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Tuesday 6 October 2009

Power Music Review – Worship Music Management Software - Cambron Software

I've been meaning to sit down and write a review of Power Music for some time and I’ve finally found time to do it.

In case you haven't heard of it already, Power Music is music management software sold by Cambron Software, a Christian software company in Scotland.

One of the great things about Power Music is it has been developed by worship musicians who use the software in their worship teams week in week out. This has allowed them to try it out and make lots of improvements to the software whenever they think of a new feature that would be helpful.

The good news is version 2.0 has just become available and it has lots of exciting updates, which make Power Music even more attractive to worship leaders. I've been privileged to be asked by the founder of Cambron Software to test and suggest improvements to the software over the last year or so. This has given me the opportunity to request features that I can personally benefit from when simply playing guitar in my lounge as well as to suggest improvements that will benefit worship teams who use this software when leading the musical worship in their churches.

If you're still wondering exactly what Power Music is let me try to explain in simple terms:

Power Music lets you manage your sheet music, chord charts, lyrics and audio files in one easy to use program.

Why is it called Power Music? I think it's because once you have imported and created your chord charts you are given power in the form of control over your songs:

•    You can transpose the key of your chord charts by simply selecting a different key and instantly the chords update to the new key.

•    You can search for songs in a variety of ways (see below for more on this).

•    You can easily create play lists and then change them on the fly.

•    You can link MP3s to songs so that when you're practicing you don't have to close the program and go and find that track to remember how the song goes - you can simply click 'play' while viewing your music full screen and listen to the track from there.

•    You can also easily print lyric sheets for your house group using the song sheet print facility.

•    If you also purchase the foot pedal you can switch pages on screen without needing to touch your keyboard - this is great for those of us who play instruments as it allows us to play whole sets without needing to stop between songs to switch pages.

•    There are loads more features, too many to mention.

I asked the guys at Cambron Software to list their favourite 4 features and they came up with the following:

1) Instant page turning (either by pressing a key or stepping on the foot pedal)

2) Instant transposition of chord sheets.

3) Display sheet music and chord sheet side by side - choose to display chord sheet, sheet music or both.

4) Edit the play list on the fly – eliminates awkward signals between band members, the next song just appears on the screen.

5) Extensive search – apart from the usual title, first line you can also search by text, melody, category and author.

When using Power Music as a worship team each member of the band has a screen of their own. This means that the worship leader can control everything centrally and be sure that everyone is on the same page. Of course if you wanted some members to be able to control their screen independently then you can do this too - you just set up a separate laptop/computer rather than running multiple screens from one computer.

One of my favourite features is something that I personally requested. It's the ability to import songs from a PDF document that contains multiple songs. The reason I asked for this is that I purchased a CD from Soul Survivor, here in the UK, which contained the chord sheets for over 800 songs but rather than each song being packaged in a separate file they were all packaged together in one very large PDF file. This made it almost impossible to manage as I couldn't search for a song and the file was so large that my computer struggled to scroll down when browsing through the list.

The solution is the PDF import feature that now exists in Power Music. From within Power Music you can open your PDF file and select which songs to import. You specify which page(s) to import and fill out the title and first line of the song. You then click 'Import' and that song is now in your library. The whole process only takes about 30 seconds to import a song. I've gone through and imported about 250 songs from the 800+ and I can now easily create play lists and search for songs - brilliant! The PDF import feature is mainly intended to allow you to import sheet music but this was a great bonus use for it! The only downside is you can't transpose the chords from a PDF import, as it's not text based - it essentially just grabs the screen and converts it to an image.

Another neat feature is that Power Music tracks usage of each song over time, which can be very helpful when completing copyright license reports, like CCLI reports for example.

I'd encourage you to watch Power Music in action in the video below:

Cambron Software has made a trial of the software available free of charge which gives you a risk free way to try it out. The trial allows you to import a maximum of 5 songs but gives you a good idea of the features and control that you'll get when you upgrade to the full version (which only costs £49.45 (about $80) for a single license or £126.50 (about $200) for 5 licenses).

Download your free trial here.

Or purchase the full version here.

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