your Mac Book, and you can send individual channels to your front of house engineer using Dante or using an audio interface and sending it out that way on different channels. So if you want multiple channels, you’re definitely going to want to look at Luke community’s setup. And then your last option to implement tracks is to use Ableton Live, which is basically you’re responsible, it’s more work upfront, you download all the tracks, you create a session, you chop the songs up into the arrangement you want, because most of us aren’t going to play a nine minute song, you know, like some of the elevation stuff is nine minutes. And some of the Bethel stuff is nine minutes, whatever it’s like no way or Hillsong. So you got to chop up the songs, it’s a little more work upfront, and then you can put it into an Ableton session. And you can have full flexibility. So it’s fully flexible. And it’s more powerful. You can do a lot of automations. And it can control your lyrics and your lighting if you’re into those types of things. So Ableton Live is like more work, more technical expertise necessary, but you can have much more flexibility. And so our church, we ended up going with the loop community Mac App at first, and then that wasn’t enough flexibility for me, because I’m really picky. I’m like, No, no, no, we got to have the song arrangement just like this. And so we we ended up switching over to Ableton Live. So those are your options for tracks, I’ll put links in the show notes for that. Now, let me get into some of the pros and cons. And then at the end of the episode, I’m going to just share where I think tracks work and where I think tracks don’t work or won’t work for you. So pros and cons. Here we go. Pros, the pros of using tracks is number one, the guide cues, I like having that little robot lady tell my band exactly where we are in the song, okay, it’s wonderful to have a little voice talking in your ear telling you bridge 234 build 234 like, that’s very convenient. And it helps my band never like Get lost, you know, because sometimes in the past, my musicians would like get lost, they would be closing their eyes and worshiping and then they’re like going to the bridge when we’re supposed to be going to a double chorus. So the guide cues is the first Pro. The second pro of tracks is it’s easy musician replacement. Now, at my church, this rarely happens. But if you have people who cancel last minute, you can literally just unmute the track of their instrument and go forward with the service. So this hasn’t really been an issue for us like we’ve never had to, you know, do a last minute unmute, but in the rare chance that it might happen, it’s cool to have that easy musician replacement. The third pro of using tracks is big sound for small teams big sound for small teams. Now, many churches don’t have enough musicians, I get that and maybe you just have a three piece band or a four piece band or a five piece band but you want more oomph to your musical worship. And tracks provide that oomph there’s a lot of sound to work with there, sometimes maybe too much, which we’ll get into later. But that is a pro of having tracks so you can get a bigger sound, even if you just have a small team. The fourth Pro is that you can access specific parts of song so for me as a worship leader, I want to know what the electric guitar player is playing on the album. And I can solo that channel and I can hear exactly the part that the electric guitar player needs to play and I can show it to my electric guitar player and he can learn that part better. So that’s a very helpful thing is to have access to the exact part that the record plays. The next Pro is that it’s more options for your sound guy to work with your sound guy is able to bring up some vocals if the vocals sound too thin on Sunday or bring up some synth patch if like the keyboard player isn’t really hitting the right stuff like you can, you can fill in the sound and the sound guy has more to work with and that’s, that’s a pro and honestly that’s about it for the pros like that’s all the pros that I can think of with tracks. Now let me give you the cons the things that I really disliked about using tracks and And then I’ll tell you where I landed with all this. Okay, so here are a list of cons. Again, I’m not trying to say one way is better than the other because little teaser alert, we still use tracks sometimes. But here are some of the cons of using tracks. Number one, tracks limit creativity. So at my church, our team, we base our arrangements on the original albums, but we don’t always play them exactly like the record, like the primary parts are there, especially for keys and electric guitar and drums. But we leave a little bit of wiggle room to play with the arrangement, sometimes we’ll change a chord, sometimes we’ll tweak the way that a turnaround sounds or we’ll come up with our own riff after a chorus, right. But when you’re playing to a track, you have to play it exactly like the track, you have no freedom or flexibility to be creative. So the first con about tracks is it limits creativity. The second con is that it limits flexibility. So as a worship leader, I personally love to shepherd my congregation in the middle of a set. And I usually know about where I’m going to say something or pray something, or exhort something, I usually know about where it’s going to go in a song, or in a set, but I don’t know how long I’m going to talk for. And so the idea of like, you only have eight bars to say something really limits my ability as a worship leader, to pastor the people. And I know they’re, like tricky ways around this. But you really have to set up your system in a way that works. So that I’m just gonna say tracks limited flexibility, like how you put it in the computer is how it comes out of the computer. Okay. And if you want to double a chorus, too bad, the track won’t let you okay, if the church is really engaging and worshiping in the bridge, Too bad the track won’t let you now I did an interview with Jeremy riddle recently. And he just said, we just kill the tracks. If if we’re following the Holy Spirit, and he says do the course again, then my tracks person just stops the tracks, and we go without it. And I love that. I mean, that’s more important than following the arrangement. But just know that tracks are going to make you stick to the script. Okay, tracks are gonna make you stick to the script, they’re going to limit your flexibility. Okay, the third con of using tracks is it takes away the need to involve people. Because here’s the thing, when you have a computer to play 18 channels of tracks for you. You don’t need 18 people to do those sounds like you’re just simply unmuting the channel and like, Yeah, I don’t need to find a percussionist anymore, or Oh, no, we don’t have enough electric guitar players in our church. And so instead of raising someone up, I’m just gonna unmute the track. Like that might seem convenient. But that solves a short term problem, yet it causes a long term deficit, okay? When you don’t have to raise up people or train people, because you can just unmute a track, you are creating a long term problem for your church. And remember, the primary role of church leaders Ephesians chapter four, is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. That’s the primary role of a church leader equip the saints for work of ministry not sound like the band who produced the song. That’s not the primary goal of ministry, it’s to raise up people, God cares about people, people being called and equipped and deployed into ministry, we are to find people train people and utilize our people and equip them to serve their church body, right. And when you can just plug those holes in your team with tracks instead of people, you neglect your primary responsibility as a church leader, right? So God gave you the people he wants your church to have as imperfect as they are as sloppy and messy as it can be. Sometimes, God put those people under your leadership, and they’re the ones that he wants you to use to build up the body. And it is your responsibility, my responsibility to equip them and involve them in the service of the saints. So that is a huge con for me is that tracks limit the people necessary to make services happen. And it demotivates you from feeling the need to find and deploy people in ministry. Okay. Fourth con is that I found tracks can not always but they can take away the need for your band to listen tracks can take away the need for your band to listen to one another. So when we started using tracks, especially in the beginning, I noticed that my band, they didn’t listen to each other as carefully as when we were playing without tracks. Because when you’re playing without tracks, it all depends on you and your execution of the part. If you don’t execute it perfectly, it doesn’t come across it doesn’t translate well. Right. And I try to train my musicians to make each note count to be intentional with their dynamics and their musicality while they’re playing. Not just to execute the part like oh, cool, I learned the Part No, but like to really make the part musical to make it sing to make it evoke emotion to make it beautiful and nuanced. Right? And when you don’t have to make that happen of your own one. The track is providing that for you, then you can get sloppy with your dynamics, you can get sloppy, and lazy in your playing, because you’re not listening carefully and making each note count making each drum count making each string count. I mean, everything counts, everything adds up. And so my musicians didn’t listen to each other as carefully as they did when we weren’t using tracks. But that’s not the point of tracks tracks are not supposed to do the heavy lifting tracks are supposed to be supplemental, they’re just supposed to add little ear candy here and there. The fifth con, sorry, listen, I know this sounds negative against tracks. And if your church uses tracks, I just want to say and I’m going to give a spoiler alert, I use tracks to I still do. But I want you to think about these things because they all matter. Okay, but number five con tracks chop up the set, tracks chop up the set. So tracks are the identical clone copies of the original album arrangement of a song. And that means that that song is getting inserted like a block, it’s good just getting dropped into the set without any contextual awareness of what the song before it sounded like, or what the song after it sounded like. But it’s really important that we don’t approach sets as just a whole bunch of songs stuck together. But as a whole cohesive unit, your sets should be beautifully crafted to go on a journey. And that means musically as well. That means that the dynamic of the second song should affect the intro of the third song, or the dynamic of the second song should affect the tone and intensity of the third song, like the songs should relate to one another. But when you’re just dropping in tracks without contextual awareness of what the other songs around it were doing, you can’t build that cohesion into the set because you’re just importing it from whatever the album did. And that’s it. That’s a huge problem. You should be thinking about how your intros and outros flow together, maybe you should be cutting out outros or cutting out intros so that one song flows into the next song better. Like we should really be considering how each song fits into our set. For example, one week, I might do a song with an up chorus. And the next week, because of the song that comes before it, I might do that same song with a down chorus because of where it falls in the set that week. And so again, tracks if you’re not careful, and if you don’t customize it to your set, it can just make it so that every song always gets played the same way. And songs are not meant to be that way. Like you need to do a better job of custom tailoring your sets and custom tailoring your songs and your arrangements to better flow in a set. And you can get my free ebook, head worship ministry training, comm slash resources. I

Alex Enfiedjian 17:44 have a free ebook for you. I think it’s like 50 pages. And you can get that to learn how to build beautiful sets. So grab that worship minister training comm slash resources completely free. I don’t make any money from it. Okay, the next con is that tracks are more work upfront, like instead of just picking songs, printing charts, sending mp3 to your band. And now you also have to build an Ableton session, maybe have to build an Ableton session for that song itself. And then you have to build an Ableton session for this set itself. So you have more work each week up front, and that’s not bad. It’s just reality. Okay, two more three more cons. Okay. The the seventh con is that tracks import another churches sound into your churches, context tracks, import another churches sound into your churches context, because basically, what you’re doing is you’re saying, I’m going to take Bethel, or I’m going to take elevation, I’m going to take Hillsong, I’m going to take vertical worship and what God is doing at their church and the sound that resonates with their church, I’m going to take it and I’m going to bring it into my church, but your church is your church. Your church needs what God is doing in and through you. Your church should sound like your church, not their church. Like what if what they do doesn’t even resonate with your people? What if God wants a unique sound to come out of your unique body, right? Hillsong is Hillsong. Bethel is Bethel, elevation is elevation, but your church is your church. And what does God want your church to sound like? Okay, the eighth con is that at least at my church, and from my experience, using tracks did not increase engagement from our congregation using tracks did not increase participation and engagement from my congregation. It didn’t not even in the slightest. Like, I didn’t see people worshiping more because we had extra strings or extra cents in the songs like they didn’t engage more because there were tracks they engage when there’s great songs lead Well, I have a whole engagement formula on my on my website, but you know, it’s the tracks don’t do much like if you think oh, if we just had tracks my church would worship more I can tell you that is not true. That is possibly a lie. It’s possibly like laziness like oh, we just need this easy fix. Get the tracks people will worship. No people will worship when you help them. see Jesus People will worship when you build engaging song sets that point them to the beauties and glories of Jesus Christ. And when they see Jesus, they will respond. Worship is always revelation then response. So are you revealing Jesus in your songs? Are you revealing Jesus through your times of corporate worship, if you do that, you will see more engagement tracks won’t do it for you, I promise you tracks will not do for you. The last con Okay. And then I’m going to tell you what we do now, and what I think you should do at your church. The last con is that tracks are technically unfeasible for many churches, like some churches just can’t afford to buy the tracks each week, or to buy the computer or to buy the audio interface, or to buy the in ear monitors or to buy the in ear monitors set up in the in ear monitor console or whatever, like, you know, it’s just expensive, right? It’s expensive, and it’s technical. And if you don’t have the money, or the technical know how, or someone who has the money or the technical know how it’s just not feasible. You can’t run tracks with with wedges, you have to have in your monitors, okay, and some churches will never be able to afford that. And I what I want to encourage those churches is you’re not missing out on anything. That’s not the calling of worship leader, you don’t have to have tracks to be a viable worship leader. It’s so important. Like, your job is to minister to the people, your job is to shepherd people to care for people. If you do those things, you’ll be a successful worship leader. So don’t feel discouraged if you’re in a small church, and all you have are wedges. Okay, so those are all the pros and cons that I found in using tracks. And where did I land? Well, I’m going to tell you where I think you should land first. And then I’ll tell you where I landed. So listen, if you’re listening to or watching this episode, and you’re at a mid to large sized church, and if your band already plays well together, that’s a really key phrase. If your band already plays well together, then tracks can enhance that tracks will enhance what’s already going well. But tracks should not be the foundation of your team, they should be the finishing touches the details of your team, they shouldn’t be the ear candy of your team. Tracks are not the foundation of your team, a good band is the foundation of your team.

Alex Enfiedjian 22:13 And if your band doesn’t know how to play well together, if your band doesn’t understand playing in parts, or musical dynamics, and I have episodes on all of those things. Then if your band can play well together, then tracks are just going to add to the noise into the chaos into the mess. Okay, so I would encourage you if your band doesn’t know how to play in parts, if it doesn’t know how to be dynamic, if it doesn’t know how to be musical without tracks. First, focus your attention on teaching your band how to play well together, and then only then add tracks as the icing on the cake. I’ve been at my church for four years. And for two and a half to three years, we just did a lot of work on helping the band listen to each other. Not overplay simplify, play in parts, learn frequency spectrum, we did three years of that. And only now have we added tracks as the icing as the bonus. And now the tracks don’t get in the way of making the band. Great. Okay. So that’s what I would say if you’re in a mid to large church with a good band, then go ahead and add it Okay, foundations first. Now if you’re in a smaller church, I’m going to say, it’s likely going to feel awkward for you to have tracks that make this huge sound. When there’s just three of you on stage, it’s probably going to be awkward, and it’s probably not going to help your church worship more. Plus, if you’re in a small church, you’re probably not full time. And if you’re not full time, you probably won’t have the extra time needed to make the tracks each week. And you probably don’t have the technical staff the sound guys to help you implement the tracks each week. So smaller churches, I’m gonna say probably not medium to large sized churches only if your band is good. And if you have the technical staff to work on the tracks each week. Okay, so those are some thoughts for you. If you’ve been considering if tracks are the cure all answer to your worship team. They are not they are a beautiful and wonderful enhancement. If your band and your tech team are ready for it, but also be prepared to lose a lot of flexibility. Okay, let me tell you where we’ve landed as a church and then we’ll wrap up this episode. So at my church, Calvary Chapel, South Bay in Los Angeles, we use a balanced approach to tracks we use tracks probably 50% of the time, okay, some sets, we use no tracks, zero tracks just click track and pad backing pad. For some sets, we use all tracks, but for most sets, we use a combination of click for some songs and tracks for other songs. And for me, what really determines whether or not I’m going to use tracks is if I know that we always do the arrangement the same way and if the song needs the extra Ohm for the extra electronic sounds to really come across Well, and again, I’m in a very large context, I have a big team. I have a big room, I have a big PA, we have all the lights and all that stuff. And so you don’t really hear the extra fancy sounds. It’s just kind of imperceivable enhancement. And so I’d say that’s important for you to consider like if you’re on a small stage in a small room, and then there’s going to be all this electronic sound coming from no one and nowhere except for the Holy Ghost. It’s kind of weird and distracting. So anyway, I here’s what I just want to say to end this episode. Tracks are wonderful. Use them if you want using if the Lord leads you too. But don’t think you can’t have a successful ministry without tracks. Don’t feel like you’re less or don’t feel like you’re not viable worship leader because your church doesn’t have tracks. God

Alex Enfiedjian 00:00 Today’s episode is sponsored by our worship leader training course bundle which you can check out for free at worship ministry training com. Our course bundle covers all the major topics that you need to excel as a god honoring people loving worship leader. And so if that sounds like something that would be helpful to you, you can check out a free sample of all of the lessons right there on our homepage, worship ministry training calm, and if you’d like to purchase the bundle you can get 25% off by typing in the promo code WM t podcast WMC podcast at checkout. Hope it helps you and helps you serve your church better. Again, check out the free sample at worship ministry training calm. Alright, let’s get into today’s episode.

Alex Enfiedjian 00:51 Let’s talk about tracks, shall we? It seems everybody and their mom is using backing tracks in worship nowadays. And I personally had been avoiding it for years. I was too proud, too stubborn to let a computer make my band sound good. Oh, no, I wanted to train up my band to be awesome musicians. And if we can’t do it without a computer, then we shouldn’t do it at all was my thought the sound has to come from us or it’s not real. It’s not of the Lord if it’s not from the people. Okay, that was my illogical reasoning. But I was stubborn in my ways I was stuck to it. So instead of using tracks, we would use two keyboard players, one to fill the normal stuff and the other to fill the higher frequencies with pad and strings. We had a percussionist we still have a percussionist with a drum pad with all the cool electronic sounds and effects like uplifters down lifters, reverb, tambourines, sub drops, all that fun extra stuff, ear candy. And so I was like, No, this is how we’re doing it. I’m not willing to use tracks, we can do this ourselves. But then then I hired a new Production Director. And he along with one of my young worship leaders was like, hounding me bugging me constantly about you got to try tracks. You just got to stop being stubborn. Just try it. But I was like, no. And I kept resisting. And finally, the Lord one. No, just kidding. Finally, they wore me out and I caved in and I gave tracks a try. I gave tracks to try. So did I like them? Did I hate them? Well, you’ll have to wait to find out. And my goal for this episode, what I’m hoping to do is just share my view on tracks, tell you my experience, trying them out, share the pros and the cons, and tell you where I’ve landed now and then hopefully help you make a decision. Like maybe you’re listening and you’re thinking, Man, what’s all the hype with the tracks? Like, Should we try it at our church? Well, hopefully my experience will help you make a decision on whether they would be a good fit for you. So I’m not here to change anybody’s mind. I’m not here to say one way is better than the other way. If you use tracks, great if you don’t use tracks, great, like everybody can be happy. And we can all just agree that whatever is right for your situation is right. Okay, there’s no word from the Lord on this. And there’s no elite way of doing things. I just want to share my experience since I’ve lived on both sides of the equation now for some time, and hopefully that will help you decide what is best for your church and your context. That’s the goal for the episode. And before we get into the pros and cons, let me just briefly share your options for using tracks at your church. Like if you’re listening and you’re like, I don’t really know anything about it. Where do I even start? Well, let me just share that with you briefly. There are two companies primarily where you can purchase your tracks from that have lots and lots of high quality tracks for you loop community and multi tracks comm neither of them sponsor this episode, so don’t worry, I’m not making any money off this. I’m just telling you your options loop community is wonderful multi tracks comm is wonderful. Couple differences between the two multi tracks does offer a subscription model that lets you rent 25 songs per month. Okay, so if that seems like if you don’t mind paying for the rest of your life to have access to the tracks, and you only need 25 songs ish a month for your services, great, but my church needs way more than 25 songs a month, and I don’t want to pay for the rest of my life. So we ended up choosing the loop community credit system, you can buy credits for songs at a discounted rate, and then you purchase the songs one time and then you own them forever, and you’re not locked into paying this monthly fee forever and ever and ever. So that’s what we chose Luke community system. We also chose Luke community system because they have a Macintosh app for MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. And we wanted to be able to send our tracks out via Dante the networking protocol to our front of house soundboard. So we chose Luke community system because we wanted access to a Mac app that could send tracks via Dante. So that’s what we chose. So those are your two companies that you can buy tracks from. Once you have the tracks there are three ways to implement them in your services. Okay, number one, iPad apps, both companies make wonderful iPad apps. The one from Luke community is called prime The one from multi tracks calm is called playback. And they’re both amazing. They both do very similar things. But you can rearrange songs, you can cut choruses, you can double courses, you can chop intros off, you can change keys, you can change tempos, you can arrange crossfades, between songs, all sorts of really wonderful things. It makes it super, super easy to implement to use their iPad apps. The downside of the iPad app is unless you buy this really weird contraption thing, you’re limited to only two channels, okay, you get the click track and the cues, the guide, the lady speaking in your ears on one channel, and then you have all your instruments on the other channel, and they’re just sent on one channel. So your front of house engineer, your sound guy doesn’t get to mix the individual channels from the tracks, he just gets whatever you send to him. So that’s one downside of using the iPad apps. Now, I said Luke community does offer a Mac App. So that’s your second option to implement tracks in your service. And you can use Luke communities app, also called prime for your Mac Book, and you can send individual channels to your front of house engineer using Dante or using an audio interface and sending it out that way on different channels. So if you want multiple channels, you’re definitely going to want to look at Luke community’s setup. And then your last option to implement tracks is to use Ableton Live, which is basically you’re responsible, it’s more work upfront, you download all the tracks, you create a session, you chop the songs up into the arrangement you want, because most of us aren’t going to play a nine minute song, you know, like some of the elevation stuff is nine minutes. And some of the Bethel stuff is nine minutes, whatever it’s like no way or Hillsong. So you got to chop up the songs, it’s a little more work upfront, and then you can put it into an Ableton session. And you can have full flexibility. So it’s fully flexible. And it’s more powerful. You can do a lot of automations. And it can control your lyrics and your lighting if you’re into those types of things. So Ableton Live is like more work, more technical expertise necessary, but you can have much more flexibility. And so our church, we ended up going with the loop community Mac App at first, and then that wasn’t enough flexibility for me, because I’m really picky. I’m like, No, no, no, we got to have the song arrangement just like this. And so we we ended up switching over to Ableton Live. So those are your options for tracks, I’ll put links in the show notes for that. Now, let me get into some of the pros and cons. And then at the end of the episode, I’m going to just share where I think tracks work and where I think tracks don’t work or won’t work for you. So pros and cons. Here we go. Pros, the pros of using tracks is number one, the guide cues, I like having that little robot lady tell my band exactly where we are in the song, okay, it’s wonderful to have a little voice talking in your ear telling you bridge 234 build 234 like, that’s very convenient. And it helps my band never like Get lost, you know, because sometimes in the past, my musicians would like get lost, they would be closing their eyes and worshiping and then they’re like going to the bridge when we’re supposed to be going to a double chorus. So the guide cues is the first Pro. The second pro of tracks is it’s easy musician replacement. Now, at my church, this rarely happens. But if you have people who cancel last minute, you can literally just unmute the track of their instrument and go forward with the service. So this hasn’t really been an issue for us like we’ve never had to, you know, do a last minute unmute, but in the rare chance that it might happen, it’s cool to have that easy musician replacement. The third pro of using tracks is big sound for small teams big sound for small teams. Now, many churches don’t have enough musicians, I get that and maybe you just have a three piece band or a four piece band or a five piece band but you want more oomph to your musical worship. And tracks provide that oomph there’s a lot of sound to work with there, sometimes maybe too much, which we’ll get into later. But that is a pro of having tracks so you can get a bigger sound, even if you just have a small team. The fourth Pro is that you can access specific parts of song so for me as a worship leader, I want to know what the electric guitar player is playing on the album. And I can solo that channel and I can hear exactly the part that the electric guitar player needs to play and I can show it to my electric guitar player and he can learn that part better. So that’s a very helpful thing is to have access to the exact part that the record plays. The next Pro is that it’s more options for your sound guy to work with your sound guy is able to bring up some vocals if the vocals sound too thin on Sunday or bring up some synth patch if like the keyboard player isn’t really hitting the right stuff like you can, you can fill in the sound and the sound guy has more to work with and that’s, that’s a pro and honestly that’s about it for the pros like that’s all the pros that I can think of with tracks. Now let me give you the cons the things that I really disliked about using tracks and And then I’ll tell you where I landed with all this. Okay, so here are a list of cons. Again, I’m not trying to say one way is better than the other because little teaser alert, we still use tracks sometimes. But here are some of the cons of using tracks. Number one, tracks limit creativity. So at my church, our team, we base our arrangements on the original albums, but we don’t always play them exactly like the record, like the primary parts are there, especially for keys and electric guitar and drums. But we leave a little bit of wiggle room to play with the arrangement, sometimes we’ll change a chord, sometimes we’ll tweak the way that a turnaround sounds or we’ll come up with our own riff after a chorus, right. But when you’re playing to a track, you have to play it exactly like the track, you have no freedom or flexibility to be creative. So the first con about tracks is it limits creativity. The second con is that it limits flexibility. So as a worship leader, I personally love to shepherd my congregation in the middle of a set. And I usually know about where I’m going to say something or pray something, or exhort something, I usually know about where it’s going to go in a song, or in a set, but I don’t know how long I’m going to talk for. And so the idea of like, you only have eight bars to say something really limits my ability as a worship leader, to pastor the people. And I know they’re, like tricky ways around this. But you really have to set up your system in a way that works. So that I’m just gonna say tracks limited flexibility, like how you put it in the computer is how it comes out of the computer. Okay. And if you want to double a chorus, too bad, the track won’t let you okay, if the church is really engaging and worshiping in the bridge, Too bad the track won’t let you now I did an interview with Jeremy riddle recently. And he just said, we just kill the tracks. If if we’re following the Holy Spirit, and he says do the course again, then my tracks person just stops the tracks, and we go without it. And I love that. I mean, that’s more important than following the arrangement. But just know that tracks are going to make you stick to the script. Okay, tracks are gonna make you stick to the script, they’re going to limit your flexibility. Okay, the third con of using tracks is it takes away the need to involve people. Because here’s the thing, when you have a computer to play 18 channels of tracks for you. You don’t need 18 people to do those sounds like you’re just simply unmuting the channel and like, Yeah, I don’t need to find a percussionist anymore, or Oh, no, we don’t have enough electric guitar players in our church. And so instead of raising someone up, I’m just gonna unmute the track. Like that might seem convenient. But that solves a short term problem, yet it causes a long term deficit, okay? When you don’t have to raise up people or train people, because you can just unmute a track, you are creating a long term problem for your church. And remember, the primary role of church leaders Ephesians chapter four, is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. That’s the primary role of a church leader equip the saints for work of ministry not sound like the band who produced the song. That’s not the primary goal of ministry, it’s to raise up people, God cares about people, people being called and equipped and deployed into ministry, we are to find people train people and utilize our people and equip them to serve their church body, right. And when you can just plug those holes in your team with tracks instead of people, you neglect your primary responsibility as a church leader, right? So God gave you the people he wants your church to have as imperfect as they are as sloppy and messy as it can be. Sometimes, God put those people under your leadership, and they’re the ones that he wants you to use to build up the body. And it is your responsibility, my responsibility to equip them and involve them in the service of the saints. So that is a huge con for me is that tracks limit the people necessary to make services happen. And it demotivates you from feeling the need to find and deploy people in ministry. Okay. Fourth con is that I found tracks can not always but they can take away the need for your band to listen tracks can take away the need for your band to listen to one another. So when we started using tracks, especially in the beginning, I noticed that my band, they didn’t listen to each other as carefully as when we were playing without tracks. Because when you’re playing without tracks, it all depends on you and your execution of the part. If you don’t execute it perfectly, it doesn’t come across it doesn’t translate well. Right. And I try to train my musicians to make each note count to be intentional with their dynamics and their musicality while they’re playing. Not just to execute the part like oh, cool, I learned the Part No, but like to really make the part musical to make it sing to make it evoke emotion to make it beautiful and nuanced. Right? And when you don’t have to make that happen of your own one. The track is providing that for you, then you can get sloppy with your dynamics, you can get sloppy, and lazy in your playing, because you’re not listening carefully and making each note count making each drum count making each string count. I mean, everything counts, everything adds up. And so my musicians didn’t listen to each other as carefully as they did when we weren’t using tracks. But that’s not the point of tracks tracks are not supposed to do the heavy lifting tracks are supposed to be supplemental, they’re just supposed to add little ear candy here and there. The fifth con, sorry, listen, I know this sounds negative against tracks. And if your church uses tracks, I just want to say and I’m going to give a spoiler alert, I use tracks to I still do. But I want you to think about these things because they all matter. Okay, but number five con tracks chop up the set, tracks chop up the set. So tracks are the identical clone copies of the original album arrangement of a song. And that means that that song is getting inserted like a block, it’s good just getting dropped into the set without any contextual awareness of what the song before it sounded like, or what the song after it sounded like. But it’s really important that we don’t approach sets as just a whole bunch of songs stuck together. But as a whole cohesive unit, your sets should be beautifully crafted to go on a journey. And that means musically as well. That means that the dynamic of the second song should affect the intro of the third song, or the dynamic of the second song should affect the tone and intensity of the third song, like the songs should relate to one another. But when you’re just dropping in tracks without contextual awareness of what the other songs around it were doing, you can’t build that cohesion into the set because you’re just importing it from whatever the album did. And that’s it. That’s a huge problem. You should be thinking about how your intros and outros flow together, maybe you should be cutting out outros or cutting out intros so that one song flows into the next song better. Like we should really be considering how each song fits into our set. For example, one week, I might do a song with an up chorus. And the next week, because of the song that comes before it, I might do that same song with a down chorus because of where it falls in the set that week. And so again, tracks if you’re not careful, and if you don’t customize it to your set, it can just make it so that every song always gets played the same way. And songs are not meant to be that way. Like you need to do a better job of custom tailoring your sets and custom tailoring your songs and your arrangements to better flow in a set. And you can get my free ebook, head worship ministry training, comm slash resources. I

Alex Enfiedjian 17:44 have a free ebook for you. I think it’s like 50 pages. And you can get that to learn how to build beautiful sets. So grab that worship minister training comm slash resources completely free. I don’t make any money from it. Okay, the next con is that tracks are more work upfront, like instead of just picking songs, printing charts, sending mp3 to your band. And now you also have to build an Ableton session, maybe have to build an Ableton session for that song itself. And then you have to build an Ableton session for this set itself. So you have more work each week up front, and that’s not bad. It’s just reality. Okay, two more three more cons. Okay. The the seventh con is that tracks import another churches sound into your churches, context tracks, import another churches sound into your churches context, because basically, what you’re doing is you’re saying, I’m going to take Bethel, or I’m going to take elevation, I’m going to take Hillsong, I’m going to take vertical worship and what God is doing at their church and the sound that resonates with their church, I’m going to take it and I’m going to bring it into my church, but your church is your church. Your church needs what God is doing in and through you. Your church should sound like your church, not their church. Like what if what they do doesn’t even resonate with your people? What if God wants a unique sound to come out of your unique body, right? Hillsong is Hillsong. Bethel is Bethel, elevation is elevation, but your church is your church. And what does God want your church to sound like? Okay, the eighth con is that at least at my church, and from my experience, using tracks did not increase engagement from our congregation using tracks did not increase participation and engagement from my congregation. It didn’t not even in the slightest. Like, I didn’t see people worshiping more because we had extra strings or extra cents in the songs like they didn’t engage more because there were tracks they engage when there’s great songs lead Well, I have a whole engagement formula on my on my website, but you know, it’s the tracks don’t do much like if you think oh, if we just had tracks my church would worship more I can tell you that is not true. That is possibly a lie. It’s possibly like laziness like oh, we just need this easy fix. Get the tracks people will worship. No people will worship when you help them. see Jesus People will worship when you build engaging song sets that point them to the beauties and glories of Jesus Christ. And when they see Jesus, they will respond. Worship is always revelation then response. So are you revealing Jesus in your songs? Are you revealing Jesus through your times of corporate worship, if you do that, you will see more engagement tracks won’t do it for you, I promise you tracks will not do for you. The last con Okay. And then I’m going to tell you what we do now, and what I think you should do at your church. The last con is that tracks are technically unfeasible for many churches, like some churches just can’t afford to buy the tracks each week, or to buy the computer or to buy the audio interface, or to buy the in ear monitors or to buy the in ear monitors set up in the in ear monitor console or whatever, like, you know, it’s just expensive, right? It’s expensive, and it’s technical. And if you don’t have the money, or the technical know how, or someone who has the money or the technical know how it’s just not feasible. You can’t run tracks with with wedges, you have to have in your monitors, okay, and some churches will never be able to afford that. And I what I want to encourage those churches is you’re not missing out on anything. That’s not the calling of worship leader, you don’t have to have tracks to be a viable worship leader. It’s so important. Like, your job is to minister to the people, your job is to shepherd people to care for people. If you do those things, you’ll be a successful worship leader. So don’t feel discouraged if you’re in a small church, and all you have are wedges. Okay, so those are all the pros and cons that I found in using tracks. And where did I land? Well, I’m going to tell you where I think you should land first. And then I’ll tell you where I landed. So listen, if you’re listening to or watching this episode, and you’re at a mid to large sized church, and if your band already plays well together, that’s a really key phrase. If your band already plays well together, then tracks can enhance that tracks will enhance what’s already going well. But tracks should not be the foundation of your team, they should be the finishing touches the details of your team, they shouldn’t be the ear candy of your team. Tracks are not the foundation of your team, a good band is the foundation of your team.

Alex Enfiedjian 22:13 And if your band doesn’t know how to play well together, if your band doesn’t understand playing in parts, or musical dynamics, and I have episodes on all of those things. Then if your band can play well together, then tracks are just going to add to the noise into the chaos into the mess. Okay, so I would encourage you if your band doesn’t know how to play in parts, if it doesn’t know how to be dynamic, if it doesn’t know how to be musical without tracks. First, focus your attention on teaching your band how to play well together, and then only then add tracks as the icing on the cake. I’ve been at my church for four years. And for two and a half to three years, we just did a lot of work on helping the band listen to each other. Not overplay simplify, play in parts, learn frequency spectrum, we did three years of that. And only now have we added tracks as the icing as the bonus. And now the tracks don’t get in the way of making the band. Great. Okay. So that’s what I would say if you’re in a mid to large church with a good band, then go ahead and add it Okay, foundations first. Now if you’re in a smaller church, I’m going to say, it’s likely going to feel awkward for you to have tracks that make this huge sound. When there’s just three of you on stage, it’s probably going to be awkward, and it’s probably not going to help your church worship more. Plus, if you’re in a small church, you’re probably not full time. And if you’re not full time, you probably won’t have the extra time needed to make the tracks each week. And you probably don’t have the technical staff the sound guys to help you implement the tracks each week. So smaller churches, I’m gonna say probably not medium to large sized churches only if your band is good. And if you have the technical staff to work on the tracks each week. Okay, so those are some thoughts for you. If you’ve been considering if tracks are the cure all answer to your worship team. They are not they are a beautiful and wonderful enhancement. If your band and your tech team are ready for it, but also be prepared to lose a lot of flexibility. Okay, let me tell you where we’ve landed as a church and then we’ll wrap up this episode. So at my church, Calvary Chapel, South Bay in Los Angeles, we use a balanced approach to tracks we use tracks probably 50% of the time, okay, some sets, we use no tracks, zero tracks just click track and pad backing pad. For some sets, we use all tracks, but for most sets, we use a combination of click for some songs and tracks for other songs. And for me, what really determines whether or not I’m going to use tracks is if I know that we always do the arrangement the same way and if the song needs the extra Ohm for the extra electronic sounds to really come across Well, and again, I’m in a very large context, I have a big team. I have a big room, I have a big PA, we have all the lights and all that stuff. And so you don’t really hear the extra fancy sounds. It’s just kind of imperceivable enhancement. And so I’d say that’s important for you to consider like if you’re on a small stage in a small room, and then there’s going to be all this electronic sound coming from no one and nowhere except for the Holy Ghost. It’s kind of weird and distracting. So anyway, I here’s what I just want to say to end this episode. Tracks are wonderful. Use them if you want using if the Lord leads you too. But don’t think you can’t have a successful ministry without tracks. Don’t feel like you’re less or don’t feel like you’re not viable worship leader because your church doesn’t have tracks. God does not care about tracks. Love your people, equip your people. involve your people and help your own church find its own unique sound. And if you do those things, that I believe God will be pleased with your ministry. I love to hear what you think about using tracks. You can tweet at me at W mt podcast on Twitter. Let me know what you think. Be sure to check out our free resources at worship ministry training.com slash resources and God bless you as you serve Him. Jesus loves you. And I love you and I’m here for you if you need anything, visit worship ministries calm and I will see you next month for another helpful episode. God bless Transcribed by https://otter.ai does not care about tracks. Love your people, equip your people. involve your people and help your own church find its own unique sound. And if you do those things, that I believe God will be pleased with your ministry. I love to hear what you think about using tracks. You can tweet at me at W mt podcast on Twitter. Let me know what you think. Be sure to check out our free resources at worship ministry training.com slash resources and God bless you as you serve Him. Jesus loves you. And I love you and I’m here for you if you need anything, visit worship ministries calm and I will see you next month for another helpful episode. God bless