By Leslie Buttonow
As most of us know, it’s no small feat to pull off a live concert or televised event, a polished recording session, or a large event with guests. Careful planning, attention to detail, and the proper gear are essential. That includes ensuring your sound is pristine, so it’s critical that you obtain the best-suited audio equipment for the job. And that’s when it’s good to know Roxanne Ricks, Audio-Technica Artist Relations Manager and Events Specialist.
If you’ve watched a concert, listened to an album, or viewed a music awards or major sporting event, there’s a very good chance you’ve heard an Audio-Technica product hard at work. A-T is a top audio brand, best known for its high performance microphones and headphones for home and professional use. And for the past 28 years, Roxanne Ricks has been a champion for the brand and the pros who use it.
Ricks recently gave us a glimpse inside her world, shared some of the highlights of her career, described some of the joys and challenges of working in the audio industry, and offered some tips for success.
For more information, visit audio-technica.com
WiMN: You’ve been Audio-Technica’s U.S. artist relations manager for many years, but you started your A-T career in the sales department. How did you make that transition, and what skills and traits do you feel are essential for anyone exploring a career in artist relations?
RR: We had an Executive VP of Sales and Marketing who had an incredible way of spotting people’s skills and placing them where they were best suited. I don’t have the best technical skills, but I am very comfortable talking to people and sharing my passion for Audio-Technica. Slowly but surely, we started building an artist roster and the rest is history! People skills are a must for anyone in artist relations.
WiMN: Please share with our readers what a typical day or week might look like for you (if there is such a thing in your role!).
RR: Well, there are no two days alike. Every day brings something new, whether it’s tending to our artists’ touring or studio needs, providing support to broadcast shows or just talking to artists in general. Additionally, I receive regular calls from artists or management wanting to develop a new relationship with A-T. Of late, I’ve been traveling more, attending more shows and industry events, and visiting studios to spread the A-T experience to a wide variety of people interested in Audio-Technica or people just interested in microphones in general. This can range from church sound guys who are volunteers, to people doing fundraisers who don’t know anything about audio but know they need it to give a speech – it varies from day to day.
WiMN: You provide support to artists and engineers of all musical genres, television shows, and live events. Are you also involved in high profile uses such as the Grammys, for example? How are you able to juggle such diverse demands for your products? Any “multi-tasking” tips you’d like to share?
RR: Yes, with regard to the broadcast shows like the Grammys and CMAs, I coordinate with the show’s audio producers and broadcast engineers to supply the products for the riders artists provide prior to the show.
It’s a tremendous amount of juggling, but I get a lot of help from others on the A-T team who recommend mics and ways they might be used in challenging situations. For instance, at PGA events, we have A-T mics all over the golf course. When you watch a tournament, you’re hearing the crowd noise from our AT4050 and AT4050ST condenser microphones placed on booms throughout the course and in the stands. The sounds from the tees, fairways and greens are captured by our BP4029 shotgun mics. These mics must be able to perform in extreme weather: rain, wind, heat and humidity.
Other sporting events present their own unique demands and challenges, but our engineers are excellent at managing the products and setups necessary for delivering high quality sound.
WiMN: You also run some events for Audio-Technica. Can you give us some examples, and talk about the responsibilities for someone who works in event planning?
RR: This is the fun part! I’ve had the privilege of organizing everything from small, intimate dinners with 20 guests up to the 800-person guest list for Audio-Technica Corporation’s 50th Anniversary event held at Disneyland in 2012. The events are always exciting, but the guests are what make the events memorable. Providing a special experience for your guests is a necessity, and attention to every detail is key. You want them to walk away saying, “I can’t wait to see what the next event is and I hope I’m on the guest list!”
WiMN: In the world of music recording and performing, it’s no secret that women are still in the minority. Have you ever faced any challenges or discrimination as a female working in this world? If so, how did you handle them?
RR: The answer is yes. Sometimes it’s just more obvious than others.
While I love and respect Audio-Technica (you don’t spend 28 years at a job and not love it), my most important title is Mom! Those of you who are mothers know that your life changes dramatically when you have children. I am a nurturer, and I treat my industry relationships with that same nurturing spirit – sometimes too much – I will send your butt to the corner if necessary! With that said, I tend to handle any uncomfortable situations in the same way I parent. It’s all in the delivery!
WiMN: Where are some of the most interesting places your A-T travels have taken you?
RR: I am so blessed to be able to travel and listen to music all over the country. I was recently in L.A., Denver and Vail, all in one week, traveling with Playing for Change, a wonderful organization that A-T sponsors. Playing for Change is dedicated to bringing people from all around the world and from different cultures together through music. And, as nice as it is to travel and hear great music, it’s also very rewarding to work with organizations like Playing for Change and help them fulfill their mission.
WiMN: What are some of the most memorable artists/event projects you’ve worked on over the years?
RR: I had the amazing privilege of being mentored by the brilliant Phil Ramone. He, too, had the talent of pulling people out of their comfort zone and placing them in situations where they could find their purpose. He taught me that there is a time to give back to this wonderful industry. Schools all over the country are removing music programs from their curriculum, which is devastating, especially for disadvantaged students. In 2011, Phil formed the Salvation Army Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children in New York to provide music lessons and performance opportunities to underprivileged youth. Since that time, Audio-Technica has become active with numerous regional and national music programs for youth.
I can’t possibly list all of the amazing artists I’ve had the honor to meet and work with, but meeting Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb were truly great moments in my career. The fact that I call many of the artists whom I work with close friends is an absolute bonus of my “job.” I actually feel like I stopped working 28 years ago and started receiving blessings!
WiMN: What advice would you give any of the young women in our audience who may just be starting out in their careers either as a musician or in a corporate capacity?
RR: Always be true to yourself. Stand up for what you have a passion for. Make sure you leave an impression. I never want anyone to walk away from me and say, “What was her name again?” And… have Integrity!
WiMN: Anything exciting coming up for Audio-Technica that you’d like to share?
RR: We just received a TEC Award for our newest 50 Series mic, the AT5047.
We also have powerful new wireless systems, including our third-generation 5000 Series UHF system, which is ideal for touring shows, concert halls, festivals and other demanding environments, and our spectrum-efficient 6000 Series High-Density system.
Thank you for this great opportunity to share my thoughts; hopefully my comments will help to empower women to follow their dreams.