There are a ton of digital chord charts for you to choose from, but the OnSong and Music Stand apps are the two best options for worship leaders. In this article, I'll weigh some of the pros and cons of using each one so that you can make the best decision for your ministry team.
The Music Stand app is an add-on to your Planning Center Services subscription which makes it really easy to stay in their ecosystem.
I've been using them for a very long time to:
Plan out my worship gatherings every single weekend
Resource my musicians with charts as well as MP3 files
Build out my song library
Music Stand Features
Sync with Planning Center
Since this app was developed with Planning Center, it automatically syncs with your Planning Center account. You'll be able to view your weekly set list, plans and click on a song to pull up the chord charts.
2. Play MP3 files while using your digital chord chart
In Planning Center, you can link the MP3 file of the song to the chord chart and play it while you go through, and it’s a great way for your other musicians to practice the songs at home.
3. Annotate songs
There are lots of great annotation features built into this app.
Highlight sections of the song with different colors
Jot down notes
Save all your annotations and access them whenever
Planning Center is a subscription-based software and you can select the plans and services that fits your church.
I’ve included some of the pricing breakdowns below:
Free: If you only have five members, then this will work for you.
Just Music Stand App: $5 a month.
Planning Center + Music Stand: $16
There are a lot of similarities between OnSong and Music Stand, but I think OnSong has an edge over Music Stand because creating a chord chart is its main thing. Not just an add-on feature.
Organize your songs
You can get to a greater level of organizing your song assets by arranging them into sets and books.
Import set lists
If you create a grouping of songs on Planning Center, you can sync it with OnSong.
Select Planning Center > Select what service I want > Import > Update
Reformat your chord chart for easy readability
This is where I think OnSong starts to shine brighter than Music Stand. You can turn the font size and brightness, bold the chords and change the text color.
Send messages to your band through the app
It also has a really strong communication feature for talking to the rest of your band members. If you’re on the same wifi network, you can send them commands like “Start” and “Stop.” I think this is a great way to communicate with them in the middle of a service.
5. Add midi functions
OnSong has some cool features when it comes to being able to use midi communication to change the song that you're seeing in your app. Using Ableton Live, you could put a midi queue at the beginning of each song that then maps to the appropriate song within OnSong.
Musicians would never have to touch their iPad throughout worship
The app would automatically flip to the right song
You could even get it to scroll to the right section of a song.
This is a really powerful feature, and I think it gets a little crazy. Personally, I think that instead of setting up the midi automation, you could just memorize the chords and lyrics to your music.
At the end of the day, both are great apps..
If you’re just looking for a simple cord chart, go with Music Stand (like I do)
If you’re interested in an app with more technical capabilities, try out Onstage.
If you need some more training for how to use apps like Planning Center, how to prepare chord charts and other practice resources for your worship ministry, then check out Worship Leader School.
We've got a large set of online courses library to teach you:
✅How to create efficient systems and processes
✅How to resource your band well
✅How to improve in your pastoral responsibilities
✅You’ll even get access to my team for real time support and coaching
We have the resources, classes and community to help you reach your fullest potential as a worship leader. So check out Worship Leader School so you can grow yourself and your ministry.