Ableton Live in Worship Tutorial - Controlling ProPresenter with Ableton Live

The ultimate video guide to controlling ProPresenter with Ableton Live.

The Problem - Late Lyric Slide Cues

It's 2016. It's almost insulting that we still need to ask a volunteer to sit behind an iMac and press the "next" button for our lyrics presentation software. When they do their job right, no one notices them, and when they mess up, everyone hates them. Soon after I started using Ableton, I heard about the capability to control lyrics in ProPresenter. It sounded great but it also sounded too complicated to prep for every week.

Finally, I decided I wanted to up my game as a worship leader by increasing excellence in our worship service, so I decided to go all in and learn how to automate worship slides. I was tired of getting frustrated at my ProPresenter volunteers. I was tired of my pastors pointing out the fact that the ProPresenter cues were late.

The other problem - No good online tutorials

It took me MANY hours to learn how to control ProPresenter with Ableton Live. Sure, there are a lot of free tutorial videos on Youtube, but none of them told me everything I needed to know to make it work. I had to piece information together from multiple sources to make it work.

Since learning this skill has made such a huge impact on my worship ministry, but the process of learning was so difficult, I decided it was best to create my own online course that would serve other as the ultimate video guide to controlling ProPresenter with Ableton Live.

If you are sick of late lyric slides in ProPresenter, and if you are already familiar with ProPresenter, then this online course is for you. You can enroll in the online course by clicking the button below. Before enrolling in the video tutorial, you can check out the rest of this blog post that shows you the process via screenshots. The screenshot guide is not nearly as complete, but it will give you an idea of how the process works. The online video course will be your ultimate guide to setting up this automation. Enroll today!

What you will need

  1. A Mac running Ableton Live.
  2. A Mac running ProPresenter.
  3. ProPresenter MIDI Module. Midi is how Ableton will be able to send commands to ProPresenter. You can demo the full functionality of the MIDI Module in ProPresenter, it will just be watermarked until you buy the $99 dollar license.
  4. Wifi Network. This is so you can send the commands to ProPresenter wirelessly.
  5. ProPresenter Midi Template Ableton Project File. Big thanks to Will Doggett from for making this template.

Screenshot Guide

The following screenshot guide below is not nearly has helpful as the video guide above, but it can be useful for a quick reference.

Prepare your lyric slides in ProPresenter

Here is an example of how I try to setup my songs in ProPresenter. A few notes on this.

  • I use only 1-3 lines of text per slide.
  • I don't use ProPresenter's arranger view anymore. You'll see that each slide appears only once, rather repeating sections. The beauty of automating with Ableton is the ability to skip to the appropriate slide at any point in the song.
  • There are no blank slides. Ableton can send "clear" commands, so when we want a blank slide during an instrumental, it can be programmed with a MIDI cue.

Setup the Mac MIDI utility

  • Open the Mac application, Audio MIDI Setup.
  • Under window select MIDI studio. So you should see this.

Select IAC Driver and you'll see this window.

  • Select the "+" button to add an IAC Bus. The IAC Bus is the virtual connection that allows applications to send MIDI commands to one another.
  • Once IAC Bus 1 is created, select the Device is online checkbox.
  • Now you have the capability to communicate via MIDI between different applications on your Mac.
  • Exit the IAC Driver Properties window.

Setup MIDI wifi network

  • If you are running Ableton and ProPresenter on different Macs, which is usually the case, you will need to make it so the two macs can communicate with one another wirelessly.
  • First, make sure the Macs are logged onto the same wifi network.
  • Next, in you Audio MIDI Setup application, in the MIDI Studio Window, select Network.
  • In the MIDI Network Setup window, click the "+" button under My Sessions to add a new session. By default it will create a session named Session 1.
  • Select the Enable checkbox.
  • Rename your Local Name and Bonjour Name (how it will appear to other computers) so your computer is identifiable.
  • Select IAC Driver IAC Bus 1 in the top live routings field.

Setup ProPresenter Communications Module

Now you will have more options in the preferences panel. Select Communications.

In the communications window, select MIDI Setup

  • In this window, make sure the starting note number is 0 and then press autofill. This will ensure that the MIDI commands sent from Ableton, using the Ableton ProPresenter Template, will accurately trigger the right functions in ProPresenter.
  • Press OK
  • Back in the communications window, press Add Device and select MIDI.
  • Press Save
  • Press the little gear next to the connect button on the MIDI device you just created.
  • On the settings window that pops up, make sure IAC Bus 1 is selected under the sources option.
  • Press Save
  • Press the Connect button on the MIDI device so that the red dot turns green.
  • Propresenter is now ready to receive MIDI commands from Ableton.

Add Lyric Cues to Your Ableton Live Session

Finally, you are now ready to send lyric cues from Ableton to ProPresenter. As you can see from the process above, there are quite a few settings you have to have right before this all works. It's a bit of a learning curve understanding how MIDI works and getting these applications to talk to each other. If it isn't working properly, work your way through all of the steps above to confirm that everything is setup properly.