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Exploring Life & Business with Tess Mangum of Sonic Pie Productions

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tess Mangum.

Hi Tess, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am a seventh-generation North Carolinian. Though I grew up in a musical family (my grandmother, Kate Mangum, taught Randy Travis how to play guitar and great-uncle Homer Briarhopper was fortunate to call Doc Watson a fan), I always felt my role in the family business was behind the scenes.

When I was an undergrad at UNC-Chapel Hill, there were no formal music business/music industry degrees, so I quilted together my own by majoring in public relations and adding in music industry internships, part-time jobs, fieldwork and an independent study. By doing this, I was able to land a job right out of college, working for a small world music record label in Durham, NC. A few years later, I became the first in my family to get a Master’s degree (M.A., Ethnomusicology, University of Limerick, Ireland.)

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Not smooth but not boring! For instance, a decade ago, a few weeks before Christmas, I got laid off with no notice. We’re talking go to work with a job and health insurance but come home a few hours later with a box of desk things, memories, and a lamp. However, two months later, I was officially incorporated as Sonic Pie Productions, LLC. (I spent a lot of time that holiday season reading about, researching and planning the new, uncharted entrepreneur era!)

The Covid pandemic has acted as a big curve ball in this business as well.

We’ve been impressed with Sonic Pie Productions, LLC, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Sonic Pie Productions is a concert and festival production and curation company. We curate (book talent for) festivals and concert series, offer P.A. and staging rental, sound engineers, stage management and event logistics navigation. We are also able to do consulting work related to the arts, economic development, placemaking, cultural diversity and social impact.

In fact, what sets us apart is that we integrate social impact as the core part of the business. It IS possible to build community and commerce. We often work in tandem with local and national non-profit organizations to produce events all people can enjoy. Another way Sonic Pie Productions is different from other companies offering similar services is the strength and diversity of our crew–this is a HUB-certified women-owned company, and you’ll find women, people of color and LGBTQ here!

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I was always the one who would talk to the “new kid” at school. I was fiercely independent and good at public speaking. I lived for band and theater classes.

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