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Interview with Matt McCoy from Loop Community

Interview with Matt McCoy from Loop Community

By Barry Westman on April 03, 2013

Matt McCoy is a worship leader and songwriter from Chicago, IL.  He is also the founder of LoopCommunity.com, a resource for churches and worship leaders who create and use click tracks/loops/multi-tracks for worship.  Barry Westman, from the All About Worship team recently had the opportunity to chat with Matt about Loop Community and using loops in general.

Barry:  Matt, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions about Loop Community! First of all, can you tell us how Loop Community got started, and the vision behind it?

Matt:  Loop Community was born out of a need. I'm a worship leader myself and have been using Loops, MultiTracks and Ableton in worship for 10 years. Back in the 'old days', worship leaders had to make all of their own LoopTracks, or find them online in a forum or blog. It was the summer of 2009, and I was on staff as a worship leader at Willow Creek Community Church at the time. On a late Saturday night, I was finishing up some last minute preparations for my worship set. I realized that I still needed a loop for "How Great Is Our God", so I started building one in Reason. I was exhausted and just wanted to go to bed. I kept thinking to myself, "This is crazy. Someone else in the world has probably already made a loop for this song. I shouldn't have to be recording this last minute!"

At that moment it dawned on me - how cool would it be if there was a website where worship leaders could upload and share their worship loops? I pulled out a sticky note and started scribbling down name ideas. I wanted it to be a place where worship leaders shared their creativity and could connect with each other… a community. I built a very simple platform at LoopCommunity.com and started developing Loops for churches and artists. Soon, more worship leaders began to contribute their Loops to the website. In early 2011, the Loop Community team grew and the website was completely re-designed to facilitate the growth. We have an amazing team of people that work hard and make what we do at Loop Community possible. I guess I shouldn't have been procrastinating my worship planning until late Saturday night, but if I hadn't maybe Loop Community wouldn't exist! It's funny because since we've started Loop Community, we've noticed that most Loop downloads happen on Saturday night… I guess everyone has a little bit of procrastination in them. Life of a musician, right?

Barry:  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, loop, multi-track, and what is the difference?

Matt:  I get this question a lot. Some people are afraid to ask, but I totally understand how there could be confusion. It's something that many churches and worship leaders have a growing interest in and there are only a few resources out there.

A click track is essentially an audio file (preferably .WAV) that includes a metronome and band cues (Chorus, 1, 2, 3, 4!). A LoopTrack is an audio file that contains a click track panned LEFT, and Loop audio panned RIGHT. The Loop audio is basically an enhancement track that includes various instruments - drum beats, pads, piano, percussion, strings, etc. The loop will play for the entire arrangement of the song, start to finish, guiding you along the way. A MultiTrack contains the same audio performance as a LoopTrack, but each instrument is separated into individual audio files. This is beneficial because you can then take the MultiTracks and edit them in your own audio software (ProTools, Ableton, Logic, etc). If you don't like the tambourine, you can mute it. If you want to hear more of the drums, you can turn them up! If you want to change the arrangement, slice away!

Barry:  What are some of the main benefits of using clicks/loops with a worship team?

Matt:  There are many benefits of using Loops and MultiTracks in worship. Loops help keep your band together and "tight". Click tracks help keep everyone together and on the same tempo. You'll find that playing to a metronome will raise the performance quality dramatically. Also, because the band can hear the band cues in the click track, everyone knows where in the song arrangement they are going next.

Loops and MultiTracks can also help fill out the sound. For example, a lot of churches don't have a percussion player, or a violin player. If that's the case, Loops can help add sounds that aren't easy to replicate on stage on a Sunday morning.

A lot of churches are missing musicians, or the musicians they do have may need a little support. Loops and MultiTracks can help add to the sound of a live band. If you're missing your piano player this weekend, you can use a MultiTrack and play along with the piano track!

Loops and MultiTracks can really help raise the bar of excellence with your worship band on Sunday morning.

Barry:  Loop Community is unique among similar websites in that the content is mainly created and provided by its members. Is that right? Can you describe how that process works, and also what you do to maintain a standard of quality in all of the uploaded loops?

Matt:  Yes. The entire point of Loop Community is the "community" aspect. It's a ministry really. All of the content is created by worship leaders, for worship leaders. This ensures that content on Loop Community is intended for use in a church worship service. A worship leader, just like you, probably created it for their own church worship service. This means that most of the time, the key and arrangement is congregation-friendly. We have hundreds of faithful Loop contributors that consist of worship leaders from all over the world. Additionally, Loop Community provides another stream of income for worship leaders and musicians, because every time their track sells, the contributor gets paid. When you purchase a Loop on Loop Community, know that you are also supporting artists around the world.

It's very important to us that Loops are consistent. When a Loop is uploaded, our team does a quality check and makes sure that there are band cues for the entire song. We spend time prepping the individual MultiTracks and LoopTracks for download. We also provide our contributors with free templates to help them build Loops for the website. The beauty of Loop Community is the variety of tracks. You can search for "Cornerstone" and have 10 different flavors to choose from!

Another extremely important factor is that every Loop and MultiTrack on Loop Community is properly licensed. This means that songwriters and publishers are getting paid for their work.  The problem with blogs and forums from the "old days", is that people were not legally sharing Loops. It is very important to Loop Community that we are moral and ethical in this. Also, as a songwriter myself, I fully understand the importance of supporting the artist and their work.

If you produce and make your own Loops and MultiTracks, consider becoming a contributor at Loop Community. Upload your tracks and get paid every time they sell! In turn, you are also helping resource churches all over the world. Our contributors are making a huge difference and we couldn't do it without them.

Barry:  I see you recommend using Ableton Live to utilize your tracks and loops. What is Ableton Live and how is it used in worship ministry in conjunction with your loops?

Matt:  There's a lot of music software out there, but the best in my opinion is Ableton. I became an Ableton Certified Trainer in 2011 and am not saying this just because of that… I really believe it. Ableton is powerful for recording and making your own music (Loops), but also in playing those Loops at church on Sunday morning. Ableton provides an excellent way to be spontaneous with Loops and arrangements. You can use Ableton to change the key or tempo of the loop, on the fly. All of our products are specifically designed to work seamlessly with Ableton, or any DAW of choice.

Barry:  One of the main concerns I hear with using loops is that it’s going to lock you into a certain arrangement, or you will lose the ability to be spontaneous. How can a team maintain a level of flexibility and spontaneity while using clicks?

Matt:  No problem. By using Ableton, you can still achieve spontaneity in your worship set. For years, I've used a MIDI foot controller which allows me to jump around on-the-fly to different sections of the song… Verse, Bridge, Chorus. Ableton has built-in features that allow me to do this with ease. We have plenty of Free Training videos on the Loop Community website if you want to learn more about custom loop arrangements in Ableton. However, consider how often you really change the arrangement of a song? I think for the most part, worship leaders end up doing songs in the same arrangement every time anyways - so I personally prefer to set my preferred arrangement ahead of time and not worry about it during the worship set. This is something I've been doing much more of recently. But if you choose to be spontaneous, Ableton is definitely the weapon of choice.

Barry:  It looks like training is a huge part of what you do.  Can you describe what you offer for helping someone learn how to use loops and the tools needed to use them?

Matt:  Loop Community exists to help equip the church in how to utilize Loops and MultiTracks in worship services. Our website has a free Training Center, loaded with tutorial videos. We also offer on-site personal training for churches where we will come to your church and help your team learn how to make their own loops and implement them into a worship service. One-on-One training via Skype screen share is also a popular option. Loop Community has a talented team of Certified Trainers that can help you learn how to use Ableton, ProTools, Reason, Garageband, MainStage, and Logic in your worship services. If you're interested, check out loopcommunity.com/personal-ableton-training

Barry:  Technology is always changing; what new developments and innovations are new or coming that will help worship leaders use loops effectively?

Matt:  There are a lot of great tools out there that help worship leaders use Loops and MultiTracks in worship. One of the most recent is the Ableton Push, which is the perfect tool for worship leaders who want to create their own Loops and music in Ableton. We also have some exciting things coming from Loop Community that I think will really help people use Loops, both beginners and experts. Stay tuned.

Barry:  How much does all this cost? What equipment do I need to buy to get started? How much can I expect to pay for a loop on Loop Community? What if I need a loop for a song that you don’t have?

Matt:  People sometimes see my pedal board and instantly get overwhelmed by all of the pedals and gadgets I have. Let me just say that I have all of that because I am an electronic music nerd. So no worries. If you have an iPod or MP3 player, and download some LoopTracks from Loop Community, you can use Loops THIS weekend in your church service.

When I travel to lead worship, all I bring is my laptop and a MIDI foot controller because I prefer to travel light. I use my headphone jack for audio output, and plug into two direct boxes. One for CLICK and one for LOOPS. Then I use Ableton to playback all of my LoopTracks and MultiTracks. If you don't want to use Ableton, you could use an MP3 player, or iTunes on your laptop to play the LoopTracks. You don't need much to get started. We offer a Free loop on Loop Community every month.

If you want to purchase a loop, we offer 3 different options.

LoopTrack - $9.99

This is the ClickTrack panned Left, and the Loop panned Right.

MultiTrack - $19.99

Each instrument is delivered as a separate audio file. Great for re-mixing and customization.

Creation File - $14.99

This is the actual session file that was used to create the Loop. Contains MIDI data so you can change the sounds if you have the same software that was used by the creator.

If you need a Loop for a song that you can't find on Loop Community, we have an amazing team of producers that can make it for you! Check out http://loopcommunity.com/custom-products

Barry:  Thanks, Matt, for taking the time for this interview! Is there anything else you'd like our All About Worship readers to know about Loop Community? How can they contact you if they have more questions?

Matt:  Thanks for having me. The Loop Community team has some great things planned for this next year and we hope that you join this community of worship leaders today. It's free to join! We're building something great together. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at info@loopcommunity.com

Disclosure: The LoopCommunity links above are a part of an affiliate program. A small percentage of any purchases made through them will help the ministry of All About Worship.

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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!

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