Meyer, Stoll and Wyte are behind-the-scenes secrets of holiday CDWritten by Jay Hathaway | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With the purchase of the “Holiday Wishes 3” benefit CD, listeners will get the chance to sample some of Toledo’s finest musicians, all of whom donated their time and creativity.
With all proceeds going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana, many artists and media personalities wanted to get involved in the benefit project. With a project this size — two discs and 45 tracks — quite a bit of coordination and studio time is required to produce an album with a coherent flow.
Behind every ambitious project are men and women who work behind the scenes to make sure things run smoothly and come together as intended. In other words, there is a lot more to producing any album — let alone one this size — than just playing songs.
For “Holiday Wishes 3,” three of those behind-the-scenes gurus have been a part of the project since its beginning in 2011. Christopher Stoll and Mighty Wyte returned to take care of recording and mixing duties while attorney Larry Meyer secured music licensing.
Stoll, owner/engineer at Audioflare Recording Studio in Holland, handled recording about 20 tracks for the CD.
Stylistically, the tracks range from jazz, pop and vocal to choir and funk, including artists like Ramona Collins, Ear Candy and Voodoo Libido.
“[There were] all these very interesting groups that haven’t recorded before to groups that I’ve worked with before,” Stoll said. “I like the variety. It keeps it interesting to me.”
Stoll, like others involved in the project, donated his studio time and mixing talents free of charge. He said he is glad to be able to make a contribution to such a noble cause.
“It’s very satisfying to be able to work with so many people for a good purpose,” he said. “Every single person that I work with is always just very gracious with their time and very patient making sure everything is right.”
Additionally, he finds that the project presents a personal challenge to him as an engineer, which is something he relishes.
“For me, I just try to do something better every time, and try to outdo myself, if I can,” Stoll said. “I’m kind of obsessed with trying to figure it out and get the right sound for things.”
While it’s no secret that a fair amount of studio work goes into a recording project, other less obvious, but nonetheless vital, tasks must be attended to as well.
On any compilation album with cover songs — songs recorded by performers other than the original artists — a certain amount of legal and licensing work must be done in order to ensure no copyrights are violated.
This is where Larry Meyer steps in.
Meyer is a partner at Manahan, Pietrykowski, DeLaney & Wasielewski. Though music law is not technically his specialty, he has fine-tuned his knowledge and skills in the field, often traveling to attend seminars on the subject and further educate himself.
“I wish I could practice nothing but music law, but the reality in this market is that is unlikely to occur,” Meyer said.
For “Holiday Wishes 3,” Meyer obtained “mechanical licensing,” which grants permission to use cover songs.
Meyer said the Harry Fox Agency represents a vast majority of music publishers, and that most songs can be licensed through them. However, some are represented elsewhere, which can present problems in tracking down the applicable publisher.
“It can be easy, but it can also be very difficult,” Meyer said. “You look it up, you find information on a website, and you find out that the information is stale. They’ll give you the name of a publishing company, only to find out that the company no longer exists or the rights have been sold.
“It can take a fair amount of time to unravel and uncover the appropriate publisher. If you’re lucky, one publisher controls all the songs.”
Though many compositions are open for free use, that area can also be tricky, Meyer said.
“Part of the confusion sometimes with holiday music is that if it’s old enough, it will fall under public domain,” he said. “However, it is conceivable for someone to copyright a unique arrangement for a song.”
Meyer, a musician with the band Old State Line, has been involved music fundraising events such as Raise Some Cash, and said that is what led Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller to request his services.
“Michael rang me up — I think I was recommended by a mutual friend — and the whole thing just seemed like a good fit. I had performed similar projects before, specifically for the Toledo Jazz Orchestra,” he said.
Meyer said that, despite occasional difficulties, he was happy to donate his time and know-how to the project.
“Michael’s enthusiasm for the project was pretty overwhelming, and Make-A-Wish is pretty easy to get behind.”
Mighty Wyte, a sound engineer, producer, and musician based in Point Place, is familiar with the intricacies of making music sound “just right.” He was put in charge of taking all the recordings given to him from various sources, and making them gel together coherently.
“I put everything together, trim the tracks, then make sure, from track to track, that everything sounds consistent,” Wyte said. “Basically, it’s just quality control on my end. It’s not mastering, per se, but what I’m doing is making sure that everything makes sense.”
Considering that he had to deal with nearly 50 songs recorded in many different places, it seems that a laborious task was set in front of Wyte.
“When dealing with that large of a volume, I didn’t have that much time to pay attention to [the songs], other than correcting what needed to be corrected,” he said. “We had like 40 or 50 tracks, and it was my job to turn it around in, basically, two days.”
Wyte used equalizing software to adjust frequencies, and went through each track to trim dead space off the front and back, maximizing space for songs on the CD.
“My portion of putting together the CD is probably the least glamorous,” he said.
Wyte is also a Toledo Free Press contributor.
Miller said the project would not happen each year without the three men.
“They’re the dream team,” Miller said. “To find people who can do the many things I can’t do, and to have them understand the charitable aspect, is overwhelming and wonderful. Each of them is indispensable.”
Like Stoll and Meyer, Wyte said that he looks forward to seeing “Holiday Wishes 3” raise money for a good cause, and to future opportunities to get involved.
“We have a pretty good system down now, and there’s any shortage of people to contribute,” he said.
Tags: attorney Larry Meyer, Audioflare Recording Studio, Christopher Stoll, Ear Candy, Holland, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mighty Wyte, Ramona Collins, Toledo Jazz Orchestra, Voodoo Libido, “Holiday Wishes 3” CD