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Music Matters Productions

Mike Wharton • April 2021Company 411 • April 1, 2021

MMP design by Aaron Soriero

Atlanta-based Music Matters Productions has developed a unique live stream setup by building an immersive setup with a video wall that measures 30 feet in height and 360 feet in length. The visual setting can surround clients with their audiences, whether they are soloists, bands or presenters. The XR suite in the company’s 40,000-square-foot facility is the latest leap forward by a company whose total assets once fit in a Ford Explorer.

Aaron Soriero

‡‡         Modest Beginnings

Aaron Soriero is the founder, CEO, and production designer of full production company Music Matters Productions (MMP). His initial foray as an entrepreneur in the music business began in 2008 with his small company teaching children in their efforts to learn the art of music and the craft of playing instruments. As a successful enterprise, he soon established several music lesson stores around metropolitan Atlanta.

By simple necessity, MMP morphed after a School of Rock Camp that Soriero hosted. As a grand finale, the kids put together a concert for their parent’s benefit. Tasked with providing light and sound for the event, Soriero bought a small amount of gear and taught himself how to use it. A friend in a band asked to rent the equipment to use for concert shows, and Soriero saw the light. His first few events were at the University of Georgia in Athens, catering to fraternity houses and football game after-parties.

“We were actually the promoters of those shows, hiring the DJ or band, ourselves,” he recalls. “So we were free to do whatever we wanted.” With such latitude, Soriero was able to do something unique and different each event, creating a unique look using all his existing inventory. This is a practice that continues as the core of the company today.

‡‡         A Strong Work Ethic

Soriero draws his philosophy for work, business, and all things in life from his high school rowing team days. “Our coaches were really good at getting the most out of us as individuals and as a team, which made my determination to be the best at rowing all-consuming. Rowing showed me what it means to make sacrifices to achieve goals. We were very successful and one of the best clubs in the country.” That same work ethic has been propelling MMP forward.

The college gigs grew into more frequent requests and, in turn, a widening list of clients, larger projects and an ever-expanding inventory. There were some growing pains. “Learning to gear my efforts to the requests of how the client wanted an event to take shape, as opposed to the way I wanted to design it, took some tempering on my part, I have to admit,” he says.

‡‡         “That One-Stop Shop”

In 2012, Soriero shifted his focus, turning his full attention to building a rental production house. His acuity as a businessman had borne fruit through the establishment and growth of the several MMP music centers around metro Atlanta. Selling off those assets enabled him to purchase more sound, lighting and video inventory.

“From the beginning, we were going to be that one-stop shop,” says Soriero. Local music festivals began calling on MMP as a lighting vendor. Soriero took the opportunity of this living textbook by observing all aspects of the production and keeping mental notes. “Oh, that’s how they do that staging; this is how audio is handled outdoors.” He was on his way to be that one phone call.

MMP’s first major event occurred when Live Nation turned to them for the Shaky Knees Music Fest in Atlanta. Music Matters supported the event with three stages, site lighting and sponsor activation. “I did not even own the gear at the time,” he laughs. “So, I immediately went out and bought everything we needed. That was our flagship event starting with Live Nation in 2017.” Music Matters has since expanded its festival business with Atlanta’s SweetWater 420 Fest, ONE Musicfest, Candler Park Music Festival and Atlanta Jazz Festival.

The solid relationship with their flagship client Live Nation includes permanent installations at three venues in Atlanta — Chastain Park Amphitheatre, The Tabernacle and the Buckhead Theater. The Ritz in Raleigh, NC also has one of their installs. “Another door opener has been with AEG,” adds Soriero. “They are opening a 2,500 seat venue in 2021, and we will be the in house provider and installer.”

‡‡         Gearing Up for Growth

In the last five years, Soriero has expanded inventory to include Robe, Martin and Absen light fixtures, ROE video walls and d&b audiotechnik sound gear, along with lasers and cryo for special effects. “We’ve really gone deep with those vendors,” Soriero adds, offering clients one of the largest inventories for those brands in Atlanta.

Prior to the Covid shutdowns, Music Matters employed 25 full time people from front office to dock doors. The MMP field staff, meanwhile, consisted of more than 100 independents. Stagehands, meanwhile, came from an outside service. These days, Soriero fills show calls with his furloughed staff and independents from his roster in a bid to keep as many working as he can.

“As a company, we are going to do whatever it takes to overcome the challenges that are inherent with any live production,” Soriero says, adding that adapting to change “is the nature of the business, with the one constant being the importance of the people he employs to make sure all those efforts come off as flawlessly as possible in a live environment. “Between our staff and the fact that we are a one-stop shop, creatively making art with technology is what makes Music Matters unique and above our competitors.”

The XR studio in full effect

‡‡         From Concerts to Content

A pivotal point for MMP’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic’s challenges came one evening while Soriero was watching American Idol. “XR — Extended Reality. I saw that and was like, ‘Whoa, what was that?’” Further investigation led him to realize he had all the hardware to create XR, but he knew nothing of Unreal Software, the real-time video game engine and editor that features photorealistic rendering, dynamic physics and effects with lifelike animation and robust data translation.

“It is not the kind of thing you learn or master overnight. It is supremely challenging and the ultimate sample of the cool creating of art with technology that I love,” says Soriero, observing that, “overall, the industry has been shifting from concerts to content. There is such a need right now to produce content that we decided to beef up our skillset and have delved into this in a large way.”

Through it all, Soriero has never lost sight of his love of educating students about the art of music. His philanthropic efforts all tend toward that niche — providing equipment, people, and time for any school event that calls on him.

Prepping the XR Studio at MMP

Company Snapshot: Music Matters Productions

3331 Greene Pointe Pkwy, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092

Number of Employees: 25

Company Milestones: 2008: Founder Aaron Soriero acquires a few lights, and keeps them stored in his garage. 2012: MMP moves into a 4,000 square foot space. 2015: The growing company expands to a 10,000 square-foot space in Roswell, GA. 2017: Music Matters moves to a 20,000 square foot warehouse in Norcross, GA. 2020: MMP occupies a 40,000 square foot facility/warehouse in Norcross, GA

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