While music has become more accessible, that convenience has come at a sacrifice to recording quality, and the METAlliance is trying to change that. “Un-Block The Music” attended the Audio Engineering Show (AES) in New York and sat in on the panel which was headed by the METAlliance founding members, top engineers and producers, Al Schmitt, Chuck Ainlay, Ed Cherney, Elliot Scheiner, Frank Filipetti and George Massenburg. If you don’t recognize those names, PLEASE GOOGLE. Al Schmitt alone has 20 GRAMMYs I believe and a couple of Latin GRAMMYs as well. And Eilliot Scheiner, who has several GRAMMYs of his own, is your man for Surround Sound!
The METAlliance encourages producers, engineers and audio technology manufacturers to work together to ensure the highest standards of audio production. Alongside platforms for research and development, standardization and education, the METAlliance also works closely with manufacturers to evaluate and certify products that offer the highest levels of quality in the recording chain. To date, only a limited number of products have achieved this distinction. To learn more about METAlliance Certified products, go to: http://www.metalliance.com/category/news/certifications/
Al Schmitt said, all equipment that is endorsed has been approved by the whole METAlliance. “If one person says no…it’s no. We made some really good recommendations and will continue doing that.”
While each producer and engineer has their own techniques, George Massenburg said, “we agree on much more than we disagree on. We find that we have a better impact as a group. Credibility lives here.”
Elliot Scheiner said, “we have been worried that the craft of creating music is disappearing. When I grew up I had a mentor who taught me how to create music (in a studio).”
Frank Filipetti said, that during the course of his career, he was privileged to work with people like George Michael, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Korn. Not only did he appreciate their work, but they appreciated his. In the last 10 years or so, he has seen that “the work that I do is not as appreciated by the industry as it used to be. On the other hand, when we do our master classes, the kids are really interested in the craft and they do appreciate the quality.”
Chuck Ainley said his mentors were sitting next to him on the panel. “I learn every time we hang out.” However, at a young age, he would bring home a record, listen to it, and say “that sounds really really good; a lot better than others. I would look at the credits on it. I would get another album and the same things would happen. The records I thought always sounded good had Al Schmitt’s name!” As time went on, he continued to find records produced by all of those sitting on the panel!
Frank said he was blessed to be mentored by two of the most talented producers the world has ever seen…Peter Asher and Phil Ramone. Frank worked in a studio when Peter Asher came in to work on the film version of “Pirates Of Penzance.” He brought along the engineer he was working with at the time, Niko Bolas (Boz Scaggs, Toto). “The next thing I knew, he took me to London with him to do the post production on the film, and he recommended me to Foreigner. I had my first hit record with ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’. From there on, my career took off.”
“The next great fortune,” Frank said, ‘was Phil Ramone in the middle 1990s. Phil took me to whole other levels. Suddenly, he had me doing Broadway shows. He took me to Italy every year to do the ‘Pavarotti and Friends’ shows. He had me working with orchestras. I was doing things I never would have dreamed.”
George gives a lot of credit to Phil Ramone as well whose records, he said, had a “stunning quality. Before Phil, I thought technology would make a good record, I hadn’t learned about musicianship. It took me a while to learn.” Linda Ronstadt, George said, also taught him how to listen to a song, pay attention to the story and figure out how a voice would fit into a key.
If this discussion has whet your appetite to learn from the masters, the METAlliance is presenting its 2019 immersive recording workshop February 2 & 3 at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. Every attendee will participate in four sessions, each designed to provide different experiences in the recording process and led by the founding members.
For more information, go to: http://www.metalliance.com/metalliance-academy-registration-form/
Sidebar: Phil Ramone
The late Phil Ramone was also a founding member of the METAlliance. Phil, who passedaway in 2013, spent 50 years in the music industry. He was the first famous producer I ever interviewed, and not only was he an incredible talent he was an incredibly nice man.
ccording to Billboard, he won 14 GRAMMY Awards. His first GRAMMY win came in 1964 for engineering the breakthrough bossa nova album “Getz/Gilberto”; Billy Joel’s “52nd Street” won album of the year for 1979 and in 1982 became the first pop CD ever released; and in the year for which he won producer of the year, 1980, his productions included Chicago, Paul Simon and Joel.
Ramone also pioneered the use of a fiber optics system to record from different studios, using the system to record Frank Sinatra’s last albums, “Duets” and “Duets II.” The first Grammy for surround sound went to Ramone to Ray Charles’s “Genius Loves Company.” That album of duets also won album of the year.
To learn more about Phil, go to