Audio Pro Network Gives Back to the Industry

Joe Miuccio, Re-Recording Mixer and Sound Designer has worked with most of the  big advertising agencies at one point or another, taking short breaks to work on independent feature films like Citizen Clark a Life of Principal, The Jonestown Defense, The Incomparable Rose Hartman and others. Joe talks to us about how he got started in the audio industry and why he started Audio Pro Network.  


“I never chose to work in audio, audio chose me. I started playing guitar at an early age and when I got old enough to go to University I chose a Communications major because I just didn't know what else to do. While I was in college I decided to major in radio and television Communications. Back in the 1980s that consisted of old tube cameras and tape to tape edit decks. I made sure to learn the equipment and really enjoyed editing short documentaries.”


After graduating from college he was lucky to get job as a runner. “I got lucky moving up into the dub room quickly, but the biggest obstacle I had was getting promoted from being the dub guy.  I worked really hard to make that happen. I stayed every night for months on end, mastering the New England Digital Synclavier. I would do sound design and re-compose old commercials and then put them on my boss's desk. Within six months I was given a studio to work in.”


Miuccio has led a pretty charmed life in the audio business. “I have been fortunate to have always had steady work. When one company would close I always landed on my feet in a new company straight away.  When the last company I worked at closed, rather than look for a new company I decided to start my own. Starting Pure Sound has definitely been my biggest challenge, aside from Audio Pro Network.”


The pandemic has changed a lot of work practices for many and Miuccio thinks that a good percentage of work is going to still be done virtually, especially in advertising. “New York City is definitely going to take a huge hit in commercial real estate. Until prices come down I think we'll continue to see a lot of work done virtually.  New York City real estate seems to go in cycles. There was a time when rent was cheap but over the past few years many landlords have doubled rents and many Studios have subsequently shut down. I think we're going to see the opposite happen in the coming years. People will build studios again. But the virtual work is here to stay and the technology to do that work is only going to get better and better.”


His studio set up includes Pro Tools with an avid Omni and he is also doing a fair amount of work on Nuendo 11 as well. “My monitors are JBL Series 3 in a 5.1 setup. I have an Output desk which holds an 88 key M-Audio keyboard.  It's a very functional desk where I have my computer monitors mounted on extra-long swing arms.  For short form advertising work, I don't usually use physical faders, but when I need them for long form I pull out an Icon Platform M. I have microphones from Neumann, Sennheiser, AKG, Avantone, Shure and Lewitt. Plus, I have my own Audio Pro Network microphone brand that includes a studio condenser, shotgun and even a usb mic. I have a fairly large collection of guitars and other instruments as well.” As for his favourite bit of kit, that has to be his Kemper Profiling Amp.


Muiccio has been fortunate to have had a few mentors through his career and it was with them that he learnt the power of storytelling and how sound was just as important as picture. “Early on my mentors were film editors, they inspired me for sure. Another person who I have never forgotten was the person that helped me break into the business. She was a girl I went to college with. We weren't close friends, just in some classes together. She noticed how hard I worked in the media department. I helped people with their projects, taught them how to use the equipment and so forth. She noticed my generosity and selflessness. As it turns out, her mom worked at a prominent film editing shop. She recommended me and changed my life. Her generosity was probably the most inspiring in my life.  It’s also the basis for me creating the mentorship platform. I'm doing my part to pay it forward.”


In 2008 Miuccio entertained the idea of moving out to Los Angeles. “At that point I had done hundreds of sessions with engineers there, enough so that we were on a first-name basis. We would recognize each other's voices over the ISDN patch. A friendly camaraderie developed, but I still didn't feel comfortable to ask anybody for help in relocating.  Working in a facility in New York City was sort of like being on an island. You were friendly with the other Engineers that you worked with in the same facility, but networking sort of stopped there. I yearned to make more meaningful connections outside of my facility and city. I wondered why there wasn't a more personal and private network catering to Audio professionals so I just decided to build it myself.  Audio Pro Network worked exactly as I envisioned it. My relationships with engineers in Los Angeles and all over the world have flourished and I have successfully extended my network into a more meaningful one. Though I never did move to LA!”


Miuccio also runs a mentorship programme under the Audio Pro Network banner for students who have finished University and are ready to take that all important step into the world of professional audio.  “I started the mentorship platform to solve a problem I had been noticing over the years. It seemed to me that most facilities would only want to hire engineers that already knew what they were doing rather than give a young person a chance. I also noticed that some kids coming out of audio school still weren't very prepared to work in a facility environment. They might have some DAW knowledge but were missing so much of what it takes to be a team player. We had interns in all the facilities I worked for through the years. I really love teaching, I always made it my mission to take them under my wing and train them. I still keep in touch with many of them. I created The Audio Pro Network Mentorship Platform to bridge the gap between audio school and that first industry job. It’s a grey area where new graduates can lose hope. The mentorship platform keeps their momentum going, often opening their eyes to other opportunities in the audio industry they never thought of before.”


Miuccio offers courses and tutorials like other sites, but makes them more holistic by focusing on empathy, teamwork, good service and professionalism; all the soft skills necessary to be successful when dealing with clients.  “You can think of the mentorship platform as if it’s a Prep School for the audio industry.  And because I own my own audio post company, Pure Sound, I strive to make every member rise to the level of perfection that I'd want to see in a prospective employee. I know a little bit about every type of audio vocation, but not everything. What makes the professional side of the network even more valuable to me as a mentor, is that I always have a friend to call for advice.”


Miuccio feels that there is less mentorship happening because the very nature of our business has gone fully into the box. “The audio schools can teach students how to operate software, but it's harder to teach all those soft skills like client relations and professional work flow. There’s just not enough time in the typical curriculum. Because of this, we end up having an industry flooded with graduates that can operate a DAW, but aren’t ready for prime time. Audio teachers and professors do the very best they can but there is often little time for them to give meaningful mentorship to everyone. The plain and simple truth is that mentorship ends at graduation. Thats where APN comes in.” 


So how does the platform work for professionals and students alike? “With both networks, I'm trying to create a more cohesive, diverse and inclusive industry. As far as pro membership goes, it’s free and always will be. It’s unique because it gives audio professionals a community free of the chaos and user profiling on other social media sites. I monitor the network constantly and I think members understand that they're a guest in my ‘house’. I'm their host and I do my best to take care of them. It’s a more boutique experience. Pro members get exclusive deals too. We recently partnered with Penteo to offer a special deal on their Penteo 16 Pro upmixing plugin.


The only thing I ask of pro members is that from time to time they participate in the mentorship platform. This participation can range from just a few inspiring words of wisdom to being interviewed on our APN podcast, or even participating in a live webinar. For the mentorship platform members, they are gaining access to industry professionals that they would never be able to meet otherwise. Pro participation in the mentorship platform activities is optional, although I haven't had anyone turn me down yet! Every pro I know has had a mentor at some point in their career. They’ve all had someone give them a hand up. Given the opportunity, most pros seem happy to join me in paying it forward.”