UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
WITH ALAN K. STOUT
Michael Snopkowski is the owner and operator of 12 Inc. Venue Services, a full-service professional sound and lighting company. Snopkowsk is a graduate of Pittston Area High School and founded his company in 2010. He lives in Pittston.
Meet Michael Snopkowski …
How’d you first get involved with production work?
I’m a musician, and my father was a musician for a long time — a drummer. I followed in his footsteps as a drummer and decided to get into strings — guitars and violins and so forth — but throughout my teenage years, I never really did anything with it. As I got out of high school, I had an interest to play. But as a drummer, our music scene, in the early 2000s, sort of fell short. I don’t think anybody wanted to hear the drummer play solo during happy-hour at the corner establishment, so I started playing guitar and stayed with it. I’ve always been a solo musician or have played with my brother-in-law, and we’ve just played acoustic venues. And I met a lot of people through it. That’s how I made all of my connections, musically, from playing guitar and being out performing three or four nights a week. But I always wanted to go a step further, and after buying my first sound system, I knew I wanted to make it bigger and better and do it for other people.
Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
As a guitar player, Stevie Ray Vaughan. As a drummer, my dad and, of course, Gene Krupa. He was an inspiration to me. A lot of younger guys want to say Neil Peart and so on, but I want to go back to where they learned. And playing the violin for many years, I was mesmerized by seeing Charlie Daniels play when I was very young.
When you first launched your company, it initially just offered sound and lighting services for live events. But it’s really developed into much more. Can you tell us a little about it?
We’ve gone from doing productions to handling everything at the venue, such as booking, venue management and security detail. We can do everything. And there are a few places in the area that I do that with. They come to me and say they, “I want to book a show. All I know how to do is book the talent. Where do I go from there? I have technical riders and hospitality riders, and I don’t know what to do.” And we lay it out for them. We tell them what the cost is going to be and the end result and what will probably be the net and the gross. And then instead of renting out production, we have production. We have sound and lighting. And if you’re doing something larger than 100 people, we have licensed security. We can also get your tickets printed and manage them online. We’ve developed into a one-stop shop.
What do you enjoy about it?
I enjoy the initial rush when the show starts. In live sound, as opposed to studio work, there is no second take. When that band comes up, you’ve already gone through the sound check, you agreed to all of the riders, the equipment is in the building … you’ve spent days preparing for this large show, and in that single moment, when it’s show time, anything can go wrong. And it does. And what I enjoy about it is the way I handle it.
The name of the company has a special meaning to it, correct?
It stands for my 12 nieces and nephews. Nine nephews and three nieces, from my three older sisters. I’m the youngest of four.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Boating. If I do have a free day, you’ll find me floating around on the lake with my family. We go to Harveys Lake, and we have family in New York, so we spend some time up there on the water.
Any hobbies? Are you a collector?
Do you follow sports?
Women’s tennis. It’s high-energy. And easy on the eyes. I enjoy watching it.
All-time favorite movie?
“Spaceballs.” Anything with Mel Brooks.
Favorite TV show?
Favorite vacation spot?
Don’t really have one, but I’m really itching to go out to Colorado and try some snowboarding.
Favorite thing about NEPA?
I’ve thought numerous times of moving my business out of here and trying it elsewhere, but I always find myself coming back here because of the people. This area had bred and holds some of the best musicals ever. Both young and old. They’re here. And I love the area. I love that it’s easy to jump in the car and take a short trip anywhere … New York, Jersey, Philly.
Favorite quote or catchphrase?
“It’s good to be the king.” — Mel Brooks.
Biggest pet peeve?
When people in front of me at the convenient store are buying $150 worth of lottery tickets.
Cadillacs. “Guitars and Cadillacs,” that’s what my girlfriend says.
Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
I get nervous before every gig, whether I’m playing or putting the show on. But that’s the rush. It’s what I look for. I look for that three minutes of anxiety.
Have you had a defining personal moment or time in your life?
About nine years ago, I cut a lot of strings in my life that were really holding me back. I cut strings with people that were not letting me go in my direction. I needed to take my own turn. And choosing to do that has allowed me to meet so many people that brought me back into music, which I always wanted to do.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at email@example.com.
photos by emma black