Music Graduate Jon Tucker Takes On Music Industry

Monday, June 20, 2016

Master of Music alumnus Jon Tucker has plunged into the music industry, trading the practice room for a studio with vast mixing consoles, towering ceilings, and expert mentors. For Jon, the recording arts were just a hobby and tool for advancing his saxophone playing. When an internship at Morrisound Studios in 2012 turned his hobby into a job as Assistant Engineer, he realized he has a lot to offer the industry as a recording professional. Today, Jon maintains close ties with Tom and Jim Morris, the founders and audio engineers of Morrisound. He now works as Studio Manager at a privately owned recording studio in Tampa. The challenging, dynamic environment of the music studio, in conjunction with Jon's commitment to high-quality recording, are reasons why he is fully absorbed by the music industry.

Jon's interest in recording came at a young age. This interest developed as he recorded himself on saxophone to improve his playing. In high school, he took advantage of his band director's multi-track recording gear to record small ensembles and was exposed to the real challenges controlling all facets of music recording. In his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Jon had the chance to take courses in music recording. These experiences in recording eventually led him to work as a Sound Engineer at the University of South Florida's College of The Arts, archiving on-campus music, theatre, and dance events.

Jon's affinity for recording caught the attention of USF Professors Jack Wilkins and Chuck Owen. As the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Morrisound Studios approached in 2011, Wilkins and Owen invited Jon and other jazz students to perform at the event. It was there that Jon connected with the people of Morrisound for the first time. He was amazed by the state of the art studio space at Morrisound, which included two SSL analog mixing consoles and 25-foot ceilings in Studio A. In 2013, the space recorded a full symphony orchestra and jazz band for Chuck Owen's GRAMMY-nominated album River Runs, on which Jon worked as Assistant Engineer.

Jon is grateful to have been an intern at Morrisound, especially considering the widespread practice of treating interns poorly elsewhere in the industry, "Morrisound never treated me like that, in fact, they are incredible people." The Morris brothers created a great learning environment that prepared him to move up to an assistant position and exposed him to the professional recording process for the first time, "I've gotten to see a lot of different projects come through go from spark of imagination to final product."

As Studio Manager, Jon performs a wide range of duties, including audio engineering, equipment maintenance, media archival, and more, which he feels makes his job one of a kind. With the advent of music streaming and home recording, the exact future of the music industry is unclear. Regardless, Jon plans to be involved, "The further I get into the music business, the more I realize that I want to be there." Jon is drawn to the studio for the dynamic and challenging environment that music creates, "I need to walk into a situation and not know what is going to happen. And that keeps me interested. ...That makes it great for me."

Studying at the School of Music has profoundly guided Jon's skill set. Having an education in jazz opens up a variety of opportunities. Jon said, "If you can understand the theory and the intricacies of jazz then I think it allows you to more easily transition into a pop or rock or fusion or... really any other type of music that has come after it." The guidance of Professors Jack Wilkins and Chuck Owen, whether it was helping delve into complex jazz numbers or setting up numerous performance opportunities, allowed him to gain both the musicianship and practical experience needed to succeed as a recording professional. Above all, Jack Wilkins and Chuck Owen gave Jon the individualized attention that he needed. Jon recalls meeting the two for the first time at his audition, "I could tell that they cared about their students and that they really wanted to see this program move onward and upward."

Jon thinks that Tampa, with its numerous recording spaces and great recording engineers, can become a real destination for big-name artists, who often flock automatically to established recording cities such as Nashville, Los Angeles, and New York. Jon stresses that he feels very lucky to have a career doing what he loves in Tampa. While hard work in school certainly benefits his career, he does not ignore the impact that careful decision-making and networking can have. "If you're near what you want to do," says Jon, "opportunities will present themselves."