You No Longer Require An Entire Praise Team – Allow Multitrack.com or Rehearsal Mix to Fill In!
The website MultiTracks.com has been around since 2006. However, I just recently learned of this company and was blown away by the possibilities of their simple concept. There’s not a contemporary music ministry globally who can’t benefit from MultiTracks.com or RehearsalMix.com.
Please stay with me for a moment while I define the core concept of MultiTracks.
When a song is recorded, it contains many different layers of instrument and vocal parts. As a solo songwriter, I usually record an entire song by myself. I begin with a scratch recording of myself playing one instrument and singing. Once I establish the tempo, I begin recording the song one instrument at a time. Perhaps I’ll begin with drums, then the many guitar parts, bass, multiple keyboard layers and vocals. Most recording engineers use a separate track (or recording) for each instrument. Therefore, the individual drums (snare, drums, and toms) will each get a separate track. I could easily, and often do use, over ten tracks just for the drums. I may record a guitar part which, when played live, would be me alone. However, in the studio, I may record two to three different chord-inversion tracks, which is perceived as one guitar to the average listener. MultiTracks.com has gone back to the original recordings and extracted all of the original tracks, offering them as individual isolated parts. They will recombine the drums (combining all drum tracks to a single track is called a stem) to a single track or stereo track, then offer separate tracks for each one of the guitars, bass, etc.
So how does that benefit your praise team?
Let’s assume you only have a guitarist and three vocalists on your team because you are starting a worship team or are part of a very small church. With MultiTracks.com you can now perform live with whoever is available and turn on ONLY the tracks you require. Just activate a click track in your ear monitors if you have them and allow the congregation to enjoy a high production sound with only a few praise team members. Many of these recording are taken directly from the recording studio. They’re well produced and very high quality.
When I first heard of MultiTracks.com, I completely missed the concept and licensing for the product. My thought was I could purchase the MultiTracks recording, breakout the tracks myself, and distribute them among my praise team. I saw the benefit of pulling individual tracks so they are isolated from the rest of the music. That is actually the next step of what MultiTracks.com offers through Rehearsal Mix, and I will be describing it in the next article of this series.
The following excerpt is from an interview of Phillip Edwards, CEO of MultiTracks.com, from his office in Austin, Texas. I asked Phillip, “How did you come up with the idea to offer MultiTracks in this format?”
“I was serving on a worship team back in 2005 here in Austin, Texas, and was traveling and leading worship at a number of churches. A few of the small churches I served were missing essential musicians like bass and drums. There were times when it was just me alone on keyboards with a handful of vocalists. I began to record and introduce accompaniment tracks to fill in the gaps. It made a significant difference in the sound and the overall worship experience. So I called a friend in New York who was producing records for different artists. We began to think through the idea of starting what became MultiTracks.com today.
“I thought it would be a great idea to use tracks from the original recordings to fill in those gaps. I was certain others had had the same idea over the years, but technology couldn’t support the idea until then. The timing was right. In 2005, computers were getting faster, software was becoming more powerful, and things were working well enough in a laptop environment that it could really work.
“We raised the capital, built a number of our own recordings, and launched it at a series of summer conferences. We partnered first with Integrity Media in 2007, and then continued to build other relationships with labels and artists who shared the same vision to resource the church in this way.”
MultiTracks can be used to fill in for missing or non-existing members, but should never be used to produce a new mix. A new mix would be a recording which is different from the original. Why does that matter? Phillip explains, “If you were to go iTunes and purchase the song ‘Jesus at the Center,’ you may notice additional instrumental mixes, and those instrumental mixes are separately priced and purchased. Just because you purchased the original, it does not allow you an unlimited amount of changed recordings. Our initial license from the record company for MultiTracks was for use in a live performance and it’s a single site license. You can solo a part in rehearsal to teach a part, but if you export it out, you are creating what’s called a new derivative work. There is no license which covers that activity, which is why we created Rehearsal Mix.”
The cost of a MultiTracks recording can add up quickly if it’s not part of the church’s annual budget. Additionally, if you don’t have DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) type software, using MultiTracks live will be a challenge. You are not allowed to create separate mixes to a CD of your MultiTracks recording using your own software with the standard license, but you can do this through their “Custom Mix” platform, which is reasonably priced at $12 per song. You must play the tracks you require directly from a DAW (preferable from a laptop), and they recommended you run it from the stage—think of it like another instrument. Therefore, you must create your automation, mix, eq, and volume levels in the DAW, and play it back during your live performance. For a small church, “Custom Mix” is a great place to start. It simplifies the learning process and eliminates the cost of additional software. You can make an individual mix of each song online then create a single custom mix designed specifically for your needs at about a third of the cost. However, if you decide to change it at another time, you must remix and pay an additional fee.
MultiTracks offers the click track used from the original studio master. Some musicians do not have the timing or want to follow a click track. I will begin a trial and error with my praise team. It’s not just a click track, but includes a voice which will act as a “cue guide” for the team announcing, intros, verses, choruses, bridges, chorus repeats, etc. Phillip said, “The guide cue is something we have recorded and added on our part, and we make the guide cues available for free at MultiTracks.com. For those who are interested in knowing, her name is Beth. She serves on my praise team and started at MultiTracks as an Administrator. Someone on our team named the guide cue RoboBeth one Sunday, and it stuck, but you can name the guide cue whatever you like!”
I believe the musical services offered by MultiTracks and Custom Mix could be an integral tool for every praise team. They offer One-to-One Skype training for purchase, which is great if you’re new to this concept. I wish they had human tech support instead of email only. However, they are responsive and diligent to solve your problems and questions. Other than that, I give them five out of five stars and highly recommend them.
Part Two of this series will explain Rehearsal Mix. An additional tool which provides the music director with the ability to distribute vocal or instrumental with an individual part or track turned way up. It’s a little bit more complicated, but well worth the learning curve.
No additional CCLI licensing (other than the standard) licensing is required to perform with tracks available from MultiTracks.com.