All posts by Jacob Lopez
How To: Using OneTrack for Live Music Shows
OneTrack is a great app for musicians who want to take their performance to the stage (review). Here's a quick guide to help those bands get started.
First, bounce live versions of the songs down for play. The best way to do this is to mute the vocals and any other elements that will be performed live, such as guitars or synth parts. Drums are best left in, but much of that depends on the drummer's skill level and how much control they want over their sound. For most drummers, it's best to leave drums in as is, especially if the music relies heavily on loud 4/4 kick beats (at the very least, leave the kick drum in). This is all done in the DAW (digital audio workstation) and depends highly on the software the band uses to compose and record music.
It's also nice to give the drummer a separate click track to help them stay on the beat. An off-beat drummer will completely ruin the show. This is done in the bounce stage within the DAW, and depends highly on the software the band uses to create music. The person responsible for bouncing the live tracks will have to hard pan the click to the left and the music to the right.
The right channel will feed directly to the PA. This is what the audience is supposed to hear. The left will feed to the drummer's headphones. This helps them keep the beat and lead into each song.
After bouncing all live versions of the tracks, the next step is importing the songs to the iOS device. Add all the songs to iTunes and sync them to the iOS device as if adding any artist or playlist to the iPhone or iPod touch.
It's best to add all of the band's songs to the device. Once imported, the band can decide on a playlist for the show. It's always cool do make a few playlists in the app.
The screen below shows the OneTrack playlists screen. The example below shows a sample playlist in progress. The top-right corner shows the total playtime so far, which is 12-minutes in this case.
The "Austin Show" was a special show, so it had its own playlist, but it's good to make a few playlists. Perhaps two 30-minute variations, a 45-minute one and a one-hour set.
Hit the plus sign on the top-left corner and name the new playlist. I would likely go with "30-minute set - 1."
Select a few great songs for the band to play (30 minutes isn't a lot!) and tap the plus sign on the right column. Selected song titles will fade to grey:
There is room for several more songs. Do keep in mind that it's worth adding a count-in to songs (below):
The count-in is basically the quiet space between songs (It's most useful if the band doesn't want to be tethered to the iOS device to queue up the show track-by-track). For instance, a five- to 15-second count-in time is ideal. Don't go too long, or there will be a long, awkward silence between songs. On stage, a few seconds can feel like a long time. It can also add unnecessary dead air to and otherwise great live performance. It's best to make count-ins just long enough for the band to introduce the song, "This next one is called .... " and take a sip of water if needed.
When at the venue, and ready to set up, plug into the mixer. IK Multimedia has a couple of cool cables for this: RCA Output Adapter (right) and Mono Output Splitter (below). Anything similar should work. I carry both, because I never know what the venue will be equipped with.
The mono output splitter looks something like the one below.
A very basic setup should look something like this:
Turn on airplane mode if using an iPhone!
I prefer for the drummer to control the backing tracks, because they are sitting in one spot for the most part, and the drum set kind of covers them. This helps keep the iPhone or iPod touch out of view. It's not a bad thing, but it kind of takes the audience out of the show for a second if they see the band queuing up the next song.
It's important to keep in mind which channel is which as to not accidentally feed the click track to the PA system. Otherwise, the band's epic show will kick off with "click - click - click - click." Not a good first impression. Check, and double-check. Ask for a soundcheck if possible (before the crowd arrives) and leave things plugged in as is after soundcheck. Bands don't always get to do this, but it's nice to make sure things are running smoothly. I usually have a cheesy TV theme song intro, so that the front of house person can adjust levels before my music starts.
Once the music starts blaring through the PA, the show is on. Have fun, and don't mess up too badly!