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Taking Things As They Come: The Diverse Career Of Multi-Disciplined Audio Professional Suzy Mucciarone

A journey of embracing every opportunity along with the challenges they may present, wholeheartedly and without reservation.
Suzy Mucciarone wearing one of her many “hats” in handling monitor engineering duties on a concert tour.

“It was moving into the role of a radio production engineer that set the hook for working in live sound. “I saw most of the shows that came through the area, and when we got to the stage where we were doing more outside broadcasts – what they call ‘car park concerts’ – and I got into helping out with all those. That was my first taste of live sound.

“Working in the studio was wonderful but really isolating,” she continues. “So that was part of a slow turn towards live sound that happened over a couple of years.” While that was a path she could have taken in Australia, in order to “get higher up the food chain,” as she puts it, she knew that eventually she’d have to relocate.

That said, her first trip to the U.S. wasn’t predicated on moving lock, stock and barrel to a different continent; rather, it began as a visit, a long-delayed holiday that she and her co-workers had been discussing for nearly a year. “In January 1999 we were comparing stories of what we did on New Year’s Eve. Basically everybody just flaked out. So we were all rather disgusted with ourselves and made a pact to go to Times Square for the millennium. Everybody was gung-ho for a while, but over the year that whittled down to being just me.”

Making The Move

So, Mucciarone headed off to New York City on her own, watched the ball drop to ring in the new millennium, spent a bit of time in the city and also traveled around the state. It was in Manhattan – by way of a chance meeting and conversation in a laundromat with a local audio engineer – that she first heard about New York’s Institute of Audio Research (IAR) – the first of a pair of fortunate coincidences that led her to move to the US permanently. The second was renting a room in the East Village from a woman who turned out to be lifelong friends with the Institute’s founder: “She called him and I got a tour the next day and walked away with a fist full of pamphlets.”

Getting front of house set prior to a concert by the U.S. Army Band show.

After returning to Australia, she assessed her options and decided it was time to move on. Within six months she was back in NYC, enrolled at IAR. “The radio station had changed ownership and had become an unhappy place to be, so leaving wasn’t a difficult thing,” she explains. “But I grew up in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden I’m living in New York City. So yes, you’re looking out your window, thinking, ‘Please be kind to me.’ It was definitely a culture shock.”

In 2001, just six months after graduating from IAR, Mucciarone landed a full-time position at Maryland Sound International (MSI) in Baltimore. Her first touring gig with Neil Diamond was temporary, she says, adding “but it really did show me what a professional set up was like, the standards you need to aspire to, and how to conduct yourself – the whole package. It was very fortunate for me to get that experience early on.”

Ever since then fulfilling multiple roles – either temporarily or long term – has been a hallmark of her career. While touring is her first love, she credits the many corporate shows she’s worked on over time for further enhancing her ability to adapt, deepening her audio chops overall and allowing her to “jump in anywhere and do whatever needs doing.

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“Working in the corporate world taught me a lot, and I really did like it, but it was very fatiguing,” she continues. “I was just rolling from one show to the next, which was great, but it was tiring because there’s always something happening in (Washington) DC. And because I was based in Maryland, with the travel, they were really long days. But I got to do a lot of unique things in very unique places.”

Ultimately, a mix of corporate work and touring works best for her, she says, citing her recent schedule, which included the VMAs (MTV Video Music Awards) and a weeklong Apple gig. “A nice, even mix of both is a really good balance. I love the consistency of touring, and the travel. I’m actually just starting another run and heading into three in a row after wrapping the VMAs at 4 am this morning. After that it’s iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball. So that’s the next regular one for me, but I’m sure I’ll get a phone call to jump out and do something else in between here and there.”

Filling Multiple Roles

Recently Mucciarone also subbed in the house system tech on the U.S. leg of the 2019 Rob Thomas tour. She has a history with Thomas’ touring camp, she explains, owing to a recurring gig as monitor tech for Counting Crows, who’ve toured with both Matchbox Twenty and Thomas as a solo artist in the past. “I was only out with Rob Thomas for a few weeks to fill in. I couldn’t do the entire tour because I already had other items booked.”

That’s hardly an unusual situation. “Working with MSI, once you become an A1 there, you’re pretty much able to fill any position,” she says. “When I started out with them I was totally green in live sound.” She began by doing tech in the shop, then on stage, and moved along to PA, RF and comm work. Next was a focus on monitor tech and then house tech. “I usually did monitors for music performances, but for the corporate work I was FOH/system tech. And recently I jumped back into that, which is nice because that’s my old stomping grounds.”

Regardless of the role she inhabits at any given time, Mucciarone emphasizes setting and maintaining high standards in every aspect of the job: “It was just always instilled in me to do the best you can, so I’d like to think my personal standards are high – that’s just part of me and what I do, but I’ve been very fortunate to work with some really well-known people on some great tours and shows. And I’ve had a lot of fun and done a lot of hard work and I’m better off for it.”

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