Women in Pro Audio: Nicole Massey Behind Live Events Women in Pro Audio: Nicole Massey Behind Live Events...

The Women in Pro Audio interview series is a platform where we delve into the stories of women making significant strides in the pro audio and live event industry. This series is more than just a collection of women in live events stories, though. It’s a spotlight on the strength, resilience, and determination of women in a field that has been traditionally male-dominated. It’s about breaking barriers, shattering stereotypes, and inspiring the next generation of women to step into these roles – and providing a platform for these women to voice their unique stories.

Meet Nicole

Introducing Nicole Erin Massey, a dynamic professional who has carved a niche for herself in the live event arena through various roles and now, as a Production Manager.

Born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Nicole’s journey is one of passion and perseverance. She begins her story, “I’ve always been a Lancaster City kid at heart, and despite the growth of Rock Lititz and Tait north of my city, I’ve chosen to stay true to my roots.”

Nicole’s love for the stage was evident from a young age. “I started dance class at four years old, did my first musical at seven, and had my first agent in NYC by the time I was ten or eleven,” she recalls. Her passion led her to move from Lancaster to Los Angeles on a dance scholarship at 18. By 21, she was touring internationally, and at 44, she stepped into the role of a Production Manager. “I guess you can say I always had the bug!” she exclaims, her enthusiasm palpable.


Nicole’s journey in the industry has been marked by significant challenges, the first of which was a series of knee surgeries she underwent by the time she was 19. “That was one of my biggest hurdles,” she shares. “The doctors told me that I’d never dance again. My first paid job back was dancing at a theme park, and I knew it would either be the next stepping stone or the realization that my dance career as I knew it was over. Let’s just say you can’t tell me that ‘I can’t do something.’”

Her touring experience was also fraught with trials and tribulations. “When I started touring, most people didn’t even have mobile phones or carry laptops. Advancing was way different back then!” she laughs. “Finding the next job was always a worry as one tour finished, but I think my dance background taught me that sometimes you get the job and sometimes you don’t. It might not have anything to do with your skillset.”

Nicole’s passion for her work is evident, but she isn’t shy about highlighting the industry’s flaws. “If I could change one thing about the industry, it would be the hours we keep,” she says. “And there’s no reward for changing things a million times!” Her words reflect the realities of the industry, highlighting the need for change and improvement.

Being a Woman in Live Events

Being a woman in the male-dominated live event industry can present unique challenges. Women often find themselves in the minority, which can lead to feelings of isolation and exclusion. They may face unconscious bias or outright discrimination, with their skills and contributions sometimes overlooked or undervalued. Additionally, they may encounter individuals who question their competence or authority simply because of their gender. Despite these obstacles, many women like Nicole persist and thrive, proving that they are just as capable and deserving of success in this industry.

“Thankfully, I have had a lot of support from men in the industry. People who took me under their wing because they ‘saw something in me’ or taught me through example without me owing anything to them,” she acknowledges. “However, I’ve been threatened, spoken down to, and the worst is when they speak to other men versus not looking at me because they don’t think I’m worthy. It’s so weird when that stuff happens that I honestly laugh at how preposterous it can be! I can only be me, and it just so happens I was born a female.”

Gender Gap

Nicole acknowledges the gender disparity in the live event industry. However, she is optimistic about its future. “I am very excited to see more inclusion in our industry. I was one of few women on the road, on some tours, I was the only woman. But on my last tour, we had women in every tech department too: audio, video, lighting, etc!”

Critical Moments

She recalls a pivotal moment in her career. “Until that fateful runner van ride with Bill Leabody where I said, ‘I want to be the Production Manager,’ I didn’t even know if he thought I could do it. Thankfully, he did!” she exclaims. “My biggest thing that I say is that I am happy for young women to see me doing this role so that maybe they can dream of doing it too!”

Seeing women in roles traditionally dominated by men is crucial for young girls. It broadens their horizons and shatters the stereotypes about what women can or cannot do. It shows them that their gender does not limit their potential or dictate their career paths. Such visibility empowers them to dream big, strive for diverse roles, and believe in their ability to succeed in any field they choose. It’s about encouraging a world where every girl knows she can be anything she wants to be.

When asked about how Nicole has overcome challenges, her response is unwavering.

“First of all, I don’t have it in my nature to give up. My parents let me be very creative but also taught me the value of hard work and dedication.” She credits her team and the shared knowledge within it as her source of strength. “I think relying on your team and sharing each other’s knowledge is what has drawn me to touring. I was always a part of team sports, and dancing, and I love the camaraderie. But I also strived to be different – the soloist, the pitcher, the goalie, the Production Manager!” she laughs.

Advice for Women in Live Events

Nicole’s advice for women trying to break into the industry is both practical and inspiring. “Touring is hard, period,” she admits. “However, in my mind, it can be the most rewarding job if you utilize it to its fullest. And if your gut is telling you something, you better listen to it!”

She emphasizes the importance of certain skills. “I think many women do not ask for help as they think it’s a sign of weakness. But delegation is the best way to get through a hard tour. It took me years to realize this! Lean on the experts around you. And remember, communication is the key to life in general!”


When asked about resources for career growth, Nicole chuckles. “I don’t have any specific resources that I can think of for elevating my career,” she admits. “But I pride myself in being kind, collaborating with the teams, and being open to trying new ways of doing things.”

Favorite Moments

Nicole’s eyes light up as she recalls some of her favorite shows and events. “Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever Tour was my first arena show, top to bottom, as the Production Manager,” she says with a sense of accomplishment. Her portfolio also boasts of impressive events like Coldplay’s 2016 Glastonbury set, their 2014 Live at Royal Albert Hall, and the 2012 Paralympics. She fondly remembers the Concert for Diana in 2007, the United We Stand 9/11 Benefit in 2001, and the Chester Bennington Benefit.

Nicole’s career has been filled with memorable moments and experiences. “Oh man, there have been so many times where I say, ‘How did a little girl from Pennsyltucky end up here?!?’” she laughs. She’s toured six of the seven continents and 66 countries, including places like India, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Egypt, Monaco, Serbia, Turkey, and even Uzbekistan. “Who goes to Uzbekistan??” she exclaims.

She recalls dancing until four in the morning with some princes at Prince Charles’ 60th birthday party and sharing a fun story on Graham Norton’s Red Chair with Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Seth McFarlane, and Coldplay on the couch. “No pressure! Ha!” she chuckles.

Her most recent moment of fame was introducing Billie Eilish’s performance at the 2022 Grammys. According to Buzzfeed, I was ‘the eighth most awkward moment, and I was adorably nervous, shaking with nerves, but I slayed my intro!’ I didn’t think I was nervous, as I was concentrating on the production of their performance, but once I was out there, my hand started shaking while holding the mic. Twitter had a field day with me!” she laughs.

What She Loves Most

Nicole’s love for her work is infectious. “I love every tour, some more than others, but the fact that I still get paid to travel the world AND get to work with some of my most favorite people in the world is so great,” she says, her voice filled with enthusiasm. “I love to watch the audience; dancing, laughing, freaking out – it’s all so good and makes me smile so much.”

The Future of Live Events

Nicole’s response is hopeful when asked about the future of live events, especially in the wake of the pandemic. “Coming out of the pandemic, our first show back was a set at the Bottlerock Festival with FINNEAS. I cried standing side of the stage because it was so exhilarating to hear the crowd,” she recalls, her voice tinged with emotion. “I think people will continue to crave live music. And now more than ever; people want to escape all of the terrible things happening in the world for a two-hour concert. To dance, cheer, and sing alongside 16,000 of your closest friends is a life-changing experience! We are here to stay. Please don’t ever take it away again!”

Feel free to follow Nicole on Instagram to see what she’s doing next! We sure will.

Read last month’s Women in Pro Audio interview here.

Photo Credit: Matty Vogel