Local Crew: New World AudioFROM THE STAGE TO FRONT OF HOUSE 5/01/2006 8:00 AM Eastern
Sonny Maupin's dream of making it as a rock 'n' roll star in the late 1980s was about to come true: Having toured with major acts and gigging around Las Vegas as a percussionist and keyboardist, an original band, Station Break, of which he was a member, was getting airplay on major radio stations across the U.S. The band had just signed with a manager who was going to book them into a new L.A. club, which the manager and a few other investors had remodeled. Not only did Maupin have the musical chops, but he also knew the ins and outs of a sound system after years of tinkering with other bands' gear.
At that time, he knew someone in Las Vegas who was selling a P.A. system, “So I had the brilliant idea that if I bought this equipment, I could make a deal with these club guys and lease it to them for our gig,” Maupin says. “We made the agreement, and I not only bought the P.A. system, but another $15,000 worth of gear to supplement it. So I entered into this bold new venture $35,000 in the hole, and for a musician, this was pretty serious. Still, I figured it was worth it.”
Less than two weeks after his purchase, the manager became a “guest of the state.” The club gig never happened and rock 'n' roll dreams were replaced with the reality that a large amount of audio gear was collecting dust. New World Audio (www.newworldaudio.net) was born and has since become a top owner-operated pro audio company in Southern Nevada.
New World Audio has expanded its service to include leasing, sales, design, backline equipment and related services for lighting, staging and video. As the services have increased, so has the company's inventory of audio gear, which now includes all Meyer speakers, 20 Clair Bros. 12AM monitors, 16 Radian monitors, a fine selection of consoles (Yamaha PM4000, Soundcraft Series 5, Allen & Heath) and a large selection of outboard gear, mics and amps. When asked what separates New World Audio from its competitors, Maupin answers, “We are not a huge corporate entity, which has allowed us to provide a level of personalized service that is second to none. I don't see that in the larger companies, and it's something that I hear about from clients on a regular basis.”
New World Audio has recently supported such diverse musical acts as Pat Benatar, 50 Cent, Herbie Hancock, Sublime, Yo-Yo Ma, The Judds, Collective Soul and Jewel, just to name a few. The company has also struck “gold” in the corporate market, routinely contracted by such companies as Playboy, IBM, Honda Motors, BMW, State Farm and Microsoft. “I have a professional crew of technicians who can handle most anything,” Maupin says. “I still engineer a lot of the shows and, in most cases, I'm also the system tech. I figured out long ago how to operate efficiently. We have about eight preconfigured systems that can be easily and quickly scaled up and/or customized. Many of the same shows require four to eight guys, plus at least a day's time to get the system prepped, trucks loaded, et cetera, when the ‘bigger guys’ are contracted. We do these shows with two or three guys and in a fraction of the time. From when I get the call, we can usually be at a local venue within a couple of hours; within the next two hours, we can have a major system up and running.”
The booming installation market in Las Vegas has become one of the company's largest profit-generators. Recent hotel/casino installs include The Stardust, Riviera, The Rio, Golden Nugget, Flamingo Hilton and Tropicana, as well as numerous local nightclubs and bars. According to Maupin, “I've had equipment on jobs every day of the year. One local casino leased its showroom system for the past five years before purchasing it. Another production show in a different casino has been leasing all of the backline equipment for their show, plus a duplicate setup and a P.A. for their rehearsal soundstage for almost two years. For the past 10 years, we have provided the system for outdoor summer theater at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, as well as at the University of Nevada concert hall for the past eight years.”
“I've been very fortunate in this business. There are several large companies here, and more arrive on the scene every year, so competition is strong. Yet we continue to grow exponentially. I attribute our success to my owner-operated approach. This career path is not what I originally envisioned, but overall, I couldn't be happier that we never got our ‘big break’ in L.A.”
Sarah Benzuly is Mix's managing editor.