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Interview with Founder of MultiTracks.com

By Barry Westman on August 08, 2012

Barry Westman of All About Worship recently had the opportunity to interview Phillip Edwards, Co-Founder & CEO of MultiTracks.com, about using loops, click tracks, and multi-tracks in church. We hope you find this interview helpful!

Assuming many of our readers may have never used click tracks or loops before, can you start with some general definitions of terms we often hear? What is a click track? A loop? A Multi-track?

I'd be glad to clear this up. A Click Track is the actual click musicians play against to keep in-time. You need in-ear monitors to listen to this and it's the best investment you'll ever make for your worship team. You can use the built-in click from a music software like Ableton Live or a physical device like the TAMA Rhythm Watch to generate a click sound that you send to each musician's in-ear monitor mix.

A Loop is a recorded track of something that loops over-and-over... hence the term "Loop". Typically this is a percussive drum loop or a pad or guitar loop that you can repeat over as you play a song or a section of a song.

A Multi-Track is a collection of all the individual parts or "stems" from a recording. At MultiTracks.com we've removed the hyphen and branded all of our products with the unique spelling of MultiTracks, LiteTracks, LoopTracks, and so forth.

What are some of the main benefits of using clicks/loops with a worship team? How would you use these files with your worship teams? What are the main pitfalls to avoid when using loops?

When I teach classes on this topic at conferences, I typically ask people in the room to speak about the difference they experienced in their team after they added a click track. It's always the same story. There may have been some resistance to the unfamiliar initially, but then everyone changes their tune and then they never want to play without it. It will instantly make everyone play tighter and more consistently and I would recommend every team use a click on every song if you can.

We also use vocal guide cues at my church to count in each song which makes our song entrances very smooth. Once you've added the click to your team, it's easy to turn on any part from the original recording that you might also like to include.

Pitfalls? Be sure to have plenty of click track in your in-ears. This is especially important for the drummer. If you don't spend time to ensure that everyone can hear the click you run the risk of getting off of the tempo which means the live band and MultiTracks will not be in sync. You can always leave the click going and fade back in your support tracks, but this takes a little practice. I recommend spending some time in rehearsal becoming familiar with how to run tracks and it will become an indispensable tool in your worship leaders "tool kit."

What extra equipment would someone need to purchase in order to use these new tools? Is there a certain software program you recommend to utilize these files? Do you need a special license to use these tracks since some of them come from the original master recording?

You can run our LiteTracks from an iPhone/iPod or any music player, so you don't have to purchase something to get started. If you want to run MultiTracks, I'd recommend a Mac or PC computer and fill up the RAM and get it going as fast as you can. Any computer in the last couple years should have no problem running tracks. I've upgraded the internal hard drive of my laptop to 7200 RPM, but that's not essential.

If you don't want your fingers on a laptop on stage, there are literally hundreds of MIDI Devices you can use to trigger your MultiTracks from the stage. You don't need any additional license to use the original master stems for live performance, we've covered that for you.

How can a team maintain a level of flexibility and spontaneity while using clicks? Aren't they locked in to a certain arrangement? What about transitions?

If you're just using a click or a loop, that shouldn't tie you to an arrangement. Even running MultiTracks in Ableton Live can be completely controlled and sections can be looped in real-time, so you are not locked to a certain arrangement.

Personally, we do many songs at my church like the arrangement and then we might "flow" more in the middle or in-between songs. If you're concerned about being locked down, you don't need to be anymore. Ableton Live is very easy to use and totally flexible.

Again, for transitions, I think clicks and guide cues actually tighten things up for your whole band. We'll do a song, or the majority of a song to a click and with some string or synth tracks supporting our live musicians, then we might have a natural breakdown or flow on the chorus or bridge after a song. We can allow that moment to breathe as the band continues to play in time against a click which allows us leave lots of space musically.

The drummer doesn't have to play to keep us in time. Then when it's time to start the next song, the band hears the cue and the count in their in-ears and we're all there on the downbeat. On our worship team we've found that clicks and guide cues make for seamless transitions with fewer distracting stage cues.

I see on your site, MultiTracks.com, you offer several different versions of tracks for songs - MultiTracks, MultiTrack Video, LiteTracks, LiteTrack Video, LoopTracks, and a Rehearsal Mix. Can you explain the difference between those offerings, and how much one can expect to pay for these different versions?

Sure. That's in full detail on our products page on our website, but I'll highlight a few key items for you. MultiTracks are often the original master stems from the artists recordings and these range from $15-$39. These are not your typical accompaniment tracks, it's more like getting the same stems that the artist use when they lead worship at their concerts. It is their whole recording in a laptop for you to add any part you like to your worship team. It's such a cool thing to see artists and music labels really wanting to help churches that want this kind of access to their MultiTracks to help their bands sound as great as the original recording!

LiteTracks are $7 and this is a pre-mixed stereo file that you can throw on your iPod or in any player and the click is on the left side of the stereo mp3 and the "enhancement mix" is on the right. This gives you a mono performance track that has synths, pads, strings and just the sounds that you add to a typical mid-sized band to fill out the sound. We have this with and without Drums and Bass.

Rehearsal Mixes start at $1.29 but you can buy credits in bulk and bring the price down as low as $.79. These are custom listening mixes that you can purchase for your team members to hear their exact part turned up on a recording so they can hear exactly what to play and sing. This will drastically reduce your rehearsal time and help your team prepare before rehearsal.

What sets MultiTracks.com apart from other websites that offer these types of files?

Well, I think the quality of the original masters recordings speak for themselves. I would definitely encourage people to check out the site and we have a lot of free content to get you started. We also have a support staff that really knows what they're doing and how to help you overcome any issues you might face.

It looks like you offer quite a bit of training videos and tutorials at MultiTracks.com, which is great! I watched most of them in preparation for this interview. If people still have questions after watching your videos, do you offer any other kind of training on how to use these files and Ableton?

Sure. We're always updating our training, gear videos, and we offer screen-sharing support if we can't solve your problem via email. I would encourage everyone that Ableton and the system that we've developed for running tracks is not difficult if you plug-in and watch a handful of training videos. It's completely flexible and you'll get it. We've helped thousands of churches get up and going and we hear back consistently about what a difference this has made in their corporate worship.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview! Is there anything else you'd like our All About Worship readers to know about MultiTracks.com? How can they contact you if they have more questions?

Ableton has a 30 day free trial and we have free demo content if you just register for an account with us online. Plus, there is a Free Content section with click tracks and loop tracks that you can download. We've made it really easy to try this out with your team. We're always adding new songs to the catalog and we're definitely here to help any way we can. If you have any questions email us at support@multitracks.com

Here's a short video of Paul Baloche talking about MultiTracks.com:

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Barry Westman

Barry Westman

Barry has served in worship ministry for 20 years, currently serving as Worship Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was born and raised in Minnesota, husband to Tina, and father to three beautiful children - Chad, Emily and Olivia. He usually leads worship from the keyboard and loves to play board games!